News & Chat


ACE Robyns 2017 winner announced
Laura Amos, Catering Manager at Ampersand at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) crowned the 2017 ACE Robyns Award winner at its annual summer party held at ZSL London Zoo on Wednesday 19th July.

Laura Amos, Catering Manager at Ampersand, CH&Co Group’s specialist venue and visitor attraction catering business, was declared the overall winner in front of 250 hospitality guests (and the odd lion or two!).

Marta Pegram from Lexington, Sam Roth from Baxter Storey and Rebecca Cuppit from Lusso were also highly commended.
Laura is catering manager for Ampersand at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, responsible for a range of catering functions, including the Café at the Palace and numerous formal receptions and events. She has made a real impact on the success of the catering operation. For example, in 2016 Laura’s innovative approach in the Café at the Palace realised an increase in afternoon tea sales by an astounding 400% and her customer numbers were up by 30,000. She is respected by her client, customers and team for her verve, her forward-thinking, innovative marketing ideas, her commitment to ensuring first-class experiences across a range of catering functions, and her commitment to developing her team.

Tim Jones, chairman of CH&Co Group, who co-founded CH&Co with his late wife Robyn Jones OBE, and ACE Robyns Award judge, said: “There is clearly exceptional young talent in our industry and it’s a privilege to be involved in the second ACE Robyns Award. The standard of entries, which came from a diverse range of roles and a broad spectrum of companies, was incredibly strong and the judges had a tough job.

“As the judging process reached the shortlist stages, ACE’s chairman Paul Hurren and I watched from the side lines to ensure the ultimate decision was impartial. The overall winner is someone that typifies Robyn’s drive, passion and attention to detail and the judges found this in Laura Amos. She excels in her role, as the results and client feedback clearly show, and contributes significantly to both the success of the business and her team members. I congratulate Laura wholeheartedly. She is a deserved winner who should be very excited about what the future holds.”

The other finalists were Sonia Carvalho of Restaurant Associates, Amanda Cox of Sodexo, Nicole Du Preez of Restaurant Associates, Teresa Gohil of Amadeus, Christopher Howard-Kraft of Blue Apple, Rob Simmons of BaxterStorey, Miguel Teixeira of Bartlett Mitchell, Adam Thomason of Restaurant Associates and David Touizer of CH&Co Group.

Paul Hurren, Chair of ACE said: “It’s very important to recognise the young talent in our industry. They are, after all, our leaders of tomorrow. It’s crucial that they’re engaged, inspired and supported in their pursuit of a fulfilling and successful hospitality career. The ACE Robyns Award is a key part of ACE’s work in this field. The entries this year were exceptional and it’s clear that our industry has a bright future.”

The ACE Robyns Award, sponsored by Troika, was created in 2016 in memory of Robyn Jones OBE, founder of CH&Co, long-term ACE Patron, and well-known and respected champion of mentoring, training and developing young hospitality talent. The award upholds her legacy and spotlights the next generation of industry talent. Open to those under the age of 35 from across the diverse range of contract catering roles – be that in operational, culinary, front of house, business development or support roles – it recognises those excelling in foodservice and going the extra mile for their clients and teams alike.

The ACE summer party took place against the unique backdrop of ZSL London Zoo. Guests enjoyed special ‘after hours’ access to the Land of the Lions, an Indian street themed village opened last year by Her Majesty the Queen. On arrival, they were escorted through Butterfly Paradise to the self-contained area that was perfect for interacting with fellow guests and experiencing fine food and drink.

The next ACE event will be Ready Steady Cook on Thursday 28th September. Visit for details.

ACE Robyns shortlist announced
Read about last year's winner, Leanne Findley from Sodexo

The ACE Robyns were created in 2016 in memory of Robyn Jones, joint founder of CH& Co who sadly died in 2015. She was a strong advocate of mentoring, training and developing young talent.

The inaugural winner was Leanne Findley.

As senior account manager for Sodexo Sports & Leisure, 31 year old Leanne is responsible for the day-to-day running of airport lounges and various cleaning contracts at Heathrow, Manchester, Glasgow and Gatwick airports for Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Gulf Air and Virgin Holidays.

Leanne joined Sodexo as a 16-year-old food services assistant at a staff restaurant at Gatwick Airport. Her meteoric rise through Sodexo’s aviation business now sees her responsible for a team of eight managers and 170 employees looking after 400,000 first and business class passengers every year.

Tim Jones, who jointly founded CH&Co with his wife Robyn, was one of the judges. He said, “The standard of award entries was very high and several were particularly inspiring, demonstrating the drive and initiative that Robyn was well-known for. The judges had to make some difficult choices but I could see that Leanne would have struck a chord with Robyn.”

Since winning the award, Leanne has been invited to several high profile industry events, and in doing, has raised her own profile in the industry.

Just a few days after the award ceremony in July, she appeared on London Live TV with judge & ACE Robyns sponsor, Susie Boyd from Troika to talk about her win.

In October, she attended the Shine Awards at 8 Northumberland Avenue, celebrating women working in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism.

In November, she took her prize - dinner and an overnight stay at The Shard and said “It was amazing. The best experience ever. Loved, loved, loved it! Thank you to everyone who made it happen.”

Later in November there was a Robyns Reunion at Boyds hosted by Troika where some of the shortlisted candidates met up with the judges and organisers.

In February, she was a guest at the ACE wine Dinner and was invited to be a judge for the 2017 ACE Robyns – a challenge that she has accepted!

The judges have now been through the applications for the ACE Robyns 2017 and have agreed the shortlist as follows:

Rebecca Cupitt, Lusso
Marta Pegram, Lexington
Sam Roth, BaxterStorey
Laura Amos, Ampersand
Sonia Carvalho, Restaurant Associates
Amanda Cox, Sodexo
Nicole Du Preez, Restaurant Associates
Teresa Gohil, Amadeus
Christopher Howard-Kraft, Blue Apple
Rob Simmons, BaxterStorey
Miguel Teixeira, Bartlett Mitchell
Adam Thomason, Restaurant Associates
David Touizer, CH&Co.

ACE celebrates its 80th birthday in style
£16,000 raised for charity at special celebration ACE Wine Dinner

On Friday 24th February, The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Wine Dinner at The Langham London. This year the association celebrates its 80th birthday, having been established in 1937 as the Industrial Catering Association. 170 members and guests were in attendance at the glamorous black tie event. ACE Chair, Paul Hurren of Lusso Catering welcomed special guests including celebrity chefs, Michel Roux Jr and Adam Handling of The Frog, past chairs of ACE including Marc Verstringhe, winner of the inaugural ACE Robyn Award, Leanne Findlay from Sodexo and Abby Guilding, chair of ACE’s chosen charity, Wiggly Worm.

The evening started with a champagne reception, followed by an exquisite meal introduced by Michel Roux. Michel inspired guests to dig deep for the Wiggly Worm charity, one that is close to his heart having worked with some of the Wiggly Worm chefs on the Channel 4 TV show, Kitchen Impossible:

“I’ve had some memorable times with Wiggly Worm, helping people with a range of disabilities and mental health issues to secure jobs in the hospitality industry. Together, we can really make a difference to the lives of these young people, so dig deep and let’s put some more of them through this fantastic programme.”

Vice-chair, Gaye Bullard of Sodexo paid a moving tribute to pioneering chef and Educaterer, Victor Ceserani MBE who sadly died last week at the age of 97:

“I remember as a catering student creating dishes such as sole meuniere, eggs Florentine and crepes suzette. Who else has a copy of Victor’s book, ‘Practical Cookery’ lurking at home? Victor was a source of inspiration not just to me in the 80s but to many throughout his life. He will be missed.”

In a generous gesture, Sodexo pledged £5,000 to the Wiggly Worm fund, and newly appointed ACE Chef Patron, Adam Handling offered to match it. A further £6,000 was raised by guests at the event.

The next ACE event is the Quiz Night on Wednesday 5th April at Lloyds London.


Thank you to our sponsors for the evening:
Off To Work – hosts & hostesses
Laurent Perrier – champagne for reception
Angel Hill Food Company - canapes
Laytons Wines – wines to accompany dinner
British Premium Meats – beef for main course
Harvey & Brockless – cheese
Town & Country Fine Foods – petits fours
Love Flowers – table decorations
Collins King – auction prize - membership of M Restaurant private members club
CH&Co – auction prize – meal for two at Tom Sellers’ restaurant
Sodexo – auction prize – meal for two at Adam Handling’s The Frog Restaurant

The menu

Grilled diver scallops, cauliflower, spiced shellfish dressing
2015 Jane Hunter, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Roast beef fillet, bone marrow ‘pain perdue’, Parmesan
2012 Marques de Reinosa Reserva, Rioja, Spain

Mango and White Chocolate Mousseline, yoghurt meringue and passionfruit sorbet
2012 Chateau Petit Vedrines, Sauternes, France

Cheese selection
Coffee & Petits Fours

Adam Handling to become Chef Patron of ACE
Chef Patron at The Frog E1 joins ACE patrons

Chef Patron at restaurant The Frog E1, 28 year old Adam Handling has agreed to become Chef Patron for the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE). He joins patrons Chris Sheppardson (Chess Partnership), Marc Verstringhe (MESV Consultancy Int), Tim West (Elior), Wendy Bartlett (bartlett mitchell), Jane Sunley (Purple Cubed), Rosemary Osbourne MBE, Alastair Storey (BaxterStorey), Chris Bray (Sodexo Prestige).

Over the last 2 years, ACE has encouraged young people in the industry to get more involved in networking. As well as launching the ACE Robyn Awards in July, up and coming young team members have been invited to events such as the Wine Dinner (which normally attracts more senior people), and September’s Ready Steady Cook event had a special award for promising chefs under the age of 25. ACE has seen a significant increase in numbers attending the events, perhaps due to the interest from the next generation.

Having been on the judging panel for ACE’s annual Ready Steady Cook event for the first time, Adam was impressed and inspired by what he saw, especially the talent amongst the young chefs who took part. He observed:

“The conditions are tense but there is evidence of good establishment training, with a high level of teaching and professionalism, and excellent communication. This is a great competition for chefs. It’s giving them an opportunity to be judged and rewarded on what is essentially their daily job”

ACE Chair, Paul Hurren said:
“Adam is the ideal choice for a Chef Patron – with ACE’s focus firmly on the younger generation, he fits the bill perfectly and we are delighted that he has agreed to take on this position. We’re sure he’ll bring energy and enthusiasm to the role, and he already has some exciting ideas to contribute.”

Next year, the winning under 25 chef could have a week placement in his kitchen at The Frog, or indeed one of his next exciting ventures.
There is also a plan for Adam to be involved in a Next Generation Masterclass in the New Year.

Says Adam Handling:

“I’m thrilled to be Chef Patron for ACE. Their commitment to supporting young people in the catering industry very much aligns with my own principles – when I opened my first independent restaurant, The Frog E1, one of the visions behind it was to nurture young and creative talent in our industry. I’ve done it myself and know first-hand how tough it can be, so to be able to support younger talent alongside ACE is fantastic. I’m excited for what we have lined up.”

(Photo by Tim Green)

ACE Ready Steady Cook – The Next Generation
Restaurant Associates and Vacherin both win titles at Ready Steady Cook

With a new venue, and the spotlight on up and coming young talent, The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Ready Steady Cook competition at East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London on Thursday 22nd September.

Each of the 14 teams from the foodservice sector included a chef aged 25 or under, many of whom were apprentices. With a live audience of 200, the teams had to plan and prepare a main course and dessert using ingredients they had only discovered 30 minutes before. The main items were poussin, rack of lamb, pancetta and chorizo with a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits and storecupboard ingredients supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.

Judges Mike Reid, Executive Chef at M Restaurant; Adam Handling, young celebrity chef, Masterchef finalist and founder of The Frog Restaurant; Daniel Ayton, World Vice President, World Master Chef Society were impressed with what they saw:

“It’s incredible how many variations and different ideas the teams came up with from one box of ingredients.”

“The conditions are tense but there is evidence of good establishment training, with a high level of teaching and professionalism, and excellent communication.”

“The ingredients were tricky – ideally lamb should rest for 20 minutes, but when you’ve only got 30 minutes to prepare, cook and present it that’s not possible!”

As well as the overall winners, there was a prize for the most promising young chef in the competition. Bryony O’Neill and Sam Fisk from Restaurant Associates won the overall cooking competition, and Marc Bright from Vacherin caught the judges’ eye for the Next Generation Young Chef award.

The Restaurant Associates team-mates met for the first time last week as they work on different sites. Both Bryony and Sam had recently taken part and done really well in other competitions, and were teamed up by their director who felt they would work well together.

“We focused on the flavours, going for a Middle Eastern theme with cumin, feta and pomegranate for the main course. The dessert followed the same theme with yoghurt and ginger prominent ingredients.”

Their winning menu was Cumin Roast Lamb Fillet with Crusted Sweet Potato, Molasses, Glazed Feta and Pickled Beetroot followed by dessert of Spiced Pears, Yoghurt Espuma, Almond Crisp and Blackberries.

Marc Bright from Vacherin, winner of the Next Generation Young Chef Award said:

“Being a chef is everything to me and I feel so at home in a kitchen. I am amazed how food is changing so quickly and how our passion for food is now being shared by many people in everyday life.”

Judge Adam Handling observed:
“We were impressed by Marc’s calm and methodical approach. This is a great competition for chefs. It’s giving them an opportunity to be judged and rewarded on what is essentially their daily job”

Every chef in the competition was given a personalised Bragard chef jacket, and first prize was a meal for the chefs at The Fat Duck, sponsored by McFarlane Telfer. Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Brooker explained why they support Ready Steady Cook:

“We were pleased to see the changes to the event this year. Within our own organisation, we champion young people and give them real opportunities to show what they can do, so it’s great to see recognition for the young, up and coming talent in the Ready Steady Cook competition.
Around half the competitors are our customers in the UK, and it’s fantastic to see them demonstrating their skills so clearly. We hope the Restaurant Associates team are inspired by their visit to the Fat Duck and enjoy the experience.”

Gary King, Director of Collins King & Associates also felt the competition is very relevant for them:

“We have been members of ACE for a number of years, and when ACE’s Chair, Paul Hurren approached us about sponsoring this event, we felt it was an opportunity not to be missed in order to raise our profile and support many of our clients who are competing. As headline sponsors, we donated prizes, goody bags and provided Mike Reid as one of the judges. We have seen ACE events take on a new energy and are delighted to be associated with them.”

Sodexo were in second place, with Lusso in third. The other teams were ABsolutely Catering, BaxterStorey, Bartlett Mitchell, Blue Apple, The Brookwood Partnership, Ch&Co, Elior, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality, Lexington and Vacherin.

The raffle on the evening was in aid of Wiggly Worm, ACE’s chosen charity for 2016. It was set up to inspire vulnerable or disadvantaged people, and motivate them through food. The chopping boards and pans, provided by Nisbets, will be donated to the charity. Left over food ingredients will be distributed by City Harvest to organisations that help homeless people in London.

Sponsored by:
Collins King
MCS Cooktek
Roller Grill
Caterers Linen Supply
British Premium Meat
4 Deg C
Chef Media
Off to Work

First ever ACE Robyns winner announced aboard London Bateaux Cruise
Kindly sponsored by Troika

The Association of Catering Excellence, also known as ACE has revealed the first winner in their new ACE Robyns Awards. After a tough judging process, the 35 entrants were whittled down to just 12 finalists with the first winner being revealed on Thursday, 21st July, 2016.

Leanne Findley, account manager for the aviation business for Sodexo was announced as the overall winner in front of 250 guests at the association’s annual summer event. Ming Lai, national account manager KPMG, Restaurant Associates and Emma Langford, people manager at Lexington Catering were both highly commended.

The ACE Robyns Award, sponsored by Troika, was created by the ACE committee in memory of Robyn Jones OBE, founder of CH&Co, who sadly died in September 2015. Robyn, who was an ACE Patron for many years, was known for her tireless work in the mentoring, training and development of young talent. These new awards put the spotlight on the next generation of the industry, something Robyn was always at the forefront of. Through the new awards ACE aims to recognise up-and-coming talent in all aspects of contract catering, from chefs to marketers and from butlers to business development staff.

ACE Robyns winner, Leanne is responsible for Airport Lounge Operations and her client portfolio consists of Emirates at Glasgow, Manchester and London Gatwick, Virgin Holidays at Manchester, Gulf Air, Qatar and Malaysia Airlines at London Heathrow, Upper Deck Lounge at Glasgow Airport, plus various FM contracts at UK Airports. She also supports business development globally by working on tenders, presentations and mobilisations.

Tim Jones, Joint Founder of CH&Co with his wife Robyn, who was one of the judges said, “I would like to congratulate all of the entrants. The standard of award entries was very high and several were particularly inspiring, demonstrating the drive and initiative that Robyn was well-known for. The judges had to make some difficult choices but I could see that Leanne would have struck a chord with Robyn.”

The other finalists were Holly Brown - BaxterStorey, Hannah Carmichael - Bartlett Mitchell, Paulina Ciecielag – ISS, Ryan Davies – BaxterStorey, Gregory Hall – Lexington, Henry Maasdorp - Blue Apple, Paul Matthews – Vacherin, Louisa May Matthews – Sodexo and Emma Shutler – Lexington.

Paul Hurren, Chair of ACE said “When I became ACE Chair one of my aims was to put young people in the spotlight, as they are the future of our industry and I believe we should champion young talent at every opportunity. These awards are just one aspect of our work to involve the next generation. I know Robyn Jones would be delighted that she is still shining the spotlight on the stars of contract catering.”

The ACE Robyns presentation was held on the Bateaux London cruise. Guests boarded at Embankment Pier for a memorable evening, taking in the sights of some of London’s favourite landmarks accompanied by the sound of singer/songwriter Sammie Jay.

The summer event was sponsored and supported by DCS, British Premium Meats, Jascots, Seedlip, Sodexo, Sunsoul, Sibberi Tree Water, Johnson’s Linen Services, Direct Seafoods, Soffles Pitta Chips, ChicP, Ape Snacks and Off to Work.

The next ACE event will be Ready Steady Cook: Next Generation which takes place on 22nd September 2016 at East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf.

Don't miss the ACE Robyns - deadline for entry May 27th
Final chance to put your staff in the ACE Robyns spotlight

It seems like no time since we launched the first ever ACE Robyns Awards but the closing date has come round very quickly. At midnight on Friday 27th May entries will close for the first ever awards in memory of the amazing Robyn Jones OBE.

I know Robyn would have loved these awards as they really will put young talent in the spotlight and give staff, who don’t always get the opportunity to be recognised, a chance to shine.

Developing young staff within a business is something Robyn was so passionate about and I’m determined to make this event a huge success for our industry, and for her. However, I also believe that these awards can do so much for not only nominees but your company as a whole which is why I have put together five reasons why you really should nominate before the deadline closes.

Remember, you don’t just need to nominate one person. We want to see as many different nominations from as many areas of contract catering as possible.

Five reasons to nominate

There’s nothing more rewarding for a member of staff than he or she realising you really value them and want their hard work to be recognised. Show them how much you care with an ACE Robyns nomination. Consider all areas of your business from chefs to marketing to HR to butlers as this award is open to everyone who is under 35 in your business.

I’m so proud to work in Contract Catering and we all have a part to play in showing the rest of the hospitality industry just how great we are at what we do. Awards are a fantastic way of showcasing the fabulous talent in our sector and this award is unique to our industry so something which should be celebrated.

By showing how much you care about your staff you can attract talented employees to your organisation. There will be lots of PR activity around these awards and it’s important to show your company as one that puts forward employees for wider opportunities within the industry.

These are the first ever ACE Robyns awards and it’s the start of a real legacy for Contract Catering so this year is a wonderful opportunity to put forward members of your team. Is the first ever ACE Robyns winner in your organisation? You’ll only find out if you put them forward.

And finally, the winner will be announced at our glittering summer event which will take place at an evening cruise on Bateaux London. This event provides a fantastic opportunity to mix and mingle with a true party atmosphere. There will be 12 finalists shortlisted, who will all be invited to the event, with one winner being announced on the night. Not only will the winner receive dinner and an overnight stay at The Shard, they will also enjoy champagne, lifetime membership of ACE and be the first to join the ACE Robyns hall of fame.

The support for these awards across the industry has been amazing. Please help us spread the word by emailing colleagues across your business and tweeting with the hashtag #ACERobyns. Let’s all work together to make these awards a legacy that Robyn Jones would be extremely proud of.

ACE Sustains prize winners enjoy their prize - a foraging day in Wales
Sodexo's Catering Manager takes local cubs to enjoy the experience

Sodexo Catering Manager, Gary Vaughan was a runner up in the People Category of ACE Sustains 2015 for his initiative to help cubs learn about food and cooking through his work as a catering manager, involving over 340 cubs across Wales and the West Midlands. He became involved with supporting the chef activity badge when the Sodexo Foundation sponsored the badge for Cub and Scout groups across the UK.

Gary’s prize was a foraging trip to The Gower with Fishing and Foraging Wales.

As well as supporting the troops at the Infantry Battle School in Brecon, Gary is also a keen scout leader and felt the prize would be a great experience to share with the cubs.So, in April this year, the 1st Llangynidr cub group set off to the Gower for their trip with Matt Powell, founder of Fishing and Foraging Wales.

Gary picks up the story:

“During Matt’s initial briefing he explained to the Cubs that he foraged sustainably and responsibly along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. He told them “The only rules are we take just what we need and we always pick sensibly and never from the root. Learning foraging skills brings you closer to your surroundings and closer to understanding the fragile eco-systems that are all around us”.

Throughout the morning we collected wild edible flowers, wild garlic and herbs food from hedge rows and woodland, then moved to the beach and collected different seaweeds and sea lettuce. The cubs also took part in razor clamming and rock pooling where we found crabs, star fish, sea worms and sea spaghetti. They were lucky enough to see a heron. (the star fish, crab, and sea worms we put back)

The Cubs showed great interest in Matt’s conversation and listened carefully. At one point, Matt was midway through talking about one type of leaf when one of the Cubs could not resist any longer and put his hand up and said “ Are you the Welsh version of Bear Grylls?” this took Matt completely by surprise and we all found it very amusing. Matt’s response was … “I wish I was”.

The Cubs were then invited into the kitchens of a luxury country house hotel where they assisted and observed a top haute cuisine chef create a masterpiece from their foraging.

The menu consisted of, wild garlic leaves, with pickled capers, marinated elderflower, and spiced rosehip. Spring mountain lamb, Spring local chicken, fresh lobster, and all that had been picked during the day.

> Cured and air dried Welsh mountain lamb with fermented apple juice crisp

> Naturally leavened bread, with wild pickles and butter (pickles were – pickled elderflower, wild garlic capers, preserved wild garlic, preserved rose hips and elderberry capers)

> Razor clams, wild garlic crust and razor clam cream.

> Local farm duck egg, hedgerow edibles, scarlet elfcup and last year’s porcini sauce

> Pembrokeshire Lobster/ Welsh mountain lamb – Caramelised cauliflower puree, pickled, salted and dried laverbread, Lobster sauce and lamb reduction with the lamb

> The cliff side at spring time - Duck egg custard flavoured with gorse flower, bara brith cream and birch bark meringue.

> Acorn mousse, edible malted grain “soil”, chocolate truffle, primrose and sorrel.

Matt commented “Organisations like the scouts are important to the future of our children’s outdoor education and the importance of local societies. I loved how keen they were to learn and I just found their curiosity very heart-warming and almost infectious.” 

This trip embodies the spirit of the ACE Sustains competition, which is all about sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives in food service. It introduced these children to the principles of foraging, using seasonal, local produce and enjoying truly natural ‘real’ food. Something they will hopefully be inspired by, and who knows, may take them into future roles as chefs!

Sodexo is the world’s largest services company and is proud to deliver services that improve the quality of life to the corporate, healthcare, education, leisure, justice and defence sectors. Sodexo is the 18th largest employer in the world with 428,000 employees in 80 countries providing a range of services from catering, cleaning, and reception to asset management, security, laboratory and grounds maintenance services, enabling clients to focus on their core business.

ACE Quiz at Lloyd's London
Bartlett Mitchell regain their title at ACE Quiz 2016

On Tuesday 12th April 2016 for the third year running, The Association of Catering Excellence was at Lloyd’s London for the popular annual Quiz Night, a firm favourite in the ACE calendar with 37 teams and over 200 people from the catering industry taking part. It’s been 3 years since Bartlett Mitchell won the ACE Quiz Night, although they came close last year in second place.

At this year’s quiz they were once again triumphant. The team of 6 each won a bottle of champagne, and the Sheila Mitchell Quiz Trophy. Team member Richard Hodgson says:

“It’s a while since we won, but we’re back where we belong! I’ve been watching all the quiz programmes on TV to prepare for this event.”
Managing Director and ACE patron Wendy Bartlett was unable to be there, but she messaged the team on hearing of their victory to say “What a star team – fantastic!”

Quiz rounds included: Champagne bottle sizes, Leap Year trivia, Olympics, marketing & advertising campaigns, Europe, theatre, and of course food and drink.

Hosting staff from Evolve welcomed and directed guests, and collected the quiz papers. Lead sponsors for the evening were Pelican Procurement who joined ACE last year. Marketing Manager Simona Hardy said:

“Pelican are proud to support ACE events as they offer a very friendly and informal way to meet and network with industry colleagues. We joined ACE last summer, and enjoy the range of events.”

In second place was Neller Davies, with Harrison Catering in third place.
Catering manager for Elior at Lloyds, Kevin Colclough-Noble acknowledging his team said.

“I hope you’ve enjoyed the hospitality and supper provided tonight. Big thanks to the fabulous team here at Lloyds who made it all happen.”

ACE Chair, Paul Hurren introduced his chosen charity, Wiggly Worm who seek to improve health, well-being and self-esteem amongst the vulnerable, disadvantaged or seldom heard through food. The raffle raised an impressive £1,500 which will go to the charity.

He also announced the next ACE event, the Summer Party on 21st July which will take place on Bateaux London and include the new ACE Robyns Awards Presentation.

The ACE Robyns Award has been created by the ACE committee in memory of Robyn Jones OBE, founder of CH&Co, who sadly died in September 2015. Robyn was known for her tireless work in the mentoring, training and development of young talent. These new awards will put the spotlight on the next generation of the industry, something Robyn was always at the forefront of.

Entries should be submitted to by 20th May 2016.

More details available on the ACE website

Sponsors included:

Pelican Procurement Services
Catering Design Group
Digital Blonde
Mondelez International
Johnson’s Stalbridge Linen Services
Tim Browne Ltd

Teams entered included:

Accent Catering
Admiral Group
BA Lounges team
Berkeley Scott
Blue Apple Catering
Cartwheel Recruitment
CH & Co
Collins King & Associates
Evolve Hospitality
Green & Fortune
Harrison Catering Services
Johnsons Stalbridge
Neller Davies
Restaurant Associates
The Brookwood Partnership
The Caterers Linen Supply
West Horsley Dairy

About the charity, Wiggly Worm:

The Wiggly Worm is a charity that exists to improve health, well-being and self-esteem amongst the vulnerable, disadvantaged or seldom heard. Food is a great leveller and their approach delivers practical results to individuals, communities and organisations. Their courses and events motivate people to make choices about who they are, what they can be and who they can trust. They instil in people a reminder of their true worth in society.

ACE Wine Dinner at Goldsmiths' Hall
New patrons introduced at ACE Wine Dinner

The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Wine Dinner at Goldsmiths’ Hall on Thursday 18th February. For the first time, the event was a black tie affair and a record 200 guests from the catering industry enjoyed the magnificent surroundings of one of London’s oldest livery halls, often used in film sets as a substitute for Buckingham Palace due to its grandeur.

The evening started with the introduction of ACE’s new patrons, Wendy Bartlett MBE, CEO bartlett mitchell, and Chris Bray, CEO Sports & Leisure, Sodexo UK & Ireland. Wendy has been a member of ACE for a long time and said:

“ACE is not pretentious – it’s very friendly and it allows a mixed balance so that everyone in the organisation is welcome. I believe it’s unique to our sector.”

Chris Bray added:

Although Sodexo have been involved in ACE for many years, I just became a member last year. It’s fantastic to see so many people and such an array of talent in one room. I’m looking forward to getting involved and seeing what we can do.”

The theme of the evening was celebrating up and coming talent in the industry, a mission that ACE’s chair, Paul Hurren is keen to support:

“One of my aims is to give the next generation of caterers the opportunity to shine.

I strongly believe it shouldn’t just be industry leaders attending events like this. We invited some very special young and talented guests to this dinner such as The Craft Guild of Chefs’ Apprentice Chef of the Year 2015, Ben Garnett-Sinclair and Gold Service Scholarship 2015 winner Daniele Quattromini from Lusso. People like Ben and Daniele are some of our future industry leaders and it’s important we recognise this and involve them now.

By inviting them as our guests it’s a simple way of saying thank you to them for the contribution they are making to our industry and putting contract catering in the spotlight.”

Guests were treated to a sumptuous 4 course menu provided by Chester Boyd, part of CH&CO, with accompanying wines provided by wine sponsor, Ellis Wines. Business Development Manager, Richard Yates explains:

“I have personally been involved with ACE for many years and found it to be of enormous value. Ellis Wines is a family run business that was established in 1822. We are relatively new to the contract catering sector, and are keen to show what we can do. Having our own bonded warehouse and distribution facility means we can be highly flexible and responsive. ACE events provide a great opportunity to introduce our services and make some excellent contacts.”

The lobster was provided by Bidvest, and the fillet of beef and ox cheeks were provided by British Premium Meats, long-time supporters of ACE events. Mark Hutchinson observes:

“Our ACE membership fees are more than made up for in the friends and contacts we make at the events. They’re friendly, not too formal and we always enjoy the opportunity to spend an evening together as a team.”

The raffle raised £2,500 which was presented to ACE’s charity Beyond Food Foundation which gives homeless people an opportunity to learn skills for work in the catering industry. Prizes were kindly provided by Catering Design Group and included dinner for 2 at Osteria, Barbican; cocktails and tapas at H10 Sky Bar, Waterloo; family day at Attingham Park (National Trust) and a case of 6 bottles of Laurent Perrier champagne.

The next ACE event is the Quiz Night on Tuesday 12th April at Lloyds London.

Don't miss the ACE Wine Dinner in February
Goldsmiths Hall - a unique and stunning venue

Tables are going fast for the Wine Dinner on 18th February at what can only be described as one of London’s hidden treasures.

Goldsmiths' Hall is the home of one of the "Great 12" Livery Companies of the City of London and is often used as a film set for palaces such as Buckingham Palace due to its beauty and grandeur.

One of the things that makes the Livery Hall so special are the four stunning candle chandeliers which will be lit up for our guests. This only happens on special occasions so very few people have the opportunity to experience it.

Guests will also be able to listen to the uplifting sound of a string quartet from the London Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

For the first time, the ACE Winner Dinner will be a black tie event, served in the Livery Hall with a traditional livery menu, accompanied by the finest of wines supplied by our wine sponsor, Ellis Wines.

Demand for tickets has been extremely high so if you haven't done so yet, please book your tickets now to avoid missing out.

£100 + VAT for ACE members (£110 + VAT for non-members)

You can now complete your booking online. You can also call or email to reserve your tickets.

Tel: 01483 765111


A very special menu, each served with a carefully selected wine from our wine sponsors, Ellis Wines

First Course

Lobster Soufflé
Twice Baked Lobster Soufflé, Buttered Spinach, Pernod Bisque, Sea Herbs


Domaine Cambos “Gros Manseng” Gascogne 2014

Main Course

Aged Fillet of Beef
Braised Ox Cheek Ravioli, Truffle Cauliflower Puree, Rose Poached Salsify
Koffman Cabbage, Cipolle Onions


Bodegas Ramon Bilbao, Rioja Edition Limitada 2012


Welsh Rarebit
Wild Mushrooms, Truffle, Gold Leaf


Bodegas Ramon Bilbao, Rioja Edition Limitada 2012


Citrus Meringue Tart
Blackcurrants, Blackcurrant Sorbet, Toasted Meringues


Muscat De Rivesaltes Chateau Montesquieu 2012

Coffee and Gold Bullion Bars

Ready Steady Cook 2015
Preparation pays off for Vacherin, winners of this year’s ACE Ready Steady Cook

Once again, The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Ready Steady Cook Challenge at Imperial College, London on Thursday 24th September

12 teams from the foodservice sector created dishes in just 30 minutes in front of a live audience of 200, using ingredients they had only discovered 30 minutes before. The main ingredients were guinea fowl, black pudding and lamb cannon with a selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits and storecupboard ingredients supplied by British Premium Meats, 4degC and kff.

First time judge, Christopher Basten, Chairman of the Craft Guild of Chefs has judged many cooking competitions and noted:

“These guys have very limited equipment - doing everything on 2 induction hobs is a real challenge, so it’s all about taste and flavours.”

The winners were Steven Lickley and Paul Matthews from Vacherin, who have worked together for 7 months. To prepare for the event, they did 2 run throughs on their own site, making conditions as difficult as possible for themselves.
“The first one was a disaster – it was really stressful and we gave up halfway through. Trying to work so closely on one hob under time pressure threw us off. Then we had another go and it was much better, so we came prepared for the stress.”
Their winning menu was pan roasted lamb cannon, brown butter sweet potato, sweet & sour leeks, charred spring onion and feta crumb with a dessert of red wine poached plums, bitter chocolate, blackberry and lemon curd and spiced yoghurt.
Restaurant Associates were in second place, with Brookwood in third. The 3 teams received their prizes from the sponsors, CookTek, Russums, McFarlane Telfer and Peros.
The other teams were ABsolutely Catering, Artizian, BaxterStorey, Bartlett Mitchell, Ch&Co, Gather & Gather, Holroyd Howe, ISS Food & Hospitality, and Sodexo.

Judge Geoff Booth, Westminster Kingsway College pointed out:
“The chefs are treated horribly – they have no time, very limited facilities, and a lot of distractions with a compere interrupting them and an audience quiz going on in the background. We’re in awe of the talent at this event.”
Judge Sara Jayne Stanes OBE, Academy of Culinary Arts added:
“The teamwork, the adrenaline, the inspiration and creativity is palpable in the room. I love doing this, watching them all pumped up. Well done for rising to the occasion.”

First prize is a meal for the chefs and their partners at The Fat Duck, sponsored by McFarlane Telfer. Sales & Marketing Director, Mark Brooker explains why they support Ready Steady Cook:
“We sponsor this event because of our relationship with contract caterers. 60% of our business comes through third parties such as contract caterers and facilities management companies, and many of the competitors are our customers. It’s great to see them in action like this, and I only wish that we could taste the food they create. It all looks so good!”

The raffle on the evening was in aid of Beyond Food Foundation, ACE’s chosen charity for 2015. It was set up to inspire homeless people, motivate them and train them to become chefs through its apprenticeship programme at Brigade Bar and Bistro in Tooley Street. CEO, Greg Harris was there to present the prize of tickets to the supper club event at the restaurant. He appealed to the audience for help with work placements for the apprentices. The chopping boards and pans, provided by Nisbets, will be donated to the charity.

ACE Sustains 2015
West Horsley Dairy and Bartlett Mitchell win ACE Sustains 2015

On Wednesday 15th July the Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) announced the winners of ACE Sustains 2015 at their annual summer networking event in the tranquil gardens at Stationers’ Hall. ACE Sustains is now in its third year and celebrates those in the food service sector that champion sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

There were 2 awards, one for an organisation, the other for an individual within an organisation.

The corporate award, sponsored by Douwe Egberts, was presented to West Horsley Dairy for creating the UK’s greenest food service lorry.

A food service vehicle needs to have the facility to transport chilled/frozen goods so there is a need to operate a refrigeration unit as well as to propel the vehicle. Given that a standard 7.5 tonne refrigerated truck only achieves 13mpg, West Horsley Dairy wanted to find an eco-friendly solution to making deliveries but found that there was nothing suitable on the market. Undeterred by the fact that a workable solution did not exist, they teamed up with Mercedes Benz UK for the chassis cab, and pioneering family firm, Jackson coachworks to build and design the refrigerated body. The chiller box units are based on eutectic refrigeration, using a semi-solid gel that radiates cold air when it is thawing, much like freezer blocks in a picnic box.

Catherine and Philip Colton founded West Horsley Dairy 23 years ago with one van and a shed in the back garden. Their aim then was to deliver a better quality of product and service than their competitors were providing. It is this same spirit that has led them to develop this unique vehicle.

Catherine says: ‘Our aim was to produce the most ‘realistically’ affordable, environmentally friendly food service lorry for London. The combined effect of the electric hybrid drive train and the eutectic refrigeration system is allowing us to achieve a 7mpg saving, week in week out. We are hoping Boris Johnson notices the green credentials of these new vehicles and grants us exemption from the London Congestion Charge!

This is the first time we’ve entered ACE Sustains and we’re thrilled to have won. We’ve been members of ACE for 4 years, and up till now, the Quiz Night has been one of our favourites.’

Lusso and The London Linen Group were runners up.

Continued …

The people award went to Lin Dickens and the Green Bee team at Bartlett Mitchell for their ‘Read Your Wrap’ initiative.

Team member Hannah Carmichael came up with the bright idea of using sandwich wrappers to get green messages across. They now use biodegradeable greaseproof paper, printed with vegetable inks for communicating with customers, rather than relying on the traditional Table Talkers and printed leaflets.

Each wrap has a selection of stories and news snippets about the eco-friendly initiatives that are taking place around the business. They are updated quarterly, and the team are often asked when the next one is coming out.

Hannah says: ‘People are bombarded with notices, messages and signs everywhere and it’s hard to make information available without it being overwhelming. We needed a smart way to bring it all together. It’s amazing to have people coming up to us and saying things like ‘I didn’t realise we used free range eggs in all our cooking’. These are things that they have noticed because they read it on their wrap whilst eating their lunchtime sandwich!’

For their prize, Lin and her team will enjoy the Tasting Menu for 4 people at Michelin-starred Fera at Claridge's (sponsored by Pelican):
Renowned chef Simon Rogan's ever-changing tasting menu captures the spirit of the ACE Sustains competition. He uses the finest organic ingredients, and looks for produce in its prime to create truly seasonal menus that change with the weather.
Runners up in the people category were Lorna Burns, Brand Manager for KPMG, Restaurant Associates and Gary Vaughan, Catering Manager, Sodexo Defence.

The panel of expert judges included Shirley Duncalf, Head of Sustainability for Bidvest 3663; Brendan Hunter, Hospitality Manager, WRAP; Mark Linehan, Managing Director, Sustainable Restaurant Association; Mark Jankovich, Chief Executive, Delphis Eco.

Judge Brendan Hunter said “It’s not just about innovation. It’s easy to have ideas, but they’re not always practical. What impressed us this year is the systematic approach that companies have taken. We’ve seen organisations measuring, analysing and putting proper processes in place to ensure that these green initiatives can really make an impact.

We really liked the sandwich wrappers – what a great vehicle for getting messages across subtly without appearing to preach. The fact that people are waiting for the next edition speaks volumes.

West Horsley Dairy’s truck has the potential to really make a difference and have an effect on the whole industry. Their determination and collaboration with other businesses made it work, and is particularly impressive for a small family business.”

Quiz Night April 2015
Record number of entries for ACE Quiz Night

Following the popularity of last year’s venue, The Association of Catering Excellence once again held its annual Quiz Night at Lloyds London on Wednesday 16th April. A record 37 teams enjoyed a convivial evening in the company of peers and colleagues from across the catering industry.

Stealing the trophy this year were The Caterers Linen Supply who received a bottle of Jouet champagne each for their efforts. Ian Heapy, National Accounts Manager explains:

“We’ve done the quiz for the last 6 years but never won it before. We put it down to having the finest brains they could find this year! But seriously, we love Quiz Night and the compere in particular is excellent. It’s very well organised and run.”

There was something for everyone in the quiz rounds including: London Landmarks, Come Fly With Me, Shaken not Stirred (James Bond theme), Toys and Games, Acronyms, Cheese Tasting, Fruit and Vegetables, Cities of the World as well as General Knowledge.
Hosting staff from Off to Work welcomed and directed guests, and collected the quiz papers. Managing Director, Philip Atkins commented:
"It’s lovely to support such an evening. It is fun, friendly and competitive all at the same time! It’s also fantastic networking. It’s a great way to catch up with people you know, and a way of ensuring that we’re a part of a community that celebrates catering excellence.”

Second place was jointly held by Bartlett Mitchell and Stern Consultancy who missed out by just 2 points. Managing Director, Chris Stern observed:
“We’ve done no preparation apart from watching University Challenge - we had a good mix of skills, but we do best when we guess!”
Catering manager for Elior at Lloyds, Kevin Colclough-Noble acknowledging his team said.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to host you here tonight, but I couldn’t do it alone. Big thanks to the team here at Lloyds”

Proceeds from the raffle which amounted to £870 went to Beyond Food Foundation, the nominated ACE Charity for the year. The main sponsors for the evening were United Coffee.

ACE Wine Dinner - February 2015
Apprentice from Beyond Food Foundation wins dinner for 2 at City Social at ACE’s Wine Dinner

The Association of Catering Excellence held its annual Wine Dinner on Thursday 5th February at Painters' Hall, with over 150 guests from the catering industry enjoying a 4 course dinner accompanied by 7 South African wines from Eagles Cliff.

The star prize in the raffle was dinner for 2 at Jason Atherton's City Social restaurant, sited within Tower 42. This prize was donated by Restaurant Associates, and won by Dewberry Redpoint’s Managing Director, Andrew Archer. In a generous gesture, he offered the prize to 22 year old apprentice, Gavin Fontaine.

Just 6 months ago, former plumber Gavin was homeless, but thanks to an initiative set up by chef founder Simon Boyle, he is currently undergoing a 13 month programme at Beyond Food Foundation, ACE's chosen charity for 2014/15. Simon attended the dinner with Gavin, to share their story and collect a cheque for £2,500 from Jeni Edwards, Chair of ACE. A further £2,500 will be donated later in the year. Simon Boyle said:

“We’re very proud ACE chose us as their charity. 3 and a half years ago, I opened Brigade Restaurant in the oldest fire station in London, and since then we have seen over 593 homeless people come through the doors on our Fresh Life programme. The apprentices that go on to work with us will spend 6 months in Brigade’s kitchen, learning how to make soup, stock, sauces and ice-cream. They will then do a 7 month work placement which should result in full-time employment. We give them good solid skills so they can get out of the cycle of no home, no job, no home. Without the support of people like ACE, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. ACE's donation will sponsor a homeless person and train them in foodservice, providing them with a new and positive future.”

Painters' Hall is home to the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers, a Company whose roots can be traced back to the thirteenth century and ranked 28th in the seniority of the City Livery Companies.The Livery Hall boasts beautiful art amongst scenes dating back to the 16th century.
The wines were presented by Richard Household, the UK representative for South African wine producers Eagles Cliff. Richard guided guests through a selection of stunning wines, including the award winning Arendskloof Tannat-Syrah and other stars from their portfolio.

Venue caterers, Life's Kitchen provided the menu, with many ingredients donated by ACE Sponsors including the venison from British Premium Meats, water from Hildon House, cheeses from Kff, bread from Bridor, dessert from Vittles and petit fours from Traiteur de Paris:

Dinner menu
Crayfish and Queen Scallop Tian
Heritage Tomato and Dill Dressing
Seared Venison Medallion
Potato and Celeriac Dauphinoise, Wilted Greens and Redcurrant Game Jus
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Chocolate Pearls and Blood Orange Syrup
Selection of British Cheeses
Quince Jelly, Dried Fruits and Artisan Biscuits
Freshly Brewed Fairtrade Coffee & Petit Fours

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Greg Smolonski has been the official ACE photographer for several years. He has put together a viewing gallery so you can browse images from recent events, and purchase any that you would like as a memento of your team night out.



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