Panel Power and Session Savvy

As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power” and we have wisdom and knowledge in abundance for you at The Restaurant Show 2017! Across the three days, we have a jam-packed schedule of interesting and informative sessions where a wealth of insights, opinion, experience, advice and true stories will be shared. To give a small taste of the expertise that we have on offer, we caught up with a few of our speakers. Here are just a few tantalisingly tasty morsels of what you will glean (and taste and smell) at their sessions.

Talking Talent - Solving the Skills Shortage

JILL WHITAKER is an award-winning director who, in 2006, co-founded HIT Training Ltd which now employs over 535 people and supports over 10,000 apprentices and 3,300 employers a year. In 2014 & 2015 HIT Training was listed in both the Times Best Companies to Work For and the Investec Mid-Market Growth Companies.

Jill will be hosting a panel of industry professionals as they discuss the sector’s current HR difficulties and potential staffing solutions. To help us with an early insight, we asked Jill some meaty questions:

Q: What is the secret of making your establishment a desirable place in which to work?

A: Employees are arguably the lifeblood of any restaurant. It’s important that businesses make their staff feel valued and empowered, especially as the industry is largely characterised as having a high staff turnover. This presents a growing challenge for restaurant operators as continually having to replace employees is both time-consuming and expensive, with labour turnover in the hospitality industry costing the sector £274m annually.

One of the main reasons employees choose to leave a company is due to a lack of development opportunities – with research finding that 41% are more likely to leave a position within a year if they do not receive training. Implementing high-quality apprenticeships and training programmes is an effective way to tackle this problem, as they provide a clear path of progression to current and future employees.

Take the Hospitality Team Member Apprenticeship, for example, which helps employees to recognise and respond to customer needs so they can go on to work as team leaders and in managerial roles. The benefits of providing great development opportunities like this speak for themselves, as 71% of apprentices stay with their employer after finishing their qualification. This means that restaurants can spend more time focusing on creating a great customer experience and developing their offering, rather than onboarding and recruiting new staff.

Implementing training programmes can also have a positive impact on the whole team, as apprentices tend to be hard-working, motivated and loyal to the company that has invested in their development. In addition, people who are passionate about their work help to fuel other employees’ drive to become better at their craft. This is evident, as 76% of businesses report that apprenticeships help to improve staff productivity.

Understanding what motivates and drives staff is key to tackling the issues surrounding retention. Implementing training and apprenticeship programmes which encourage staff to achieve their career goals and aspirations will not only help to create a dynamic and enthusiastic workforce, but also secure a prosperous future for the restaurant industry.”


Q: What would you say to a visitor who is considering attending your session?

A: Attracting and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges restaurant operators face. With factors such as the growing skills shortage and implications from Brexit, it’s an issue that will continue to gain momentum and intensify in 2018.

The Talking Talent Panel Debate will look at different ways in which restaurants can not only find skilled team members but also how to keep and motivate them to progress within a company. Using working examples, attendees can hear how some of the leading experts in the industry are addressing recruitment and retention, and gain a greater understanding of how training programmes and the Apprenticeship Levy can play a vital role tackling this challenge.”

Don’t miss Jill’s session:

Talking talent panel debate with Jill Whitaker from HIT Training

Tuesday 3rd October 13:15pm - 13:50pm The Stage.

Attracting and retaining top talent is vital to secure the future success of the hospitality sector. Our lively panel of restaurateurs and industry employers will discuss the hottest topics around training, skills and apprenticeships, including the potential Brexit skills shortage and what the Apprenticeship Levy might mean for your business.


Wine, Bubbles and Sake - Peter McCombie’s Drinks Menu

Peter McCombie, Master of Wine is leading a cellar-full of sessions at The Restaurant Show this year. Peter's career in wine started in sales working with legendary Winecellars that champion Italian wines. He now operates an independent wine consultancy service, focused on hotels and restaurants. We caught up with him to find out about what he has on offer. And, yes, there will be tasting opportunities.

Q: You are speaking about Sake in one of your sessions. What would you say to businesses who’ve never considered putting it on their menu before?

A: Sake really has something to offer your customers. It has a range of styles and flavours that is much broader than you might think and can be really interesting when looking for food pairings.

Q: If customers are shying away from wine at casual dining venues, how will your session help change that?

A: Consumers who don’t drink wine in casual dining settings may well find wine intimidating. Too many operators don’t think they need to make much effort  to make a buck, but the truth is customers will buy an alternative drink if it is more accessible and understandable, especially if there isn’t someone there who can sell to them, without being pushy or patronising. Among other things, my session will look at strategies that allow restaurants to source wines that offer better value and quality.

Q: Do you have a favourite wine region for its wine and a favourite region for the experience of the place itself?

A: I always get asked that! To be honest it changes, but…Tuscany is beautiful, the food is great and the wines are excellent.

Q: What would you say to visitors who are considering attending some or all of your sessions?

A: In 45 minutes you’ll learn something useful for your business, have some fun and taste something delicious.

Now there’s an offer not to be missed! Which of Peter’s sessions would you like to attend? Some sessions are repeated so there’s an even better chance of you being able to catch everything!

Essential Secrets of Sake with Peter McCombie and Rie Yoshitake

Monday 2nd October 16:00pm - 16:45pm at Hospitality Uncorked.

Once only found in Japanese restaurants and sushi bars – Sake is now listed alongside wine selections of some of the most prestigious establishments in the UK. Peter and Rie will provide the ultimate introduction - speaking about the attractions of Sake, how to select a good Sake, how versatile and unique Sake is in comparison with wine. Discover the true pleasure of this national heritage.

English sparkling wine: Serious fizz or passing fad?

Tuesday 3rd October at 15:00pm - 15:45pm and Wednesday 4th October 14:00pm - 14:45pm at Hospitality Uncorked.

English sparklers are enjoying a moment as sommeliers and consumers alike discover the potential of home-grown grapes. But are they really good enough to seriously rival Champagne on wine lists? Peter McCombie considers the evidence and gives you the chance to decide for yourself.

Sparkling success

Monday 2nd October 14:00pm - 14:45pm and Tuesday 3rd October 13:00pm - 13:45pm at Hospitality Uncorked.

Peter McCombie leads an interactive blind tasting session with Champagne, and some sparkling alternatives, before explaining how to price, market and sell each selection. Today’s customers are looking for more than just ‘a glass of fizz’ – and this is a great way to meet their needs and boost sales.

Casual dinner: putting wine back on the menu

Monday 2nd October and Wednesday 4th October both at 12:00pm - 12:45pm at Hospitality Uncorked.

Recent research reveals the majority of consumers want to drink wine on a night out, but rarely do when visiting a casual dining venue. Peter McCombie will talk you through some smart solutions, from championing lesser-known regions, seeking out fresh locations in established wine-growing countries and sourcing off-beat bottles that deliver on quality and price.


Root to Fruit Eating

Award-winning eco chef and food waste activist, Tom Hunt brings some real food for thought with his food waste facts and tips on how to eat more responsibly (and enjoyably!). Come to his session, Root to Fruit Eating on Tuesday 3rd October at 10:30 on The Stage.

Tom’s Food Waste Facts:

  • Around 40% of all food produced is wasted (that’s 1.3 billion tonnes a year).
  • This amounts to 1 trillion dollars of wasted or lost food.
  • Almost 50% of food thrown away in the UK comes from our homes.
  • Wasting this food costs the average household £470 a year, rising to £700 for a family with children, the equivalent of around £60 a month.
  • A European or North American consumer wastes 15 times more food than a typical African consumer.
  • Just one quarter of all wasted food could feed the 795 million undernourished people around the world who suffer from hunger.

(Facts from the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations; WRAP; Love Food Hate Waste and Food Tank).

Tom’s Tips on Root to Fruit Eating:

Giving us a nibble of what’s in store in his session, Tom has given us some eco-friendly tips to chew over. He says, “By giving a little extra time to food you can reduce your waste and increase the quality of your diet by buying more chemical-free and high welfare produce for no extra cost.” Here are his top tips:

  • Eat for Pleasure

Take time to shop, cook and eat for pleasure. Buy direct from farmers and producers and from shopkeepers who take pleasure in the quality of their produce and who know where their food comes from. And whenever possible grow your own. Having a connection with your food will help you savour it all the more.

  • Eat Seasonally

Choosing to eat seasonally exceptionally improves the quality of our food whilst simultaneously reducing the cost of our ingredients. Seasonal food goes hand in hand with eating local and eating more vegetables, all factors which reduce your impact on the environment and reduce industry waste. A local and short food chain produces less waste due to the simpler logistics and reduced food miles. Eating more vegetables reduces the resources that would have been used to produce meat.

  • Eat whole foods

Eating ingredients in their entirety whether it’s a whole grain or vegetable – skins, stalks, leaves and seeds – means we’re consuming the most nutritious parts of our ingredients and preventing them from being discarded. By eating the parts of an ingredient that we’d normally throw away we save cost that can be seen as a budget for buying higher welfare foods.


Root to Fruit Eating: Eco-friendly food tips with award-winning chef Tom Hunt.

Tuesday 3rd October at 10:30 on The Stage.

Whether cooking at The River Cottage, writing The Natural Cook or campaigning with The Soil Association, Tom has always been passionate about what he calls Root to Fruit eating. See him cook up a storm as he highlights how nutritious whole foods from the whole farm can help restore people and the planet.

Industry Insights

Simon Stenning is Executive Director at industry-leading insight and intelligence provider MCA, he’ll be taking to The Stage twice during The Restaurant Show. Simon will be drawing on the findings of MCA’s Restaurant Market Reports over the last two years and its forthcoming Foodservice Delivery Market Report. These deliver unparalleled market and consumer intelligence, highly prized by restaurant operators and suppliers.

Q: What can we expect from your first appearance on stage in ‘Restaurant SOS – Standout or Stall’?

A: I’ll be hitting on some of the issues that are doing their best to quash operators’ optimism – intense competition, the staff crunch, the fragile economy and rising costs. And I’ll be looking at ways in which operators can stand out from the crowd, attracting loyal customers and stimulating same-store growth.

Q: What can you tell us about trends in the industry?

A: In my talk ‘Restaurant Growth is Fuelled by Consumers Seeking Faster Fashion Food’ (Wednesday October 4 at 13.45pm), I’ll be looking at how consumer-driven food and drink trends move as fast as fashion trends on the catwalk and high street. I’ll be addressing how specific customer tribes’ missions and needs are continually changing and how their demands for “faster fashion in food” are pushing operators to speed up NPD.

Restaurant SOS – Standout or Stall - an exploration of the growth, changes, disrupters and challenges for the UK Restaurant market

Monday 2nd October 11:45am - 12:30pm

Simon Stenning, Executive Director of leading strategic research consultancy MCA, tells us why the market is changing and what operators need to do to stay ahead.

Following on from previous year’s messages about ‘No Casual Approach for the Casual Dining market’ and ‘the road to growth is changing from expansion to contemporary experiences’ Simon’s presentation will be brought right up to date with the MCA 2017 Restaurant Market Report, and a new MCA report on the Foodservice Delivery Market.

Restaurant growth is fuelled by consumers seeking faster fashion food with Simon Stenning, MCA Executive Director

Wednesday 4th October 13:45pm - 14:30pm

Simon Stenning identifies the key trends from restaurants and on the High Street, and discusses with a leading casual dining operator how customers’ new needs are revolutionising the restaurant world.