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The Rebel Within

We were in California last week, San Francisco to be exact! But this time not to the fancy food show. Some intelligence took us to ‘Craftsman & Wolves’ on Valencia Street.

These guys are famous for their coffee and ‘The Rebel Within’; a savoury muffin which includes asiago, sausage, green onion and a soft boiled egg inside (A.K.A a scotch egg!).

It can only be described as a ‘taste sensation’. This is a huge new trend on the West coast, a real destination!

2017, Year of the Rooster

For the past few years I was lucky enough to spend some time in China, learning about the culture, visiting dozens of temples and trying as much of the food as I could! Authentic Chinese food, as I’m sure many of you know, differs greatly from our beloved Western Chinese takeaways. Unique and distinct flavours, exotic vegetables and parts of animals I didn’t know were even edible made up this extensive cuisine.

One of the favourites amongst foreigners in China is jiaozi (饺子); Chinese dumplings filled with meat and/or vegetables which traditionally are boiled, steamed or pan fried. At Chinese New Year they are a commonly prepared food by families on New Year’s Eve. On occasion a coin is hidden in one of the dumplings, believing it will bring luck in the New Year to the person who finds it.

During Chinese New Year there are particular foods which are deemed lucky, these include…

Fish – increases prosperity

Dumplings – increases wealth

Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) – brings the family together

Good fortune fruit (tangerines and oranges) – provides fullness and wealth

Niangao (glutinous rice cake) – blesses with higher income/higher position


After spending the last 3 Chinese New Years in Guangzhou, I have been deciding on which restaurant I’ll be making the journey to for some delightful Chinese treats. One of our favourite Chinese Restaurants here at NPD Direct is Hakkasan Hanway Place. It will be serving up a menu for a limited time only that is said to bring luck, joy and prosperity to 2017.

If you’d like to partake in the festivities, China Town of course will be putting on festivities for the next two weeks, or you could try making your own Jiaozi with this nifty recipe found below.

But for now, 新年快!


Pork and Chive Dumplings Recipe

Serves 2 | Prep Time: 30 Mins | Cook Time: 5 Mins


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water


1/2 cup chopped Chinese chives
1/2 pound ground pork
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese Shaoxing wine or rice wine
3 dashes white pepper powder
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Chinese black vinegar


Mix the flour with water and knead it for about 15 minutes or until the dough gets soft. Separate the dough into two equal portions and roll them into cylinders (about 1 inch in diameter). Cover them with wet towel and set aside.

Prepare the chives by chopping off the root or white part of the chives. Use only the green part. Mix the chives with the ground pork and add all the ingredients in Filling. Stir to combine well.
To prepare the wrapper, cut the dough into 1/4 inch length and use a rolling pin to flatten it until it becomes a round shape about 3 inches in diameter. Put a small spoonful of filling into the center of the skin and seal it up tightly with your fingers. (No pleating is needed for this recipe). Repeat the same until you use up all the ingredients.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water and cover the pot. As soon as the dumplings start to float (meaning they are cooked), dish them out using a strainer onto a serving platter. Serve hot with black vinegar.


Author: Toni Martell

At Amazon Go, you grab your groceries, leave without waiting in line, and pay later

Amazon has launched a beta version of its Go convenience store, which it describes as a “new kind of store with no checkout required.” An ambitious project that has apparently been in the works for four years, Amazon Go seeks to do away with the nuisance of waiting in lines. Rather than paying in the store, customers simply … walk out once they’re done getting their groceries.

So how does it work? According to Amazon, the experience depends upon “the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.” Whenever you grab an item from a shelf, the company’s Just Walk Out technology detects what’s been taken and its price. If you change your mind about an item, you can put it back, and Amazon will remove it from your virtual shopping cart. When you’re finished, just leave, and your credit card will be charged and you’ll be sent a receipt.

As it stands, Amazon Go currently offers ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options, created daily by on-site chefs, local kitchens, and bakeries. And while Go has grocery store staples like bread, milk, and cheese, it also stocks products for the more adventurous eaters from brands Amazon is eager to introduce to the public. You can even buy an Amazon Meal Kit, which promises to contain “all the ingredients you need to make a meal for two in about 30 minutes.”

Currently, only Amazon employees are taking part of the Beta program, though Amazon promises to open up its 21st century grocery store to the public in early 2017.

Amazon Dash – Everything you need to know


Customers will be able to press the ‘Dash Buttons’ to order new products Credit: Amazon

Amazon has launched ‘WiFi-connected buttons’ enabling customers to reorder household products with a single push.

From today, the e-commerce firm will make its ‘Amazon Dash’ buttons available in the UK.

It has only previously been for sale in the US, but on Wednesday, more than 40 brands in the UK will be able to offer the service.

The ‘Dash Buttons’ are designed to be placed near where users keep the products in question – so when items are running low, they can be easily reordered.

The firm also launched ‘Dash Replenishment’, which automatically reorders products for smart applications on your behalf – including washing machines and printers – when supplies run low.

Dash 2

The buttons are connected to WiFi Credit: Amazon

What is Amazon Dash?

‘Amazon Dash’ offers one-click shopping from anywhere in the home by letting you reorder household products by the simple press of a button.

Each ‘Dash Button’ is paired with a product of your choice, which is selected at the set-up process.

The button comes with a reusable adhesive and a removable hook – so you’ll be able to hook, hang or place the item where you need it.

Daniel Raush, product developer at Amazon said: “[The buttons] can be placed near those frequently used items you don’t want to run out of, and when you see supplies running low, the Dash Button makes it easier than ever to order more. Just press the button and your item is on its way.”

How does it work?

Dash 3

The buttons are only available to Amazon Prime customers Credit: Amazon

The button works on WiFi and is connected to your Amazon Prime account.

Once an order is placed, a notification (if enabled) is sent to your smartphone and a green (or red) button will light on the button, depending on whether the order was successful or not.

The mobile app also provides an option for customers to cancel orders or to check order statuses.

As a security feature, the button will not let you place a new order until your prior order has been delivered – regardless of how many times the button is pressed.

What can I order?

Andrex, Gillette, Listerine, Olay and Right Guard are among a group of 40 brands to offer Dash Buttons in the UK.

It is expected other brands will be available in the future, with the company promising “more to come”.

Dash 4

Andrex are one company offering the Dash Button Credit: Amazon

How much does it cost?

The buttons cost £4.99 each, and are only available to Amazon Prime customers.

The company has said they will offer a £4.99 discount on customers’ first purchase using one of the buttons.

What next?

Amazon also announced a new service called ‘Dash Replenishment’, which combines sensors built into smart appliances – including printers and washing machines – that will automatically reorder ink or washing detergent when supplies run low.

Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice president at Amazon EU, said: “With Dash Replenishment we’re taking it one-step further – enabling connected appliances to automatically reorder supplies on your behalf.”


Baum + Whiteman, US food and restaurant consulting company have released their 2016 Trend Report ‘11 hottest food and beverage dining trends in restaurants and hotels 2016’


The two most noteworthy trends in for 2016 have nothing to do with food. Big disrupters are a revolution in high-speed food delivery to homes and offices … and a national conversation regarding tipping and pay disparities. Cleansing menus of additives won’t be enough. Why there’s a new obsession with fried chicken. Plus 24 buzzwords for the year ahead.

Baum+Whiteman creates high-profile restaurants around the world for hotels, restaurant companies, museums and other consumer destinations. Based in New York, their projects include the late Windows on the World and the magical Rainbow Room, and the world’s first food courts. Their annual hospitality predictions follow:


Smitten Ice Cream

Whilst on a creative working visit to one of our lovely Californian clients, Chef Chris came across ‘Smitten’.  Chef was blown away with the smooth ice cream and flavour profile which was made to order  in just minutes!

smitten 1 Smitten Founder Robyn Sue Fisher, an ice cream lover, really didn’t love the way ice cream in today’s world was muddled with “unpronounceable ingredients” (preservatives, emulsifiers and stabilizers) to prolong shelf-life. With new technology, shouldn’t we be able to make ice cream closer to, rather than farther away from, the cow? She became intent on the idea of new, old-fashioned ice cream.

Smitten 2Robyn discovered that freezing ice cream at super low temperatures could create a smoother product and freeze ice cream in record time. With a rapid freezing cycle, she could make ice cream to-order, without compromising taste for shelf-life. Aha! So, with liquid nitrogen as her secret weapon, she set off to build a machine that perfected the ultra-cold churning process. What is LN2? Nitrogen is an inert element that makes up 78% of the atmosphere all around us. Liquid nitrogen is gaseous nitrogen brought down in temperature until it changes its state of matter at -321 degrees F (darn cold!).

Smitten 3It took Robyn several years, the help of brilliant engineers, and her life’s savings,but out came Brrr™, a one-of-a-kind ice cream machine that perfects the process of using liquid nitrogen to churn exceptionally small ice crystals. Brrr™ makes the smoothest, densest and most flavorful ice cream on earth from scratch, to order, in just minutes. Also, Brrr™ is quite nerdy and has three patents!


3D printing could be as valuable as internet to food industry

3D printing could one day be as valuable to food manufacturers as the internet and help them reduce costs and energy and save production time, according to an expert in the field.

See attached article:


TNO 3D Printer



Fast food reinvented? Eatsa, a fully automated restaurant opens in San Francisco

Eatsa 3A new high-tech fast food restaurant has opened this week, near San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Eatsa, where fast food is redefined – bold, fresh and flavourful customised quinoa bowls that are prepared blazing fast, at an unbeatable price point.

“eatsa is reinventing fast food by combining the speed and affordability of fast food with the delicious flavours and nutritious ingredients of premium fast casual,” said Tim Young, co-founder of eatsa. “By developing new technology to automate every aspect of the food experience, we are able to deliver a product with the best qualities of premium fast casual at a price point that is accessible to everyone.”

eatsa is a refreshing change from the tired fast fare of sandwiches, burritos and salads and the perfect solution for time-crunched urbanites. eatsa serves up tasty dishes for $6.95 with quinoa as the basis for each bowl. Created with wholesome nutritious ingredients, eatsa provides an entire meal’s worth of complete protein in each bowl.

Eatsa 1eatsa features a simple and interactive ordering experience, a virtual cashier, and no wait time. eatsa’s unique virtual cashier remembers every customer allowing for highly personalized interaction and tailored suggestions. A first of its kind automated food pick-up system features a collection of glass door “cubbies.” When a customer’s meal is ready, the cubby door transforms to display personalized graphics and presents the food at the touch of a button. Eatsa 2This automated system ensures every customer receives their food when and how they want it.

“It’s essentially lunch on demand,” said Scott Drummond, co-founder. “eatsa’s Order Anywhere concept translates to zero wait time for customers. No more waiting in line. No more $12 lunch salads. Just delicious food that is nutritious, affordable, and quick.”

Popular menu items include:

Smokehouse Salad – Toasted Red Quinoa and Mixed Greens topped with BBQ Portabella, Tomato, Cucumber, Corn, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Red Pepper, Sharp Cheddar with BBQ Ranch and Crispy Onion Strings

The Mediterranean – Quinoa Herb Salad and Arugula topped with Tomato, Cucumber, Artichoke Hearts, Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese and Dill Yogurt Sauce

Harvest Bowl – Quinoa Stuffing topped with Green Beans, Roasted Root Vegetables, Cranberry Relish, Mushroom Gravy, Almonds and Crispy Onion Strings

No Worry Curry – Stir Fry Style Quinoa with Arugula, Curried Parsnip Strips, Pickled Onions, Roasted Potatoes, Apple-Cabbage Slaw, Red Thai Curry and Spaghetti Squash.

The Good Food Guide 2016 – Top 50 UK Restaurants of 2016

The Good Food Guide is the UK’s bestselling restaurant guide. Since 1951 they have been reviewing and writing about restaurants, pubs and cafés, bringing together the best places to eat out from throughout the UK.  Listed below are the ‘Top 50 Restaurants of 2016’:

Good Food Guide 2016

1 L’Enclume, Cumbria (10)
2 Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London (10)
3 Pollen Street Social, London (9)
4 Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall (9)
5 Hibiscus, London (9)
6 Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottinghamshire (9)
7 Midsummer House, Cambridgeshire (8)
8 The Ledbury, London (8)
9 Fraiche, Merseyside (8)
10 Le Champignon Sauvage, Glos (8)
11 The Square, London (8)
12 Fera at Claridges, London (8)
13 Le Gavroche, London (8)
14 Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Tayside (8)
15 Marcus, London (8)
16 Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire (8)
17 The French, Manchester (8)
18 André Garrett at Cliveden, Berkshire (8)
19 Whatley Manor, The Dining Room, Wiltshire (8)
20 The Kitchin, Edinburgh (7)
21 Bohemia, Jersey (7)
22 The Waterside Inn, Berkshire (7)
23 Artichoke, Buckinghamshire (7)
24 Restaurant James Sommerin, Glamorgan (7)
25 Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, London (7)
26 Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London (7)
27 Paul Ainsworth at No. 6, Cornwall (7)
28 Casamia, Bristol (7)
29 Adam’s, Birmingham (7)
30 Restaurant Martin Wishart,Edinburgh (7)
31 Pied à Terre, London (7)
32 Restaurant Story, London (7)
33 Murano, London (7)
34 Ynyshir Hall, Powys (7)
35 Sketch, London (7)
36 Llangoed Hall, Powys (7)
37 Hedone, London (7)
38 Hambleton Hall, Rutland (7)
39 The Peat Inn, Fife (7)
40 Gidleigh Park, Devon (7)
41 Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Derbyshire (7)
42 Freemasons at Wiswell, Lancashire (7)
43 The Hand & Flowers, Buckinghamshire (6)
44 Yorke Arms, Ramsgill, Yorkshire (6)
45 The Dairy, London (6)
46 OX, Belfast (6)
47 The Raby Hunt, Durham (6)
48 Lake Road Kitchen, Cumbria (6)
49 The Sportsman, Kent (6)
50 Northcote, Lancashire (6)

Top 50 UK restaurants banner



New York Fancy Food Show 2015

The annual Summer Fancy Food Show was held in New York City last month.NYC FFS

As reported by The Speciality Food Magazine, exotic and omnipresent ingredients, on-the-go convenience, and alcohol infusions are on the up and up. The show’s Trendspotter Panel identified five emerging trends of note.


Gazpacho to Go. Soups in a bottle were all over the show, but virtually all had a gazpacho recipe among the options. Products spotted: Bodega & Co. Mucho Gazpacho; Gina Cucina Watermelon Habanero Gazpacho; The Splendid Spoon Market Gazpacho; Tio Gazpacho’s Gazpacho del Sol.

Love Beets Blueberry Bar

Can’t Beat Beets. New products are transforming the once marginal canned veg to an all-star specialty ingredient. Products spotted: Eat Well Embrace Life Beet Hummus; Gringo Jack’s Beet, Orange & Quinoa Salsa; Health-Ade Beet Kombucha; Love Beets Beet-Blueberry Bar.

Masala Pop

Flower Power. Herbs and botanicals have had their moment in the spotlight; next up: florals. Products spotted: Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower & Rose Lemonade; Masala Pop Saffron Rose Popcorn; Rogue Creamery La-Di-Da Lavender Cheese; Vosges Haut-Chocolat Blood Orange Hibiscus Caramel Marshmallows.

Maple Syrup

Cocktail Culture. Spirits, wine, and beer are inspiring flavours and ingredient pairings across a variety of categories. Products spotted: Bissell Maple Farm’s Pappy & Company Bourbon Barrel-Aged Syrup; Brooklyn Brine Co. Hop-Pickles; Colonel Pabst All Malt Amber-Lager Worcestershire Sauce.


Maize Craze. Corn is ever-present in the industry, but specialty producers are getting creative with the commodity. Products spotted: Kiddylicious Sweetcorn Rice Rounds; Off the Cob Sweet Corn Tortilla Chips; Pipsnacks Pipcorn; Pop Art Snacks Tandoori Yogurt Popcorn.

Other trends spotted were: Coconut Chips, Broccoli Bites, Seaweed Snacks, Mustard+, Funky Honey, Easy Paleo and Next Generation Gluten Free.

Pumpkin MustardBroccoli Bitescoconut chipsSeaweed

UK online grocery is the world’s second largest and will be worth $28bn

The Chinese online grocery market, already the world’s largest, is set to be worth almost $180bn by 2020 – nearly five times its current value of $41bn, according to the latest IGD research.

Time-pressed shoppers increasingly using mobile technology is driving global demand for online grocery shopping

Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said: “There’s going to be significant growth across all of the top 10 online grocery markets. This is being driven by busy shoppers making the most of more digital technologies and the rising trend of ‘anywhere, anytime shoppers’. They add to their online shopping basket over a period of time on whichever device is most handy at that moment. New innovations, such as grocery delivery services from Instacart and Uber, are also helping to support online’s rapidly increasing popularity by providing convenient time-saving solutions.

“Already the world’s largest, the Chinese online grocery market is maturing rapidly and will significantly dwarf other countries by 2020. This will be powered by more people in China having access to the internet both through smartphones and other devices. Given the size of its population, even a small change will have a significant impact.

“Most online sales in China take place through digital marketplaces, such as Alibaba’s business to consumer site Tmall. These allow international retailers without stores in China to gain instant access to new customers and tap into the booming Chinese market with limited investment.

“Other international retailers, as well as local players, are also launching their own online and mobile grocery shopping sites. Food is seen as an affordable luxury, with foreign brands popular with Chinese shoppers wary of the safety scares surrounding locally sourced food and drink. To cater for this demand, companies such as Alibaba and Amazon have recently introduced dedicated sites for imported goods.

“Many Chinese people also prefer shopping using their smartphones, so retailers are offering mobile-only promotions which are updated regularly to encourage shoppers to keep visiting their websites for the latest deals.”

UK online grocery market

“The UK online grocery market continues to rapidly develop and will achieve impressive growth to reach $28bn (£17.2bn) by 2020,” said Denney-Finch. “This is being driven by shopper demand as well as new retailer innovations to make buying groceries online more convenient. The UK has always been a leader in online grocery, with both retailers and shoppers keen to embrace new technology, and we expect this to continue.

“Our latest research shows that three out of 10 British people bought their groceries online in the last month, with one in nine buying most of their groceries in this way. Convenient click and collect services are continuing to evolve. These include fully-automated 24-hour pick-up points, as well as more pick-up locations being rolled out at places such as petrol stations. Home delivery is also receiving a boost from lower priced delivery slots and delivery passes as well as shorter delivery windows including same day, leading to more frequent orders.”

Online shopping graph

Is moss the new kale?

LichenWoodland lichen is the latest delicacy growing on chefs and is being served deep-fried to fine diners.

The humble plant, which is most often spotted growing on rocks in damp areas, has had something of a makeover and has even been described as ‘the new kale’.

The once unglamorous greenery has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly on menus at Michelin-star restaurants across the country.

HB LichenHeston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Berkshire can be seen starring on the menu, a dish of ‘jelly of quail, crayfish cream, chicken liver parfait, oak moss [an edible lichen] and truffle toast.’

Despite its incredibly bitter taste, chefs are using moss to flavour everything from salmon to vodka.

Chef Simon Rogan even serves moss deep-fried as a bar snack while diners wait for their tables at L’Enclume restuarant in the Lake District.

Meanwhile Rene Redzepi’s famous Noma restaurant in Copenhagan currently serves moss in a dish with cep mushrooms. The growing trend is thought to have its roots in Scandinavian cuisine, where many key ingredients are foraged from local woodland.

Jeff Kipp, the head chef of Saltwood on the Green in Kent, said that moss is ideal for holding the moisture of fish and perfuming it with a hint of nature. ‘As the fish is almost done and the moss, with a rosemary tine, begins to dry out, the aromas definitely move from hay and pine towards the floral.’ He added that he regularly sources his own moss from his local wood – and that it is ideal for barbecuing oily fish.

While most mosses and lichens are edible, the majority are quite unpalatable when raw. Instead, it is recommended they are first boiled in milk to remove some of the bitterness. They can then be used to infuse meat and fish with a woody, aromatic taste.


The first ‘synthetic egg’ product to go on sale in Tesco in the UK this August.

Just MayoJust Mayo, made from plants, set to rival Hellmann’s brand. Its arrival is part of a multi-million dollar high-tech food business big in US.

Silicon Valley visionaries are working on growing meat and eggs in labs. It is a multi-million dollar business which has taken the US by storm and includes everything from lab-grown meat to total food replacements.

Just Mayo NutritionalNow, with the arrival of the plant based mayo, the UK is about to experience the beginnings of such a potential movement. Made from plants, it can replace eggs in everything from cakes to mayonnaise – without a chicken ever coming close to the production process. It was last year’s best-selling mayonnaise brand at the American supermarket Whole Foods.

Hampton Creek was founded by Josh Tetrick, 35, from Alabama in the US. He launched it after hearing about the often-disgusting conditions chicken eggs are produced in, coming up with the idea for synthetic eggs.

Whether the movement can grow to the point where people are happy to substitute a real full English breakfast for one made entirely of plants remains to be seen. But that is not going to slow down the visionaries who believe such an idea can become reality.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, held the 13th annual awards last night (1st June 2015) at London’s Guildhall.

The announcement of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list has become one of the most highly anticipated moments of the culinary calendar with the best chefs in the world all in attendance to hear exactly which restaurant will be at the top.  Here are the final placings:

1. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
2. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
3. Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Central, Lima, Peru
5. Eleven Madison Park, New York, USA
6. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
7. Dinner, London, UK
8. Narisawa, Tokyo, Japan
9. D.O.M., Sao Paulo, Brazil
10. Gaggan, Bangkok, Thailand
11. Mirazur, Menton, France
12. L’Arpége, Paris, France
13. Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo, Spain
14. Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru
15. Steirereck, Vienna, Austria
16. Pujol, Mexico City, Mexico
17. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
18. Le Bernardin, New York, USA
19. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
20. The Ledbury, London, UK
21. Le Chateaubriand, Paris, France
22. Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand
23. White Rabbit, Moscow, Russia
24. Ultraviolet, Shanghai, China
25. Fäviken, Järpen, Sweden
26. Alinea, Chicago, USA
27. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
28. The Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa
29. Nihonryori RyuGin, Tokyo, Japan
30. Vendôme, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
31. Restaurant Frantzén, Stockholm, Sweden
32. Attica, Melbourne, Australia
33. Aqua, Wolfsburg, Germany
34. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
35. Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico
36. L’Astrance, Paris, France
37. Biko, Mexico City, Mexico
38. Amber, Hong Kong, China
39. Quique Dacosta, Dénia, Spain
40. Per Se, New York, USA
41. Mani, Sao Paulo, Brazil
42. Borago, Santiago, Chile (a tie)
42. Tickets, Barcelona, Spain (a tie)
44. Maido, Lima, Peru
45. Relae, Copenhagen, Denmark
46. Restaurant Andre, Singapore,
47. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
48. Schloss Schauenstein, Furstenau, Switzerland
49. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocanto Hills, USA
50. The French Laundry, Yountville, USA