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Casual Dining show confirms Innovation Challenge contenders for 2018

Thousands of casual dining restaurant, pub and bar operators from across the UK will be in London next week, over 21-22 February – as Casual Dining returns to the Business Design Centre to showcase the best new products, solutions, insights, and innovations of the year.

Its fifth anniversary show, featuring 200 exhibiting companies, is now its biggest in every respect – with a record number of entries confirmed for both its annual Innovation Challenge Awards and King of Craft Competition.

Carlsberg UK, Coca-Cola Freestyle, Heineken UK, Schweppes, AAK Foodservice, Westlers, and Rational UK are among the dozens of manufacturers and suppliers fielding the 50 new innovations/entries for 2018 (many of which will be launching at the show). They’ll be looking to win over visiting buyers to secure their votes – and places – in the show’s lively Innovation Challenge final.

“One thing I have learned in the wonderful world of food development is that you never stop learning,” says Antony Bennett, head of food at Loungers and a regular show visitor.

“Catching up with current suppliers and meeting new ones under one roof at Casual Dining is a really good use of my time. It’s a great reason to get together and see what’s going on,” he says.

“Casual Dining is the best food and drinks exhibition in the industry. It gets even bigger and better every year,” says Glenn Evans, head of food development, at Las Iguanas, La Tasca and La Vina.

In addition to speaking at this year’s show, both Evans and Bennett are also new additions to this year’s Innovation Challenge judging panel. They’ll join Simon Xavier, executive chef – leisure division at The Restaurant Group, Alice Elwes, group head of purchasing at Côte Brasserie, Chris Knight, group executive chef at Young’s & Geronimo Inns, chef/restaurant consultant Jay Morjaria, and Megan Lewis-Thomas, head of food development & marketing concessions, franchising & new concepts at Casual Dining Group, to decide which products will come away with coveted gold, silver or bronze innovation awards.

Innovation Challenge entries, which are up 25% this year, include:

  • AAK Foodservice: Thai Honey Sticky Sauce; & Lion World Flavours Adobo Hot Sauce
  • Access: Access Hospitality
  • Adia: Adia Hassle-free Hiring
  • APICBASE: APIC Studio and Kitchen Manager
  • Ascentia FSE: HOP, revolutionary new ‘Air Fryer’
  • Blanco Nino: Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
  • Carlsberg UK: DraughtMaster
  • Coca-Cola Freestyle: Coca-Cola Freestyle
  • Coldpress: Strawberry Oat Cashew
  • Crooked Beverage Co.: Crooked Beverage Co Alcoholic Soda
  • Double Dutch Drinks: Double Dutch Cucumber&Watermelon; & Double Dutch Spices&Oakwood
  • Essential Cuisine: Sauce Collection – Peppercorn Sauce
  • Ethnic Brand Marketing: Roby Marton Italian Mule Party Jars
  • Europastry: Square Crystal Sourdough Bun
  • Fentimans: Mediterranean Orange Tonic Water
  • Frobishers Juices: Frobishers Sloe & Raspberry Cordial
  • Gamble Foodservice Solutions: Hatco Induction
  • Heineken UK, Blade: Blade, 8 Litre Draught Beer System
  • Joe Delucci’s: Walnut & Dried Fig Gelato
  • Kalosa Spritz: Kalosa Spritz
  • Karma Cola Co: Sugar Free Karma Cola
  • Kavli Food Solutions: Hot Cheese Board
  • Krowd: Krowd – Borderless Dining
  • Longflint Drinks Co: Winter Spiced Pear, Vodka Tonic
  • Lucozade Ribena Suntory: Ribena Sparkling
  • Lutosa: Surf Potatoes
  • Maws Fine Foods: Savoury & Sweet Sponge Sheets
  • Nitro Cold Brew Coffee Co: Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
  • OrderZing: OrderZing
  • Pidy: Pidy Black Mussel Shell
  • Rational UK: ConnectedCooking 2.0
  • Schweppes: Schweppes 1783 Salty Lemon Tonic
  • Sea Products International: Luxury Mini Crab Cakes
  • Seafood from Norway: Norwegian Skrei Cod
  • Surgital Spa: Bartolacci Squacquerone Cheese; Rondellacci with Potato and Chard; & Rondellacci with Pumpkin and Guanciale
  • The Airedale Group: Lighthouse
  • The Billington Group: Craft Pickle Range – BFI
  • The Tasty Meat Company: Hot Dawgs
  • Toschi UK: Fragoli Liqueur
  • Verstegen Spices and Sauces: Guilt Free Sauces, Zero Sugar; Ediks Shrubs and Mild Vinegars; & Kumars Wok Pastes
  • Vimto Out of Home: Infusions from Feel Good Drinks
  • Westlers: Westlers Fiery Frankfurter
  • Whitby Seafoods: Glorious Grains Jumbo Scampi
  • Yumpingo: Yumpingo’s Intelligent Digital Bill

Voting opens to visitors at the Innovation Challenge Gallery (on the upper feature level) from 10am on Wednesday 21 February and will run until 4pm. The exhibitors who have secured the most votes will then be invited to ‘pitch’ their new innovations to an expert panel of judges the following day. Pitches start at 11.15am in the BDC’s Executive Centre, with the results to be announced just a few hours later at 2.15pm, on Thursday 22 February.

Meet the new King of Craft

Another show highlight for 2018 is Casual Dining’s prestigious King of Craft competition. The award is voted for by selected VIP visitors, press and beer experts, who’ll be sampling their way around the Craft Beer & Cider Pavilion over the two days.

New craft drinks hoping to take home the crown include Black Storm Porter from Black Storm Brewery; Thundering Molly from Celtic Marches Beverages; BlowHorn chai-spiced cider from The Cotswold Cider Company; Blueberries & Apples from Cranes Drink; Freedom Pils from Freedom Brewery; Afro-Vegan SXOLLIE Granny Smith Natural Cider from SXOLLIE Natural Ciders; Mango APA from Home 2.0 Craft Beer; Thistly Cross Cloudy 5.5% Cider from Thistly Cross Cider; and Dry Apple from Eva Group (Envasados Eva).

Big name buyers prepare to visit

Key buyers and decision makers from many of the country’s leading casual dining pub groups and restaurant chains, hotels, contract caterers, and independent operators will be packing the aisles next week. Among them will be representatives from TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut Restaurants, PizzaExpress, Casual Dining Group, The Azzurri Group, The Restaurant Group, Nando’s, Jamie’s Italian, GBK, wagamama, Busaba Eathai, Dishoom, Jack & Alice, Turtle Bay, Le Grand Comptoir, Merlin Entertainments, Compass, Brakes, Aramark, AccorHotels, JD Wetherspoon, Ei Group, Punch Taverns, Whitbread, Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon, Admiral Taverns, Marston’s, Greene King, Be At One, and Stonegate Pub Company.

Casual Dining returns to the Business Design Centre in London on 21-22 February 2018. For more information, and to register for a free trade ticket, please visit www.casualdiningshow.co.uk and quote priority code CD5 (direct link: https://eventdata.uk/Visitor/CasualDining.aspx?TrackingCode=CD5).

Advance visitor registration closes at 9.30am on Wednesday 21 February (after which a £20 door charge may apply).