You can’t fool ’em … meat comes from animals!

Greyton Livestock 002Two people walk into a pub. The bloke orders a lager and the lady a glass of wine. The barman says, “how many calories in your wine? And how much ABV?”

She says, “whaaat?”

Well that’s what could be on the cards if Sainsbury’s efforts take off. They’re of the opinion that ‘… clear labelling has an important part to play in helping customers make healthier choices …‘ A recent survey they conducted indicated that 85% (not 82.3 or 86.1%) of Britons do not know how many calories there are in a glass of wine – and also that 66% would like to see calorie-labelling on alcohol (but there was no clarity as to whether the 66% figure is 66% of those polled thus making it 56% of all Britons).

A cynic may suggest that whether people know the calorific factor on alcohol or not wouldn’t make any difference to the consumer. Having had all the calories, salt, carbohydrate etc on food labels for years hasn’t seem to have made any difference to people buying what they want to eat. If they want bacon, they’ll buy it, and if they want croissants, they’ll buy them. Regardless of any fat or salt quantities itemised on the labels. (Stocktakers might not appreciate Sainsbury’s efforts – they might have to insert a whole lot more columns into their Excel spreadsheets if more options need to be available for dieting wine-bibbers).

The Welsh were celebrating in style this last week as they handed the the French their 6-Nations head on a plate to them by winning 27-6. possibly the Welsh team had all seen, and were inspired by Sam Warburton’s cameo appearance on a groom’s video project to surprise his new wife. Steven Williams had embarked on an ambitious plan to get all his wife’s heroes to send her a wedding greeting. And somehow he managed to get a star-studded array of personalities to send in personalised messages to Ceri wishing her well on her wedding day! Even Jimmy Carr and Matt Lucas weighed in with a personalized greeting to this winning Welsh team-up giving the guests the impression that they were all long-time friends.

But ‘impressons‘ seem to have caused offence to a few people in Sudbury who objected to the fact that JBS Family Butchers were displaying their wares in the shop window. You know, things like dead animals that people eat – pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and so on. The butchery has been doing it for years. For the last 100 in fact. And only now someone has gotten a bit miffed about it. Other butchers have expressed outrage at the petition that called for the goods on display to be removed, saying “… The people kicking up a fuss about this man have gone soft. They’ve lost touch with reality…” Professional stocktakers like Jon Rutter and his teams will probably also have to educate the public in outlying areas on how things like meat is ordered and break the truth to the ‘town-mice’ by letting them know that down at the pub, the ‘pork pie’ is really made from the little piggy that didn’t go ‘wee, wee, wee all the way home!

One wonders whether the folk moving to the country are also shocked that milk doesn’t really come from gold topped bottles in nice cold fridges in the supermarket, but from the nether regions of moo-cows. Perhaps, knowing this, they’ll just stick to taking their tea with cream instead!

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Would your best friend tell you if your breath stank?

pressing Social Network iconWhen you’re in a good relationship it’s an unwritten rule (a ‘given’) that honesty and openness are part of that relationship. So this premise can be attached to the relationship that you should have with your accountant, or tax consultant, or solicitor. Or your stocktaker. But it is a two way street – you’d be expected to be open and honest with them in the same way they can be with you. So when they give advice and tips on how best to run your business, if you had a good relationship, you’d take it on board.

Some would say that getting involved in social media, like Facebook and Twitter would be outside the average stocktaker’s brief, it would also be true to suggest that if they mentioned something that would help, or hinder your business, it would be wise to consider it.

Take David Ford for instance, his business was doing so badly he was about to close his doors but decided on making an appeal through Facebook and in one day his business increased 40-fold! What we’re not clear about is where David got the idea to use social media to turn things around. It’s unlikely he had someone like stocktaker, Jon Rutter to help him. But someone gave him sound advice in the same way any good stocktaker would have done.

The adverse effect, however was visited on ex pub-manager Alistair Dempster who, probably acted against good advice. He started a campaign of defamation against his former boss. You’d have thought that over the course of the hate-campaign someone would have told Dempster that his “breath smelled” or something similar. Maybe he didn’t have any good friends. In any event, he ended up paying his ex boss damages and costs!

However, for an anonymous chef, something that really did smell so bad that he decided to blow the whistle about it, was the way one NHS Trust outsourced the preparation of meals to a caterer who delivers the “ready meals” to the hospital. The qualified chef is reduced to operating a microwave instead of preparing and cooking the food. He tells of many patients sending food back as inedible and then it all then gets chucked out anyway.

The whistleblower-chef has decided to remain anonymous for now in case it impacts his career prospects.

He goes to great pains to point out that most other Trusts don’t do this and that their food is fine. It would only be a matter of time and elimination before the responsible NHS bosses figure out who the culinary-mole really is. The query does spring to mind, though – why wasn’t the state of the culinary offerings widely Tweeted and Facebooked by the patients or their families before now? Perhaps they were concerned that their fare would be reduced to bread and water if they complained (the whistleblower hinted that bread and water would actually be more palatable than what is presently served). Perhaps a good friend advised them not to, and they listened.

One thing’s for sure, there was no reluctance of Tweeters to broadcast the news of Gordon Ramsay’s de-starring of his New York restaurant. He went on to say,“I started crying when I lost my stars. It’s a very emotional thing for any chef.” Maybe the Tweets from some of his patrons were also the cause of bringing tears to his eyes!

Hold on to your ‘toque’ … the Chefs are on the run!

Over the years many chefs and restaurants have striven to emulate the standards set by the French in the field of cuisine. In the background there has been a cultural war going on as to which nation produces the best food, the best plating, the best techniques. And the perception has been that cost’ has reflected quality – if it costs less, “… then it can’t possibly be as good as Monsieur Chef down the road whose food is frightfully dearer.” Most people have heard of the Michelin Guide and some will glibly boast of having eaten at a 2-star restaurant without really knowing what that means.

modern-table-setting-1013tm-pic-1185Not many have heard of the Gault-Millau culinary ‘rankings’ (pronounced: “go meeyo”). Among the French some even regard this as the food Oscars but compare the Michelin Guide as being the mere Cannes, Palme d’Or of food – still glitzy but not as significant. But those in the know are suggesting that the halcyon days of charging a small fortune for a smear on a plate with a scallop or two and some flowers are over. Restaurateur Jean-Claude Vrinat indicates, among other things that restaurateurs “Re-examine your economic policies, and think of the consumer’s pocketbook.” Cheers from all the consumers out there! (This is what good stocktakers have been doing for their clients for years – constantly examining, re-evaluating and adjusting to keep the client and the consumers happy).

Some trivia here: apparently the Gault-Millau culinary ‘rankings’ work on a score up to 20 and then the restaurant/chef may display from one to five toques (five being the highest). A toque is the correct name for the headgear that a chef wears. Which possibly explains why the Aussies rate their chefs as “1, 2 or 3-hatted” – maybe they just don’t speak French that well.

Looks can be deceptive. This was borne out by the police in Nottingham who nabbed a beggar for something and discovered the chap was carrying £800.00 in notes and small change on him. The proceeds of his three days work. The police also don’t believe that he’s homeless, as he claimed. However they had to let him go, with the dosh. So if a pub or restaurant in that area happen to have what might look like a dodgy character pitch up and ask for a brew and a nice meal, don’t be so quick to move him on. He could be loaded and just wanting a bit of peace and quiet!

The security at Tesco had no difficulty in identifying a horse in their shop in Co Durham though. The recent craze that has been sweeping the world, “neknominations” was played out by the lass on the horse downing a Pepsi (instead of alcohol) as she accepted her nomination and then challenged some friends of hers to upload their own videos within 24 hours. (The “neknomination” challenge is to nominate someone to down a drink in one go while having it videoed, then to nominate two others to do the same within 24 hours). While some of these challenges have been accepted by the nominees with fun and good grace, there have been some tragic events in the aftermath of the craze as people seek to do more and more outrageous things to better those who have nominated them for the challenge. Others have turned their nominations into opportunities to engage in acts of kindness to others less fortunate, making the video and then challenging others to do similar things instead of consuming alcohol.

Organisations and clubs like Rutters Stocktakers, Brighton Rugby Club and others are always up for a bit of harmless fun in the same way some have used the “neknomination” opportunities given to them to help those in their communities – all it takes is planning and dedication – just like making any business a success.

My greengrocer’s gone underground …

“I can get some veggies and micro-greens for you, Mate. Even fresher than the ones from Covent Garden! Oh no, Guv – these ones are from a special mate of mine who’s managed to get his hands on an old air raid shelter. He’s now using it for a farm. Yes, underground. But not just any old underground. This place is using hydroplanes or something. And he’s growing all the greens you’ll need and not even a slug’s bite on anything. He’s clever, this lad. There’s no sand and no pests and he uses a special light that makes things grow. And he’s got that Australian cheffie lass, Michelle Roo, on board too. Don’t roll your eyes like that, Rodney, this is the pukka deal!”

09419118b5It would only take about 15 minutes for Del Boy to scoot over to Clapham from the flat in Peckham to pick up a load of greens from his suppliers, Richard Ballard and Steven Dring. They have managed to secure an old air-raid shelter and have embarked on a venture that will revolutionise the growing of herbs and vegetables right under the heart of London. Michel Roux Jr has teamed up with these entrepreneurs in setting up this garden that is aiming to produce top quality fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers that have never seen the light of day during the growing process. The proximity of this underground farm also ensures a pest-free environment and greatly reduced “food miles” owing to its central London location. It’s the sort of hare-brained scheme Del Boy would have been proud of – if only he’d thought of it first!

But it might have been Del Boy’s advice some landlords followed. Instead they possibly ignored the good advice of their stocktakers and decided to screen Sky Sports matches without the proper commercial viewing agreement in place, have been hit with a total £19 000.00 bill by the courts for their indiscretion. This detail would be one of the things that Jon Rutter and his colleagues would advise their customers to factor in to their planning. For those who provide sports coverage for their customers, this case proves the absolute necessity to plan carefully and ensure that all the correct licenses that they need are in place.

Stocktakers all over would agree that strategy and planning in the Industry never cease – especially with the news just out that April will see the implementation of minimum pricing of alcohol in supermarkets and shops. While some might argue that low supermarket prices have been factors in keeping people out of pubs and restaurants, with the advent of this move, those same pubs and restaurants might need to up their game in their plans to attract punters to their premises back by offering value for their £. Pubs and premises all over are trying different things from grabbing a pint at nine in the morning at a service station pub, to the round-the-clock-drinking rules that many are trying to get changed. In Blackpool, for instance, some are advocating early morning restriction orders preventing sales between 3 am and 6 am. Others are petitioning a relaxation of rules during the World Cup so that punters can enjoy watching the matches in their favourite pub.

It was jolly inconsiderate of Sepp Blatter to arrange the World Cup to be held in a time zone that causes so many problems to English fans and their publicans. I mean, who is really geared up to start watching a match at 11 pm? But it’s probably a good thing the PM has intervened and overruled Norman Baker’s refusal to extend pub hours.

There could have been a lot of miserable fans being chucked out the pub at closing time with the score on 1-0 in England’s favour!