FEJ AWARDS PARTNER INTERVIEW: Commercial Kitchen ready to put on a show for the industry

Katie Tyler, event manager for Commercial Kitchen, which takes place on June 5-6 at the Birmingham NEC, explains why a combination of innovative exhibitors and big-name panels makes this year’s show essential viewing for kitchen owners and operators.

This will be the third edition of Commercial Kitchen. How satisfied are you with the way the show has evolved?

We’re really pleased with how the show has evolved. The level of support from exhibitors has increased year on year. We are seeing more positive feedback from exhibitors and buyers about the need for a dedicated industry event. As much as the show continually evolves we’re most proud to have always stayed completely focussed on this industry, which is what makes the show unique. Expect to see even more visitors this June, although not at the expense of quality. The quality of buyers, rather than the numbers of visitors will always be the most important thing to us and the exhibitors.

As we enter our third year we are delighted that the level of support from leading industry associations has doubled.  ceda, (the show’s lead partner) and the Foodservice Consultants Society International (FCSI) (partner), continue with their fantastic support of Commercial Kitchen, along with returning supporter the Hospital Catering Association (HCA). 

We are delighted that new association supporters for June have pledged their support: UKHospitality; The Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association (PAPA); The British Sandwich & Food to Go Association/Café Life Association; British Institute of Innkeeping (BII); National Association of Care Catering (NACC); and Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA).

Do you detect a different mood or focus among foodservice equipment buyers at the moment, bearing in mind some of the well-documented cost and business challenges facing the industry in recent months?

The foodservice industry has had its fair share of recent challenges and businesses that rely on their kitchens must innovate to stay at the top of their game. This makes Commercial Kitchen even more important as operators can come together over the two days to see new products being launched at the show. There is also lots of scope for networking and sharing best practice, all things which are more important than ever when times get tougher.

You’ll be running your Innovation Challenge again at this year’s show. Looking back, which one or two products from previous shows really captured the imagination for impressing the judges with their innovation?

The visitors and the judges certainly had a tough task of picking the Gold winners, as I’m sure they will again this year with the record number of entries we’ve received. Everyone will want to get the most votes on day one so that they can pitch live to the judges, some of the biggest buyers in the business, on day two.

Ultimately, all operators want the best kitchens for their staff and customers in order to ensure that business thrives”

Last year, I know the judges loved the flexibility of the MCS Flash GRILL from MCS Technical. They also loved Meiko UK’s UPster rack transport dishwasher and Carpigiani’s ‘Ready’ gelato machine. I’m sure the incredible buyers and top-secret judges will be impressed with all the innovations showcased this year.

Your keynote theatre is a key feature of the show. Can you share any details of how that is shaping up this year?

The level of support from leading operators, associations and project houses has just been incredible. We’ve got our best ever programme across the two days and all sessions are completely free. I can reveal that Alasdair Murdoch; CEO of Burger King will be appearing in a live exclusive interview. Other highlights include an exclusive session from Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at the newly formed UKHospitality and panels featuring; Jane Treasure, F&B Director at PizzaExpress, Paul Dickinson, Director of Food at Fullers, Martyn Clover, Head of Food at Tortilla, James Douglas, Co-Founder & Director of Reds True Barbecue, Neil Rankin, Owner of temper and Tom Mullin, Exec Chef, Pizza Pilgrims amongst many, many others.

We’re proud to be covering such diverse subjects as Solid Fuel, Smart Connected Kitchens, Pizza Kitchens, Compact Kitchens, Sustainable Kitchens and I’m really a pleased that almost every panel will feature a ceda member alongside the operator to offer their experience of creating kitchens of this type. ceda will be running a few panels to shine a light on award winning projects, share best practice and answer big questions from operators as will some of our other association partners. Finally, we have our first ever Exec Chef panel and City Focus panel, this year’s celebrating Birmingham’s Best Restaurant Kitchens.

Commercial Kitchen attracts buyers from all tiers and categories of the catering market. Is there anything that unifies all these different groups when it comes to looking for new equipment and new concepts?

I think buyers and specifiers across all verticals want to ensure that they can compare and contrast equipment for their commercial kitchens; getting ideas of what the new trends are for their marketplace. Our show allows the trade to listen to their sector peers at the free seminar sessions and hopefully take away some ideas on what has worked. Ultimately, they all want the best kitchens for their staff and customers in order to ensure that business thrives.

Pre-registration of end users is up year-on-year, with big names as diverse as AB Hotels, All England Lawn Tennis Club, Bourne Leisure, Costco Wholesale, Elior UK, Esquires Coffee, Greene King, Nando’s, PizzaExpress, Marriott Group, Marston’s, NHS Trust, Punch Taverns, Tesco, TGI Fridays, Sainsbury’s, Sunrise Senior Living, Tortilla, YO! Sushi and Zizzi all registering already.

It’s quite common to see networked equipment and software-based applications in commercial kitchens now. Do you see the profile of your exhibitors becoming more technology-focused in future?

Smart connected kitchens are becoming more prominent as the industry evolves with a focus being put on time saving, sustainability and waste management. Whilst the industry maintains tradition we will see more companies investing in technology and launching these new initiatives at Commercial Kitchen.

We are actually opening day 2 with a session all about smart connected cooking and one of our supporting exhibitors Unox are at the forefront of that technology. I know they utilise Data Driven Cooking artificial intelligence technology, which is designed to help customers make the most of the potential of their UNOX CHEFTOP, it collects data, processes information, gives a daily report, and connects to the Internet cloud to identify and suggest personalised recipes.

Are there any new additions or developments to the show this year that you’d like to alert visitors to?

We think it’s really important that foodservice equipment buyers support and attend their industry show which is why we always put visitor experience at the forefront of everything we do. We’ll continue to take this to new levels as we have worked even closer with our association partners. We’re also extremely excited to be the supporting partner of the inaugural Foodservice Equipment Journal Awards this year – playing a part in recognising achievement in this all-important industry and yet another reason for any business that rely on kitchens to meet up at over the two days a year that the whole industry gets together.

Commercial Kitchen is the Supporting Partner of the 2018 FEJ Awards. For more details visit www.commercialkitchenshow.co.uk or follow @comkitchenshow

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