TRENDS REPORT: Light equipment your business needs to know about

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What have copper, cloches, chameleon bars and casual dining got in common? They were all major talking points at the annual CESA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum 2016. FEJ explores the tableware trends set to bring style and substance to what comes out of the kitchen.

If there was one thing that stood out at the 2016 CESA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum it was copper. It’s having a huge moment right now. From cookware to tableware, presentation products, glasses, jugs — virtually every exhibitor at the 2016 CESA LET Forum reported a big increase in demand for it, including those that don’t have any copper products.

But if copper was the stand-out material at the Forum, there was no doubt about the 2016 theme: making the point of difference. “Foodservice operators are looking for products that can help them gain an edge, from generating a bit of table-top theatre with a dramatic accessory to using the latest kitchen gadget to create a new flavour,” says Stephen Goodliff, chair of the CESA LET Group. “The Forum is where the latest and best stand-out light equipment and tableware products are launched.”

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Foodservice operators are looking for products that can help them gain an edge, from generating a bit of table-top theatre with a dramatic accessory to using the latest kitchen gadget to create a new flavour”

Innovation is at the heart of the LET Forum. For 2016 each exhibitor chose a ‘featured product’, which was highlighted during presentations. At the end of the Forum delegates voted for their favourite — the winner being Mitchell & Cooper, with its Pressdome vacuum cloche, a clever design that protects food.

One first-time exhibitor at the event was DKB, which makes much of its business from salt and pepper mills. New products included porcelain cups with a silicon outer sleeve, available in a wide range of bright colours, made by Les Artistes, as well as the Zyliss Fresh range of plastic and glass storage containers.

The plastic lids have injected seals that are leak-proof and ultra-hygienic. Another first time exhibitor, ICTC showed its kitchenware and cookware ‘greatest hits’. ‘Nostalgia’ is a new range of enamelled products, including mugs, jugs, roasters and casseroles, while ‘Retro’ features the Virginia Casa ceramic/terracotta display and serving products. Additionally, the firm highlighted its Lava range of cast iron pans for serving and presentation.

Established brand Dualit showed a selection of products including its iconic toasters. Latest features include a safety cut-out switch to prevent overheating if, for example, the ventilation is blocked. It also featured the Nespresso-compatible Lusso coffee machine, which also makes tea using Dualit’s own tea capsules. It’s aimed at hotel bedrooms, meeting rooms and corporate hospitality.

A stainless steel airpot beverage dispenser with a chic black laminate coating could be found on Elia’s stand, alongside a range of stainless steel teapots with no drip spouts. Elia also launched its first range of glassware at the show. Aimed at top restaurants, they are hand-blown, made of lead-free crystal and are elegant, ultra-light and strong.

With increasing industry focus on allergens and food safety, FEM expanded its range of allergens utensils and food storage containers, which are colour-coded purple. Also new were mixers, blenders, stick blenders and food processors from Sirman and Hamilton Beach. FEM’s Vollrath’s induction warmers for front-of-house buffet and food display got an airing as well. They can be sited on top of or dropped in to counters, with up to three banked together and running off a single 13 amp supply.

Over at Gilberts, the latest additions to the Rosetto line of dispensers and buffet display equipment were on show. They can be built into a variety of different configurations and are “bang on trend for breakfasts and buffets”, according to Gilberts. Rosetto’s new Multi Chef units, meanwhile, can be used for hot or cold display, and can be stand alone or mixed and matched with each other.

At I Grunwerg, the company showcased several ranges of cutlery including Yin and Yang, which is stainless steel with ‘ivory’ black or white handles made of hard-wearing resin. Also new, for serving and presentation, was slate in acacia wood boards, while the company featured a vacuum kettle that, once boiled, maintains the temperature of the water at more than 90°C for an hour, and over 70°C for up to eight hours.

Haus unveiled a series of new products including the Wusthof Pro range of entry-level knives, with non-slip handles. From Scanpan, the Maitre D’ range features copper cookware for cooking and presentation — it’s also induction compatible. Stylish water pitchers from Nuance are made of stainless steel and come in nine different colours.

Metcalfe’s super-fast, ‘intelligent’ Roband conveyor toaster can handle up to 500 slices per hour and recycles the hot air that’s normally wasted, which understandably made it a highlight for the company at the LET Forum. The auto-power save mode also reduces energy use, while the toaster will soon be available with a digital control panel. Metcalfe also marketed the Flexsil-Lid, a range of water-tight, silicon lids for gastronorm containers.

Available in HACCP food safe colours, the lids allow containers to be stacked and handle temperatures from -40°C to +240°C.

Nemox gelato machines, shown by Mitchell & Cooper, have a density control unit that stops the paddles freezing up. The new 2016 model makes 1.4 litres in just 15 minutes, then goes into automatic storage mode. Also new is the expanded range of safety gloves, designed to tackle specific areas such as oil, steam and heat. The Pressdome, a vacuum cloche that binds to the plate’s surface and keeps food fresher for longer, proved a big hit at the show.

Nevilles launches around 100 new products every quarter. The current key driver is casual dining, with operators looking for different materials and flashes of colour for their table tops.

New products ranged from ellipse plates to Old English cutlery to Deco glassware, plus a large gin globe and Misket cocktail glasses. It also featured the wooden, stackable Rustic Display Crate, which is easy to set up and remove. Movable dividers add to the versatility and the crates come in 1/1 gastronorm sizes.

Board specialist Row & Sons now offers seven different board materials — two hard woods, two wood fibres and three high density polyethylenes. All are available in a huge variety of different sizes and shapes. Stylish acrylic Food Display Covers match perfectly with a range of different boards to protect food and enhance presentation. Five different covers are available.

Over at the Signature stand, the Prima Matera cookware range from De Buyer is 90% copper, 10% stainless steel and fully induction compatible. From Clifton Foods comes a portable, clip-on sous vide stirrer circulator that delivers accurate control for ‘precision cooking’. Clifton’s Bottle Warmers can store 8, 16 or 24 bottles of liquids or sauces and offer precise temperature control.

Cake stands are big sellers for The DRH Collection and it has expanded its range with new models in pastel pink, pastel blue and white. The stands and domes can be bought separately. Coloured, pressed, retro glassware is an easy way to add a splash of colour to the bale and is another top seller. DRH also predicts that that egg coddlers are making a comeback. Its models are white porcelain with metal lids and can be dropped into a pan of boiling water.

The annual LET Forum demonstrated just how much change there has been in the light equipment market duirng the past year. The challenge now is for operators to keep pace with the trends.

On trend in tableware


Plain white: To be fair, in upmarket venues, white is making a comeback (if it ever really went away) — but with splashes of colour on the table.

Copper: Cookware, presentation products, glasses: you name it, they want it in copper. Even exhibitors that had no copper products reported the increase in demand for copper!

Table theatre: Anything that can give a touch of drama to the table — from ‘egg timers’ to tell you when to pour the perfectly brewed cuppa to mashed up materials and colours to intoxicate customers’ senses.

Same food, different look: Again, all about the point of difference. For example, three years ago chips served in baskets was the thing. Then it was chips in buckets. Now, amongst other ideas, it’s chips in enamel cups.

Upscaling: The easy way to up the restaurant ‘feel’ is to change the table top. Upgrade the cutlery, crockery, glassware and accessories. Then there’s chameleon bars: breakfast cafes in the morning, business lunch venues from noon, tea shops in the pm, then cocktail bars, then brasseries, then clubs. A change of table top will underline the transformation between service.

Flowering tea: The growth is probably part of another big tea trend: loose leaf. Lots of tea pots were on display, most with infusers.

Vintage, retro, nostalgia: Without doubt, if it looks old fashioned, it’s bang up to date.

Gin is in: Lots of companies showed gin ‘globes’, the preferred glass for today’s G&T drinker.

Hard smoothies: After alcopops comes a growing demand for smoothies and shakes with a shot
or two added to the mix.


Gadgets and gizmos: Amongst the growing kitchenware sellers are freeze dryers and centrifuges. Meanwhile, vertical food slicers are on the comeback trail, driven by demand for cured meats. They allow larger cuts to be thinly sliced, without putting pressure on the blade.

Food safety: There were lots of new food storage ideas, designed to improve food safety and hygiene. Other food safety-related launches include slicers with microban
coatings on handles and blades,
plus products designed to enhance allergen control and prevent cross-contamination.


From Bake Off to Downton, the most popular shows increasingly influence what operators are looking for on the table top.  The crystal decanter in Carson’s hands on Sunday will be in demand by Monday morning…

Tags : catering equipmentCESACESA Light Equipment Forumlight equipmentproducts
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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