Press & PR at Hotelympia

Interview with Toby Wand

01/12/2015 16:26:38

The Caterer – Toby Wand Interview

So what’s new about Hotelympia in 2016?

In 2016 we’re taking the show to you. It may seem a contradiction in terms to describe an event the size of Hotelympia as having the feel of a bespoke, tailored show, but in February that’s exactly the experience we will deliver. Whatever day you choose to spend with us, and whichever attraction, innovative new product, key exhibitor or insightful speaker is on your hit list, this experience will be individual to your sector. All about your needs, the requirements of your business and your customers. Your show.

From hotels and restaurants to pubs, cafes, contract catering, casual dining, the cost sector and beyond, your sector will be catered for by almost 1000 pioneering exhibitors in Food & Drink; Catering Equipment; Technology; Interiors & Tableware; Careers and sustainability-focused Waste-Works.

So if it’s the very latest ground-breaking catering equipment you’re looking for, this is your show; but what about the world-class chefs that rely on these innovative machines daily? And the food and drink products – from leading suppliers and burgeoning producers – that go into making menus really stand out from the competition? Or the beautiful flat and glassware that is the customer’s first experience of an establishment, the key design and décor elements that help set the tone, the lighting; the technology that keeps service running smoothly? Hotelympia 2016 has these key elements and much more in abundance.

Making its debut at the show and comprising almost 20 Michelin stars, the most assembled at any Hotelympia since its inception, will be The Staff Canteen Live – Skillery.

Held in conjunction with The Craft Guild of Chefs the four day showcase will see a changing line-up of chefs performing interactive demonstrations in front of a live audience.

The line-up includes: chef patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the prodigiously talented Clare Smyth; Hotelympia favourite, Tom Kerridge, from two-Michelin-starred The Hand and Flowers and The Coach at Marlow; Claude Bosi of two Michelin-starred Hibiscus and the fantastic Nathan Outlaw of his eponymous two-Michelin-starred restaurant.

The show also welcomes a host of insightful addresses from leading industry lights, including, amongst others, the master of service, restaurant manager of the world famous, Three Michelin-starred Waterside Inn, Diego Masciaga who will give a front-of-house masterclass; leading designer and sustainable architecture pioneer, Oliver Heath, who will talk about the many benefits of twinning class-leading design with elements of nature; star of TV’s The Apprentice, now a designer in her own right, Ella Jade Bitten, who will make the link between high fashion and creating a ‘personality’ for your hospitality brand and Google’s Head of Hospitality, Terri Scriven, who will impart her years of experience to visitors on the right digital tools to help your business flourish.

Hotelympia’s Drinks Cabinet and Drinks Innovation Theatre will grow to encompass beer, cider, spirits, wine and mead as the drinks scene moves from strength-to-strength. The Drinks Innovation Theatre will not only house talks on the profitability of alcoholic beverages, but also how getting your hot drinks offering right can be equally as rewarding.

What’s the most challenging thing about putting on a show of this scale? / How does the format of the show reflect trends in the marketplace? 

For almost 80 years this show has been the only show that the entire hospitality fraternity builds up to, so there is a massive amount of brand recognition to uphold, something which we as seasoned event organisers obviously relish. The trick is to always try to move with the times and stay relevant to the sectors you represent. Thankfully the show is perfectly placed to do this being staged in London: the vanguard of UK dining trends and European innovation.   

As mentioned, Hotelympia 2016 will have the feel of a bespoke, tailored show but how do we achieve this with so many ground-breaking exhibitors, from multiple sectors, all under one roof? The answer lies in knowing the market, understanding the trends that keep this vibrant industry ticking, showcasing companies that share in this vision, true innovators, keeping things fresh and, most importantly, relevant to you.

Many shows have tried to recreate the formula of Hotelympia but on a smaller scale, but no other hospitality show can boast the breadth of suppliers or the depth of product innovation fed by laser guided trends and insight drawn from the UK’s culinary capital and dining destinations across the world, represented by some 70 international exhibitors from 18 different countries. It’s a unique show defined not by its scale but by the doors it can open for businesses across hospitality.

Which exhibitor sections really excite you this year? / What’s the meet the buyer programme all about?

With over 120 exhibitors already confirmed – the largest line-up ever amassed under one roof – state-of the art catering equipment is yet again set to be one of the jewels in the Hotelympia crown. 

New for 2016 is a unique and impressive ‘Meet the Buyer’ Programme, created in partnership with CESA (Catering Equipment Suppliers Association) which will see buyers’ requirements matched to the exhibitor whose equipment best meet their needs. They will then be able to speak directly and confidentially to manufacturers on everything from technical specifications to energy saving benefits. Crucially, they will also be able to compare and contrast kit and try before they buy.

A big part of the drama at Hotelympia takes place at the skills theatre. What’s happening in the competitions this year? /We understand there are classes this year too. What’s going on and how do visitors get involved?

One of the most compelling visitor attractions at the show, Salon Culinaire returns to Hotelympia in 2016 with a brand new Chef Director, Executive Chef of the Royal Garden Hotel, Steve Munkley, and a host of programme changes aimed at ensuring the world’s premier culinary competition stays fresh and relevant to modern hospitality. 

In addition to the three competitive elements of Salon Culinaire; La Parade des Chefs, Salon Display, and Live Theatre, new for 2016 is The Skills Theatre (sponsored by Le Cordon Bleu London, plus World Skills UK Competitions and Fairfax Meadow). This brand new initiative will offer chefs at the very beginning of their careers – including apprentices and students, and those who have not competed before – the chance to experience the thrill and bright spotlight of competition with classes including butchery, fishmongery, pastry, sugarcraft and many more.

A first for Salon, front-of-house staff will now also get to demonstrate their skills and put their efforts to the test in a selection of service classes.

As well as the addition of The Skills Theatre, Salon Display (sponsored by Compass Group UK) and Live Theatre will also see a refreshed programme of classes. Highlights include The TUCO Cook and Serve Challenge which requires a team of chef, commis chef and waiter to prepare, cook and serve a three-course meal with beverages for four covers – a real test of teamwork and skill. Churchill’s Chef and Potter Grand Prix also sees teams of three tasked with preparing a three course menu, served on Churchill tableware, to show how creative use of china can really elevate a dish.

An extra dimension awaits La Parade des Chefs competitors as they will now take part in a sector specific ‘team versus team’ style competition, with the winner becoming sector champion. Each daily champion will go forward in a bid to be crowned overall La Parade des Chefs team at the end of Hotelympia. 

What’s the greatest change you’ve seen in the show since its inception?

Thankfully I haven’t been around for the past 80 years but certainly, changes have taken place which makes any trade show look different.  There are fewer very large exhibits: gone are the days when exhibitors take a stand the size of a playing field.  Now, they work in a smarter way, using the stand as a place to do business, and to welcome clients, as well as showing off their wares. 

The sheer weight of product innovation is something that continues to amaze me. Just when you think our exhibitors have pushed the envelope as far as they can, they go further, creating smarter, cleaner, quicker, simpler products. I am proud to say that throughout those 80 years we have been part of this evolution, the perfect launch pad from which these innovators can continue to flourish.  

What’s the most memorable thing to ever happen in your experience of Hotelympia?

For me it has to be launching the Hotelympia Hall of Fame in 2010 and inaugurating both Albert and Michel Roux – industry legends – as our very first recipients. The levels of dignity and humility on display from both was something to behold and it made for a really special moment, something I’ll never forget.

Since then we have been lucky enough to welcome both Raymond Blanc and Sir Terence Conran into our esteemed halls. On day one of the show (29th February) The Stage will be the place to be as we honour yet another industry giant. I hope you can join us.   

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Sam Rooke
Jellybean Creative Solutions

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