Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Hospitality

This week's main hospitality news stories include calls to loosen staff visa rules, France reclaiming the Bocuse d'Or title, and the Government assembling a Hospitality Council to guide sector recovery.

- More than 65 hospitality leaders including Jeremy King, Yotam Ottolenghi and Skye Gyngell have signed an open letter to the Government demanding immigration requirements for hospitality workers be urgently loosened​. The letter, published in the Financial Times​, says it is critical that roles such as chefs, bartenders and sommeliers be added to the shortage occupations list 'in order to save the industry under Brexit rules'. It reads: "A huge number of individuals have left the industry and many operators simply cannot stay afloat with reduced staffing levels. "Post-Covid customer demand is increasing, but now we don’t have the necessary trained staff." It comes after the Government announced​ that 5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry amid Britain's ongoing supply chain crisis. A further 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be made available for the same short period, to 'avoid any potential further pressures' on the food industry.

A team of chefs from France has won the Bocuse d'Or cooking competition​, beating Scandinavian countries Denmark and Norway to the coveted title. The team, led by chef Davy Tissot, won the prestigious biennial cooking competition as hosts, with the event being held in Lyon. It is the first time a French team has won the competition, named in honour of French chef Paul Bocuse, since 2013. Chefs were tasked with creating an ornate platter of food based on using a whole braised beef chuck and a three-course takeaway menu with a focus on tomatoes. As part of the brief, takeaway dishes had to be presented in a box made of plant-based materials, which had to be reusable. Silver medal went to Denmark, whose team was led by chef Ronni Mortensen, with Norway, led by chef Christian Andre Pettersen, taking home third place.

- UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett and Mowgli’s Nisha Katona are among the industry leaders to join the Government's Hospitality Sector Council​. The Council has been assembled to help deliver the Government’s 'hospitality strategy', which was launched back in July and is intended to support the reopening, recovery and resilience of the sector following the pandemic. This includes making it easier for pubs, restaurants and cafes to offer al fresco dining by making pavement licenses permanent; and extending takeaway pints in England and Wales until September 2022. Led by Prezzo executive chair Karen Jones and Business Minister Paul Scully, the Council had its first meeting on Wednesday (29 September). The following day the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) accused the Government of showing 'very little consideration' for small, independent businesses​, claiming the Council membership is 'overwhelmingly focused on big, corporate chains, with little regard for the huge variety of cuisines, ethnically diverse entrepreneurs and independent business owners who make up the sector beyond London'.

Patisserie Valerie's former auditor Grant Thornton has been fined £2.3m over its audits of the collapsed café chain​. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said Grant Thornton's audits of the company between 2015 and 2017 'failed in their principal objectives of providing reasonable assurance that the financial statements were free from material misstatement, whether caused by fraud or error'. Grant Thornton had acted as statutory auditor for Patisserie Holdings - Patisserie Valerie's parent company - since 2007, and signed off clean audit opinions for its 2015, 2016 and 2017 financial statements. In October 2018, Patisserie Holdings announced that its board had been notified of potentially fraudulent accounting irregularities and the company subsequently entered into administration, leading to the closure of 70 stores and more than 900 job losses. The auditor was originally in line for a £4m fine, but it was adjusted for aggravating and mitigating factors and discounted to £2.34m.

- MasterChef: The Professionals winner Laurence Henry will launch a large, multi-faceted restaurant in Nottingham’s The Island Quarter early next year​. Arranged over three floors, Canal Turn will comprise a lower level bar and grill, a middle level signature restaurant and an upper floor events space for 200. The names of the different floors within Canal Turn are yet to be announced but will reflect Nottingham’s history and Canal Turn’s location on a significant site. “I have been able to be involved of the development of the restaurant and bar space from the very beginning,” says Henry, who has has worked with a number of high profile chefs including Sat Bains, Gordon Ramsay and Jason Atherton. “Working with the developer, The Conygar Investment Company PLC, has been fantastic because they have given me the freedom to create and evolve the project in my own direction which is incredibly rare – and because of this, it gives me the chance to present a unique outcome and product.”

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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