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Month: March 2022

Judging Industry Awards | A Catering Consultant’s Account

So here I am, last day of March 2022; reflecting on everything I’ve absorbed and learned in the last three months, being a post-pandemic judge for an awards event designed to spotlight our glorious contract catering industry (despite being battered and beaten by COVID-19).

Whilst the actual reading and judging of submissions took place weeks ago, the glittering and glamorous awards dinner in Central London, took place earlier this week; an evening 100% focused on celebrating, toasting and rewarding the “crème de la crème” of British foodservice.

I was so overwhelmed with the calibre of candidates and phenomenal innovation that I wanted to share my experiences here to incentivise more candidates; given there are so many contract catering professionals, equally as deserving, who may think about giving it a go and submitting.

Why? Entering for an Award

  • From my perspective, an award-winner myself, industry awards are reassuring validation and recognition that you, your department and/or your business is delivering a “best practice” approach, as a pioneer, an inventor and a leader.
  • From writing a submission to winning an award, awards: boost staff morale, improve motivation, recognise contribution, reward hard work, deliver standout results, improve perception/reputation and be great for business; as a finalist but more if you WIN.

Stage 1 | Reading the Submissions

  • Firstly, having read every submission at my leisure, of the categories I was a judge, I found myself astonished with achievements, efforts and level of detail around words, sentences, paragraphs, pages, photos, presentations, references and videos.
  • Secondly, I was acutely aware some submissions appeared written by the caterer, despite the caterer’s significantly depleted resources (time/resource); whilst others appeared written by well-oiled award-writing agencies creating perfect PR stories.
  • Thirdly, what was crystal clear is that ALL candidates, without exception, were worthy of a stand-up and shout out at the awards and a clap and a cheer from everyone, given the HUGELY challenging times and need for pioneering innovation to “carry on catering”.

Stage 2 | Judging the Candidates

  • So, this is where you, as a judge, listen, collaborate and deliver verdicts based on the shared experiences and collective industry knowledge of the other panel judges and this is what I have to share to educate, inform and inspire others to give it a go:
  1. Best foot forward | Make your best points first, backing claims with evidence.
  2. Storytelling | Write a clear narrative story, outline intentions, facts and figures.
  3. Make it real | Use real examples to bring to life; evidence-based improvements.
  4. Answer questions | Read the criteria to answer questions; sticking to word counts.
  5. Support material | Choose the best, most evocative statistics, images, testimonials.
  6. Think like a judge | Put yourself in judge shoes prior submission, for an easy read.
  7. Benefits/results | List benefit/result outcomes; winners show a true work value.
  8. Shared learning | Show how results can be replicated across the business.
  9. Formatting | Ensure supplemental information looks good when converted to a PDF.
  10. Do yourself/your entry justice | Include all key facts, benefits and positives.
  11. Accuracy | Poor grammar/spelling does not sit well with judges (attention to detail).
  12. Teamwork | Don’t avoid a team effort; colleagues have (healthy) different views.
  13. Shout achievements | Put across passion and pride in your entry.
  14. Avoid jargon | Judges are not all from a health service finance.
  15. Persistence | There’s always scope to refine previous entries.
  • If the nominations are focused on winning submissions, then you’re almost certainly, in my experience, reading about winning people and/companies focused on 7 traits:
  1. Relatable| They’re honest and make emotional connections via their stories.
  2. People-focused| They actually care, are objective, realistic, and inclusive.
  3. Inspirational| They use industry knowledge/insights to deliver something special.
  4. Innovative| They’re working smarter/faster, doing something new & unique.
  5. Reflective| They reflect on actions to measure, understand, tweak, adapt.
  6. Energetic| They use their own energy/enthusiasm to carry you on a journey.
  7. Altruistic | They naturally care about someone/something; with no egos in sight.

Stage 3 | Attending the Ceremony

  • There’s so much amazing work that has evolved out of the pandemic and to be able to play a part in awarding those who stand out, as a judge, is wonderful.
  • It was a very tough awards to judge, with super strong competition making the decision-making process all the more challenging.
  • However, as we’d engaged over 44 contract caterers, throughout lockdown; we were already familiar with how the caterers had actually innovated their way through the pandemic, having journeyed c.10,000 miles to see how they do it for themselves.
  • For me, it takes great courage and character to think differently, carve a path on uneven terrain and head out into unknown territory, thus the need to celebrate those who lead by example, set the bar higher and deliver over and above good and better, but “best practice”.
  • I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the feedback of others –
    consultants, caterers, colleagues and bosses – thus I wanted to share my thoughts with you…
    in the hope you submit in future!

Best of Luck

Tracey Fairclough | Managing Director (pictured with another judge, Jeni Edwards)

HRC & IFE Foodservice Shows 2022: TAF’s Key Takeaways

On Tuesday TAF Catering Consultancy attended the Hotel, Restaurant & Catering Show at Excel, co-located this year with the International, Food & Drink Event (IFE), IFE Manufacturing & the London Produce Show – creating one of the biggest foodservice innovation spaces to date.

Here are TAF’s TOP 10 show take-aways, according to Consultant Alex Mingoni:


1 | Front of House Delivery Robots | Developed by Hutech Robotics and launched in the UK around 12 months ago. The welcome has been cautious, given hospitality is a traditionally “people-centric” industry, but robotics could potentially enhance catering operations, giving staff the opportunity to focus on customer service. Product features: AI voice interaction (in several languages), multiple delivery modes (multi-table, cruise, birthday), laser & visual navigation, customisable branding and built-in advertising screens.

2 | International Salon Culinaire | One of the world’s top chef competitions for over a century and a fantastic platform for chefs at all levels – from culinary students to well established professionals – it is always very inspiring to watch, as it showcases the fantastic and exciting gastronomic skills the UK hospitality industry has to offer. In addition to the live competitions this year, a fantastic sugarcraft section including showpieces, floral arrangements, wedding cakes, novelty cakes.

3 | Telling Brand Stories Panel | Hosted by brand strategist Dan Nash, Dishoom’s Creative Director Sara Stark & Mission Mars’s Marketing Manager Jack Edge shared their company approach to storytelling as a way to increase brand awareness and effectively engage customers. Different experiences, one clear takeaway: customers choose certain foodservice brands over others not only because of the food quality they showcase, but because of an emotional connection with the brand’s journey: at the end of the day, it’s all about “humans trying to attract humans”.

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ACE Fifty Inspiring Women in Foodservice Celebrated on International Women’s Day 2022

The Association of Catering Excellence (ACE) today hosted a lunch at the Princess of Shoreditch in London, for the 50 inspiring women in the foodservice industry, to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).

Tracey Fairclough, TAF’s Managing Director, said: “Today was a wonderful way to celebrate International Women’s Day, catering provided by the super talented chef Ruth Hansom and her amazingly talented culinary team.

The Association of Catering Excellence brought together some of the amazingly talented women in hospitality who’ve inspired over the last ten years and will, no doubt, play a significant role in shaping a whole new world of post-pandemic hospitality. I was humbled and proud to have been included on the list of “one of the most inspiring females in foodservices 2022”.

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International Women’s Day 2022

Happy International Women’s Day! Today we celebrate the social, economic and cultural achievements of women across all sectors.

As an all-female catering consultancy operating in a highly competitive, male-dominated industry, TAF recognises the importance of taking meaningful action to break the bias and promote equality, diversity and inclusion, especially in light of recent data highlighting that in 2020/2021, the gender pay gap in hospitality grew for the first time in three years (Source: WiHTL & PwC, January 2022).

However, it is very positive to see how the hospitality sector is actively responding to these ongoing challenges with targeted action by focusing on employee development, more inclusive recruitment & retention practices, updated policies and procedures and improved education and awareness.

On this special day, we’d like to give a big shout-out to all the outstanding women that make hospitality the fantastic, dynamic industry it is today!

#internationalwomensday2022 #internationalwomensday#breakthebias #hospitality #catering #events #foodservices#diversityandinclusion #hospitalityindustry #facilitiesmanagement#future

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