The CESA Light Equipment & Tableware Forum 2012

Catering For Innovation

25th April 2012, Barcelo Hotel, Daventry

Two themes dominated the 2012 CESA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum.   On the business side, it was all about buoyancy: every exhibitor reported good sales, several said they had enjoyed record growth in recent months. On the product side, the theme was the big demand for different options for serving food. Suppliers are responding with a wave of innovative ideas using materials such as wood, slate, copper and steel – as well as glass and china.

If front of house was very much to the fore, there were plenty of back of house innovations to see, too. So as well as unveiling how the best dressed tables and displays are going to look, the 2012 Forum showcased the gadgets and light equipment that will be the next chef ‘must haves’, ranging from new ideas in induction hobs to probes that help operators maintain cooking oil quality.

Every year the Forum makes two awards: the Distributor Cup and the Sales Professional of the Year. This year the cup went to Bunzl Lockhart, with national account manager Deano Kennett accepting on behalf of the company. “This is a well run, well organised event and I want to thank everyone for the hard work that goes into it – it’s much appreciated,” he said.

Teresa Reynolds, business development director of Especial, won Sales Professional of the Year for her success in growing the sector. She picked up a plaque, a cheque for £500 and entry on to the next CFSP Certified Food Service Professional accreditation programme. “The Forum is a very effective use of time,” she said. “Even though we’ve only just had Hotelympia, there are yet more new products here – in fact, we’ve placed an order for some!”

Other delegates were similarly enthusiastic. Scott Falconer of 3663 commented: “Very interesting, very informative and there’s a very good display of products.” Tony Butler of Whitco added: “We’re looking to move into light equipment sales, so this is the first time we’ve attended. It’s an excellent event, a great opportunity to find out what’s available and to meet quality suppliers.”  

The event was officially opened by Mick Shaddock, chair of CESA, and Stephen Goodliff, chair of the association’s Light Equipment and Tableware group. Just under forty delegates attended including representatives from 3663, Bunzl Lockhart, Gratte Brothers, Especial, Gondola Group, Global FSE, Catering Insight, Roland Allen, Nisbets, Whitco and St Johns Care.  

Exhibition Review

SJH Rowe & Sons

The British manufacturer of commercial cutting boards presented what they describe as ‘the present and the future of cutting boards.’ The present was represented by wooden boards, the future by composite wooden cutting boards – which as fully sustainable, dishwasher safe and virtually indestructible.

“We are very busy at the moment, with a full order book,” said managing director Peter Wakeling. “It’s the fashion to serve, display and present food on wood surfaces with many restaurants changing their boards when they change their menu.”

Induced energy

The success of Induced Energy is due to the British manufacturer’s ability to adapt and be flexible, along with the quality and longevity of its products, according to business development manager Chris Davies. Amongst the highlighted models was the iPlate, which combines Induced Energy’s induction technology with a Swanstone solid surface to create a seamless, one-piece counter top that can be ambient, hot or refrigerated.

“Business is growing, including exports to, for example, Scandinavia and the Middle East,” Chris Davies commented.

Mitchell & Cooper

The Bonzer brand is best known for can openers and portioners. Mitchell & Cooper showed a new departure: the Bonzer Hexdome disposable cup dispenser.   The hexagonal bases link together and the domes will accept a variety of different cup sizes. The Hexdome can be colour coded and branded and is dishwasher safe.

“Our factory is working 24 hours a day,” said Matthew Pearson, group sales manager of Mitchell & Cooper. “We’ve had a lot of success in making bespoke versions of products – for example, we’re currently working with a customer on a bespoke can opener.”


Amongst the new lines on show from Nevilles were serving buckets and baskets. The buckets, available in ramekin, single and double portion sizes, are available in dishwasher safe stainless steel versions.

With sixteen product categories and over 1700 lines, this is another company enjoying sales growth. Nevilles’ sales manager David Lee highlighted the company’s advanced web-based ordering system adding: “Stock and availability can be more important than price.”

T&G Woodware

T&G is one of several exhibitors who have feet in both the retail and catering sectors. The company has seen big growth in foodservice sales over the past few years – 2011 was their best ever. Product launches focused on front of house, including new wooden deli counter and coffee shop display blocks, as well as wooden display crates and wood-mounted chalk boards.

“This format, where you get to sit for twenty minutes with the customer, provides more time and depth when compared to an exhibition,” national account manager Richard Vanstone commented.

The Contact Grill Company

A first time exhibitor, The Contact Grill Company’s Gastro Clam Grill combines volume cooking with an exceptionally competitive price. Meanwhile the new Krampouz Contact Grill has patented interchangeable plates – ribbed or smooth – with the added bonus that they that can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

“We had a very good end to 2011,” said managing director Clive England. “This Forum is excellent, we’re very happy with it.”


The two products exciting most interest were the cooking oil tester, which measures the quality of cooking oil as well as its temperature, and a new, multifunction waterproof thermometer. The latter is supplied with a general purpose probe, which can be switched for alternative types, such as an air probe. “At £85 it offers quality at a competitive price,” commented James Whale, product manager.

“The foodservice side of our business is growing as operators understand the value of investing in better quality thermometers and probes,” he added.

Catering Equipment Limited

An EPP food transport box designed to fit the Atlas trolley for airline foodservice was one of several new products from Catering Equipment Limited. EPP is lightweight, resilient, sustainable, recyclable and offers high insulation values. The Crystalex lining, which is foodsafe and suitable for the dishwasher, allows users to put bulk food straight into an EPP box.

“This is our first time at the Forum and we’re seeing people we thought we’d never see. It’s been very good,” said director Anthony Prestage.


“Presentation is the thing, and has been for a while,” confirmed Contacto’s managing director Stephen Goodliff. The company’s new range of Mini Copperware is ideal for serving, for example, sauces, vegetables and curries. It features a copper exterior bonded to a stainless steel interior, with attractive brass handles.

“Feedback from other exhibitors has been very good this year – especially from new ones. It’s an invaluable event – last year we picked up a major order purely as a result of being here.”

Elia International

Several new ranges of cutlery were on show – Elia’s sales manager Adam Walker said the design trend is for elegant, slim, fine dining with balance and finesse. Meanwhile the company’s new Beverage Service Station puts all the extras operators need in to one convenient and tidy unit – the drinks dispenser and jug, the sugar, spoons, milk portions and so forth.

“This is my first time at the Forum. It’s very relaxed, so everyone gets 100% attention.”

Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM)

New from Vollrath was the range of stainless steel Double Wall Platters with Buffet Risers. These designer platters can be seated on the risers, which are available in different heights to create a stylish, attractive display. Also on show were Vollrath’s latest double wall insulated serving bowls, which now come in a wide range of attractive colours.

“The delegates here understand the benefit of a one day forum where they get to see so many different products,” said sales manager Martin Shaw. “For exhibitors it’s also very useful – we don’t often get the chance to talk to the sales people at the distributors. It’s a great event for building relationships.”


According to managing director Richard Gilbert, the company has launched lots of new products, even since Hotelympia. They include a range of stainless steel tongs, which can be colour coded using plastic lozenges that slot into the handles. Meanwhile the new Mebel range of melamine tableware comes in a striking choice of shapes and vibrant colours. An unusual line is the party plate made of aspen wood which has been specially treated to be dishwasher safe.

“Front of house is a growing business for us,” Richard Gilbert commented. “We feel it’s a great opportunity to help customers create a point of difference.”

The DRH Collection

Oriental teapots usually come in cast iron. DRH launched a range made of ceramics, with filters that lock into the lid inside, available in a variety of shapes and sizes.   Also new was a garlic roaster, a camembert baker and a ‘flight of wines’ set of three carafes on a wooden platter.

“Business on the catering side has grown noticeably,” said marketing manager Mike Holmes. “Last year was our first Forum and it is really helping us move forward.”

I Grunwerg

Another new way to serve and display food: natural slate platters. I Grunwerg’s range is oiled, so it is waterproof and stain resistant, and has rubber feet for stability. The company showed a wide range of new products including bamboo boards, for cutting or serving, which are environmentally friendly and food safe, even if scored, as well as stainless steel teapots with special pouring spouts.

“We’ve been busy all day – it’s a very good event. It sews the seeds!” said catering account manager Anthony Pettit.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) is the authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry, representing over 160 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes. For more information on CESA visit

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CESA LETG Forum 2012.docxMay-12

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The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) represents over 180 companies who supply commercial catering equipment – from utensils to full kitchen schemes. Buying equipment and services from a CESA member gives you the security of working with people that will ensure you get professional advice and service.