Copper, cloches, chameleon bars and casual dining:

The CESA Light Equipment and Tableware Forum 2016

12th – 13th April 2016, Whittlebury Hall, Towcester 

If there was one thing that stood out at the 2016 CESA LET Forum it was copper. It’s having a huge moment. 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, even those that don’t have any copper products.

The LET Forum is the annual two-day get-together for distributors and product suppliers. It’s where buyers and salespeople can take a good close look at the latest kitchen gizmos, exotic tableware designs and stylish presentation products – and discuss them, in depth, with the supplier. CESA chair Simon Frost welcomed delegates and thanked CEDA, Cedabond and ENSE for their support of the event.   19 companies booked into the 2016 Forum, as did 60 delegates representing 23 different distributors.

If copper was the stand-out material at the Forum, there’s 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.”

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 and keeps it fresh.  

The LET Awards

Three annual awards are presented at the LET Forum dinner, which was held on Tuesday 12th April. The Distributor Cup is awarded for the company that has done the most to support and promote sales in the sector – this year it was won by Lockhart Catering Equipment whose regional sales director, Deano Kennett, was on hand to accept the award. The Sales Professional of the Year went to Adrian Domagala of Global Foodservice Equipment, who contributed over £2 million in sales last year, growing margin despite tough internet competition.  

The CESA Donald Bird Award for 2016 was given to Peter Wakeling of Row & Sons, who accepted the award from Donald’s son, Mike Bird. As the audience
gave Peter a standing ovation, Stephen Goodliff told them he was “A popular, dedicated man whose passion epitomises Donald Bird’s enthusiasm for the industry.”

ON TREND at the CESA LET Forum 2016

The sectors…

Casual dining is the key driver, though coffee shops are still a vibrant force (sales into the sector up 30% YOY, according to one exhibitor). Breakfast is a big growth area, while afternoon tea is still on the rise. 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. Then it’s back to breakfast.  

On the table…

The colours: white… grey… bright colours… pastels… The fact that different people gave different opinions to the white vs colour (and if colour, which colour?) debate underlines 2016’s core theme: operators are looking for their own point of difference.

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. Oh, and don’t forget the copper whatever-it-may-be.

Same food, different presentation: 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 and relatively inexpensive way to up the restaurant ‘feel’ is to change the table top. Upgrade the cutlery, crockery, glassware and accessories. If the venue is multi-use, all day long, have a change of table top to underline the transformation from breakfast to lunch to afternoon tea…

Luxury and opulence: several exhibitors commented on the demand for over the top products – just be sure that the model you choose is at least as functional as it is fantastical.

Flowering tea: the growth is probably part of another big tea trend: loose leaf. After all, a flower budding open in amongst tea bags is going to look a tad incongruous. Lots of tea pots were on display, nearly all came 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: speaking of alcohol, after alcopops comes a growing demand for smoothies and shakes with a shot or two added to the mix.

In the kitchen….

Gadgets and gizmos: Heston has a lot to answer for. Amongst the growing kitchenware sellers are freeze dryers and centrifuges. Meanwhile, in a blast from the past, vertical food slicers are coming back, 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 includes slicers with microban coatings on handles and blades, plus products designed to enhance allergen control and prevent cross contamination.

And finally…

TV shows: 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…

Top Pick: the best of the LET Forum products

Catering Equipment Limited

New: a range of polycarbonate glasses that can be personalised with logos that are contained within the polycarbonate itself, so they are totally protected; plus ABS heat resistant plastic handles that can be colour coded and fitted to stainless steel container lids.

Featured: BPA-free polyethersulphone containers that are virtually clear and can handle temperatures from

-40°C to + 150°C.


New: Presentation containers that look like ring pull tins, such as would be used for fish or olives; induction-compatible copper cookware including frying pans; plus a collection of well-priced, mid-range cutlery.

Featured: stainless steel cloches in three sizes, including a mini cloche for, for example, a butter dish.


New: after melamine platters and presentation pieces designed to look like wood, wicker, slate and stone, the latest additions are marble-effect platters. Also new is a range of elegant floating risers.

Featured: they look like cast iron, but Dalebrook’s latest skillets are made of melamine, designed to serve all sorts of meals, from fried breakfast to paella.


New: DKB was a first-time exhibitor at the Forum. Most of the company’s business is in 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.

Featured: the Zyliss Fresh range of plastic and glass storage containers. The plastic lids have injected seals that are leak-proof and ultra-hygienic.


New: the company showed a selection of products including its iconic toasters. Their latest feature is a safety cut out switch to prevent overheating if, for example, the ventilation is blocked.

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.


New: a stainless steel airpot beverage dispenser with a chic black laminate coating. Also new is a range of stainless steel teapots with no drip spouts.

Featured: Elia launched its first range of glassware. Aimed at top restaurants, they are hand-blown, made of lead-free crystal and are elegant, ultra-light and strong.


New: with increasing focus on allergens and food safety, FEM has 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.

Featured: Vollrath’s induction warmer for FOH buffet and food display is sleek, black and can be sited on top of or dropped in to counters. Up to three can be banked together and run off a single 13amp supply.


New: the latest additions to the Rosetto line of dispensers and buffet display equipment, which can be built into a variety of different configurations, are ‘bang on trend, for breakfasts and buffets’, says Gilberts. Meanwhile Genietti’s round kebab skewers are an unusual and fun way to present food.

Featured: Rosetto’s new Multi Chef units can be used for hot or cold display, and can be stand alone or mixed and matched with each other.


New: from Wusthof comes the 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. Bredemeijer glass teapots are ideal for flowering tea.

Featured: stylish water pitchers from Nuance are made of stainless steel and come in nine different colours.  


New: 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. Also ‘retro’ are the Virginia Casa ceramic/terracotta display and serving products.

Featured: the Lava range of cast iron pans for serving and presentation.

I Grunwerg

New: 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, is slate in acacia wood boards.

Featured: a vacuum kettle – once boiled, the water stays at over 90°C for an hour, and over 70°C for up to eight hours.


New: the super-fast, ‘intelligent’ Roband conveyor toaster can handle up to 500 slices per hour and recycles the hot air that’s normally wasted. The auto power save mode also reduces energy use. The toaster will soon be available with a digital control panel.

Featured: The Flexsil-Lid is 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.

Mitchell & Cooper

New: Nemox gelato machines 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.

Featured: the Pressdome is a vacuum cloche that binds to the plate’s surface and keeps food fresher for longer.


New: 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.

Featured: the wooden, stackable Rustic Display Crate is easy to set up and remove. Movable dividers add to the versatility and the crates come in 1/1 gastronorm sizes.

Row & Sons

New: 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.

Featured: stylish acrylic Food Display Covers match perfectly with a range of different boards to protect food and enhance presentation. Five different covers are available.


New: 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 temperature control for ‘precision cooking’.

Featured: Clifton’s Bottle Warmers can store 8, 16 or 24 bottles of liquids or sauces and offer precise temperature control.


New: the Tuscany range of lacquered acacia wood platters can be used to hold a variety of different plates – square, rectangular or round. Equally suitable for breakfast or casual dining is the range of wooden crates for buffet food presentation. T&G’s latest salt and pepper mills feature a copper finish.

Featured: stylish new ‘mini’ wooden crates designed to hold salt and pepper mills.


New: the Testo 270 accurately determines the best time to change cooking oil, by measuring Total Polar Materials (TPMs). It can be used in hot oil.

Featured: a digital HACCP management system, the Testo 250 has a tablet where users record their data, such as goods delivered. It also prompts – for example, it asks if packaging is damaged and if the answer is yes, it suggests taking a photo (with the tablet’s built-in camera) and sending it to the supplier. All information is uploaded and stored in The Cloud, for easy access and download.

The DRH Collection

New: cake stands are big sellers for DRH 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.

Featured: egg coddlers are making a comeback. DRH’s are white porcelain with metal lids and can be dropped into a pan of boiling water. The coddled eggs can have ingredients added and, once cooked, are served direct to the customer, in the coddler.

What the delegates say...

“We come looking for solutions – and we find them.”

James Wells-French, Yate supplies

“The Forum is really good – it’s worth its weight in gold. You can guarantee to have quality time with suppliers, with plenty of attention to detail. We come looking for solutions and we find them.

“As always, the 2016 Forum is a professional, well run event.”

Lyndon Lennon, Lockhart catering Equipment

“It’s a great opportunity to learn what’s new in the market and to connect to suppliers. Very worthwhile.”

Adam Doffman, Commercial Catering Contracts

“The two main things I get from the Forum are finding out about new launches and refreshing my knowledge of the established products.”

What the exhibitors say…

“Interactive… informal…. influential… we do business here”

Gary Richards, Mitchell & Cooper: “Excellent. Look how many salespeople are here. You couldn’t meet this many in a month.”

Amy Meecham, DKB: “We were surprised by how very interactive the Forum is. Of course we knew some of the people, and we’ve certainly made connections with the ones we didn’t know. It’s also very well organised and there’s plenty of information.”

Neil Richards, Metcalfe: “We meet influential people in a relaxed environment. The featured products programme is a great idea, it’s drawn attention to innovation.”

Anthony Prestage, Catering Equipment Ltd: “You’re face to face with the right people, and they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t interested. This is always a quality event and we always do business here.”

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) is the authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry, representing over 180 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 LET Forum 2016 Review – May-16

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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.