Cooking from scratch makes all the difference

GCA president elect and Haskins Garden Centres chief executive Julian Winfield says not heating up food from food service suppliers and using its 35 chefs to full effect make the difference at his four garden centres, ahead of the HTA catering conference on 9-10 June at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield.

Winfield said before the event, which tackles questions of how to cater for expanding catering business: "We cook from scratch all hot food, pies and main dishes. We have 35 chefs in our four centres. Some 85-90 per cent of cakes are home baked, all our pizzas and salads are homemade and so are our sandwich baguettes. We don't buy any partially cooked food to warm up."

Catering accounted for 18.6 per cent of GCA members turnover in 2013 and catering sales were up eight per cent in 2014.

Speakers at the HTA event include Wyevale Garden Centre's Jason Danciger, Blue Diamond's Alan Roper, Cleeve Nursery's Felicity Down, Highfield Garden World's Tim Greenway and Turpin Smale's Chris Brown.

Will Armitage of Armitage's Home and Garden, Ron Bent of Bents Garden and Home, Helen Joyce of Thirsk Garden Centre and Anthony Hester from Dobbies Garden Centres will be on a panel. Mains of Drum garden centre and Chatsworth Estate will talk about provenance.

TV chef Valentine Warner and Westmorland Group's Sarah Dunning are keynote speakers.

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