As 2015 draws to a close, we take a look at some of the year's most popular stories on thecaterer.com.
14 JanuaryMalmaison and Hotel du Vin set for sale
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin owner, KSL Capital Partners, began the process of selling its 29 hotels. The private equity firm and advisers at UBS started circulating financial information about the hotel business to prospective buyers. KSL Capital Partners acquired Malmaison and Hotel du Vin in March 2013 for around £200m, after former parent company MWB Group went into administration. The brands were sold in June for £363.4m to Asian hotels firm Frasers Hospitality UK.
15 JanuaryWoman dies after meal at burger chain Almost Famous ](/articles/355730/woman-dies-after-meal-at-burger-chain-at-almost-famous)
A woman died from a suspected allergic reaction after eating at an Almost Famous burger restaurant in Manchester. Shahida Shahid, 18, was reported to have collapsed following a meal at the chain's site in the Great Northern Warehouse on 9 January and later died in hospital. The news sparked an investigation by the police and the Food Standards Agency.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay lost his multi-million pound High Court claim that his father-in-law fraudulently used a ‘ghost writing' machine to sign him up for a pub deal. The 48-year-old chef had to pay the estimated £1m plus legal costs of the failed claim.
Foodservice firm BaxterStorey was left being owed nearly £400,000 following the collapse of a company that ran a pop-up restaurant designed to host past winners of TV series MasterChef.
MasterChef judge Monica Galetti announced she was leaving her job as senior sous chef at two-Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche, 12 years after she started as a commis chef at the iconic London restaurant. At the end of this year she announced she would open her own venture, called Mere, in London's Fitzrovia.
It emerged that a new brand of iconic urban, lifestyle hotel is to be created from the portfolio of UK properties acquired by the Starwood Capital Group over the past two years. David Taylor, former general manager of the London Edition hotel, is now heading up the as-yet-unnamed brand as chief operating officer. The brand will comprise the hotel Russell, London; Royal York hotel, York; the Palace hotel, Manchester; the Blythswood, Glasgow; the Grand Central, Glasgow; the Bonham hotel, Edinburgh; the George hotel, Edinburgh; and the Roxburgh hotel, Edinburgh.
Daniel Clifford, chef-proprietor of the two-Michelin-starred Cambridge restaurant Midsummer House, bought a pub in the Essex village of Little Dunmow. Clifford bought the freehold of the Flitch of Bacon for £300,000, and undertook an extensive refurbishment, estimated to cost £500,000. The pub, which opened in December, has 35 covers, a large beer garden and three letting rooms.
Chef Sat Bains' attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the highest-ever formal dinner party ended after he was diagnosed with the full symptoms of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). The two-Michelin-starred chef had been part of an attempt to raise £100,000 for Community Action Nepal, and had been planning to serve a full meal on 27 April at Everest's North Col, more than 23,000ft (7,100m) above sea level.
Five hotels within Prima Hotel Group, operator of four-AA-star hotels in England and Scotland, entered administration. The hotels affected were Nunsmere Hall hotel in Chester, the Stanneylands hotel near Manchester airport in Cheshire, the Quorn Country hotel in Leicestershire, Hellaby Hall hotel in Rotherham and the Crowne Plaza Edinburgh Royal Terrace.
Robert Cook, who previously headed up hotels for Malmaison, Hotel du Vin and De Vere, was appointed commercial director of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. Group chairman Donald Macdonald, who added the responsibility of chief executive to his role last year following the departure of David Guile, said Cook's appointment was "a significant coup" for the company.
The Criterion restaurant in London's Piccadilly went into administration. The restaurant, once owned by Marco Pierre White, was built in 1874. It is part of the 120,000 sq ft Criterion Theatre block, which is owned by the Crown Estate. Operator Vox Restaurant, operated by Georgian entrepreneurs Vasily, Irakly and Nino Sopromadze, took the restaurant over from White in 2009, but struggled after a hike in rents at the site.
Restaurant Andrew Fairlie, Le Gavroche and the Waterside Inn in Bray all left Relais & ChÁ¢teaux. The departure of three of the highest-profile restaurants on Relais & ChÁ¢teaux's UK roster at roughly the same time was a blow to the hotel consortium, which last year announced a series of changes to the way in which it was run. In its 60th anniversary year (2014), the consortium said it wanted to be more inclusive and acknowledge that the future was not just about French gastronomy.
The owner of the designer-budget brand the Hoxton took a surprise new direction with the acquisition of the five-red-AA-star, 232-bedroom Gleneagles hotel in Auchterarder, Perthshire. Private investment and property company Ennismore outbid rivals, including KSL Capital Partners, owner of the Belfry, to secure the trophy property.
American private equity group Lone Star announced plans to create a new company that would unite a total of 89 hotels it had recently acquired. Amaris is the name of the new company, which is estimated to be worth £1b. Lone Star intends to float the group on the stock market in the medium term. The company is made up of Puma Hotels (which Lone Star acquired last year for £323m and has since rebranded as the Hotel Collection), 29 Jury Inn properties (bought for £680m in January), 21 Mercure hotels, three hotels branded as Hilton and 19 Thistle hotels.
8 July [Daniel Boulud and Nico Ladenis
Iconic chef-restaurateurs Daniel Boulud and Nico Ladenis were both honoured with prestigious awards at this year's Cateys, which took place at a glittering awards ceremony at London's Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel. Boulud - who is famed the world over for his Dinex Group of restaurants - took the International Outstanding Achievement Award. Ladenis, who won three Michelin stars and a rare 10 out of 10 in the Good Food Guide for his restaurant Nico at Ninety in London in the mid-1990s, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
French-style restaurant group Côte was criticised in the press for allegedly "misleading" customers by taking the 12.5% service charge instead of giving it to staff. The company has been accused of "pocketing" the standard 12.5% service charge, without making it clear the tip would not go directly to the waiting staff on the restaurant floor, reported the London Evening Standard. Bill's, Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay were dragged into the controversy for their practices regarding tipping and service charges in a campaign orchestrated by trade unions including Unite.
L'Enclume took the top spot in the Waitrose Good Food Guide for the third year running, while Robin Gill of the Dairy and the Manor in London's Clapham won the Chef of the Year title. Ox in Belfast took the title of Best Restaurant in the same year that it won the Menu of the Year award at the 2015 Cateys.
The Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2016 announced 15 new one stars and two new two stars. There were no new three stars. Both of the new two-star restaurants were Japanese restaurants in Mayfair: Araki and Umu. The new one-stars included Michael O'Hare's the Man Behind the Curtain restaurant in Leeds; Ox in Belfast; Lyle's in Shoreditch; Bonhams in Mayfair; Portland in Regent's Park and Marylebone; and the Dining Room at the Goring hotel, Victoria.
22 SeptemberThe Savoy made a loss of £41.4m last year
The Savoy hotel in London made a net loss after tax of £41.4m for the 12 months up to 31 December 2014, compared with a loss of £32m the previous year. The hotel's operating profit increased to £7.5m for the period, up from £5.6m for 2013.
Clare Smyth is to move on from her role as chef/proprietor of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay to launch her own London venture, with Ramsay's backing. Smyth, who has spent 11 years at the three-Michelin-starred Chelsea restaurant, is seeking a new location in which to start her new venture, which is expected to open in autumn 2016.
In October it was announced that two-Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines would step down as executive chef at Gidleigh Park in Chagford, Devon, to pursue the host of ventures he has spent the past year accumulating. His final service at the five-red-AA-star, 24-bedroom hotel, which he joined 21 years ago, will be on 3 January 2016. His replacement has been announced as Michael Wignall. Wignall will take up his new role with Brownsword Hotels on 4 January 2016, and was set to leave the two-Michelin-starred Michael Wignall at the Latymer at Surrey's Pennyhill Park hotel at the end of December this year.
Allegations of fraud and professional misconduct were filed against Reto Wittwer, the Swiss-born former president and chief executive of Kempinski Hotels. Filed in Switzerland, the criminal charges state that Wittwer defrauded the group - which claims to be the world's oldest luxury hotel company - of around six million Swiss francs (around £4m). In an interview with German magazine Hospitality Inside, Wittwer denied all allegations against him and stated that he was taking legal advice.
Thomas Kochs left his position as general manager at London's Claridge's hotel after nearly five years in the role. His surprise and sudden departure came seven months after Coroin, the holding company of Maybourne Hotel Group - owner and operator of the five-red-AA star, 197-bedroom Claridge's hotel alongside sister properties the Berkeley and the Connaught - was acquired by Constellation Hotels, owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding.
Simon Rogan announced that he would appoint Marcus Noack as the new group executive chef at his Umbel Restaurant Group. Noack will join the company on 4 January 2016 to work alongside Rogan in overseeing the kitchens and menu development in the company's portfolio of restaurants. He replaces Mark Birchall, who left earlier this year.
3 DecemberServiced apartments set to be UK's fastest-growing sector
Serviced apartments are set to expand faster than any other segment of the UK hospitality market over the next two years, according to new research from Savills and the Association of Serviced Apartment Providers. The report forecasts an 8.4% growth in supply per year by the end of 2017 based on known planning consents, outpacing the 2.6% anticipated increase across all hotel types.