December food roundup - The full festive feast
This has been a month chock full of amazing treats, menus, events and special celebrations
Given that our clients mostly close up their offices over the Christmas break, we more or less shut up shop ourselves between Christmas and New Year's Day. You'd think, then, that December's roundup post would be a bit shorter than usual.
Well, how wrong can you be? Despite closing up a week before the end of December, somehow we seem to have squeezed even more action into this month than the last one. Of course, all of the Christmas festivities certainly helped. Here's what we got up to.
Added value events
Added value are the events we organise to keep the work day interesting, at no extra cost to the client.
December 2 - Dim sum at Twitter Yes, our dim sum bar continues on its whistlestop tour of all of our client sites. This has rapidly become one of our most popular added value events, partly thanks to the fact it involves one of our chefs visiting and finishing up the plates on site, which is always a bit exciting. Here's sous chef Ahmed showing how it's done:
December 2 - Baked treats and decorating workshop
We knew our treat decorating workshop was going to be popular, but we didn't quite anticipate just how popular. The crowd gathering to paint up some sweet baked goodies can only be described as a scrum. We put this down to our pastry chef Marius, who never fails to create to-die-for desserts for our diners. On December 2 Marius and Food Director Matt Byne visited one of our clients to help everyone decorate some of their handmade treats with all kinds of icing and toppings.
December 5 - Hot chocolate trolley
Every time Catering Manager Giusy lays on a teatime trolley for her diners, she somehow manages to make them even more elaborate and special. This month her hot chocolate trolley with added sweet treats has to be one of her best yet, perfect for a winter afternoon - both looking and tasting incredibly cosy.
December 9 - Mulled wine and Christmas bites at Twitter UK
We love that Antonio, our Catering Manager at Twitter, really leaned into the Christmas theme this month. This is only the first of many Christmassy teatime treats that he laid on for his customers, and that our chefs helped to perfect. We especially love those dates wrapped in prosciutto, pictured below.
December 14 - Classic teatime trolley
Another bit of trolley genius from Giusy. We love anything retro, and so we really loved her trolley loaded up with some classic English biscuits - can you spot the Tunnock's wafers down there? We also have to find out where she nabbed that eyebrow teapot.
December 16 - Cakes and cocktails
Yes, we rave a lot about the talents of our own pastry chef, but that's not to say we don't love a visit from some of the other baking geniuses working in London. For this teatime treat Antonio brought in Caked Patisserie, specialists in celebration cakes, and accompanied their delicious treats with one of his own specially designed cocktails.
While we're on it - be sure to read the first entry in our new blog series Antonio's Cocktail Corner, and stay tuned this month for some more fantastic recipes.
December 20 - winter cocktails
Yep, one final splash of cocktails from the maestro. Before his diners at Twitter left for winter break, he had one more trick up his sleeve with these two delicious drinks.
As well as our usual added value events, for December we helped out at some of the Christmas shindigs our clients held for their teams.
December 13 - Christmas party at Splunk
While we did provide quite a bit of food for the Splunk Christmas party, the real talk of the town was Santa Claus. Yep, our own Managing Director Dean Kennett lent a hand on the day in full costume. Any excuse.
December 14 - Team building workshop at the kitchen for Yahoo UK
This was a first for us but one we will definitely be looking into hosting more regularly. Director of Food Matt took some of the team from Yahoo UK through plenty of food preparation and decoration tasks, while they had a play with their food and had a good drink at the same time. We had a great time and we think the Yahoo team did too. Stay tuned in 2017 for more updates on this one.
December 15 - Centrepoint cake sale for Yahoo UK
This was an event organised by Yahoo UK to support their longstanding charity partner Centrepoint, which supports young homeless people. We were very happy to be asked to provide two cakes for the bake sale, and as always incredibly impressed with Marius' handiwork on the finished products!
December 12 - Whatamelon water
With all of the Christmas goings in, we didn't host as many tastings as usual this month, but we did have one particularly lovely one from Whatamelon. They make water with a hint of watermelon - not just one of the most water-filled fruits but also containing the antioxidant lycopene and the amino acid citruline, making it both hydrating and great for a workout.
This month’s best three dishes
We’re not only about the special surprises - here are some of the day-to-day dishes that got our customers truly over the moon.
Everything from our Thai menu
As usual we've cheated a bit this month, picking a whole menu instead of just one dish. But this Thai menu really blew us away, with development chef Susi taking inspiration from her recent trip to the Far East to offer a menu bursting with Thai flavours.
Creamy chicken and leek pie
Since we make a brand new menu from scratch every day for over 1,000 people, not to mention delivering the food to all corners of London in time for lunch, sometimes we get creative in bringing certain dishes together. For our chicken and leek pie, we served up the creamy pie filling and the pastry cases separately for diners to put together themselves. This was to make sure the pastry stayed crisp and fresh tasting, even for the diners who came for their lunch at 1:50pm, with the filling still piping hot. It was a creamy delight.
Yes, yes, we know - another cheat. But we could hardly leave out Christmas dinner in our December roundup, could we? We kept things nice and traditional for our Christmas dinner, with plenty of turkey and roast potatoes, and an absolute rainbow of roasted carrots. Our team also made sure every site was decked out in full Christmas sparkles to get everyone in the mood before leaving for the holidays.
Chocolate hazelnut roulade
We'll just leave this picture here...
Best breakfast - classic bagels
Every month, we get lots of customer requests. They take in a huge range of cuisines and dishes. Sometimes diners want something unusual, or a version of a dish they had recently at a restaurant. Often, though, what they really want is something tasty but familiar. Our all bagel breakfast was a diner request that we were very happy to oblige. We came up with a choice of classic bagel fillings including smoked salmon, bacon and avocad0 and cheese and mushroom, with freshly poached eggs to cap things off.
Bits and bobs
Luis on his Day in the Life Once again this December, one of our team members took advantage of the chance to shadow another staff member for the day. This time it was Catering Assistant Luis working with Marius, our Pastry Chef. This was a particular success story since Luis has always wanted to become a pastry chef and, as he told us, "it doesn’t stop here – JH are now looking into me shadowing Marius more regularly, so with their support I’m heading in the right direction. I aspire to be as talented as Marius!” Read more about the iniatiative here.
The Just Hospitality Christmas party
How could we have so much celebration happening this month without giving our own staff a chance to stop, relax and enjoy themselves. In early December we all took ourselves to The Three Johns pub to have a party and try out some of their amazing pizzas. Stop over at our Facebook page for more pictures from the event.
Sous chef Billy volunteering for Bridges Homeless Trust
One of our most important staff perks are our volunteer days. This gives each staff member a paid day to go and volunteer with a charity of their choice. Sous chef Billy, who has worked with Bridges Homeless Support for some time, chose to take his day to help them prepare their annual Christmas dinner - prepping on a Friday and serving on Saturday. We'll be keeping an eye out for other team members taking advantage of their volunteer days in 2017!
Catering Manager Giusy named employee of the quarter
Our Employee of the Quarter award is voted for by our whole team, so it's always one we are always very excited to talk about. The final winner of 2016 was Catering Manager Giusy (posing below with her team), who is exceptional at her job and spends every day finding new ways to treat her diners and give the best possible service to her clients. Of course if you've read this whole post you'll already have seen an example of that in her fabulous teatime trolleys. Her prize will be a £150 voucher to spend on a food experience of her choice. Well done Giusy!
Fundraising for Christmas Jumper Day
If there are three things are team love, it's these: food, good causes, and playing dress up. They get to have fun with the first one every day, but Christmas Jumper Day was the perfect chance for them all to get on board with the second two. Christmas Jumper Day is organised by Save the Children as a way for workplaces to raise money for charity together. Lots of our staff put on a jumper and donated £2, with Just Hospitality matching and doubling each donation. For 2016, our first time participating, we raised £128 - a great starting point that we can't wait to improve on next year.
Deep clean and chill
Coming up in January
Wow, so we actually made it to the end of the month. And the end of the year! What a 2016 it's been. Come back to the blog often for more great recipes, news and healthy eating tips throughout 2017. We have lots of big stuff planned that you definitely don't want to miss!
Hungry for more? Why not read our November roundup.