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Triathlon Dinner Table

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As Leeds geared up to host the World Series Triathlon, at which University of Leeds alumnus Alistair Brownlee scooped Gold, the MEETinLEEDS team hosted the British Triathlon organisers for the welcome dinner on Friday 10th June 2016 at University House.

Guests included the International Triathlon Union, Leeds City Council, Ironman Wander, UK sport, and our Sponsors Columbia Threadneedle and JLL amongst other guests from the BBC and the University.

They enjoyed a Triathlon of courses that included a sumptuous starter of Pan Fried Queenie Scallops with Black Pudding & Caramelised Apples, a mouth-watering main of Loin of Spring Lamb with Heritage Carrots, Gratin Potato a Redcurrant Jus and a delicious dessert of Strawberries and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Honeycomb & Sweet Basil.

Sir Alan Langlands at the Triathlon Dinner

Sir Alan Langlands at the Triathlon Dinner

Linda Haywood, Portfolio Manager for British Triathlon, said:

This is the first time a World Series Triathlon event has been hosted in Leeds and the dinner was hugely important to us in order to welcome our partners.

In organising the event, you and your staff were extremely responsive and accommodating of our needs and your professionalism gave me confidence and assurance that all would go well on the evening, which indeed it did!

Staff gave us a warm welcome and the drinks reception was presented warmly by your team. The dinner itself was delicious, presented beautifully and number of our international guests commented on this. Service was both efficient and discreet, I could not have hoped for better.

It is our hope that the partnership between The University of Leeds and British Triathlon continues to develop and grow both in terms of sport and business development.”

Looking to hosting a prestigious event?

We are happy to help!

 

Food Safety Myths

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Were the pyramids erected by Ancient Aliens? Was it just a weather balloon that was captured in Roswell or something from further afield? Did we land on the Moon in 1969 or did Armstrong and Aldrin bounce around a Hollywood sound stage?

Unfortunately, we are unable to address such supposed conspiracies as we have left our tinfoil hat on the hanger. However, we do have Geoff Tooley, our resident Food Safety Training Manager, on hand to debunk the top 5 food safety myths he has encountered in his 20+ years in the business…

1. If you get a bad stomach it is always the last thing you ate

We have all been hugging the toilet like it is our best friend while cursing the spaghetti alle vongole we ate for lunch 2 hours ago (No? Just me then…), but is it right to attribute the queasy feeling to the last thing you ate?

Simple answer – NO! Food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea take at least six hours to rear their ugly head, and many types of food poisoning take at least a day to develop. The culprit may not be obvious, it could be anything from rice to the fact that the person preparing the food hasn’t washed their hands. Have a look at my previous foray into the blogosphere – 5 Foods to Avoid at Events – for the most likely perpetrators of your pain in the paunch.

2. Dates on food are just there to make you waste produce

Food packages nowadays have a number of dates scattered around the packaging vying for your attention, but which should you take notice of? “Best Before”? “Display Until”? “Born-On Date”? We have a handy guide:

  • “Display Until” is used by retailers to aid stock rotation, and are not a legal requirement.
  • “Best Before” is a voluntary requirement and denotes how long the product is at its best quality. Food eaten after this date is not likely to be harmful (unless it is eggs – avoid eating these after the “Best Before” date).
  • The one that is imperative to food safety is the “Use By” date. This date is a legal requirement on highly perishable foods to guarantee your safety and are worked out by strict testing and need to be followed. For full details of food labeling terms visit the Food Standards Agency website here.

Great Food at Leeds, the catering provider at the University of Leeds, follow both “Best Before” and “Use By” dates to ensure they provide safe food of the highest quality.

3. If a food item looks ok and smells ok it is safe to eat

So you bought a chicken and then leave it in the back of the fridge for a week, going past the “Use By” date by just 2 days. You open the bag and give it a sniff. Can you ascertain whether it is safe to eat by following your nose? There isn’t a fruity smell emanating from the bird and it looks the right colour, so it’s safe to eat, right?

Unfortunately contrary to popular thought and inaccurate media reporting this is incorrect. Food poisoning bacteria do not change the taste, texture or appearance food. Bacteria that make food go “off” are totally different from Bacteria that can make you ill.

4. Raw chicken needs to be washed before cooking

If you still have a cookbook from the early 80’s or before on the shelves (like I do), you will notice that a number of the recipes will instruct you to wash raw chicken before cooking. This is against all current advice, and appears to be a hangover from early 20th century cookbooks telling us to and was then repeated as gospel. Here is an excellent article about the history of chicken washing in cookbooks.

Washing raw chicken is the best way to spread food poisoning bacteria (specifically campylobacter) around your kitchen, work surfaces and clothing. Water droplets containing the dangerous bacteria can be transported across your kitchen with ease, which can cause contamination. Washing raw chicken has no benefit and will not get rid of campylobacter, salmonella or E.coli – correct cooking will kill all dangerous bacteria. The Food Standards Agency website has all the advice you need about storing and cooking chicken, along with an excellent video about campylobacter.

5. If you drop food on the floor it is safe to eat

We all have variations on the “5 Second Rule” – as long as the toast doesn’t drop butter side down (it inevitably will) you are fine to scoop it up and stuff it into your face before “5 Mississippi’s” have elapsed without consequence (other than stares of general disgust if done in public).

You know where I am going with this… Any food dropped into an area which is host to bacteria will be contaminated immediately and should be disposed of straight away.

WANT TO ORDER 5* FOOD HYGIENE RATED CATERING?

Visit the Great food at Leeds website for the latest seasonal, locally sourced catering at the University of Leeds.

5 Foods to Avoid at an Event

There are  a number of do’s and dont’s to think about when it comes to catering at events, both as an organiser and a delegate. Here are MEETinLEEDS’ top 5 foods to steer clear of, courtesy of our Health and Safety Manager, Geoff Tooley.

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MEETinLEEDS have a recurring nightmare about biting into that nice juicy chicken burger and finding something even ‘fowler’ between the buns… We have to apologise for the terrible pun: we take food safety very seriously – all of the catering available at conferences and events at the University of Leeds are serviced by the 5* Food Hygiene Rated outlets of Great Food at Leeds.

However, there are a number of foods you should try to avoid as both a conference organiser and as a delegate. You will know the obvious dishes to steer clear of tucking into when networking (barbecued ribs and garlic bread at a boardroom meeting anyone? We thought not) but we would like to highlight the foods that have the potential to turn a dream event into a gastrointestinal nightmare.

Let us introduce Geoff Tooley, Health and Safety Training Manager (among other things) at MEETinLEEDS. He takes his job very seriously – he even asked for a tour of the kitchen at his local take away to ensure it was up to his exacting standards – so over to Geoff with his 5 foods to avoid at conferences and events:

 

Cooked Rice Salad

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Rice has always been top of the pops of the foods with the potential to cause harm. Bacillus Cereus is a particularly clever bacterium found in rice and can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. It is able to survive cooking to high temperatures due to it producing a toxin which is highly resistant to heat. Once the temperature falls within 10°C – 50°C the bacteria’s population can double every 30 minutes, which means that the rice salad that has been left on a buffet table for 4 hours could have a bacterial army that has multiplied 256 times over! Stay safe and avoid the rice salad at the next event you attend…

A Delicious Alternative – We avoid eating rice salad which is stored outside strict temperature control and stick to the classic Seasonal Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing. If you do need a carb kick try something like Farfalle Pasta with Capers Olives and Peppers. You will not regret it.

 

Pâté

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Listeria can cause serious illness, and even death in the case of vulnerable groups in the population, such as pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborn babies, the very young, and the elderly and infirm. The bacteria are widespread in the environment and can contaminate a wide range of food, including pâté. So avoid the spreadable meat paste – it won’t be as good as in the Ardennes anyway.

A Delicious Alternative – Try a vegetarian alternative such as Middle Eastern Flatbread with Houmous Dip or any of the scrummy light bights we have on offer – not a pâté in sight and locally sourced where possible.

 

Cooked Meats

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Cooked meats support the growth of a multitude of bacteria. Be aware of anything that is left out of temperature control for too long. Cold cooked meats can be displayed above 8°C for a maximum of 4 hours, hot cooked meats can be displayed below 63°C for up to two hours. For more details see the Hygiene Guide Booklet from the Food Standards Agency.

A Delicious Alternative – All deliveries include written guidelines detailing times by which food items must be consumed or disposed of to guarantee food safety. So tuck into our tempting Mediterranean Style Platter which includes Parma Ham, Salami and Chorizo, or delve into the Spicy Chicken Balti safe in the knowledge you are in good hands.

 

Chocolate Mousse

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Chocolate mousse may seem innocuous, mainly because it is delicious, but it is one of many traditional desserts that may contain raw egg. Eggs may be contaminated with Salmonella or Campylobacter, which cause diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. A Food Standards Agency survey of campylobacter in chicken on retail sale in the UK between May 2007 and September 2008 reported that campylobacter was present in 65% of the fresh chicken samples tested, and in this case we know that the chicken came before the egg…

Government advice is still that eggs in an uncooked form are not to be used, and that it is safer to use pasteurised liquid egg yolks, which is what we use at the University of Leeds. The taste is exactly the same, without the risk of your delegates getting a nasty case of food poisoning.

A Delicious Alternative – Great Food at Leeds have a fantastic Mini Chocolate and Pear Pudding is gooey and decadent. There are also a number of options that are not quite as indulgent, yet still delicious, for those that are eating a little healthier.

Nuts

 

peanut-624601_1280There are a couple of reasons you should be wary of nuts: the fact that many people are allergic to nuts and the bowls-of-nuts-are-full-of-urine rumour.

You don’t have to avoid serving dishes with nuts in, just ensure that it is clearly stated to your delegates (we always adhere to the new Food Information for Consumers Regulation and have friendly, helpful staff on hand to answer any questions) and make sure you know which delegates have any specific dietary requirements. You don’t want an Apprentice-style debacle!

We have all heard that the bowl of peanuts at a bar will contain at least 21 samples of urine, faeces and other delightful entities, but there hasn’t been a scientific study to back up this claim. So, let’s go with the verified fact that 40% of people carry the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus in their bodies and on their hands. This is the bacteria that causes chaos in hospitals if the guise of MRSA, and even though we are not inclined to believe everything we read in the paper – you can do the maths…

Geoff’s Advice – Practice good personal hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly when you go to the toilet, prepare any food or go for a cigarette – our staff do! Should you see someone visit the bathroom and not uphold the etiquette of washing their hands tell them about MRSA, it might well have them running back to the sink.

WANT TO ORDER 5* FOOD HYGIENE RATED CATERING?

Visit the Great food at Leeds website for the latest seasonal, locally sourced catering at the University of Leeds.

Staff Montage

The MEETinLEEDS team are all experts in the field of conferences and events, so we thought we would use our expertise to help you prepare for a perfect Christmas. So without further ado, we present our “Christmas Tips from Events Experts”…

Staff-Montage

 

Food

  • brussels-sprouts-22009_640turkey-532962_640Set the table, prepare all the vegetables and trimmings on Christmas Eve: this leaves plenty of time to have bubbles on the morning!
  • Looking for a guilt free alternative to Mince Pies? Try this Baked Apple recipe: it’s yummy!
  • Make sure you don’t overcook or undercook your turkey! Use a
    temperature probe between the thigh and the breast (the thickest part of the turkey) to get the internal temperature to a perfect 74 C. Don’t forget to rest it to distribute the juices.
  • Stuffed yourself with turkey and sprouts and suffering from heartburn? No Rennies to hand? Eat a few Love Hearts – they contain Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Powder) and Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) which will give temporary and much needed relief. Get those Christmas stockings packed with them!
  • Buy your Brussels sprouts still on the stalk. They will keep for longer and cut down on packaging.
  • Or… have Christmas Lunch out: no preparation, cooking or clearing up – even more time for bubbles!

 

Gifts

  • lovehearts-bigAre you doing a secret Santa? Use the Elfster app, it’s especially useful if you don’t live near each other.
  • We love making lists (it’s one of the reasons why we are amazing event managers) and Christmas is the time of year you definitely need to be prepared. Make a: shopping list, present list, social calendar and to do list. The Christmas List app – Gift List –  is a great way to keep track on your progress using your mobile device.
  • Framed photographs make excellent gifts. Get a favourite picture enlarged (make sure it is high resolution) at your local photgraph printer (or order online) and get it framed! You can pick up bargain frames at a charity shop, simply get your print sized appropriately.

 

Decorations

  • dog-983023_1280Use tinfoil as wrapping paper – whoever receives a gift from you can use it for their turkey!
  • Check your fairy lights before you put them on the tree. Make sure you have LED lights – they will save you money on electric bills.
  • Make “pretend Santa snow footprints” to surprise the kids. Simply use a shake and vacuum product over a cardboard cut out of a shoe to create the trail – you will also be ready and prepared for the big clean up!
  • Put on a video of a log fire while you open your presents for that traditional effect.
  • Do you have allergies? Take an antihistamine before you unbox your Christmas Tree – it will have collected a lot of dust since last year!
  • CD’s are so 90’s man, so string them up and use them as fancy baubles.
  • Train your dog to play fetch with wrapping paper – you will have a clean-up helper on Christmas Day!
Winter Menu

The new winter menus are now available to order from our friends at Deli(very) from just £8.25 per person!

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There are two tantalising menus for you to enjoy this winter devised by our award-winning chefs.

The seasonal specials are the perfect option for your next event with a range of tasty homemade treats including:

  • Thai Green Chicken Skewers with Coconut Ketchup
  • Wild Mushroom Rarebit En Croute
  • Smoked Haddock, Chilli & Coriander Popcorn Bhaji with Tikka Yoghurt Dip
  • Posh Macaroni, Leek & Gruyere Cheese Bon Bons

All served with free Orange Juice and Water!

Anthony Lowe, Deli(very) Project Manager says:

“The new menus have been devised by our chefs to keep our delegates warm and their hunger satisfied during the winter months. Some of the items include a bit of spice, such as the Smoked Haddock, Chilli & Coriander Popcorn Bhaji and the Fig & Goats Cheese Parcels with Chilli Jam, for a little kick without blowing your mind!

Both the Winter Feast and Winter Wonders menus have a number of vegetarian and meat options to keep every delegate happy, no matter what their preference!

All of the menu items are prepared by our award winning in house team of chefs, using local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients wherever possible.

The new menus are available to order from the 7th of September and will be available for delivery from the 21st of September.

 

ORDER NOW!

You can order the menus now by visiting this link.

Bakers-Judges

MEETinLEEDS are hooked on the Great British Bake Off, so we thought that we would join in the fun and hold our own Showstopper Challenge!

What Is the Showstopper Challenge?

As most of you will know, the Showstopper Bake is the final challenge where you are able to showcase your baking skills. The only rules we applied are that everything had to be home-made (no shop bought pastry!) by the entrants – no professional help allowed!

The bakers were be anonymously judged by our very own experts, Mary Bevvy (Bev Kenny – Head of Conference and Catering) and Simon HollyWood (Simon Wood – Head Chef at the Refectory).

The judges were looking for the most impressive and elaborate creations – flavour, aesthetics, originality and ambition being the 4 categories scored out of 10, with a maximum of 40 points available. The Star Baker winning the highly coveted MEETinLEEDS apron!

However, the taking part is what mattered most, as all of the money raised went to the University of Leeds nominated charities.

The Entries

We had 8 entrants to the bake off, each of which had obviously had a lot of time and effort invested in them. Just take a look for yourself! 

The competition was very tight, with the judges deliberating for half an hour over the merits of the entries, which were as follows:

Parkinson Building Cake – Vibha Firth’s extremely detailed cake was modelled on the iconic Parkinson Building, and was a gluten-free chocolate cake with icing.
Out of the Allotment – Harriet Boatwright’s take on goodies from the potting shed was carrot and cream cheese muffins.
Slime CakeEmma Broadhurst’s disgustingly good entry was a white chocolate cake with white chocolate slime.Piggin’ BrillLisa Wood’s cake was chocolate with a chocolate ganache, with a decoration of pigs that looked very happy.Rubik’s CakeMatt Hamnett’s esoteric entry was a chocolate and butter cream take on the classic puzzle from the 70’s.Scone HengeRyan Johnson’s scone-less bake was flapjack with a mint-chocolate mousse, modelled on Spinal Tap’s famous on-stage set.The Temptation of St Patrick – Mitchell Perry’s cake of the good stuff was a Guinness and chocolate cake, featuring the ubiquitous clover on top.It’s a Peach – Aneta Rus’s light and fluffy entry was a peach and cream cake with a mint leaf topping.

The Winner(s)

Vibha-Harriet-with-CakesThe judges both scored Harriet’s “Out of the Allotment” and Vibah’s “Parkinson Building Cake” exactly the same number of points, with “Mary Bevvy” scoring both 37/40 and “Simon HollyWood” giving both 30/40 (“I am a bit more unforgiving”). Here are their comments on the cakes:

Parkinson Building Cake

Simon – Lovely flavour and icing. The sponge was good, if a little dry. However, the amount of skill, originality and execution of the idea meant it was a deserved joint winner.

Mary – While the sponge was a touch dry, the complexity of the frilly icing, not to mention the representation of the University of Leeds signature building, made this a worthy winner. It should be the new university logo!

Out of the Allotment

Simon – The bake was perfect – lovely and moist muffins with great flavour and very good icing. The use of plant pots for the presentation was very original and appropriate for the carrot theme.

Mary – The best carrot sponge I have ever eaten! The presentation was unusual and the use of the crate, plant pots and sunflowers brought the whole idea together.

 

Congratulations to Vibha and Harriet and thank you to everyone involved in the Great Big MEETinLEEDS Bake Off – see you next year!

Total Warrior Chefs

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If you recall Susan’s blog entry from June, you will remember that members of our MEETinLEEDS catering team were participating in this year’s Leeds Total Warrior obstacle race on June 28th 2015. Our talented team of chefs and catering gurus traded their ‘whites’ for dirty overalls when taking part in this year’s Total Warrior challenge to raise money for charity.

Over 6,000 people took part in what has been described as “the pinnacle of obstacle racing” by ex-military personnel. The 30 obstacles consisting of swimming through 4ft of ice cold water, climbing 15ft walls, crawling under barbed wire through mud and leaping over flaming logs! Take a look at the video, below, to see exactly what happens in one of the toughest challenges in the country.


TOTAL WARRIOR LEEDS 2015 PROMO from Mike Pettyt on Vimeo.

“It means we got to see each other in a different light, outside of the workplace environment and that’s a great way to get to know each other better”

Taking on the challenge were a team of 8 MEETinLEEDS members.  “The exciting thing is the change in team dynamics” says Head Chef Marc Mottershead, “In the kitchen, I’m the boss, but for this course, Phil was in charge of the team.” The team, which they called “Hell’s Kitchen”, trained for three months before the main event by running 5 kilometres, three times every week. “It means we got to see each other in a different light, outside of the workplace environment and that’s a great way to get to know each other better” added Phil.

Hell’s Kitchen completed the gruelling course in 2 hours 53. The team’s initial goal was to raise £500, but amazingly they have more than doubled their target, raising over £1300 for Martin House Children’s Hospice!

Congratulations to our iron chefs and team for proving they are Total Warriors and helping to raise money for a worthy cause at the same time.

Fundraising, healthy team building through friendly competition and some role reversal: all in a day’s work for the team at MEETinLEEDS!

To find out more about the work our department does for charities please visit the Commercial and Campus Support Services website.

Find out more about Total Warrior here.