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Here's 2017's Top Buffet Trends

By Joas Serugga 

Donuts, cronuts and all things round

Cupcakes and macaroons have had their day in the sun. This year is all about the humble donut, and all of its latest incarnations! Recently, the donut was transformed into the 'cronut' - a donut made from the pastry of a croissant, creating a delicious, layered treat that guests are sure to love. Cronuts started off as a huge trend in the US, but they've crossed the pond this year, with a London bakery even introducing a 'Crème Egg' cronut to celebrate Easter. Guests will be mightily impressed by a donut and cronut combo at any event.

Casual canapes

Throw out the smoked salmon and filo pastry parcels - canapes have gone all casual this year. Help guests to relax with miniature burgers and pizzas - and wash it down with a miniature glass of the most popular beverages, whether it's a shot of strawberry milkshake or a tiny helping of Coke. If you're throwing a corporate event, these fun and laid-back canapes can help break the ice a little, helping everyone to loosen up and enjoy themselves.

'Graze' stations

Some clients are now shunning canapes altogether, opting instead to install a 'graze station' at their event. Canapes can be expensive, and you'll also need to hire the staff to work their way around the room, offering the light bites to guests. Graze stations can be manned by fewer staff, and they can also provide a lot more variety for guests, who can mix-and-match the dishes that they want. Themed graze stations are also a great idea - why not opt for a Mexican-themed station with an abundance of flavours, or a station packed with delicacies from the Far East? The key here is to ensure that each food on the station is small enough to be taken with one hand, with no plates required - otherwise it'd just be a standard buffet table! Be sure to engage a top catering company with experience of this area of cuisine.

Street food

Bring a pop-up into your private event and offer an eclectic array of delicious street food to your guests. Street food is often packed with flavor, and because it's prepared in large batches, it's ideal for the buffet-style setup. Try to make sure you choose a street food that isn't too messy! Mexican churros are a great idea, as are Malaysian noodles - but if your choice is sauce-heavy, your guests might have trouble keeping their outfits pristine.

Are you planning a buffet with the latest trends in mind? Maybe you're just looking for a buffet provider? Benons Catering in Partnership with Quick Buffet a U.K. caterers market place brings you a fresh new way to quality office and private catering, using the latest trends for both traditional and specialist diets.

Dining Books 2017

Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Juices: Handle Them Safely!

Whether from a supermarket, farm stand, or your own garden, fresh fruits and vegetables are highlights of summertime. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reminds you that safe handling of produce and fresh-squeezed juice is especially important during the summer months, because foodborne bacteria multiply faster in warm weather and fresh fruits and vegetables are often consumed raw.

Prevent food poisoning! Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.

Learn more at:

To keep nutritious produce and fresh-squeezed juices safe, follow these food safety tips to prevent food poisoning (also called foodborne illness):

Buy Right

Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.

When selecting pre-cut produce (such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens), choose only those items that are refrigerated or on ice.

Bag fresh fruits and vegetables and keep them separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood in your cart and shopping bags.

Wash Thoroughly

Wash all produce under plain running water before eating, cutting, or cooking, and dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present.

Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.

For pre-packaged produce, read the label – if it says pre-washed and ready-to-eat, you can use it without further washing. And even if you plan to peel a fruit or vegetable, it's important to wash it first so dirt and bacteria aren't transferred from the outside to the inside.

Prevent Cross Contamination

Always wash hands before and after preparing food!

Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with soap and hot water between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, and seafood and the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.

If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after use.

Prepare Safely

Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating. If it looks rotten, discard it!

Store Properly

Keep perishable fresh fruits and vegetables in a clean refrigerator at 40° F or below, separated from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Always refrigerate produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Check Your Juice

Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems (such as transplant patients and individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes) risk serious illnesses or even death from drinking juices that have not been pasteurized or otherwise treated to control harmful bacteria.

Look for pasteurized or otherwise treated products in your grocers' refrigerated sections, frozen food cases, or in non-refrigerated containers, such as juice boxes, bottles, or cans.

Untreated juices sold in refrigerated cases of grocery or health food stores, cider mills, and farmers' markets must contain a warning label indicating that the product has not been pasteurized. Warning labels are not required for juice or cider that is fresh-squeezed and sold by the glass. If you are unsure if a juice product is pasteurized – be sure to ask!


Corks Can Live Long After the Wine Is Gone

By Steven Lay  

Being an ecologically minded consumer just isn't about the vineyard. It seems that the wine industry is betting on consumers wanting and appreciating grapes grown in a prescribed manner that allows for designations such as: sustainable, Biodynamic, green, organic or natural.

As if grapes aren't the only component of winemaking to come under the long arm of the "wine police", the winery gets special attention in such things as their use of renewable energy (wind and solar), recycling water, fermentation additives and closures; yes closures.

Have you ever thought: What is the after-life of a cork? Well there is one. There is a whole new industry that has cropped up in America that recycles, repurposes and otherwise disposes of used cork. You thought you were helping the planet by throwing your used corks in that glass jar only to occasionally look through them to remember that special wine.

Cork re-purposing is bucking a recycling trend. In an article re-published in "Salon", author Anna Sanford writes that recycling in California is down approximately 5 percentage points and recycling centers are closing primarily since recycled materials such as plastic bottles are less valuable due to the price of oil--plastic is a derivative of oil. But recycled cork is booming. One organization that is focused on repurposing cork for the good of the planet is a non-profit forestry organization-Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, (CFCA) which operates Cork ReHarvest.

Cork is an interesting product because a tree is never cut down for the cork. Corks are made from the bark, which is hand harvested, every 9-11 years. The trees can be harvested for up to 150 years, with no harm to the tree. The cork tree is from the oak family, (Quercus suber) so the cork will impart some of the same characteristics as does an oak barrel. From an environmental viewpoint, the carbon footprint to produce a cork is significantly less than that to produce a metal screw caps or plastic plug closure for wine. With convenient recycling methods for the consumer, the carbon footprint for re-purposing used wine corks, through the Cork ReHarvest program is virtually zero. Also, there are no active recycling programs for screw caps or plastic plugs in the U.S.

There are 13 billion wine corks produced each year, with 51% of the wine corks coming from Portugal and 30% coming from Spain. Cork is natural, non-toxic, biodegradable and is a totally renewable product for the wine industry.

The same cannot be said for aluminum screw caps and plastic closures. In making a cork for a bottle of wine there are approximately 26 steps and in an environmental study by "The Academic Wino", cork is the hands down best closure from an ecological perspective. Life Cycle Assessment, (LCA) studies show that each cork sequesters 9g of CO2.

According to Wikipedia, a carbon footprint study concluded that cork is the most environmentally friendly wine stopper in comparison to metal or plastic. The Corticeira Amorim study, ("Analysis of the life cycle of Cork, Aluminum and Plastic Wine Closures"), was developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, following ISO 14040 standards. Results concluded, relative to the emission of greenhouse gases, each plastic stopper released 10 times more CO2, while an aluminum screw cap releases 26 times more CO2 than does a cork stopper in the manufacturing process. The 26 steps, in analyzing the carbon footprint, pertains to the manufacture of cork and includes getting it to the winery.

As alluded to earlier, there are two major players in the relative new industry of repurposing cork-Cork ReHarvest which is a non-profit 501c3 and ReCork. I came across Cork ReHarvest while at a Whole Foods store and saw a used cork collection box. I called The Cork Quality Council in Sonoma, CA to find out what this was all about. The Executive Director of the organization is Peter Weber. Peter confirmed there are two large groups that are active in aggregating used corks through relationships with various retail, hospitality and winery locations. "There are probably a dozen or so smaller organizations that collect used corks for various specialty applications," Peter commented.

Cork ReHarvest being a non-profit uses the used corks they collect for educational programs to build awareness of the cork forests, to promote cork applications (wine closures) and to explain the ecological benefits of cork-wine being one application. The recycling of cork happens rather quickly. ReHarvest reports, approximately 98% of wine bought is consumed within 48 hours. That means corks can come back into the recycled system quickly.

Cork ReHarvest partners with approximately 1,500 collection centers. "In addition to Whole Foods, there are major restaurants such as Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay and Caesars Palace who support our recycling program along with major wineries who send used corks to us for recycling; we prefer to call it repurposing," says Patrick Spencer of Cork ReHarvest whose offices are in Salem, Oregon. "We sell collected corks to 6 recycling partners in the U.S. who then distribute them to customers only in the U.S." To a winemaker, a grade "Triple A" cork can cost $1.00 to $1.50 each. A recycler will sell these used corks for approximately $0.09 each in 1,000 quantities.

The question remaining: What are used corks good for? Some recycled cork finds its way into concrete due to its insulation properties. The recycled paper industry uses ground-up cork combined with reconstituted paper to make packing material. The sports and fishing industry uses reprocessed cork for bobbers and grips, dart boards and household items such as trivets. The building industry uses recycled cork for floor underpayments. Even those sandals you like might have a cork sole liner.

Four times each year the non-profit Cork Forest Conservation Alliance conducts eco-tours to 3 of Spain's cork forest regions to give travelers a total emersion in the culture, food, wine and forestry of these remarkable forests,

Cork is the environment friendly gift that keeps on giving; it has a life after the wine is gone.

Steven Lay manufactures high-end wine related accessories for corporate gifts and special occasions such as wedding favors. Wine accessory products can be seen at:

Image of Wine may be contacted directly at: 702-289-4167.

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