Lunch! 29-30 Sept at Old Billingsgate

Nellie Nichols will be hosting a Sandwich & Snack Surgery live at lunch! at 10.45am on Friday 30th September in the Working lunch! Keynote Theatre.

lunch! 2011When I embarked in this food business in the mid eighties ‘Food To Go’ didn’t exist.  M & S had just broken new ground with their first manufactured sandwiches; prawn mayo and chicken tikka. Suddenly we had instant innovative deliciousness in a packet. Pret was cutting its baby teeth with its first few stores and EAT was a total unknown. Salads, wraps, fresh cakes and fruit juice just didn’t exist and soup in any sandwich bar was always the ubiquitous Heinz tomato. (I used to buy it and add milk which always made it taste better.) A hot bacon or sausage sandwich was what everyone bought for breakfast; oozing brown sauce on fat soaked white bread.

Now its porridge, fresh fruit and yoghurt all the way. We all go to the gym, care hugely about what we eat and are obsessed with cooking channels and the post Delia age of food accessibility. ‘Ready To Cook’ options ease our consciences and massage our culinary egos, providing us with a little bit of mid week evening kitchen fun.

But I see darkness on the horizon. We have been through the thunderstorms of recession and now the global raw material tsunamis are headed our way. The Great White sharks have devoured nearly every one of the smaller fish who happily swam in the crystal clear waters of great food values, quality and innovation. They have made glorious promises of cost savings to the kings of the high street in their fast and furious takeover bids.

‘Production Efficiency’ now walks blindly hand in hand with his best friend ‘Commercially Viability’ – but his sister ‘Quality’ trails, too often sadly ignored, behind.

Nellie Nichols

It’s becoming impossibly difficult to buy a delicious sandwich, wrap or salad that hasn’t been organoleptically cleansed by the fat and salt police and is still being made with the top drawer ingredients that are so good to eat you just want more. Forgive me, but isn’t that the whole point ? These are the lunches that are becoming rare as hen’s teeth.

Years ago I studied Classics. Demeter was the Greek god I was most fond of, being in charge of crops and their harvesting. So I for one now offer up a silent word or two to him. That the industry works together to find the balance we so desperately need to steer our Food To Go ship on the steady course it needs to thrive.  Otherwise we may sink in the sea of Fast Food gasping as we drown for those last moments of deliciousness.

Register for your FREE trade ticket to lunch! and come and be part of Nellie’s live Sandwich & Snack Surgery at the show. To submit as many questions as you like for Nellie to answer at the show then send them to No questions are too big or too small!