Cracking Easter

first_imgLike the first daffodils of spring, Easter is a time when the creative skills of Slattery’s in Manchester really bloom. The chocolatier and his team are small and flexible enough to develop new products almost overnight and it’s this approach that has led to innovative takes on old favourites like the Ladies’ Egg pictured here. This approach has led to the development of what is perhaps a unique business. It includes a retail shop that offers sumptuous chocolate cakes, fancies, figures and desserts, alongside a brisk breakfast, lunch and teatime trade. There is also a dining room seating 100, with space for 40 on the terrace outside. Not to mention a conference centre and a school. But how does this chocolate aficionado approach the all-important Easter trade?“We start planning six weeks prior, so this year we will be concentrating on Easter pretty much as soon as March starts,” he says. “But everyone is encouraged to come up with ideas so the development process is more or less constant.” Because the business is self-contained and staff can react quickly to new ideas, products can literally emerge overnight to appear in the shop the following day. The Easter display is therefore something of a moveable feast, as customer reactions dictate the successes and failures of fledgling products.“We use large tables inside the shop for displays,” says John. “Chocolate is sensitive to light and heat so we don’t use the windows so much.” Customers also enjoy watching an uninterrupted view of products being hand-finished in the workroom beyond the counter. One of the first things that John considers for his displays is colour. “I like to keep packaging quite plain,” he says, “so the quality and often simplicity of the product comes through. We use a lot of boxes, rather than bags, for packing chocolates to protect them. But we often use a clear acetate box and add interest with boldly coloured ribbon. “There is also a packing material called Razzle, which comes in a range of colours, and can smarten up an otherwise plain box. Once you’ve decided on a good, strong colour theme, I think you should stick with it and let the products speak for themselves.”Imaginative productsAnd the products themselves sound wonderful. From the traditional Easter eggs, individual cakes and fancies, to one of John’s favourites – chocolate lollipops. “They’re so easy,” he comments, “very simple to make and decorate and they go like hot cakes! “We also make chocolate bars, which can be piped straight into presentation boxes and which, with the addition of simple sugar decorations, look really special. People often think a solid block of chocolate is better value than a hollow Easter egg.” John adds that expensive equipment is not necessary to make these items, all that’s required is a little practice and a steady hand.Although people like to see traditional products at Easter, John likes to give a little extra. “Our Ladies’ Eggs last year used different coloured sugarwork to decorate the eggs with high heeled shoes and handbags and they proved really popular.”I ask John if the bakery is flat out, scratch baking everything to his high standards. “I’m no purist,” he laughs. “I’m happy to look at other people’s products. We use pre-mixes for some of our cakes – Dawn Foods’ Devil’s Food Cake is one of the best around. Why make extra work for yourself?last_img read more

Kuwait launch $1 billion lawsuit against IOC

first_imgThe Kuwait Olympic Committee (KOC) were suspended by the IOC in October for “undue Government interference” only three years after the lifting of a similar suspension shortly before London 2012.Sheikh Salman claims, however, that the ban was unfairly put in place and that an “appropriate probe had not been conducted”.The development marks the latest in the ongoing saga which has seen Kuwait athletes banned from competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games under their own flag.They are seeking to reclaim damages from the IOC following their “outlaw” from the international sports scene as their football federation is also suspended by FIFA and 15 other International Federations (IF).”It’s totally unacceptable that Kuwait is treated in this unfair way and barred from international sports activities without any appropriate probe being conducted,” the Information Minister told the Kuna, the official news agency of the Kuwaiti Government.”From the very beginning Kuwait did it its utmost to prevent the IOC suspension and showed a sincere desire to co-operate, but all to no avail.”We sent a UN-sponsored delegation to Geneva to explain to the sports body that the Kuwaiti government by no means intervenes in sports activities.”However, we were put in an embarrassing situation in the eyes of the international sports circles and looked as if we were outlaws.”Kuwaiti athletes’ hopes of representing their nation at Rio 2016 all-but ended last week when the rights of all sporting officials and athletes to take independent opinions and actions were curtailed following the passing of controversial new Statutes by the National Assembly.Under the new measures, the Public Sports Authority (PSA) gain the power to dissolve all sporting bodies including the KOC, as well as assuming control over all appointments and financial matters.Those who refuse to comply could face jail terms of between one and three years.The new Statutes, which have been described as threatening to human rights, were proposed by PSA head Sheikh Salman and were approved by 40 of the 46 members of the National Assembly.It effectively dismissed any chance of Kuwait’s suspension from the IOC being lifted before Rio 2016, with the Opening Ceremony scheduled for August 5.Sheikh Salman came under fierce criticism from opponents of the Statute amendments, with some claiming the nature of the proposals was “unconstitutional”.”There is only positive interference in the form of support and backing for the sports bodies meant to promote the Olympic movement,” added Sheikh Salman.”Looking ahead, we stress the need for a common stance and cooperation involving all concerned parties without excluding anybody. All of us have to put the higher interests of Kuwait above all other considerations, spare no effort to promote sports and bring back the youth to the international sports events.”The news will also prolong Kuwait’s period in the sporting wilderness as the Government still have the power to dissolve the country’s sports federations, including the KOC.This is all seemingly connected to a personal feud between Sheikh Salman and his cousin Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti IOC member who is also President of both the OCA and the Lausanne-based Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).”This case is now in the hands of the court and we look forward to the outcome with confidence,” an IOC spokesperson told insidethegames.insidethegames has contacted ANOC for comment.last_img read more