Blog : Food & Drink



Food waste is a huge issue and has recently been described as an “environmental, economic and moral scandal” by Ben Elliott[1].  Recent Northern Ireland figures shows that in total, Northern Ireland’s councils collected 230,942 tonnes of LAC municipal waste between October and December 2018.[2]

To put that number into perspective, this amounts to approximately £200m of food waste and 1.4m tonnes of greenhouse gases emissions.

It is these hard-hitting facts that has driven the vision behind Gander, the worlds first mobile app empowering consumers to reduce food waste and save money on their weekly food bill.

“Everyone loves bagging a bargain at the supermarket and reduced priced food is a great way to achieve this whilst still eating great food.  Gander displays reduced price food on an app all in real time meaning you can see what yellow stickered items are available in real time, saving money on your weekly shop.” Enthuses Ashley Osborne, one of the creators behind Gander.

“Environmentally, food waste is a crisis and is one of today’s growing issues with forecasts indicating a substantial increase by 2030 unless serious action is taken.  Worst still, a significant proportion of this waste is completely avoidable.  A yellow label doesn’t mean the food lacks the same great taste and versality when it comes to cooking family favourite dishes.

“For retailers reduced food can cost them up to 7% of their turnover.  At a time when margins are being squeezed, this is revenue sitting on their shelves and that customers locally would love to buy, they just don’t know it is there”,

Ashley Osborne, is one of the team members behind this world’s first mobile platform, developed to connect available reduced price, (often “yellow stickered”) food produce at your nearest retail store, in real-time.

During his time living and working in London, Ashley would finish work most days close to the closing time (unfortunately!) of his local food store.  At this hour, the shelves were awash with yellow stickers, and he knew, given that it was closing in a few minutes time, the food was most probably going to surplus or in the bin.

Despite this, it wasn’t until he came across a supplement in a National Paper discussing how food waste and its impact on the environment is set to be one of the leading man-made crises of the next 20 years.

At this stage the solution seemed obvious and this is when Gander was born!

Supermarkets and convenience stores were already reducing a vast array of food products, only issues was no one knew about it.  If this information was made more accessible online and to thousands more people surely it would mean more of this food was bought and less became surplus.  It was a win win for the retailer and the customer.

The idea seemed simple, the technology not so and some of the initial digital agencies Gander worked with pushed them down the route of something that involved manually uploading these items as they were stickered.  Whilst this solution looked good it was not real time and was not reliable.

It was back to the drawing board and further research was done.  All the time during this, the recognition of food waste and its environmental impact was becoming more and more mainstream.

It was a discussion with their now Chief Technology Officer and a forward-thinking EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) provider that they realised this solution was not just a possibility, it was achievable.  It required a clever system with several moving parts, which was subsequently built, and this is where Gander in its fully automated current guise was born.

Gander is unique for this industry and a world first in its category.  It displays reduced price food automatically.  This means there is absolutely no changes in-store, once integrated, Gander simply works.

Gander integrates with many Point of Sale (“POS”) systems (or other retailer data feeds) to push the reduced food products to the mobile app, usually when they are stickered in-store.  Similarly, when that item is sold it is automatically removed from the app, providing a real time feed of all reductions in-store at any time to the customers locally.

In addition, Gander has a detailed analytics platform, which gives retailers a 360-degree analysis of their reduction’s metrics and performance as well as interactions with their reductions.  Again, all in real time.

After reaching out to several EPOS providers with the view to integrating with their systems; Henderson’s Technology and EDGEPoS was one of the most progressive ones the Gander team had looked at.

The Henderson Group has a fantastic sustainability and CSR programme in place with a proactive focus on waste reduction. It is for this reason that the team chose to work with the group to launch Gander to market for the first time.

In addition to the partnership with the Henderson Group and its impressive technology offering, Northern Ireland became the launch pad for Gander particularly as Northern Ireland stores have a very large reliance on fresh food. A product especially date sensitive.  Gander’s proposition is completely different to anything on the market and the team is confident it will make a significant impact on supporting retailers and consumers alike in addressing food waste.

Gander is rolling out across the UK and ROI following the successful launch of the app in NI, to help drastically reduce waste at a National level.

See how the Gander app works here:

The Gander app can be downloaded now via the Apple or Android app stores – click here or just search ‘Gander’.

You can also follow @getgander on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.





Six by Nico Belfast has today announced its latest theme and it’s set to take you right back to your youth.

In the latest offering, ‘Childhood’, Chef Nico Simeone has created a menu filled with fun, laughter and reminisce; recreating dishes inspired by memories of our childhood, to create an unforgettable dining experience. Guests will be invited to take a trip down memory lane at Six by Nico Belfast, located in the bustling Cathedral Quarter.

The conceptual six-course tasting menu restaurant has already taken the city by storm having only opened its doors a month ago. During launch week in March 2019, there were over 5,000 pre-opening reservations made for ‘The Chippie’ menu, indicating that this novel dining experience was something people in the city where craving. The eagerly anticipated second menu to land in Belfast is set to be a hit as it has previously been a firm favourite at sistering restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

‘Childhood’s’ new six course tasting menu includes: Mac’n’Cheese – Compressed grape, cauliflower couscous, caper & raisin; Egg & Soldier – Duck egg, Pecorino, Black Garlic Emulsion, Asparagus Salad; Pancakes & Bacon – Pork Belly, Compressed Apple, Chickpea Pancake, Maple Mayonnaise; Fish Finger – Confit Salmon, Kohlrabi, Buttermilk & Dill Dressing; Duck Duck Goose – Duck Beast & Leg Bonbon, Spiced Date, Heritage Carrot; and Cereal milk – Pannacotta, Honey Gelee, Peanut Clusters & Strawberry.

Known for his quirky dishes and original flavour combinations, Chef Nico Simeone’s latest menu, ‘Childhood’ will instantly transport guests back to the memories of their grandmother’s kitchen, their fond school canteen days or their first overseas holiday as a family.Chef Nico Simeone said, “Reliving those fond childhood memories is exactly what we aim to do for all our guests with our ‘Childhood’ tasting menu. There are some foods that no matter how many years have passed, they will embody youth. Almost everyone has childhood memories of family meals, ranging from holiday gatherings to the ordinary breakfasts, packed lunches, and home cooked dinners. We want to evoke those memories and help re-create those reminiscent foods and flavours but in an unforgettable way.”Nico added, “It is fascinating to discover what memories stay with you and when it comes to food, nothing evokes stronger feelings of nostalgia as your childhood.”

Diners can book a table now for ’Childhood’. Open from midday, Tuesday to Sunday at the Belfast restaurant on Waring Street.  Each six-course menu will be available from noon to night. The menu is priced at £28 per person with the option to enjoy an expertly selected wine and specialist drinks pairing for an additional £25. There is a vegetarian alternative available for every course, as well as childhood theme inspired snack sides.

To make a reservation and to book now, visit‘Childhood’ will run from Tuesday 16th April – Sunday May 26th 2019.



This month marks a new chapter for the MAC, Belfast’s leading cultural venue, as it officially opens its all-new café/bar to be operated independently, as part of its current four-step corporate strategy. This latest development has also enabled the creation of 19 additional hospitality roles within the business.

Previously managed by third-party contractors, this is the first time since the MAC’s inception in 2012 that the café/bar area will provide a direct revenue stream for the organisation and will be managed by its newly appointed hospitality team, including Head Chef, Terry Quinn and Owen Ferguson as Café/Bar and Hospitality Manager.

Bringing years of culinary experience to the MAC, Head Chef Terry will be launching a completely new menu to refresh the café bar offer. From the introduction of breakfast serving from 8.30am, to a new children’s menu and pre-theatre sharing platters, there will be something for the broad range of visitors that the MAC attracts. Plus, the MAC has launched a new wine list supplied by Direct Wine Shipments and launched a new smartphone interval drinks order system so that theatre goers can place their interval order with the greatest of ease, avoiding the usual queue.

The new café/bar also complements the MAC’s other commercial activities, such as the roll out of its innovative Luminaire Club, that transforms the theatre space into an intimate jazz-club experience complete with table service. This new experience gives the MAC the added flexibility to create event-specific promotions such as a Mother’s Day Brunch on the 31st March. Owen is confident that the he can build upon the visitor experience by further moving the MAC’s hospitality offering beyond the traditional theatre-style service.

Anne McReynolds, MAC Chief Executive said: “Taking our café bar in-house is a big move for us, not least in doubling the size of our current staff team, but it presents a huge opportunity for the organisation.  From a customer care point of view, we want to get closer to our customers – offering them eating and drinking experiences that better complement their whole MAC experience – whilst also making sure that the first person you meet in the MAC is a welcoming and informed member of our team, which is very important to us.

“Some people might ask, why now? Not many people may know that the MAC is a charity and just like every other charity, we must work hard to raise the money needed to survive and grow in the long term. This is a very positive and significant step for the MAC, as we are acutely aware that we need to keep making strides towards a sustainable model that not only involves public funding but continues to maximise the ways in which we can increase self-generated income.”

The MAC’s café/bar is open daily from 8.30am until late. Breakfast is served from 8:30am – 12 noon, and last orders for lunch are at 4pm. The bar is open late on show nights and from 30 March, the MAC will also be serving its new pre-theatre sharing plates to enjoy before the show.

For more information and to view the new menus please visit:



Renowned Scottish-Italian chef, Nico Simeone, is set to introduce his Glasgow and Edinburgh dining concept ‘Six by Nico’ to Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

‘Six by Nico’ Belfast will be the third addition to the growing restaurant portfolio, taking Nico’s conceptual restaurant idea out of Scotland for the first time and placing it in the bustling Cathedral Quarter.

With the opening, comes exciting new job prospects and there are plans in place to create 40 news jobs in the local area.

Chef Nico Simeone said, “We are very excited to bring an unforgettable culinary experience to Belfast. I have visited the city and I grew up with an understanding of the strong Ulster Scots connection. Belfast is the perfect location for our next venture and I couldn’t think of a better location than the vibrant food and drinks scene of the Cathedral Quarter. We are really looking forward to collaborating with local businesses and have people from the city join our team.”

The £500,000 investment will bring the introduction of a pioneering revolving culinary hub as every six weeks, Nico and his team will re-invent the wheel – serving a brand new six-course tasting menu, each one themed upon a different place, memory or idea. Drawing inspiration from both at home and abroad, Nico and his team will combine different ingredients, flavours, and dishes, to bring memories and stories creating a brand-new dining experience every 6 weeks.

The creative and ever-evolving six course set menu, is priced at £28 per person which has gone down a storm in the Glasgow and Edinburgh food scene and Six By Nico believe this will be a great price point for diners in the city.

Six by Nico will open its doors on Waring Street in March 2019, becoming the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning restaurant and bar scene. From creative menu concepts to outstanding food and service, the venue will aim to become an immediate hit with the people of Belfast.




Belfast’s Linen Quarter is set to welcome a new venue, Tutti Frutti, following a £250,000 investment that will create over 30 new jobs. The brainchild of the Bachus group, the successful multi venue hospitality group owners of Filthy McNasty’s, The Perch, Miel et Moi, Rita’s and more, Tutti Frutti will represent a brand-new bar and pizzeria with fantastic live entertainment three nights a week.

Set to open on Saturday 1st December, Tutti Frutti combines authentic Italian pizzas with all the local charm that Northern Ireland has to offer. Revellers will be able to avail of an extensive range of drinks and cocktails with quirky names that play on Northern Ireland colloquialisms and cultural references such as ‘Cavehill Sunrise’ and ‘Our Wee Samba’.

Speaking ahead of the launch, General Manager, Michael Johnston said: “We are delighted to be investing once again in the Northern Ireland hospitality sector and creating opportunities for those that wish to carve out a career within the industry. Our level of investment clearly outlines ongoing commitment and our vision for Tutti Frutti ensures we are continually looking to bring something new and fresh to the market.

“There is nothing like Tutti Frutti in the city. Often people venture for some food in the city and leave the restaurant in search of somewhere lively for drinks. With Tutti Frutti our aim is to provide a place where people can enjoy quality, tasty food and then want to stay for drinks and dancing. We are confident this will be a destination venue for the city with plans in place for original events and themed nights for all.”

Adding to Michael’s comments, Operations Manager Paul Langsford said, “From Bingo to Karaoke Nights, Can-Can, Opera Singers and Drag Performers; no two weeks will be the same at Tutti Frutti. This is a destination bar and pizzeria, somewhere that will further enhance the Linen Quarter as it becomes a viable alternative to the Cathedral Quarter. We can’t wait for the public to experience it and truly get a flavour of what’s to come.”

Designed by award-winning Dublin based interior designers O’Donnell O’Neill, Tutti Frutti is an eccentric and off-the wall space with eye-catching elements dotted throughout the venue including a bespoke ice-cream van serving speciality drinks. All installations in the venue have been carefully curated and planned for optimal impact. Tutti Frutti will be open three nights a week from 3pm until late.



Belfast has welcomed its newest restaurant to the expanding food scene in the city, as Top Blade Belfast has officially opened. The new restaurant, specialising in flat iron steak, is the final tenant in the bustling St Anne’s Square development. Top Blade will serve the most affordable steak in the city, offering consumers their delicious flat iron steak for just £10.

Spearheaded by Lurgan businesswoman Zara Peden, the 42-seater restaurant occupies the unit formerly owned by Chopin. The restaurant boasts custom made tables and chairs crafted specifically for Top Blade, muted grey tones and industrial chic accents to complete the trendy inner city feel.  The restaurant’s menu focuses heavily on local favourites with sides including buttery champ and mixed greens as well as a tailored cocktail and drinks menu to accompany the hearty food selection. Vegetarians and vegans will have plenty of choice from the Top Blade menu with an array of sides and a specially created seitan steak.

Speaking on the launch of Top Blade, Managing Director, Zara Peden said, “We are delighted to finally unveil Top Blade to the people of Belfast and beyond. Steak is a firm favourite for people here and we believe that we have the best steak on offer, without charging our customers a premium. The restaurant has been months in the making and I am confident locals and visitors alike will love what we have to offer. We have teamed up with Carnbrooke Meats in Dromara to ensure our guests have the best steak possible without breaking the bank. From our side dishes, bespoke drinks menu and interiors, everything has been carefully considered and planned and I can’t wait for everyone to come along and try it.”

Speaking on the partnership with Top Blade, Jason Hamilton, Managing Director of Carnbrooke Meats said, “We have been saying for years that someone in Belfast needs to launch a dedicated flat iron steak restaurant and Zara has finally done it. People will be pleasantly surprised at just how good it tastes! The flat iron steak comes from the shoulder and the muscle called the top blade and is always a very tender and flavourful steak. There is often an assumption that because the steak is cheaper this will impact the quality, however this is not the case. We are confident people will love it.”

As well as the main flat iron steak, Top Blade will serve an additional steak each week to choose from. The restaurant is open daily from 4pm to 10pm. Top Blade will also offer a bespoke cocktail and wine menu as well as a tailored selection of beers and spirits.

For further information on Top Blade, visit



Belfast is set to welcome a pizza revolution that will shake up the Cathedral Quarter next month and you will want to be a part of it!


Pizza Punks is an artisan and wood-fired pizza eatery with a difference. Its philosophy is simple: giving choice and value to their customers. You can have anything you want on your pizza at no extra cost., that’s right, unlimited toppings for one flat fee. Anarchy, right?


Pizza Punks has become famous for its legendary artisan wood-fired pizzas, their Sourdough base is handmade on site every day and proved for 24 hours for maximum flavour. Boasting a range of bases and unique toppings to suit every taste (vegan, gluten free and Halal). Its giant wood burning oven will also be front and centre in the new venue, so you can see first hand your creation coming to life.


Plus, it doesn’t stop at pizza! Pizza Punks is set to cause a stir with an incredible drinks menu on offer. Retro ice cream floats? Got it. Champion cocktails? Yup. Those crazy Insta-famous freak-shakes? Of course. All of that along with wine on tap, and a great selection of craft beers all served up alongside a great soundtrack – there really is something for everyone including the little punks in your life who can create their own pizza and ice cream from their own children’s menu.


The punked up look and feel of the Cathedral Quarter venue marks a new spot for locals, inviting the food lovers of Belfast to come in and hang out amongst the neon signage, wooden worktops and unique atmosphere. If that wasn’t enough, Belfast Street artist, Visual Waste is jumping onboard as a collaborator to punk up the interior even more.


The Pizza Punks team have created the perfect combination of menus for every occasion, whether it’s a brunch date, grabbing a slice on your lunch break, or a full-on pizza party with your crew they’ve got it covered.


Launching in April, stay in the know by following Pizza Punks Belfast on Facebook.


Power to the people, we say.



April 2018 will see Pizza Punks travel across the water and open its first Northern Ireland venue in the buzzing Cathedral Quarter. Hailed as the ‘proper pizza’ lover’s eatery, Pizza Punks has invested over £500,000 into its new premises at the converted Longbridge House on the corner of Waring and Hill Street in Belfast city centre; creating up to 30 new jobs.

The self-proclaimed pizza ‘revolutionaries’ are confident they are bringing something new to the city.

Pizza Punks opened its first outlet two years ago in Glasgow, courageously placing it in the renowned ‘burger strip’. Proving all the sceptics wrong, it has shown to be a huge success, thanks to its unique proposition –  you can have as many toppings as you like for the same price.

Read More



Lisburn-based food distributors, Valeo Foods, is delighted to be appointed sole distributor for local producers, Pop Notch, and its unique range of popcorn across Northern Ireland. This new partnership will support Pop Notch’s growth within the local market and through additional marketing open it to new international markets.

Pop Notch brought something new to Northern Ireland in 2013, starting when the McBride family had a little craving for a more gourmet style of popcorn than we’re used to here. They started small at their kitchen table, with an air popper and the ingredients for caramel, which they bought at their local shop.

Read More



Northern Ireland’s growing tourism offering has just got even bigger with the arrival of Toast the Coast – a brand new guided food tour along part of the beautiful Causeway Coastal Route.

After identifying a gap in the market, Toast the Coast was devised by Portia Woods to shine the spotlight on the breadth of local producers, suppliers and hidden gems located along the Antrim Coast.

Beginning from either Belfast or Dublin, tourists will be taken on a culinary journey stopping off in Whitehead, Larne, Ballygally, Glenarm, Carnlough and Cushendun, tasting the very best food and drink on offer plus exploring local tourism hot spots along the way.

Read More