Wednesday, May 2, 2012

05/02 Larry Lipson, Tim Warrillow, Charles Rolls, Chef Brian Hill

Larry Lipson 
Costa Rica Wine Correspondent 

For fifty years Larry Lipson was the food critic for the Los Angeles Daily News and reports from Costa Rica weekly with thoughts and favorite picks for Food & Wine.

Tim Warrillow and 
Charles Rolls 
Fever Tree Co-Founders

Following a 'tonic tasting' in 2000 to find the best on the US market, Charles Rolls – who had built his reputation running Plymouth Gin – joined forces with Tim Warrillow, who had a background in luxury food marketing, to analyze the composition of mixers. The pair discovered that the majority of mixers were preserved with sodium benzoate or similar substances, while the use of cheap orange aromatics such as decanal and, artificial sweeteners (such as saccharin) was widespread – a combination that was affecting the tasting experience and driving customers away from the sector. So, in 2004, they began creating mixers using natural and fresh ingredients. Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water launched in the UK in early 2005, the brand name chosen due to ‘Fever Tree’ being the colloquial name for the Cinchona Tree in which quinine, a key ingredient for tonic, is found. The highest quality quinine was sourced from the Rwanda Congo border and blended with spring water and eight botanical flavours, including rare ingredients such as marigold extracts and a bitter orange from Tanzania. Crucially, no artificial sweeteners, preservatives or flavourings were added. The highly carbonated tonic, consisting of small ‘champagne’ bubbles for a smoother taste, was packaged in 200ml single serve glass bottles, the perfect size for a double measure gin & tonic; the glass packaging was designed to reflect the premium natural values of the brand and to ensure freshness. Without a proper marketing budget the company’s future lay in the hands of editorial exposure. A short piece in the national press in the summer of 2005 elicited an instant and positive response. Sales rose dramatically and Waitrose, looking to revamp its mixer category, approached the company to list the product. One month later it was on shelf and Waitrose’s share of the mixer market grew from seven to eight per cent in just one year. Majestic, Oddbins, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason also started selling Fever-Tree, subsequently followed by Sainsbury’s and Tesco in 2008. During this period of success, the Fever- Tree mixer range blossomed to include an award-winning Bitter Lemon, a Lemonade, a Ginger Ale and a Ginger Beer (Both ginger drinks using three natural gingers from Cochin, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria) and the world’s first all-natural lower calorie tonic water. Leading bartenders quickly cottoned on to the benefits of a great mixer; Today, Fever-Tree is served in top hotels, leading restaurants and gastro pubs countrywide. Internationally, it can be found in 7 out of the top 10 restaurants in the world (as voted for by Restaurant magazine in 2008). In Spain, the world’s largest premium gin & tonic market per capita, Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water was immortalised at El Bulli, where world-renowned chef Ferran Adria turned it into a course in itself: ‘Sopa de Fever-Tree tonica’. In the US, the world’s largest mixers market, Fever-Tree was awarded ‘Best New Product’ at the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail awards. The most powerful endorsements, however, have come from the trade; there is universal support of Fever-Tree’s reinvigoration of the long overlooked mixer sector, a David and Goliath battle against the conglomerate power of the mass market brands. Spirit companies have also been quick to endorse the brand and the Fever-Tree team now work on sampling and co-promotion opportunities with many of the premium companies such as Martin Millers, Belvedere, Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Johnnie Walker and Plymouth Gin, driving Charles Rolls and Tim Warrillow’s ambition of quality mixers being drunk by every quality conscious imbiber. After all, if ¾ of your Gin & Tonic is the tonic, then make sure you choose the best.

Chef Brian Hill  
"My Momma Throws Down" 

This May, TV One serves up a delicious take on culinary competition with the debut of its new primetime series My Momma Throws Down. The fast-paced cooking contest features weekly face-offs between kitchen matriarchs to see who will be named the reigning queen of home cuisine. My Momma Throws Down is hosted by comedian and actor Ralph Harris and produced by Triage Entertainment, the makers of Iron Chef America. Each week, two new mothers will compete head-to-head through two rounds to win cash and prizes. Backed by a lively team of family supporters, the mothers will demonstrate their skills in the kitchen, as they race against the clock to put their personal spin on classic dishes. A rotating panel of judges made up of culinary experts and celebrities decide each week which contestant deserves the bragging rights as “Top Momma.” PREMIERES FRIDAY, MAY 4TH AT 8PM ET.

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