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The colourful history of the humble burger began, as these stories often do, with the ancient Romans. They loved to eat what we now call “street food”, and one example of the delicacies enjoyed by Romans and their subjects – along with peacock tongues and baked dormice – was Isicia Omentata, which translates roughly as “stuffed minced meat”. A recipe book dating from around 1,500 years ago – towards the end of the Roman empire – includes a recipe for this dish, which today would be instantly recognisable as a kind of burger: minced meat (they used pork rather than beef), pine kernels, fish sauce, juniper berries, coriander and ground pepper, mixed together to form a patty, and then fried.

Fast-forward to the 18th century, when Hamburg was the centre of a thriving trading network. It was also famous for one food item in particular: the Hamburg steak, known locally as the frikadelle or bulette.

This was made from minced or ground beef, with spices and onions added, made into a patty and then cooked on a grill or a flame, or sometimes served raw. Here, then, lie the origins of what eventually became known as the hamburger, the simple patty of ground beef flavoured with onion and spices, and bound with egg and milk, that is now consumed by billions worldwide.

Raising the steaks

So how did the Hamburg steak make its way from Germany to what is now known as the home of the hamburger – the USA? In the 19th century, migrants and sailors from Hamburg and along the Baltic coast of Germany made their way to New York, where they were given a taste of the home country by food outlets selling Hamburg steaks – the oldest document referring to it is a menu from a New York restaurant, Delmonico’s, in 1873. But still, it was served on its own; there was no mention of bread or buns. Meanwhile in Britain, Victorians were eating something called minced collops, which closely resembled the hamburger.

Food to relish

There are several different stories telling how the Hamburg steak came to be placed between two pieces of bread, or toast, or in a bun. But what is certain is that between 1885 and 1900, the habit of eating burgers this way caught on in several US cities. Today it seems like a perfectly natural thing to do; what’s remarkable is that it took so long for it to catch on.

By the early years of the 20th century, the Hamburg steak had become known as the hamburger (and, later, simply the burger): a patty of grilled beef and other ingredients, served in a bun. As time went on, other ingredients were added, notably cheese, as well as pickles and relishes. In 1921 a US chain of restaurants was born: White Castle – the world’s first hamburger chain. At the time, many Americans saw hamburgers as unsafe, a lower form of food, so White Castle ensured that its restaurants, and staff, were spotlessly clean. White Castle still trades today, with nearly 400 branches across the US.

McDonald's burger restaurant sign with golden arches logo

Other chains followed, notably McDonald’s, which started business in California in 1940. Meanwhile Wimpy bars brought the hamburger to a hungry UK in the 1950s. The first McDonald’s restaurant opened in the UK in 1974, located in Woolwich in south-east London. There was some resistance to the growth in the UK of McDonald’s: local campaigners in upmarket Hampstead, north London, campaigned against the opening of a branch on the high street. When it eventually opened in 1993, it had tasteful frontage and décor to fit in with the surroundings.

The burger backlash

The burger had become a staple part of British culinary and cultural life. But it had also become associated with low-quality fast food: a soggy bun, a thin burger, served in functional surroundings which, legend had it, were sometimes uncomfortable enough to encourage diners not to linger. “Burger flipping” jobs became synonymous with the worst aspects of the service economy, and burgers themselves were in the spotlight for their alleged contribution to planetary degradation, as well as the obesity crisis. Morgan Spurlock’s 2004 documentary Super Size Me saw Spurlock’s health deteriorate as he followed a purely fast-food diet, taking restaurants up on their offers to “super size” his orders. Branches of McDonald’s have been targeted in France and other European cities by anti-globalisation and anti-American protestors.

A Byron burger meal on a restaurant table

Born-again burger

But in 2001 the British burger began its rehabilitation. Gourmet Burger Kitchen, set up by three New Zealanders, started serving quality burgers made from high-quality meat and “global” ingredients such as pineapple and kiwi fruit. A few years later the Byron chain took the burger back to basics, serving simple but high-quality burgers and other dishes in attractive surroundings. Others that followed included Five Guys, Shake Shack, and Beer + Burger.

Beer and burger meal

Going out for a burger has now become a destination, an event, rather than a quick and easy way of getting some food and drink. Chips these days are fat and crispy. Proper ketchup and mayonnaise are served from bottles at the table. Brioche buns have become widely used. These restaurants boast of the quality of the beef and other meats used in their burgers. The veggie burger has grown in popularity, as has the vegan burger. These days, the veggie or vegan burger is appetising and substantial enough to be an option chosen by many meat-eaters. Some vegetarian burgers try to emulate the texture of meat, even down to including beetroot juice to replicate the blood of a rare burger.

The surroundings, décor and furniture in these restaurants are likewise a huge improvement on their mass-market counterparts: this is not exactly fine dining, but the chairs, banquettes, benches and tables are solid, tasteful and comfortable. In some instances, such as Ed’s Diner and Five Guys, the retro fittings, tiled walls, chequered floors, cosy booths and benches and red-and-white colour schemes hark back to the glory days of the American diner.

The old man and the burger

So the burger has journeyed from Europe to America and back, and has undergone a transformation from junk food to proper fare. Today’s diners have a wealth of choice, and can eat their burgers (with their hands, or using a knife and fork? Always a dilemma!) in stylish surroundings.

Curiously, none of the new higher-end burger restaurants have seen fit to revive a hamburger recipe written by the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway. It was found among thousands of his papers years after he died, and is typically extravagant, using capers, wine and spicy sauces.

And finally, among some historians and political scientists, the burger is associated with something of far greater importance than its nutritional value: peace. The “golden arch theory” of history says that there is no example in the history of the world of two countries with branches of McDonald’s going to war with each other. So, for all its negative associations, the humble hamburger might have been a force for good in the world.

 

Enjoyed this blog? Why not read more? Discover the history of bread and the origin of breakfast, just a selection of the great articles available in the Trent Furniture blog.

 

Whether you run a pub, restaurant, hotel or club, spillages and wear and tear are a fact of life. As a result, your upholstered furniture is likely to require regular spot cleans as and when accidents happen as well as periodic all-over cleaning to keep it looking fresh and well-maintained.

Here are some top tips on how to keep your upholstered furniture looking as good as the day you bought it.

1. Vacuum first

Dust is never a good look, so it’s important to incorporate vacuuming upholstered chairs into your cleaning routine. For fully upholstered armchairs and sofas, begin by checking down the sides for any loose change or crisp packets that may have found their way down there. A powerful vacuum cleaner with an easy-to-use upholstery attachment and crevice tool is a must to remove surface dust and crumbs. For best results, use a slow side-to-side motion to pick up crumbs and dust before switching to the crevice tool to tackle the seams where everyday detritus tends to accumulate.

2. Check the label

Before you tackle a stain, you need to make sure you know what products can be used on your upholstery, so you don’t make the problem worse by using an inappropriate product on your furniture. At Trent Furniture we offer a wide range of upholstery on many of our ranges of furniture including our comfy chairs. We have something to match every décor scheme, including hard-wearing fabrics that will withstand constant use and the resulting need for regular cleaning.  

As well as looking at the colour and pattern, check the cleaning instructions before buying:

  • S or P: this means solvent-based cleaner only (dry clean only)
  • SW: this means water, solvent or steam are safe to use
  • W: this means can be cleaned with water
  • X: this means vacuum only – requires professional cleaning

3. Spot clean any stains

Ideally, spillages should be cleaned up as soon as they happen but in a busy pub or restaurant environment this isn’t always possible, not least because stains are not always noticed until closing time or the next day.

White vinegar works effectively to remove stains from most upholstery. Begin by making an equal parts water and vinegar solution, then use a clean cloth to blot the stain before gently wiping it with a spotlessly clean microfibre cloth and leaving to dry naturally. Some people like to complete the process by adding a final step of cleaning with a weak solution of mild detergent and tepid water.

4. Get rid of smells

A spilled pint of lager or glass of wine leaves an unwelcome mark in the form of smell as well as staining. Odour-neutralising fabric sprays are an option; however, a cheap and effective alternative is to sprinkle bicarbonate of soda over the affected area, leave overnight and vacuum off the next day. Even if you have no obvious stains on your upholstered chairs, this is a good habit to get into in order to keep your chairs looking and smelling as fresh as new.

Clean upholstered chair with fresh flowers

Quality upholstered furniture for the hospitality industry

Choosing upholstery for your pub, restaurant or hotel is an opportunity to make a style statement and create a unique atmosphere to welcome your guests. To discuss the wide range of options we have available at Trent Furniture call us today on 0116 286 4911 or fill in our contact form.

The modern officers’ mess should combine the traditional feel of this long-established British military facility with the needs of today’s army officers. As it is primarily a place for dining and socialising, bar and pub furniture is generally a great match and as a result, many of the rules of good pub furniture also apply to the officers’ mess.

Read on for some top tips for furnishing an officers' mess for maximum comfort, flexibility and respect to tradition.

The origins of the officers’ mess

The term ‘officers’ mess’ derives from the former use of the word ‘mess’ in connection with food which appeared in the English language in the 13th century. "Mess" was used to describe liquid food such as soup or porridge and is used to this today as the name for the pudding Eton mess.

Although today’s officers’ mess is not quite as formal an environment as it was in the past, it is still a place where protocol and tradition rule. As a result, the various functions of the mess must be taken into account ranging from relaxed socialising to formal dinners.

The dining environment

Flexibility is key when choosing officers’ mess furniture as the room needs to cater for occasions ranging from everyday meals to formal regimental dinners with invited guests. Elegant yet durable banqueting furniture is essential. Trent’s extensive range includes attractive stackable chairs and foldable tables that can be easily stored and configured to accommodate a wide variety of occasions and numbers of guests. It’s also a great idea to invest in a chair and table trolley to enable staff to safely and efficiently set up and clear away functions.

Traditional refectory furniture is also a great option for comfortable and flexible dining in the officers’ mess.

The bar area

This is the social hub for the regiment’s officers so it’s important to include a good variety of seating options catering for those who wish to enjoy a quiet drink alone to large social gatherings.

Poseur tables with tall chairs are a great contrast to lower tables. Our range of traditional pub furniture includes both options to ensure consistency in whatever style you choose. For added comfort, armchairs and sofas are a welcome addition for officers who wish to sit back and shut out the stress of the day. Chesterfield furniture with its deep padded cushions and leather upholstery combines comfort with traditional English country house style.

Clever use of zones

If your officers' mess is open plan, you can create instant zone boundaries using sofas, benches and settles, as well as by changing the height of your chairs and tables, for example, close to the bar or near windows.

This variety helps to make the space look more interesting and can also help groups decide where to sit by defining areas more obviously for different sizes of party.

Classic military style

The British officers' mess is a byword for traditional style and we have plenty of military-inspired designs among our bar and pub furniture.

Our rectangular Wellington table is available in standard height and as a poseur or bar-height table for areas alongside the bar, as well as square and round pedestal designs. For hard-wearing, low-maintenance luxury, our admiral's chair in dark oak is a great choice.

If you'd like to know more about our range of officers’ mess furniture, please get in touch with Trent Furniture today.

Unlike public cafes and restaurants that are constantly trying to entice new customers, cafeterias in schools and offices naturally become a part of many peoples’ daily routines, serving the same people day after day. However, it is still important to make sure your cafeteria is as inviting as possible, providing a relaxing and comfortable environment for people to enjoy their lunch break.

Whether it’s with several small changes in décor or large changes to the furniture, redecorating your canteen will help to keep it looking attractive and welcoming for its daily visitors. Here at Trent Furniture, we have a wide range of furniture ideal for use in canteens, providing both style and substance. This guide features our ideas and tips for refurbishing your cafeteria, using our 60 years of experience to help you maximise your canteen’s potential.

Canteen refurbishment: less is more

Ensuring your canteen is appealing to its users does not mean you need to buy a lot of expensive, extravagant furniture. Investing in a few simple yet attractive items can make a large difference when redecorating, producing a minimalistic design that still catches the eye.

Plain, wooden furniture fits seamlessly into any room, whatever the décor. Combined with a light coloured or white wall it can create a light and airy setting, making the room feel bigger than it is. Pops of colour can then easily be added with decorative items such as plants, framed prints and cushions. This also makes it easier to then change up the design of your cafeteria in the future, without needing to replace all of the furniture.

Wooden chairs such as our light oak Roma or Remo chairs match perfectly with a large number of our wooden tables, creating a simple but effective look. Alternatively, our Bella chairs are perfect for bringing more colour to the room, available in a wide range of vibrant shades from mint green to orange. Wooden and metal chairs like these are a great solution for canteens as they are easy to wipe clean, making them unlikely to be ruined by stains or spills.

Space-saving solutions for your canteen tables and chairs

When choosing your canteen furniture, it is important to think about how it will fit into your space. If your cafeteria is a large space, you may want to have rectangular tables, allowing you to accommodate a large number of people without taking up too much space. Alternatively, smaller cafeterias may benefit from small, circular tables, taking up less space whilst still providing a communal and social atmosphere.

If space allows, a mixture of large and small tables is ideal for creating a canteen suitable for everyone’s needs. Small, square tables are perfect for people wishing to eat alone or catch up on work during lunch. Larger, rectangular or circular tables, however, offer more space for those who want to socialise as they eat.

Canteen furniture

Versatile furniture for the canteen

In schools and community areas, canteens are often used for multiple different purposes. If your canteen furniture is constantly being rearranged or cleared, it may be worth investing in some stacking or folding furniture. This furniture is lightweight and durable, specifically designed to make it quick and easy to move about as and when it is needed.

Laminate tables are also ideal for versatile environments such as cafeterias due to their light weight, with their hard-wearing plastic edges keeping them protected from damage even when being constantly moved. Their surfaces are easily cleaned, making it quick and simple to move from one activity to the other. At Trent, we supply reversible laminate table tops, to help keep them looking brand new for as long as possible.
 

Trent Furniture are a leading UK canteen furniture supplier. All of our furniture is suitable for contract use, meaning it is hard-wearing and durable enough for use in busy canteens, as well as being compliant with all fire-safety standards. For more information about how we can help you refurbish your cafeteria, give us a call on 01162 864911 or email sales@pubfurnitureuk.co.uk.

School library furniture has to meet a long list of criteria, especially in the current economic climate when school budgets are under increasing pressure to deliver a good return on investment for every pound spent.

For any school, that means robust, hard-wearing library furniture that can stand up to the rigours of being used day in, day out by pupils of all ages. However, it's equally important for school library furniture to deliver on the needs of pupils, ranging from primary level right up to sixth form colleges and even university library furniture.

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing school library furniture in order to create an environment that will support pupils and students in their learning objectives and academic achievements.

Include informal areas

Traditionally school libraries were very formal in design and atmosphere, but increasingly educators are looking to create a calmer, more welcoming environment by providing informal areas similar to the 'breakout' zones you see in digital-era businesses. These are achievable even when space and budget are an issue with the use of low tables, comfortable chairs and even homely touches such as rugs and beanbags tailored to the needs of the age-range of the students who will be using the library. All these options are space-efficient and portable seating choices for the modern school library.

Desk and chair school library furniture

Comfortable, hard-wearing chairs

When choosing school chairs for growing pupils of varying ages, ergonomics and durability will always be at the forefront of the decision-making process.

Trent Furniture’s stackable retro French school chair is inspired by the school chairs of the early 20th century. Of course, today’s classrooms are very different from what was the norm in the early 1900s, however the popularity of this chair, which our customers choose for a wide range of settings, is testament to its enduring comfort, practicality and aesthetic appeal. Indeed, this chair is so popular that it is available in a range of different coloured frames with bulk discounts available on quantities of 20 or more.

Safety first

Safety is obviously of paramount importance in school furniture, which is why it should always be built using the sturdiest of materials and designed for maximum stability. This is a particularly important factor when choosing shelving for school libraries as there should be no risk of the shelving falling over or accidents being caused by students trying to reach for books that are stored out of reach.

Occasionally it may be necessary to use the library space for other purposes. This means that chairs must be designed to interlock for safe and efficient stacking when they are not in use. A chair trolley is also a must to ensure staff can safely move stacks of chairs if they ever need to clear the space for events such as open evenings or drama performances.

Meeting your furniture needs

To find out more about Trent Furniture’s extensive range of high-quality, durable furniture, please get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

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