Archives for the month of: January, 2013

Ever thought that you drink too much coffee? How about trying these alternatives. We’re not encouraging you to stop drinking coffee altogether, let’s be honest, the smell of coffee brewing and the earthy, smooth taste in the morning is just too much to resist at times, but if you are looking to try a few alternatives for that extra kick in the morning, take a look at these:

  • Lemon – A warm cup of lemon tea is so simple – warm water and half a lemon yet the benefits are just too good to ignore.

Firstly a lemon is high in vitamin c and potassium and stimulates the brain and nerve function ideal for the those early Monday morning starts in the office. When your body is dehydrated it struggles to operate effectively, lemon in this case helps prevent dehydration and adrenal fatigue by balancing the pH scales. As you know lemons are very acidic but once metabolised in the body they become alkaline and this is the key to good health.

  • Chilli – Jamie Oliver quotes that he always starts his day with a bit of chilli and has a slight addiction.

“It’s got a chemical in it called capsaicin that is the nearest natural form of morphine – it stimulates serotonin and happiness. Instead of knocking back coffee, I have a little nibble on a little bit of chilli. A lot of cultures have a little bit of chilli in the morning, it just gets you going.”

  • Green Tea – Comes from the same plant from which normal tea is obtained, the tea leaves are dried or slightly steamed but not fermented (like normal tea). 

Despite the fact that green tea has caffeine in, there is a lot less than coffee but the benefits are much more. There is a study that suggests that tea can help improve memory and cognition. Other benefits include speeding up your metabolic rate, lowering blood pressure as well as protecting against diabetes. The polyphenols here in this case which inhibit starch, lower sugar levels.

  • Prune Juice – Otherwise known as dried plums.

A thicker and crispier fruit juice known as prune juice regulates the level of electrolytes in your body. The easy-to-digest carbohydrates, iron and antioxidant compounds, soluble fiber and potassium will lead to increased stamina as well as an improvement in digestion.

  • Nut Smoothie – Next time you make yourself a fruit smoothie try adding some cashews, almonds or some other of your favourite nuts.

Nuts have it all, rich in energy, protein and packed with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. With the added vitamin C from the fruit in the smoothie the nuts give you even more of a boost. Take a look at some of these delicious Fruit And Nut Smoothie Recipes on Peanut butter and banana smoothie looks a clear winner.

Have you seen our Healthy Eating Crowd yet? Want to adopt a healthier diet or improve your energy levels? This Crowd is dedicated to educating others on how to adopt healthier eating habits whilst dining in restaurants that serve fresh, wholesome and healthy foods. Hope to see you there!


This week’s Startup Engine dinner was at the Giant Robot in Farringdon. A quirky mixed menu and many mustached staff!

We had 10 diners this week, including a few regulars. Venus was back, 3rd week in a row, with more ideas for her business; she’s ready to map out the site! It was also good to see Doug Haines of London School of Attraction back again. His company offers coaching courses to men and women looking to improve their love lives. They also provide a wealth of online resources on the very same topic. Great news that we’ve managed to pin him down and he’ll be hosting a guys’ dinner and a girls’ dinner soon, where he’ll be sharing pearls of wisdom about the dating game to diners. Dates in February to follow.

In terms of unusual startups / businesses, I thought Kevin Quincey would be in the lead for some time with City Beach London, the UK’s largest indoor beach complex he’s building in Harrow. However then along came Richard Peacock to equal him. Richard was responsible for Cirque Olympique, a spectacular circus by the TEA Buildings in Shoreditch during those glorious Olympic weeks. A hypnotist and performer himself, Richard organizes all kinds of shows and events. I’ll be front row at his next creation when it takes over London town.

After chatting on TableCrowd it was good to finally meet spreadsheet enthusiast Ben Blomerley, whose startup is AskHerFriends, a site to help guys find that perfect gift for the women in their lives.

I recently introduced Ben to Emma Watkinson of SilkFred, the online destination for emerging fashion designers which has 1,000s of potentially perfect gifts. Emma hosted a TableCrowd dinner last year on the topic of emerging fashion.

Everyone else was at the ideas stage, so I’m watching this space to see how their projects develop!

If you want to meet other startups over dinner, click here to view what’s coming up. Next week we have a special guest speaker, Sylvia Cohen, who is giving a 45 minute taster session on public speaking before we eat.

So if you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of speaking in front of others or if you need to finely tune your skills for an upcoming pitch or demo, why not grab one of the last few seats.


– Kate Jackson

Last week some of our TableCrowd members of the Healthy Eating Crowd were given the opportunity to dine with Nutritional Therapist, Stephanie Ridley of Nourish To Flourish at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen. It was there chance to learn more about the foods they should and shouldn’t be eating and to gain a deeper understanding about nutrition. Here is what Stephanie had to say on the evening:

So I admit I was a little nervous turning up at my first Tablecrowd evening, especially as I was hosting. And hosting not just as me, but as the ‘work’ me – Nutritional Therapist. So it was no surprise when everyone looked nervously at me from behind their menus – ‘Are we ok to have a glass of wine?’ ‘Can I have a pudding?’ Of course not one to judge, I believe food is also about enjoyment, so if you’re out for dinner then you should enjoy it!

Well I think I speak for us all in that it was a great evening. We were five in total so we could chat easily as a group. And our conversation did not disappoint for a ‘Healthy Eating’ crowd, ranging from baking with coconut flour and rehydrating during an 80 mile run to controlling sugar cravings and the best ways to lose weight. Everyone had such different experiences with food, coming from different cultures as well, so it was no surprise the conversation flowed and the evening flew by. Some also were planning to retrain as Nutritional Therapists so I was able to give advice for that as well.

All in all a great evening, food at the Bread Street Kitchen was delicious and we’re planning another Healthy Eating Crowd dinner in a few months time – come join us!

Stephanie Ridley –

Nourish To Flourish

In honour of our Devastator Burger Challenge tomorrow evening at The Red Dog Saloon we have come up with ways to defeat London’s most famous burger challenge.  For those that have not heard of this burger challenge, it’s a beast – the tallest burger in London. Standing at 8 inches tall, comprising 3 x 6 oz beef burger patties, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers of applewood smoked bacon & 6 slices of American cheese. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!  The challenge is to scoff the lot, plus a large basket of fries, a side and half a litre of ice cold milkshake – all within 10 minutes.

Lead up:

The key to training for an eating competition is ‘stomach expansion’. The majority of eaters accomplish this by consuming a substantial amount of water and eating a great deal in the days leading up to the competition.

DO: “Eat as much as you can three or four days before a contest.”

DON’T: “Fast days before the competition. Your stomach will shrink.”

Foods to consume:

Consume foods that are easily digestible so that they pass through your body quickly. If you are looking to take this extra seriously, start with number one on the list, the most tasteless, boring and unappealing food that is:

Lettuce / Boiled Cabbage

Lettuce is low-cal and has a high water content.  Boiled cabbage is said to give off a lot of gas in the stomach, helping stretch it.


With a high water content, it has to be a better option than boiled cabbage, surely a lot tastier.

All You Can Eat Buffet –

Frequent trips to the local ‘all you can eat buffet’ will do wonders for maintaining a stretched stomach, not so much your waistline.


Watermelon is easily processed and goes through your body quicker, since it mainly consists of water.

Exercises and Techniques

– Stretch the stomach muscles by drinking lot’s of water quickly.

– Chew gum to strengthen jaw muscles.

– Swallow whole ice cubes to expand the esophagus.

– Stare down your opponents, let them know you mean business and that you’re not just here for a salad.

– Train your hand-eye coordination – hand to mouth, hand to mouth – and as quickly as possible.

– Meditate before the competition – focus on your objectives, keep it simple; burger, chips, milkshake and coleslaw, EAT.

Day of the Competition:

Cleanse yourself on the day of the comp. Drink herbal tea and plough through those hunger pains.


Quite simply, if you want to succeed in the devastator eating competition, the popular approach is to expand your stomach through water consumption and eating.

Please eat at your own risk. TableCrowd does not except responsibility of getting trapped in doorways from over consumption and gluttony. At the same time TableCrowd recommends you join the Man V Food Crowd.

Enjoy and good luck to all contestants.

Monday morning is always frantic, but first priority is to catch up with our designer and developer and map out the plan for the week. Our site is up in beta, but we are working on new designs using responsive technology, which means whether you are viewing on phone, tablet or laptop, that the page will fit to your screen size and work properly. As part of the new designs, we are able to factor in a whole range of improvements that have surfaced now we are running regular tables and collecting user feedback.

At the end of last week, our application to join Chinwag’s Digital Mission to Social Media Week in New York was accepted, which means we’ll be joining 20 other companies to learn new stuff, network and to gain an insight into the startup and tech scene in New York. I booked my flight and included a couple of extra days and a detour to San Francisco to join the Women 2.0 Conference. The focus now is to set up some useful meetings in both cities for fundraising and partnership possibilities. I’ve signed up to Startup Stay with the hope borrowing someone’s sofa in the heart of the action. UK Trade & Investment London is helping out some of the UK companies with a grant towards the trip; I’m hoping we’re one of the chosen ones.

On the way home, I grabbed a coffee with a business reporter at the Huffington Post to fill her in on what I’m working on.

First thing Tuesday, I checked in with our development team and was over the moon to be shown an enhanced stats analysis system for our email marketing, together with some great user experience improvements. I pulled together some new ideas for some email marketing to be deployed later this week.

I organise weekly Startup Engine dinners via TableCrowd for people in the startup and tech community to get together, share ideas and network. The dinner for this evening sold out last week, so I checked out who I would be meeting. It was a great crowd ranging from people at the ideas stage to live startups; from software developers to bricks and mortar businesses – as well as some splendid Mexican food.

Wednesday morning, the first job is always blogging about the previous evening’s dinner, followed by connecting with the people I met and following through with promised introductions.

With this done, most of the day was spent preparing for the Lion’s Cage pitch competition organized by London Business Starters and held at Google Campus. We were chosen, along with 9 other startups to pitch our business to a panel of investors and an audience of around 150 people, in just 3 minutes. I wanted to make sure the pitch was finely tuned and that I was armed and ready to answer whatever questions the investors and crowd could throw at me.

We were up sixth, which gave me plenty of time to build up some unnecessary nerves. The panel was a tough crowd, no punches pulled, but we emerged victorious with the most votes and the very generous prize of £5k of legal advice from Taylor Wessing. Not a bad evening’s work and a great profile raising activity for TableCrowd.

Thursday started with a review of upcoming tables and new Crowds. We had a blog about our dinners posted on Escape The City earlier this week, which meant our upcoming ‘Leaving the City’ dinner was filling up nicely. We also had a number of new Crowds created by members, who are looking to grow communities of people linked to their own specific interests.

Despite several attempts to sweet talk the organisers of City Meetups (still dizzy after last night’s victory), I couldn’t get myself a slot to pitch at their drinks & demo evening, so I went along to watch the other startups flaunt their wares. Some great projects and some interesting people.

Friday, last day of the normal working week, and just as the snow started to make walking treacherous, I left our office on Old Street and paced over to the Heron Tower to have my elevator pitch filmed – actually in the elevator. It takes 30 seconds to drop from the 37th to the ground floor, and my pitch timed in at precisely 29 seconds. Slightly tricky with ears popping and the distraction of the world whizzing out the corner of my eye, but I had a blast with Mick, Alex and Tom, the guys from soon-to-launch Tech City News.

Last stop to round off the week was a flying visit to Silicon Drinkabout at UCL for a few Friday night orange juices (still abiding by dry-January) before heading home and collapsing on the sofa!

This week’s Startup Engine dinner was at Chico Bandito, a lively little Mexican restaurant and regular spot for TableCrowd dinners.

The menu tells me that it’s the best chilli in London, and I believe everything I read, so it must be. We had 10 diners, some familiar faces and some new. It’s nice to see people coming back for more and factoring the Startup Engine dinners into their regular networking plans.


It was great to meet Doug Haines of the London School of Attraction. His company offers coaching courses to men and women looking to improve their love lives. They also provide a wealth of online resources on the very same topic. We’ve invited Doug to host a dinner and to spill a few beans on his experiences and learnings. We’ll let you know if this goes ahead. 

On the topic of beans (kind of), Sabina joined us from The Beanery, a cosy coffee shop in Brixton. She is looking to expand her business and meet others in the food and drink indus 

Axel Sunnehall joined us and told us about his second project, KandiBase, an application where you can access all the job opportunities that are promoted across Twitter in one place. It seems like a really exciting project – as one of Twitter’s newest biggest fans (I know, I know, I’m really slow on the uptake), I’m looking forward to seeing this progress.

It was great to meet Piotr Zajac who founded Untitled Kingdom and has a team of whizz iOs and android developers producing great apps to make the world happy. He may well be getting a call from me when we start work on the TableCrowd App!

Louis joined us for his TableCrowd debut. His day job is analytics and data, but he had other plans brewing for startup which he was keeping very close to his chest. If it hadn’t been for dry-January, I think I could have convinced him to let the cat out of the bag. Intrigued! Louis didn’t give me the info I wanted, but he did give me food envy by ordering the fajitas.

Chico Bandito, I’ll see your Mexican face again in February, when I shall have waved dry-January goodbye and shall be ordering a very large mojito. –

Kate / @katejacksonk

Why not join an upcoming Startup Engine dinner? Next week’s dinner has sold out already, but we have spaces for our dinner on the 29th January where we have a special guest speaker, who will be giving you a pre-dinner taster session (45 mins) on public speaking and presenting skills. Got an important pitch in the pipeline? All the information is here: Upcoming Startup Engine Dinners

A stone’s throw from Silicon Roundabout and yet this was the Startup Engine’s first dinner at The Yard. Shame on us!  We had a large round table perfect for mingling and 9 diners talking all things startup. The Yard is known for its featured menu item, the yard of pizza. Probably not in line with many people’s new-year-eat-healthy resolutions, but it was ordered by a couple of ladies in a tandem dining operation – started me thinking that this should definitely be taken on by the Man V Food Crowd on TableCrowd on another occasion.

It was interesting to hear from Kevin Quincey about his project, the City Beach London. After building a large indoor beach in the US, Kevin is replicating that in Harrow in London. He’s building the UK’s largest beach complex in an attempt to get us Brits off our bums and out of the pubs. The complex will be a base for all sand sports – beach volleyball, footvolley, beach football, beach rugby, sand-minton and more, with an opportunity for everyone to get involved, especially beginners. I also understand that there will be a place to relax in a deckchair with a cocktail…

To my left sat Cheryl Ashman, founder and CEO of Designer Lookbook, where you can discover and shop from the best emerging talent in the fashion industry. Cheryl’s site displays lookbooks from emerging fashion designers. Time to shop!

To my right sat Nasrin Hafezparast, the founder of Which Web Design Company, which helps people choose the right web designer. It can be tough to choose the right designer for your project, so armed with a web design project management background, she has created a service that guides people through the maze of options by providing reviews from past clients. She has over 6000 designers listed, a very healthy resource.

As well as the exciting startups that we discussed over pizza and pasta, it is important to share with you that it was the first Startup Engine Dinner where we had more girls than guys. I never thought I’d see the day!

Amongst the other diners, some people were at the ideas stage and one diner had just escaped their city job that very day with a plan for their startup. Good to see that a couple of you have already joined next week’s table – bravo and see you then!

– Kate


It’s that time of year again, back to work after the long festive break feeling slightly jaded and susceptible to those cold and flu viruses. Well don’t let it happen, ward off those viruses with these natural food remedies. If you happen to be one of those unfortunate souls with the sniffles and aching body then eat some of these immune boosting foods to get you back on track, so you’re fighting fit and ready for your next dinner at TableCrowd.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is one of the most popular remedies and has been referred to as the ‘natural penicillin’. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and discourages the advance of immune cells that boost inflammation, which contributes to a runny nose. It’s also known to speed up the movement of mucus, possibly relieving congestion.


Garlic contains compounds called allion and allicin, which have direct antiviral effects. To get the most benefit from that pungent smelling bulb, instead of adding it to your spag bol try chewing a raw clove every few hours throughout the day or cutting the cloves into small chunks and swallowing them like pills. Tell us how you get on and avoid chatting to work colleagues.

Green Tea

Green tea contains compounds called catechins which boost the immune system`s ability to beat the flu


Of all the berries ‘blueberries’ are the best for fighting off cold and flu due to the high concentrations of antioxidants.


The probiotics which is the ‘healthy bacteria’ to be found in yoghurts also help by boosting the immune system

Honey and Ginger

To soothe a sore throat a cup of warm honey and ginger help. They help boost the immune system with it’s antioxidant and anti bacterial properties, as well as aiding the digestive system.


Capsaicin, the natural compound found in chillis is known to thin mucus, giving you a runny nose which allows you to breathe better ridding of any germs from your nasal passages.

Lean Meats

Good iron and zinc levels are essential for a strong immune system. The most effective way to maintain good iron levels is by eating lean meat. Red meats such as beef and lamb come recommended.


The stronger your immune system, the more chance your body has at fighting the flu. The best way to do this is by eating citrus fruits with high dosages of Vitamin C dosages like oranges, lemons and grapefruits.


If you enjoyed reading this, how about furthering your knowledge of good foods and join our Healthy Eating Crowd and dine with Nutritional Therapist Stephanie Ridley at Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen on Tuesday 15th Jan.

New year, new start, new city, ‘New To London?’ If you want to meet new people in the same boat then why not meet them for dinner with TableCrowd. Join the crowd here