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2023 promises peace, positive relationships, and amazing food, according to the Chinese Zodiac

This is the Year of the Water Rabbit, but what does this mean for us? Chinese New Year starts on 22 January 2023, with the promise of colourful, flavourful and joyful celebrations all around Scotland. Each Chinese New Year starts a year of a new symbolic animal. This year is the Year of the Water Rabbit in the Sheng Xiao (or Chinese Zodiac). We asked Scoffable partner Tai Chen, Head Chef and Business Partner at Mrs Chan's Chinese Food Bar in Whitburn, to tell us more about the Zodiac: "Sheng Xiao is a significant tradition in Chinese society and, despite being very old, is still very much respected today. There are 12 animals in the zodiac - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each is said to have their own turn of fortune. The animals are paired with one of the five elements (gold, wood, water, fire and earth) to make its year more unique. For example, 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit, and this is quite different to the Golden Rabbit in 2011. By having these combinations, it takes 60 years for the cycle to repeat, so it will be 60 years before the next Water Rabbit comes around." Traditional Chinese lanterns There are 12 animals in the zodiac - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each is said to have their own turn of fortune. According to, the Rabbit represents peaceful and patient energy, while the water element brings inner peace. The year of the Water Rabbit promises a focus on relationships, diplomacy and communication, as well as bringing good luck and unexpected opportunities. The Sheng Xiao is so engrained in Chinese society that it is often used instead of asking someone how old they are, and serves as a way to get to know someone. Tai Chen explains: "It is common for people to ask which zodiac are you instead of which year were you born. I think using an animal makes people connect themselves easier." We'll have to wait and see if predictions about the Year of the Water Rabbit come true, but it could be argued that recent times have followed zodiac expectations. Tai Chen says: "Historically, the Fire Rat years have been plagued by war or famine. 2020 was the most recent Fire Rat year, and we saw unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 across the world. We can't say that a rat or dragon is a good or bad animal, they all have their turn to meet with the right element to bring fortune, or indeed misfortune, that year." You can read more about Chinese New Year traditions in our first interview with Tai. If you'd like to try some of his excellent Chinese dishes, you can order from Mrs Chan's Chinese Food Bar with Scoffable.

Jan 20, 2023
  • Behind the Cuisine

Food and family are the heart of Chinese New Year traditions

We've been talking to one of our Scoffable Partners to find out more about the traditions and symbolism behind this annual celebration. Chinese New Year takes place this month, and we've caught up with Scoffable Partner Tai Chen, Head Chef and Business Partner at Mrs Chan's Chinese Food Bar, to hear about what Chinese New Year means, and how he plans to celebrate. "Chinese New Year is a 15-day long festival that dates back thousands of years. There are lots of different types of celebrations within the New Year, with many traditions. Traditionally in China, the celebrations start on New Year's Eve with a reunion dinner. This is a family gathering, everyone takes the day off and we exchange blessings. It brings together the whole family in a harmonious, happy atmosphere. It's my favourite part of the whole event. Then on New Year's Day we wear new clothes to celebrate, greet each other with lucky words and give red envelopes with gifts to children and older people. After that we spend the days visiting friends and relatives, until the 15th day when we have a closing celebration called the Lantern Festival. Colourful Chinese New Year celebrations Chinese New Year is a 15-day long festival that dates back thousands of years. There are lots of different types of celebrations within the New Year, with many traditions. The Lantern Festival takes place at night, and people from across the community come into the streets with lanterns they have made at home. There might be lion dancing, or dragon dancing, and it's noisy and bustling with people. Traditionally, we end the whole festival by eating sweet rice balls - these symbolise a blessed and unified family. These kinds of celebrations are standard across China, although there is a difference in the food between the north and south of the country. In the north, dumplings are a common festive food, whereas in the south, poultry and seafood are the preference. New Year cakes (usually made from sticky rice) are a favourite across China but they come in different shapes, textures and flavours depending on who makes them and where you are." Tai celebrates both Chinese New Year and Hogmanay. But Chinese New Year is the bigger of the two festivities for him and his family. We asked him about what a typical Chinese New Year celebration is like in Scotland: "In the UK, we usually celebrate in big extended family groups, and sometimes with friends. Food is at the heart of our gatherings, and we cook lots of our favourite dishes and have a jolly time together. Different events happen in different areas here, depending on the size of the Chinese community, and whether the local council get involved. Many local Chinese communities such as Chinese schools or churches and temples organise dance performances and lion or dragon dances. Some councils also promote Chinese culture with food, dance or music events as well." Given the importance of food in the celebrations, Tai is positive about the impact Chinese New Year will have on his business: "More and more people in our area, and in Scotland as a whole, are aware of the Chinese New Year and want to celebrate the occasion with us, so business is on the upwards trend. Some businesses may choose to close for the full holiday, but we are open as usual. We are looking forward to our own celebrations and welcoming customers to join us for some amazing Chinese food." To sample some of Tai's cooking for yourself, order from Mrs Chan's Chinese Food Bar with Scoffable. If you're a takeaway or restaurant business, you can find out more about becoming a Scoffable Partner on our website.

Jan 20, 2023
  • Behind the Cuisine

Takeaways and restaurants are keeping high streets thriving

The number of food businesses in local communities is growing ahead of the big cities, and customers continue to order takeaway online. The decline of the high street has been a popular talking point in many communities in recent times. But new research from the BBC shows that, while banks are closing, takeaway business is booming. Between 2020 and 2022, there was a 22% increase in the number of chip shops in West Lothian, well ahead of the 6% Scottish average. It's a similar picture in East Lothian with 25% more chip shops, and a 10% increase in food and drink businesses overall. The highest increase in the UK is in East Dunbartonshire, where there are nearly 16% more restaurants, bars and takeaways than there were in 2020. Do you have a favourite local chippy? Between 2020 and 2022, there was a 22% increase in the number of chip shops in West Lothian. The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on hospitality. Restaurants, bars and cafes closed, and even when they reopened, people were more cautious about being in busy public places. We saw a considerable rise in customers using Scoffable for the convenience of being able to order takeaway food for delivery online. It meant they could enjoy a treat, but it was brought to their door safely, and it enabled them to support local businesses when everyone knew it was tough. Interestingly, the BBC research shows that high streets in local communities are performing better than city centres. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow city centres are seeing lower growth in food and drink businesses than the Scottish average. There's lots of factors that might be affecting this, but one of the biggest is probably the number of people who have continued to work from home after lockdown. There's fewer people commuting into the big cities, and so there are fewer meals with friends after work, fewer colleagues going for a drink before the train home and correspondingly fewer businesses catering for them. It was great to see interest in Christmas nights out picking up again towards the end of 2022, but the number of people choosing a takeaway isn't going down following the pandemic, which is great for small food businesses. We have supported takeaways across Scotland since 2010, so we have a perspective long before pandemic restrictions. While the media might report the findings of this research as worrying for the high street, it perhaps just signals a different type of high street for smaller communities in particular. Big brands may be moving far more business online at the expense of brick and mortar stores, but local hospitality businesses have the best of both worlds if they partner with a company such as Scoffable. They can continue to be a vibrant and loved part of the local community, but enable online orders which help to boost their sales.

Jan 13, 2023
  • Viewpoint

It's curry for Christmas Day dinner, and we'll have a festive breakfast delivery too!

We've looked at five years' worth of Scoffable data and the message is clear: when it comes to Christmas Day takeaway, Indian food is the favourite. Millions of meals have been ordered every year from Scoffable customers across Scotland since we started in 2010. And Christmas Day is no exception, with lots of people choosing a takeaway for their festive meal. Looking back at the last five years, our customers have overwhelmingly chosen their local Indian takeaway over other options open over the festive period. Last Christmas (25 December 2021), half of all takeaways ordered online with Scoffable were Indian cuisine. This has gone down from a peak of 68% of Christmas Day orders in 2018, with orders for chicken and kebabs becoming more popular. There's lots to choose from, will Indian food come out top again this Christmas? What's your Indian dish of choice? Last Christmas, half of all takeaways ordered online with Scoffable were Indian cuisine. Treating yourself to a Christmas morning breakfast, delivered to your door, is definitely on the rise. But most people are ordering later in the day, with spikes in orders between 4.00pm and 6.00pm, and then again between 8.00pm and 9.00pm. Whether coming home from visiting family, finishing a work shift, getting peckish after an early lunch or kicking off a quiet night in, we're ready to help get a tasty dinner delivered. Come Boxing Day, the desire for Indian food has been replaced by Chinese cuisine, with around a third of Scoffable orders coming from Chinese takeaways. There's been a big increase in those hankering for a chippy though: almost one in five Boxing Day orders are now from chip shops, up from just 1% in 2017. Whatever you're eating on Christmas Day, we hope you have a fantastic time. And remember, your choice of cuisine is available at your fingertips from Scoffable, your local easy-order takeaway app.

Dec 8, 2022
  • Insights