A leading independent school in Suffolk has described how deploying multifunctional equipment has transformed its lunchtime catering service by removing the burden of trying to hold food at the right temperature without spoiling it.
Woodbridge School, in Suffolk, serves 800 covers a day, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as catering for in-house and external events attended by up to 300 people.
One of its main concerns has been to provide pupils with the healthiest and freshest meals possible but until recently it didn’t have the kitchen set-up to fully achieve that.
Jon Ellis, executive head chef at the school, explained. “Our old equipment was letting us down in that regard. At lunch, we have a two-hour service window, and we used to have to put food into hot-hold cabinets in order to meet the demand. It would be drying out, and it wouldn’t be in perfect condition when it was served, so we weren’t happy.”
When the school’s old equipment reached the end of its life it explored all its options before opting to replace it with a Rational VarioCookingCenter and SelfCookingCenter.
“Cooking large batches of food has absolutely changed how we work,” said Ellis. “The large capacity of the VCC 311+ and SCC 201 in particular means we can avoid having to put food into holding cabinets, everything we serve is so much fresher now.
“Many recipes we do require us to use both of them, and we’re always coming up with new ideas for that. They can even be used to replicate cooking techniques that would normally require specialised equipment.”
Mr Ellis said that by combining the capabilities of the VCC and SCC the kitchen team been able to add more variety to the menu, with more complex dishes, while reducing the overall workload.
He also noted that the iCookingControl software has been particularly useful. It allows the school to set the parameters for each recipe, with the system constantly monitoring internal conditions and automatically adjusting the cooking time and temperature as required.
“The programs are incredibly useful. They reduce cooking time, and we can be sure that the results will be exactly what we want every time, which is vital to us. We’re able to focus more on preparing everything to a much higher standard than we were previously with the old equipment.”