One of Scotland’s top universities has described how it now has an entire kitchen set aside to cater for students with allergies – and the vital role that data-driven cooking technology plays in supporting that.
St Andrews University, recognised as Scotland’s first university after being formed in 1413, feeds the best part of 2,000 students every day.
Senior chef manager, Mark Nixon, said: “We have a four-week menu cycle, which includes lunches with a choice of three hot items and dinners with four, plus soup and dessert. Obviously we also offer a vegetarian and vegan choice with every service, and we have big challenges around allergens and dietary restrictions.
“We also have a commercial catering team who handle internal delivered catering, conference catering, the principal’s dinners, graduation garden parties and lunches and more. It’s very varied, and busy, so we need our equipment to be reliable and versatile.”
Student catering is prepared separately among the nine halls of residence, with one hall designated for students with nut allergies, allowing food to be prepared in a controlled environment.
Space is at a premium, so to maximise output Mr Nixon and his team invested in the latest multifunctional appliances from Rational.
The university now has two VarioCookingCenter 112L and 211 appliances, as well as eight SelfCookingCenter 201 appliances in kitchens across its campus.
The VCC 112L has two 25-litre capacity pans that can be used independently of each other, while the 211 is a 100-litre single pan unit.
The equipment has had a significant effect on the catering at the site.
“Getting consistent results is vital, especially with our allergy control kitchen. We have an entire kitchen set aside to cater for students with nut allergies, so we need to be able to control every aspect of production.
“The SCC iLevelControl and VCC systems give such precise results that we can be sure about that aspect of the production process, and the data collected allows us to keep full records should we need to audit or investigate issues.”
Aside from allergen control, using both the VarioCookingCenter and the SelfCookingCenter together for recipes has also helped to streamline production.
“We can sear off meat in the VCC and then finish it up in the SCC, it’s a great way to make pie fillings and things like that,” said Mr Nixon.