Charterhouse Boarding School case study

20/10/2011 - 00:00
The Charterhouse boarding school in Godalming, Surrey, has outsourced the responsibility of cooking school meals to contract caterer Avenance; part of the Elior group. We find out how they are getting on.

Gael Daval, executive head chef, Avenance, has worked at the school for eight and a half years. Heading up a brigade of 14 chefs, Daval and his team prepare and cook a variety of dishes – ranging from continental, Indian, British and Oriental cuisine – serving over 16,000 meals per week. Although the team were using fresh herbs and dry seasoning on a daily basis, chopping the herbs or calculating the exact amount of dry seasoning required for such large quantities of food (to deliver the right flavour), was very labour intensive and time consuming. It wasted time in the kitchen and put additional pressure on staff to deliver high quality meals promptly. Daval commented: "We were one of the first sites to trial Puréed Herbs. We hadn't seen anything like them on the market, so we were keen to see what kind of benefits they would bring to improve efficiencies in the kitchen. "It's not only the time-saving element that's made a big difference; it's the end result. We used to use dry seasoning in most dishes but since switching to KNORR's Puréed Herbs, I've noticed a huge difference in consistency and the colour of dishes, which you just can't achieve with dry seasoning. "I was also very impressed by the training from Unilever Foodsolutions. When using new products it's important to know how to use them effectively so that you can get the most from them. "They provided 'how to use' material so we knew how to use the products in our signature dishes and also gave us nutritional information such as GDA's and calorific content, which makes our jobs much quicker and easier. All of these factors have really helped to increase efficiency in the kitchen. "On some occasions we still use fresh herbs and dry seasoning to complement specific dishes, but the majority of meals are now made with the Pureed Herbs. We've noticed a significant difference in wastage, as the shelf life of the Pureed Herbs is much longer than fresh and they can also be used at any stage of the cooking process, which means we can use them at the last-minute on any dish to deliver a more concentrated and long-lasting fresh flavour." Iain Hedley, general catering manager, Avenance, has overall responsibility for the entire catering operation at the Charterhouse. He works closely with Daval to ensure the kitchen runs smoothly to meet the school's needs. Hedley commented: "The keystones of our operation are quality, relationships and cost. Gael is primarily responsible for everything in the kitchen and has to effectively manage this within a set budget. I put a lot of trust into his abilities as he plays a key part in maintaining the high quality associated with Charterhouse. "The kitchen is a fundamental part of our operations and from what I have seen, using KNORR Puréed Herbs assists us in achieving a high degree of consistency and quality which is key for Charterhouse School."

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