Here in the Kings’ community we have Tim Cooper as our Catering Manager.
Tim is a professional award winning chef with many years of experience working in hotels and restaurants, including catering for royalty and organising the pre-match hospitality for the players of Southampton FC.
After spending time working in Australia, he returned to the UK looking for a new challenge and we are pleased he found this here at Kings’.
Here Tim describes a typical day.
You would think that being a Catering Manager in a school every day would be more or less the same, but not here at Kings’! This makes the job much more interesting and challenging.
It is not just school dinners that we cater for (although these are very important!); there are lots of different events taking place at school which require catering such as Governor meetings and departmental training days. We also cater for outside businesses who use our conference facilities at the Tower and Community Centre. The main school hall is also available for private functions and one of our regular bookings is for a model railway exhibition, who require an all day “cafeteria” type service, with cooked breakfast etc! We have also catered for wedding reception for 200 people!
My day starts relatively early, as I find I can get a lot done with no interruptions.
Around 6am my milkman delivers followed by my green grocer. It is really beneficial having an early fruit and vegetable delivery, as then it ensures I have fresh ingredients for that day. It is a local business too, which helps with the carbon footprint.
One of my first jobs is to do a “work” list for myself and my staff, depending what functions we have on and what is for lunch that day. After sorting out and putting away the deliveries, I make a start on the day’s production. I usually make a start then on the days cakes, homemade muffins and flapjacks are two of the popular ones.
At 7.00am my first kitchen assistant arrives, and she begins by getting all the food ready for our breakfast service. The breakfast service is quite new, and starts at 8.15; we are building on it to give the pupils an opportunity to purchase a breakfast to make a good start to their day. We recently introduced hot chocolate which is going down well. The Business & Enterprise Department in the school did an exercise with pupils and came up with a loyalty card scheme, where pupils have a card, get it stamped every time they purchase a breakfast, then after ten stamps get a free breakfast! This is one of the many ways the school, pupils and catering department work together.
After breakfast the rest of the kitchen team arrive. With my team I then get ready preparing and cooking all the food ready for lunch. There are pizzas to be made, freshly prepared wraps (wraps were a pupil request, at one of the school council meetings that I attend, that have proven to be popular), jacket potatoes to cook, the hot pasta dish of the day (tomato and pesto, macaroni cheese etc), plated salads and the hot dish of the day. (Curries, cottage pie, lasagne, sweet and sour etc). In the winter months we sell soup one day a week, which is a winner, and in the summer term we run a salad/pasta bar.
At 11am the dining hall staff arrive. We then all get the dinning hall and gym ready for the lunch service. After the team have had their break, we then get all the serverys ready for serving lunch. To avoid excessive queuing time, we have three separate food serving areas. We have to set these up in a limited time and make sure the food is fresh and presentable. 11.50 the bell goes for the 50 minute lunch break. I serve on the main food counter, with an assistant, where we can do up to 250 plated meals a day. We try to encourage the traditional plated meal, by doing a “meal deal” where it is a set price for a hot meal with pudding/cake/yogurt or fruit. The sandwich/wrap is a popular one too.
Basically after lunch it is “all hands on deck” to clear down the eating areas and the kitchen. After all the staff have gone, I then do a final check of the kitchen, then get down to any paper work that is remaining.
When I leave the school, my day doesn’t end there as at least once a week I go our local cash and carry for supplies. This enables me to take advantage of any offers, (healthy food doesn’t come cheap!) and to pick and choose items I may not be able to get from my normal suppliers. Also, on a Sunday, sometimes I will pop into a local shop and buy some bananas ready for Monday, as my grocer cannot always guarantee ready to eat bananas.
I feel very privileged to be working in an outstanding school, and one of the most rewarding parts of the job is the satisfaction of seeing our pupils and staff enjoying their food.