Our September meeting was held at Bidfood in Wakefield. Joanne Ward, Bidfood’s Sales Development Manager, welcomed us and told us about Bidfood’s plans for Christmas products. Kirstie Gibbons, Bidfood’s Business Development Manager for Non-Food, East-Midlands area, then discussed sustainability, with particular reference to catering disposables, and the help that Bidfood could offer customers to reduce their environmental impact.
Disposable coffee cups are causing problems worldwide because they are not economically recyclable. Increasingly, products are being described as bio-degradable, or compostable. Compostable disposables have to break down in less than 12 weeks to qualify, but this needs industrial composters. To date, there are only three sites in England (in Bristol, Leicestershire and Derbyshire) that are capable of processing this waste, and these are owned by Vegware, the manufacturer of the compostable range offered by Bidfood.
Reusable cups are now available, and many coffee chains offer a discount if they are used. Cups can be made from recycled materials or from 100 per cent recyclable materials. Sometimes a rethink is necessary because simply switching products, such as changing from plastic straws to paper ones, throws up another problem: paper straws have a tendency to come unravelled when used with hot drinks, which causes serious risks, particularly in hospitals.
Our thanks go to Joanne and Kirstie for a very successful meeting.
Our October meeting was hosted by MKN at Cannock, a family owned German business that started in 1947 with three employees. Today it is run by the founder’s children and has more than 500 employees.
MKN’s Demonstration Chef, Mike, prepared lunch for us in a pressure bratt pan. Leek and potato soup was done in 10 minutes from start to finish and because the pan is self-cleaning, the main course was started as soon as the soup had been finished. Mike prepared chicken curry, and what was most noticeable was the fact that all the meat was sealed and browned without the bottom of the pan going cold. Mike explained that there was a thick layer of steel under the base of the pan, which acted as a heat reservoir. The sensors automatically topped this up as each product was added so there was no heat drop off.
The pan can also be used as a fryer, and runners can also be fitted to the top edge, allowing different foods to be cooked during the same cook cycle – we had rice cooked above the curry. The control unit is touch-sensitive toughened glass, and all outer surfaces remain cool. User recipes can be uploaded using the free software, and full staff training is offered to customers.
Thanks to MKN, and Stuart and Mike, for a very entertaining demonstration. They are hoping that other Branches will visit them, and they will be trying to get out and see everyone.
As the year comes to an end, the Trent Branch would like to wish all HCA colleagues a very Happy Christmas and every success for 2019.