The cream of the cropTuesday, March 20, 2018
The Cream of the Crop
There’s something exceptionally special about Taunton School that sets it apart. Many people can often be overheard talking about it. Is it the vast beautiful estate? Or perhaps the breadth of learning and enrichment offered? They are certainly appealing traits. But we think the exceptional thing about Taunton School is… THE FOOD!
The catering at Taunton School is something quite remarkable for numerous reasons. Firstly, we are one of the only schools in the region not to have outsourced its catering and all the staff have always been employed directly by Taunton School.
Whether you’re a pupil who enjoys school meals, or a visitor who has enjoyed a catered event, you’ll know that the quality of the food served is second to none. Head Chef Lisa Richards is the mastermind behind the scenes, and we’ve been finding out some interesting facts about the catering at Taunton School.
Lisa (pictured centre front) started working at Taunton School at the tender age of 14, helping the chefs prepare weekend meals for boarders. This job inspired Lisa to get her qualifications in catering before heading off to London to begin her career as commis chef in London. After a taste of city life, Lisa decided that the countryside was more her style, and spent some years working in a country house hotel and pubs. When the opportunity arose to come back to Taunton School in 1994, Lisa jumped at the chance and was promoted to Head Chef back in 2002. Lisa has managed to maintain the 5* Food Hygiene Rating since its inception, and runs a tight ship churning out hundreds of top quality meals everyday. Lisa says “I enjoy the challenge of ever changing food trends. I am proud to be a part of a great team and a fantastic in house catering team delivering food 7 days a week to the school community.”
Catering for hundreds of pupils, staff and guests is virtually a non-stop task. The in house catering team provides 50 weeks a year cover providing 3 hot meals a day 7 days a week right though Easter and Summer. They also provide tailored event catering for all sorts of high end dinners and dances.
In one year they get through:
72,475 breakfasts, 243,750 lunches and 68,575 suppers!
That doesn’t include the 3,740 pieces of cake made a week, or the weekend meals and 10,400 snacks provided each year to the boarding houses!
67,000 red & green apples
15,000 onions (that’s a lot of crying!)
4,000 kilos of carrots
35,000 fresh butchers’ sausages
12,000 farmed chicken legs
58,476 pints of milk
Let’s not also forget about the famous sports match teas – there can be up to 500 parents and visiting pupils on site at any one time that require feeding.
The Day starts at Taunton School with a full cooked breakfast with fresh homemade porridge, fresh cut fruit and Greek or natural yoghurt, or a mixture of continental meats and cheese, ranging from smoked salmon bagels to waffles with maple syrup as a treat. And it wouldn’t be breakfast without muffins, fresh sausage flats, and eggs; poached and scrambled.
Throughout the morning at Taunton School fresh fruit is available for the pupils to pop in if they are hungry.
Lunch continues with homemade meals where pupils are encouraged to help themselves to either the two different meat options on offer, the fish choice or the vegetarian choice with a wide selection of vegetables and a full salad bar. And there’s always homemade fresh gluten free soup every day.
A hot dessert is available with custard, or a mixture of chilled yoghurt, profiteroles, mousses or ice cream.
Afternoon break consists of a homemade cake… you can devour a lovely flapjack or sponge cake. The chocolate brownie is in a league of its own – be quick to grab a piece when it’s on offer!
Supper consists of a full cooked meal where we try to make it exciting for the boarders with theme evenings and fashionable foods, from fresh pulled pork ciabatta rolls to roast dinner to fish and chip Friday with fresh bread rolls and tartare sauce.
Chef Lisa says: “I love Taunton School; I’ve been working here for more than 24 years and I am proud to be a part of a fantastic in-house catering team delivering food 7 days a week. I enjoy the challenge of bringing ever changing food trends to the school community.”
Voted as a favourite in the latest school catering survey was (*drum roll*) chicken fajitas! Closely followed by delicious homemade lasagne.
All meat, vegetables, milk, cheese used by the catering team are sourced locally, supporting local farmers and small family-run businesses. Lisa: “This not only supplies the chefs with the best ingredients to cook with but more importantly provides the children with the best finished product. We take pride in the quality of our food, safe in the knowledge that all meat can be traced back to the area and the farm where it began its life.”
Some of the wonderful local suppliers we work with are:
Pyne’s of Somerset – providing meats
Somerset Bakehouse – providing fresh bread
Arthur David – providing fresh fruit and vegetables
Olleco – providing and removing oils, every drop of which is recycled into renewable energy
Longmans of Yeovil – giving us fresh dairy products
Phillip Dennis – a family owned grocery business supplying various products
MJBaker Foodservice – a 20-year relationship providing dried goods
Bidfood Lee Mill – supplying the school with dried goods
The Traditional Free Range Egg Company – providing ethically sourced hens' eggs.
Taunton School has a small kitchen garden used throughout the year to supply the kitchen with some of the fresh herbs needed to make our food so tasty. It’s also utilised by TPPS for tasting and ‘match the picture’ lessons. The children really enjoy finding out about the different herbs and what they are used for within the school food offerings.
Many of the herbs are grown from seed as this gives a better taste and makes them hardier to the local weather, providing a fresher ingredient.
Some things we grow in the garden are: -
- Lemon Balm
- Garlic Chives
- Elephant Garlic
- Garlic Shoots
- Fresh Mint
- Chocolate Mint
- Bay Leaves
Whether you’re a pupil, or a former student, a member of staff, or have been a guest at wedding or event, you will have been lucky enough to experience the amazing catering service at Taunton School. And if you’re really lucky, you’re probably still talking about the chocolate brownie…