This article has been written with the support of Quality Meat Scotland.
Healthy school dinners are on the menu thanks to Inspire Catering
- Louise Stoddart
- 22 June 2017
Group Executive Chef, David Hunt tells us about the catering company's dedication to the Scotch Beef Club and how they encourage healthy living
David Pease and Lorna McFarlane founded Inspire Catering (IC) in 2008, combining their expertise to start an independent catering company with a focus on seasonal and local produce. Now, with a team of 51 chefs working across their 21 sites, the caterers have successfully filled a gap in the market at a time when healthy eating is high up on the consumer's agenda.
IC's Group Executive Chef, David Hunt has worked in the industry for around 30 years and works closely with his team to improve the company's food services. Through sourcing well respected local suppliers, David plays a huge role in supporting healthy living among their customers. We caught up with him to find out more about IC's relationship with the Scotch Beef Club and to find out exactly how they influence the daily food choices of many, from nursery children to the employees of some of the country's most influential companies.
What are Inspire Catering's core principles?
IC will be celebrating our 10th anniversary next year and are proud to be a Scottish independent caterer focusing on two distinct sectors: Business & Industry and Education. Our core values are the same as day one – we are passionate about food and service, excelling in what we do. As a company, we never stand still and have a can do attitude, offering a tailored, personalised and professional service to fit the client needs.
How many chefs do you have working across all of your sites?
Do you offer fixed menus or create bespoke menus for every client?
Our chefs work closely with all of our clients to create a menu dependent on their specific food and service requirements, ranging from breakfast, lunch, dinner, boarding hospitality and site bespoke events.
How frequently do you change your menus?
The menus change depending on each site's requirements, but typically the menus are updated every four weeks to meet seasonal demand and our own promotional and events calendar.
You still work with the majority of local suppliers that started with the company back in 2008, are you keen to expand the number of suppliers you work with?
We are lucky to have a great mutual understanding and partnership with all of our suppliers, which helps to deliver consistency at all times. However, we are always looking at new and contemporary products coming into the market which could benefit our business.
How many schools do you cater for?
We look after independent schools on 11 sites and one further education college, feeding approximately 11.5K pupils daily.
How do you work with the schools to educate kids about the importance of traceability and provenance?
We regularly state the facts of traceability and provenance on our menus as well as the farmers that supply us with PGI Scotch produce. IC make frequent visits to schools to host tutored tastings and demonstrations for Home Economics classes.
As a member of the Scotch Beef Club, how do you use Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI to support healthy food choices in schools?
As the only catering company to have Scotch Beef Club membership across all of our sites, we incorporate Scotch Beef PGI, Scotch Lamb PGI and Specially Selected Pork into all of our catering plans. This guarantees the pupils and parents a high VL (visible lean – the amount of fat visible at the surface of the meat). All of our meat dishes are served alongside fresh seasonal vegetables and salads in accordance with the government's healthyliving award criteria.
What is the most popular Scotch Beef PGI or Scotch Lamb PGI dish that you serve?
This varies depending on the business or organisation, from firm school favourites like Scotch Beef Cottage Pie, to conference lunches serving slow cooked Scotch beef brisket. We always try to use different cuts – the main course for our Shine Ball Meningitis Charity Event this year included a Himalayan dry salt cured Angus sirloin, smoked tongue and a potato and cheek presse. Our chefs competed to see their dish put on the menu, with the winner claiming a Spanish gastronomic culinary trip in Andalucía.
Inspire cater for a number of industries. How else do you help encourage healthy living among your customers?
Schools prefer a more interactive approach which means we can be slightly more creative when educating them about health and wellbeing. For businesses, we've developed seasonal Pulse and Culinary Calendars (a guide to what's seasonal, recipe tips and health benefits) which are printed on menus and have been very well received. Earlier this year we won the healthyliving award which is a reflections of our efforts.
What are Inspire's plans going forward? Are you looking to expand?
IC are always looking to expand. We're constantly evolving in all aspects of our food service as innovation is at the heart of what we do.
For more information on Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI – as well as recipes, cooking tips, practical video content and much more – visit The Scotch Kitchen website, at scotchkitchen.com.
The Scotch Kitchen offers over 400 recipes as well as an airy of culinary articles and food blogs. Visit scotchkitchen.com to learn more about the Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI brands which are underpinned by world-leading levels of quality assurance and traceability.