Rewards for Teddington School team; back to the kitchen for me!

Not long ago, we held our annual Cucina Restaurant of the Year ‘back to the floor’ day – and what a fantastic experience for so many people – not least of all me!

Early on Tuesday morning we cracked open the bubbly for the year’s top performing school restaurant team (Teddington School in Middlesex), waving them off in their stretch limo for a day of fun and excitement at Thorpe Park and then to a meal in their favourite restaurant. Meanwhile, we donned the chefs’ whites and went into the kitchen all ready for a hard day’s work cooking and serving food to the school community!

The ‘we’ in this instance included me as MD, my secretary from the office, all of our area managers, our Exec. Chefs and Sam – my fellow Director. We were all there, every one of the team, getting stuck in. We also told the students to keep their eyes out for a special celebrity chef, who turned out to be Richard Weekes – the school’s Head Teacher!

‘Back to the Floor’ is the culmination of our Cucina ‘restaurant of the week’ awards – a competition designed to drive and recognise peak performance. Regular awards include such things as ‘most complete health and safety records’, best after school trolley’, ’best breakfast display’ and so on.

Each weekly winner is judged by photographic and other evidence and  given 10 points and a small prize, with the runner-up scoring 5 points. At the end of the year, the restaurant with the most points gets ‘Restaurant of the Year’. Top of the pole this year was Teddington School. One of the day’s highlights was the Cucina ‘Fruit and Veg’ Quiz. The winner was a Year 8 boy who tied with the Head of Food Tech – both getting 20 questions right out of a possible 22! How impressive was that?

These were not easy questions; you had to recognised the taste and texture of courgettes, star fruit, purple cauliflower, scotch bonnet chillies, horse radish, papaya and many others too. Both winners were presented with a whole boxed pizza!

It was inspiring to see Head Teacher Richard Weeks working so hard on the salad counter and looking like he was loving it too. I was impressed that he took this time out of his busy day, and I was doubly delighted by his comments. Richard told me that he was ‘bowled over’ by the quality of food served, remarking that it was better than most restaurants. There’s absolutely no doubt that he’s right about that, too.

We’ve had wonderful feedback from the day. Among other things, we were able to try out a few of the concepts that are going to be introduced onto the menu very soon.

There are just so many benefits of doing an exercise like this. We get to reward a brilliantly-performing catering team, we get the chance to go ‘back to the floor’ and we get to stay in touch with the reality of life ‘on the floor’, having a fun day with the students into the bargain.

One other thought about this day – it was a reminder – if ever it were needed – that relationships and goodwill are the real engine-room of our success. As the Aussies are so fond of saying: ‘It’s all good!”

Till next time,

Steve

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