The catering team at a Garston school beat down 139 culinary rivals in last month’s Herts Catering Limited (HCL) competition, coming first place in the category for “best secondary school catering”.
“It’s all down to the hard work,” said St Michael’s Catholic High School’s head chef Sarah Sutton. She stressed, however, that her vanquished adversaries were equally worthy, adding: “We just got lucky.”
But HCL’s official press release says otherwise, crediting the team’s “nurtured bacon rolls” with the win.
What’s the secret to the rolls? “I don’t know,” Sarah admitted. “It’s a crusty roll with a bit of bacon in it.
“We do much healthier stuff. We do big box salads, vegetable salads, chicken caesar salads.
“Put it this way—we don’t do any turkey twizzlers.”
What else do they make? “Flavoured chicken burritos, flavoured chicken drumsticks with baked wedgies, things the kids would like to eat,” Sarah added.
On the menu currently is cheese and bean wraps, beans on toast, bacon roll, cheese and tomato panini, cheese and ham paninis, toasted sandwiches, crudite. Sarah’s favourite food, meanwhile, is Italian.
When cooking for the 1,000 strong student population, Sarah and her team have to adhere to the guidelines.
She said: “You can’t have sausages on all the time, it has to be nice meat, it can’t be recomposed ham—has to be proper, cooked, cut ham.”
But there’s another ingredient Sarah neglected to mention. As the official award release says, school meals at St Michael’s come with a secret ingredient – a smile.
It’s not always an easy ingredient to source. But even in the oppressive July sun, Sarah said, her staff “smile on through the heat”.
Finally, for the layperson with scant knowledge of the kitchen, Sutton recommend a simple solution. Learn.