Tuesday, 26 February 2013

PKL at London 2012: Part 2

Following on from his previous guest post, today Commercial Director Peter Schad blogs about the various facilities that PKL supplied to the different London 2012 Olympic venues.

I thought you might enjoy a brief overview of each of the different kitchen and dining facilities we provided for the Olympic games last summer. Our major event facilities included temporary kitchens, dining halls and commercial catering equipment. As you will see, our facilities were hugely varied and served a number of sites at the Olympic Park and further afield.

The Athletes Village kitchen and dining facility -
it's the huge rectangular building at the bottom!

Athletes Village

Our largest facility at London 2012 was the Athletes Village temporary kitchen and dining facility at the Olympic Park in Stratford. This
was a 5,000 seat temporary venue used to feed the athletes, officials and workers at the Games, which was capable of supplying up to 60,000 meals per day. The facility itself was over 19,200m2 while the size of the production kitchen facility housed inside it was the size
of a football pitch.

The venue consisted of a main production kitchen area, along with a wide number of
servery areas, each serving themed menus representing continents around the globe. Each of these servery areas also had a small production kitchen facility behind it, to ensure that food was in plentiful supply for 16,000 athletes during the Games.

Main Media Centre

We provided the temporary catering facilities for the Main Media Centre at the Olympic Park. This included all kitchen designs, installation and project management before and during the event. The Main Media Centre was a 24-hour operational centre which catered for the needs of all the press during the Olympics, serving over 10,000 journalists. The media centre itself was 10,000m2 covering three floors.
Public catering at Olympic Park North

Public and Volunteer Catering at Olympic Park North

PKL supplied over 90 food outlets used for public and staff catering around the Olympic Park, servicing an area measuring 200,000m2. Our kitchens were used to provide a wide variety of themed food from around the world, and over 50,000 people were served per day.

IOC Corporate Hospitality

As well as facilities for the athletes, staff and officials, we also provided numerous facilities for the corporate hospitality in and around the Olympic Park. This included temporary catering facilities within the IOC Olympic Hospitality Centre, which comprised catering facilities used to supply first class cuisine to 22 chalets that were playing host to VIPs including film stars and royalty.

In addition to the IOC OHC, we located a number of catering facilities on top of and inside Westfield shopping centre. These included catering infrastructure for a number of corporate clients who had set up temporary hospitality areas on the roof of Westfield, and a large production kitchen facility, situated within the shopping centre itself, which was used to provide the majority of hot food for all of the hospitality areas at Westfield.

Other Olympic Sites

PKL provided a large amount of temporary overlay to other Olympic venues including the rowing centre at Eton Dorney and the sailing venue at Weymouth. At Weymouth, we supplied two mini athletes village type facilities, used to feed the athletes, officials and workers on site.

We also supplied four large-scale kitchen and dining facilities which were used to support operations undertaken by the Met Police during the Olympics, each of which consisted of a kitchen and 500-man dining facility. In addition, PKL supplied eight separate facilities to American TV station NBC, to support their workforce during the Games.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

PKL at London 2012: Part 1

In today's guest post, PKL's Commercial Director Peter Schad blogs about a particularly exciting project he worked on last summer...

The restrictions have been lifted, and I am delighted to finally be allowed to share last summer's big news with you!

PKL supplied temporary overlay facilities to 150 separate kitchen locations at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012. This included a wide variety of locations around the Olympic Park, and other Olympic sites within the UK. In total, our temporary kitchens were used to provide over 250,000 meals per day.

The total facilities we supplied to the Olympics amounted to over 7,500 pieces of commercial catering equipment from PKL’s hire fleet, which were transported to London in over 140 lorry loads and installed by our team of engineers.

The overall contract represented four years of hard work from PKL, in competing for and winning the various temporary catering equipment contracts at London 2012, and working with LOCOG and the onsite contract caterers from an early stage to ensure that the venues were designed and supplied to exact requirements.

Turnkey Solution

We provided a complete turnkey solution including all design, transportation, installation, project management and maintenance services during the Games.

The installation process itself was undertaken over a five month period between February and June and involved the relocation of a number of PKL staff to London during this period to oversee the process. In addition, we employed a dedicated team for the delivery and installation process which helped to create an extra 25 jobs over a 12-18 month period. We assigned project managers to oversee each temporary kitchen installation, and had engineers based on site throughout the Games. This ensured that not only did the installation process run as smoothly as possible, but that crucially the kitchens remained operational during the Games period causing no disruption to the athletes. 

Awards and Recognition

As a result of my work on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, I
was honoured in Catering Insight’s Hot 100, and PKL was shortlisted for an International Sports Event Management Award, in the Event Overlay and Facilities category.

Final Thoughts

The most satisfying aspect of the London Games has been the scale of our achievement. Each year, the catering and dining facilities required for the Olympic Games gets bigger and bigger, and London 2012 was no exception. It has far surpassed any other Olympics in which we have been involved.

It was not just the size of the undertaking, it was the deadline. All facilities had to be completed within a short four-week window before the Games. Thanks to our extensive experience of supplying previous major games, delivering the entire project on time and on budget was a challenge which PKL rose to and fulfilled successfully. PKL had to rely on all its expertise to mobilise 30 engineers, 7,500 items of equipment, and nearly 200 40 foot truck movements.

Look out for Part 2 coming soon, where I'll give an overview of the different facilities we supplied to the various Olympic venues...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Events: The early bird catches the worm!

If there's one thing I've learnt during my time working on the hire of UK event kitchens, it's that there's no such thing as booking too early! For the summer months and festive season especially, it's important to book your kitchen facilities early, as leaving it too late can risk the facilities you need being unavailable. Booking early can also make sure we have enough time to design your kitchen to your exact requirements and offer you the very best options for your needs.

But what type of kitchen is best for you?

This will usually boil down to a choice between Portable Kitchen Units and Marquee Kitchens. Both have their own different advantages, and a big part of my job is advising customers on the best type of kitchen facility to suit their event.
Here's a really brief overview of the two key options which would be used as a starting point for designing your ideal temporary event kitchen.
Portable Kitchen Units
  • Hygienic, purpose-designed, food-safe unit
  • Built-in extraction canopies and fire supression
  • Sturdy, high-quality unit
  • Can be joined to other units such as dishwash units, coldrooms, etc to form a larger kitchen complex
  • Choice of catering equipment inside

Marquee Kitchens

  • Over 10,000 items of commercial catering equipment available to hire, ideal for setting up kitchen facilities within marquees
  • Specially designed mobile canopies (with full-length extraction canopy and fire supression system) can be used to install catering equipment inside marquees and existing buildings such as exhibition centres and warehouses 
  • Very flexible option
  • Clear flow through the kitchen due to being able to set up different areas for preparation, production, dishwash etc

PKL Event Kitchens

For both of these options, I can advise you on the catering equipment you might require, and the best option for your specific event. This is another reason why it's so important to book in plenty of time - the longer we have until the event, the more time we have to plan the ideal kitchen to meet your requirements, and the more likely it is that the exact facilities and equipment you need will be available.

PKL Event Kitchens

This makes now the ideal time to be thinking about booking catering facilities for your summer events, festivals, pop-up restaurants and even Christmas events! Feel free to get in touch with me for a chat about your upcoming events and I'll be happy to advise you on the perfect PKL facilities for your needs.

PKL Event Kitchens

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

10 benefits of adding extra servery space in schools

I specialise in providing permanent kitchen and servery solutions for schools to help tackle a number of issues surrounding their food provision. Here's a list of my top 10 benefits of adding extra servery space in schools, based on my experience of providing PKL Food Cubes to schools across the country. I've backed it up with some info and quotes from the three most recent Food Cube projects I've worked on - enjoy!

1. Reduce queue times

Adding an additional servery area can significantly reduce queueing times. By making it quicker and easier for pupils to buy food, more are encouraged to do so.

When I was involved in our Food Cube project at Oasis Academy near Bristol, their primary reason for wanting a Cube was to reduce queues. "We manage facilities in over 30 schools now. Our experience was that some were struggling to manage the queues and pupils don't like waiting when they are hungry. We wanted to find a way to speed up the serving process and give pupils what they wanted with minimum fuss." Neil Porter of BAM FM told us.

At Cucina's Food Cube at Bexley Business Academy, my client Tony Ridgewell, the food and beverage manager, told me, "It’s playing a strong role in helping to reduce queues at key times"

2. Ease pressure on the main dining hall
By locating an extra servery space elsewhere in the school grounds, it eases congestion in the main dining hall and makes it easier for pupils to buy food quickly and efficiently without creating a bottleneck.

"I think it's great that it has completely taken away the congestion in the main dining hall. The students seem to purchase more than before, as they are passing by the location of the Cube and not having to come back inside to purchase their goods." Lucy Horsman, the Kitchen Manager at Oasis Academy told us.

3. Improve stay on site
Many of my clients have come to me with concerns over pupils leaving site during breaks and making use of local takeaways. By adding an additional serving area within school grounds and making it quicker and more convenient to grab food at school, pupils are less likely to want to leave site. 

Following the Food Cube installation for Cucina at Bexley Business Academy, client Tony Ridgewell told me, "It is encouraging pupils to stay on site rather than leave the school at lunchtime".

4. Increase choice of food
Increasing servery space not only enables schools to sell more food, but also to offer a wider variety of foods. In my experience, being able to offer a wider choice of foods is a key factor in making school meals appeal to a larger number of pupils, and therefore increase sales.

Many schools I've worked with have used our Food Cubes to serve fresh sandwiches, wraps, paninis, hot pasta, bakery products, fruit and drinks, complementing the other meal offerings available in the main dining hall.

5. Increase catering revenue

Our Food Cubes have been proven to significantly increase catering revenue in all schools where they have been installed. With smaller queues, an additional location to buy from, and more choice, school food becomes a much more appealing option for pupils, resulting in more pupils buying food, and more food being purchased by those who do.

At Marden High School, our Food Cube resulted in a 48% rise in food sales, while at Cucina's Food Cube at Bexley Business Academy, the Cube has generated over £500 extra revenue per week.

Barbara Patterson, Catering Services Manager at North Tyneside Council, said of our Food Cube at Marden High School, "It has really helped to improve service, increase income and reduce queuing time for students."

6. Encourage more pupils to have school meals
By making school meals a quicker and easier option, the installation of additional servery space encourages more pupils to buy food at school.

At Oasis Academy near Bristol, 30% of pupils now prefer to use the Food Cube, and school meal uptake has drastically increased. Pupil feedback was positive, with one saying "It's very convenient for us to buy our sandwiches especially when we are outside in the summer playing football."

7. Raise the profile of the school catering service
Installing an additional servery unit elsewhere in the school grounds makes the catering service visible to pupils who may normally avoid the dining hall. Locating an extra servery out in the playground or yard has been particularly successful at raising the profile and visibility of the catering service in projects I've overseen. The resulting increased usage of catering facilities in turn gets pupils talking about the food and drink offering and creates a real buzz within the school.

At Oasis Academy, Neil Porter told us that having a bright-coloured servery unit out in the playground is encouraging more pupils to use the catering service. He said,
"It's a little bit novel. Children seem to like that."

8. Improve pupils' health and concentration

One of the issues I've come across time and again is the struggle to get pupils eating more healthily. By supporting stay on site policies, additional servery areas can enable schools to offer a wider choice of nutritious food and help get pupils eating better at school. This can have a direct influence on behaviour and concentration levels in the classroom.

9. Improved working environment for catering staff
Extra servery space means fewer queues, calmer, happier customers, and therefore a nicer, less stressful working environment for catering staff.

10. Benefits for teaching and support staff
We've had great feedback from teaching and support staff as well as pupils and catering staff. They've found that additional servery space benefits them too, including a teacher at Oasis Academy who told us, "It's great that I can buy my lunch whilst keeping an eye on the students when on lunchtime duty."