Thursday, 21 March 2013

Some PKL Poetry

As it's World Poetry Day today, we thought we'd try and impress you with some attempts at witty rhyme. It turns out that nothing rhymes with "kitchen" though, so that made the task slightly more challenging..!

If you are redoing your kitchen
Get temporary facilities from us in!
With our expertise
We can do it with ease
With minimal hassle and fussin’!

If you need a permanent solution
Our Cubes are a fine contribution.
Our Pods are great too
(And we’ve sold quite a few!) -
They’re something of a revolution!

If you’re catering for an event
Run your kitchen from inside a tent!
If you’ve made the commitment,
We’ve got the equipment
All you need to do’s pay the rent!

If you need our kitchens worldwide,
Fear not, because we can provide
Our kitchens everywhere –
We'll just ship them there!
We know that you’ll be satisfied.

5 ways PKL can ease your hospital kitchen problems

In this post, John Steward, Manager of our Long Term Hire Division, blogs about our temporary hospital kitchens.

As PKL’s hospital kitchen hire specialist, I have extensive experience of arranging temporary kitchen hires for hospitals. There are many reasons why a hospital may require temporary kitchen facilities, such as during planned refurbishments or emergencies such as fire or flood.

Kitchen facilities play a vital role in hospitals and I know the unique set of challenges faced by hospitals requiring temporary facilities. With that in mind, I’ve addressed the top 5 challenges and concerns that hospitals often come to us with when they need temporary kitchen facilities.

I hope this post will give you an insight into how we can help hospitals. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss your requirements of if you’d like me to prepare a free bespoke kitchen contingency plan for you.

1.    Specialist Kitchen Facilities
From my experience working within the acute care hospital sector, I know that many hospital kitchens have to produce food to specific dietary requirements. The exact facilities required can vary from hospital to hospital, and is vitally important for the health and wellbeing of 

We have a fleet of over 10,000 items of catering equipment and can work closely with hospital catering teams and dietary staff to provide each hospital with a temporary kitchen facility which is matched with the menu requirements. In the past, our specialist facilities have included temperature-controlled prep areas for the preparation of high risk meals, as well as facilities for the sterilisation of crocks and utensils.

2.    Noise and Disruption on Site
No hospital wants teams of shouting workmen on site, mess and dirt everywhere or roads blocked for hours on end. That sounds like a nightmare to me too, so you’ll be pleased to know 
that we have polite, efficient drivers and engineers who are able to deliver our units at times to suit you, including evenings or weekends if preferred. We also plan delivery and installation in advance, which means our experienced team can get facilities installed quickly and efficiently, causing minimum disruption on site.

3.    Quality and Reliability
When your staff and patients are relying on kitchen facilities to keep them well-fed, you’ll want to be sure that these facilities aren’t going to let you down. Not only are our kitchens purpose-built units designed specifically for catering use, they also contain commercial catering equipment which consists of trusted, professional brands. All units and items of equipment undergo thorough, regular maintenance to prevent breakdowns, and we can also supply our facilities with back-up generators which will kick in should power be lost, keeping the kitchen running without disruption.

4.    Safety and Compliance
New clients often have questions about the suitability and safety aspects of portable kitchens, so here’s the info you need to know. Our kitchens are manufactured to the highest standard and incorporate the latest health and safety features. Features include a ventilation canopy, auto gas shut off, automatic fire suppression system, easy clean extraction system, infestation-proof construction, 500 lux lighting level, food-safe plastisol steel wall lining, non-slip safety flooring, and insulated fire regulated wall panels, ceilings and floors. Our kitchens also have food-safe wipe clean walls and stainless steel catering equipment, providing a hygienic, easy to clean food preparation environment.

5.    Support and Service
I know that hospital kitchens are used from first thing in the morning to last thing at night, so we offer a level of service to support this. Our service and technical support lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and we can dispatch an engineer immediately should a kitchen emergency occur. Additionally, an engineer will be with you within 24 hours of all standard service callouts, and any minor matters will be attended to as soon as we have an engineer in the area.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

PKL is happy!

Today is the first United Nations International Day of Happiness. We are naturally happy people here at PKL, so we thought we'd share a few reasons why PKL is such a happy place!

A very happy portable kitchen unit
1. We are saving the planet, one eKitchen at a time! Well, we might not be singlehandedly "saving the planet", but our eKitchens are certainly doing their bit. With a number of energy-saving features, these portable kitchens are seriously energy-efficient compared to standard units, and help our customers reduce both their energy useage and costs. We'd say that's a great reason to be happy!

2. Our KitchenPods and Food Cubes are helping schools to provide hot school meals to pupils, keep them on site at lunchtimes, and improve pupils' diets. Happy, well-fed pupils can lead to better behaviour and concentration, which leads to happy teachers, which in turn leads to happy schools. Loads of happiness for everyone! Job done.

3. Our temporary portable kitchens get invited to loads of amazing events. From the Olympics, to pop-up restaurants, to festivals to film sets, our kitchens are on the guest list! One of our kitchens even travels around the world with Cirque Du Soleil! Our kitchens are very proud to produce food for all these fantastic events, which makes them very happy indeed.

4. The staff at PKL are all very happy. All our hard work over the years has resulted in us being presented with lots of lovely awards. It's great to know that people appreciate what we do, so we're all very happy. Well, apart from the poor person who has to dust all the awards each week..!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Red Nose Day Fun!

There's been lots going on here at PKL today, to raise money for Comic Relief. Loads of staff members have paid to come to work in fancy dress, with some people taking it more seriously than others..!

The best: "Pants Girl" and Pippi Longstocking
The worst: Marketing Manager Sam reluctantly wearing a feather boa

We also held an office bake off, which really brought out a competitive steak in some colleagues! The company directors formed the judging panel, and entries were judged on both appearance and taste. With such a large responsibility on their shoulders, the directors felt compelled to eat as much cake as possible to ensure they definitely made the right decision. With such a thorough approach and great attention to detail, it's no wonder these guys are company directors - such dedication!

Directors Peter Schad and Chris Irving sample the cakes,
before Managing Director Chris reveals the winner!

Following the judging, all the bake off entries were then put into a cake sale to raise even more money.

EDIT (5.30pm): We've just counted up, and the grand total we raised was a fantastic £115!

Cheltenham Festival - Day 4

As the Cheltenham Festival draws to a close today, we are taking some time to reflect on CowCow's predictions so far. He has predicted one winner correctly, and many of his other predictions have almost finished their races - great success! But like they say, it isn't over until the fat pony wins...

If you need a reminder of what's going on and how CowCow generates his predictions, visit Tuesday's blog post. You can also read back over the last three days of predictions, which are all up here on the blog.

CowCow has selected a "diverse" selection of horses today, so we'll see what happens! As always, follow us on Twitter for photographic reminders of CowCow's chosen horses throughout the day.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 15th March 2013

Race 1 - Gassin Golf
Race 2 - Ifandbutwhynot
Race 3 - Inish Island
Race 4 - Silviniaco Conti
Race 5 - Chapoturgeon
Race 6 - Make Your Mark
Race 7 - Oh Crick

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival - Day 3

After a slightly better performance yesterday (he successfully picked a winner and a second place!), CowCow has thrown himself, quite literally, into choosing today's horses. We're still not 100% sure that he understands the concept of horse racing yet, but we're feeling confident nonetheless...

If you're a bit confused about what's going on, check out Tuesday's blog post, which explains why a cuddly cow is predicting races, and how he's doing it. Keep an eye on our Twitter account throughout the day too, as we'll be tweeting photos of CowCow with his predictions.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 14th March 2013

Race 1 - Captain Conan
Race 2 - Ballybough Pat 
Race 3 - For Non Stop
Race 4 - Wonderful Charm
Race 5 - Tartak
Race 6 - Prince of Pirates
Race 7 - Freneys Well

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival - Day 2

After yesterday's "slightly iffy" start, CowCow is hoping to redeem himself today with some fantastic predictions for the races. Only time will tell whether he's destined to be a cash cow or a crash cow though. Yesterday's Cheltenham Festival predictions from our bewildered bovine included horses which fell, had false starts, and which came in last place, so surely things can only get better..?

Here are today's predictions. For more info on exactly how CowCow chooses the horses, see yesterday's blog post! As with yesterday, you can also follow us on Twitter to see photos of our lovely CowCow with his predictions shortly before each race.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 13th March 2013
Race 1 -  Top Smart
Race 2 - Taquin Du Seuil
Race 3 - Terminal
Race 4 - Sprinter Sacre
Race 5 - Meister Eckhart
Race 6 - Another Sensation
Race 7 - Fascino Rustico

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Cheltenham Festival - Day 1

As we are based in Cheltenham, less than 2 miles down the road from the racecourse, we thought we'd share our predictions for the races this week. As the now infamous Paul the Octopus demonstrated at the last World Cup, animals are great at this kind of thing. We therefore asked CowCow, our resident office animal, to do the honours. 

For each of the day's races, we printed out the names of the horses, and CowCow launched himself enthusiastically at the names. The one his moustache landed nearest to each time is listed below.

Visit the blog each day for his latest predictions. You can also follow the action over on Twitter, where CowCow will be proudly posing with the name of his chosen horse, a little while before each race.

CowCow's Cheltenham Festival Predictions - 12th March 2013

Race 1 - Pique Sous
Race 2 - Arvika Ligeonniere
Race 3 - Summery Justice
Race 4 - Grandouet
Race 5 - Stone Light
Race 6 - Fourjacks

Friday, 8 March 2013

International School Meals Day

PKL KitchenPod Consultant Ian Selwood guest blogs today on the topic of International School Meals Day, and addresses the challenges faced by many schools requiring new kitchen facilities.

With International School Meals Day taking place today, we are turning our thoughts to those schools in the UK which do not have adequate facilities to be able to provide fresh, hot school meals. It’s fantastic to see such a huge buzz around International School Meals Day, and really exciting to see how many schools are taking part, but I know that there are many more schools who would perhaps like to take part but are being held back by their catering facilities (or lack thereof).

I have worked with hundreds of UK schools over the past few years, and understand the various constraints and challenges which many schools have to overcome in order to be able to produce school meals on site. Since today’s focus is on school meals, I thought it may be helpful to share some info on our KitchenPods, which have enabled over 100 schools throughout the country to produce school meals for their pupils. Here are some of the top things I think you need to know about our KitchenPods, based on the topics previous clients have asked me about:

  • Traditional brick construction is not the only option for new kitchen buildings. PKL KitchenPods are purpose-built permanent modular kitchen buildings which offer schools an innovative alternative to traditional construction. In fact, Galliford Try’s publication “The Optimum Primary School” recommended modular buildings as being preferable for school buildings!

  • KitchenPods cost far less than traditional builds, and we offer flexible procurement options including contract rental, lease hire or capital purchase. There are also various funding streams available for procuring KitchenPods, and my colleagues and I are experienced in helping schools identify funding options and assisting with filling in application forms.

  • Our KitchenPods are sturdy, high-quality facilities. They are purpose-built kitchen buildings and comply with food hygiene and health and safety standards as well as building regulations. Due to their size, I’ve found that they are also likely to be fast tracked through planning regulations as a permitted development.

  • PKL KitchenPods can be supplied as single units or larger open-plan facilities, depending on the individual requirements of each school. For schools with limited space, a single unit KitchenPod is ideal, whereas I’ve also worked with several schools to supply larger, open-plan KitchenPods. KitchenPods can be connected to existing school buildings, or can be stand-alone facilities if preferred.

  • KitchenPods are built off-site and delivered on one of our lorries all ready to put into position and connect to services. This means they can be up and running within just a few hours of delivery. Many clients have expressed concerns about disruption on site. We can arrange delivery to schools during the holidays or at weekends – problem solved!

  • Our KitchenPods are the ultimate, flexible kitchen option. Not all schools are the same, so choices include the size of the KitchenPod and the catering equipment installed inside. We also offer a huge range of external finishes. For schools wanting their KitchenPods to blend in with existing buildings, we offer various brick-slip finishes as well as painted exterior options with any colour from the RAL spectrum. For schools who would like their KitchenPod to be a real feature, we can also offer stunning wood cladding options or custom-designed vinyl wraps.

  • Although KitchenPods are permanent buildings, their modular construction enables them be relocated if the school’s needs change over time, providing a much greater degree of flexibility over traditional builds.

I hope the info is useful and helps answer some of the questions you may have about modular kitchen buildings. Please feel free to get in touch if you’d like a chat about how a PKL KitchenPod could help your school.

Finally, I wish you a fantastic day if your school is taking part in this year’s International School Meals Day - I’m sure it will be a huge success, and I know that a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make it all happen. With any luck, facilities like our KitchenPods will be able to help even more schools be able to take part next year, and help grow school meal uptake in the UK even more.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Food in the National Curriculum

PKL Sales and Marketing Director Lee Vines guest blogs today on the addition of food teaching to the National Curriculum.

I was delighted to see the recent news that food and cookery are being added into the National Curriculum as a requirement for all pupils up to the age of 14. At PKL, good nutrition and health education for young people is something we are passionate about, and we actively support the work of the Children’s Food Trust, as well as having worked with a large number of schools over the past few years to provide catering facility solutions.

Nutrition, diet and cooking skills are vital in order for young people to grow up with healthy eating habits and the knowledge to make the right food choices. Hopefully this change in the National Curriculum will support and reinforce all the great work that’s been taking place on school meals over the past few years, and help bring about a positive change in young people’s attitudes towards food. This two-pronged approach of both eating well at school and learning how to cook healthily should be a really positive step forward.

One of the key things we need to tackle now is the state of kitchen facilities in schools, including both catering kitchens for providing school meals, and teaching kitchens for use by pupils in lessons. From our extensive experience of working with schools, I know that many schools are still struggling with old, inadequate facilities and equipment, and that these issues can often seem insurmountable in the face of tight budgets, limited space and lack of information and guidance.

I think it’s important for schools and local authorities to know that there are companies out there who can help them. For example, our permanent modular kitchen and servery buildings – KitchenPods and Food Cubes – have been the ideal solution for over 100 schools across the country, providing a quick, high-quality alternative to traditional construction at a fraction of the cost. We are also able to advise on the various funding streams available for procuring these facilities, and can even help out with funding applications.

In light of the changes to the National Curriculum, our VegPods may be the ideal solution for many schools too, providing a unique teaching kitchen where pupils can grow and cook their own vegetables. These modular teaching kitchens can be built to each school’s exact requirements in terms of size, equipment and external appearance, and include an enclosed courtyard with a raised bed for growing vegetables or herbs. They can also be used to build links with the local community, as well as create a valuable extra revenue stream, by being let out to local community groups.

I know that for many people and organisations, this recent news comes as a result of years of hard work and tireless campaigning, so let’s help and support schools as they rise to the challenge and embrace the valuable link between education and healthy eating.