Wednesday, 31 July 2013

PKL Contingency Week – Part 3

When you run a large scale operation, a sudden loss of catering facilities can cause a huge amount of disruption. It could be that a large factory loses use of its canteen and is no longer able to provide food for staff, or that a theme park is left without its main food court area, leaving it struggling to feed visitors and losing catering revenue.

These kinds of scenario can cause a real headache, so being prepared for a kitchen emergency is invaluable. A kitchen contingency plan can be used to provide peace of mind, and can ensure that should the worst happen, we can get temporary facilities out to you within a very short timeframe so as to minimise the impact of the emergency.

Case Study: Industrial Manufacturer Fire
When a fire took place at a large industrial company in the Midlands, they needed a temporary catering facility to continue to feed staff based on site. PKL provided a huge 39-unit temporary kitchen and dining facility to maintain the company’s extensive on-site catering capability, ensuring minimum disruption to their day to day operations.

Temporary service station facilityCase Study: Service Station Fire
When a motorway service station was completely destroyed by fire, PKL provided an entire replacement facility, including kitchen and dining facilities, toilets and a shop. This temporary complex was operational and in use within just 3 weeks of the initial phone call, ensuring that loss of business was kept to a minimum. The temporary facility stayed on site for a year until the service station had been rebuilt. To read more on this case study, click here.

We understand how difficult it can be when faced with a kitchen closure, whether due to an emergency or planned works. As well as providing you with a free, bespoke contingency plan, we can also hire temporary kitchen and dining facilities for use during planned kitchen closures such as refurbishments – just get in touch for a chat about your requirements.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

PKL Contingency Week – Part 2

Public sector institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons are often heavily reliant on their catering facilities, with many people depending on them. It can therefore be disastrous when a loss of catering capability occurs. By having a kitchen contingency plan in place, you can ensure that you have a temporary replacement facility on site within a matter of hours, in the case of an emergency occurring.

Many public sector sites have already got personalised kitchen contingency plans in place with us, but if you haven’t got one yet don’t worry! We can provide you with a bespoke kitchen contingency plan completely free of charge – just fill out this quick online form to tell us about your current catering operation, and we’ll send you a personalised contingency plan based on this information.

Case Study: School Fire
When a large fire destroyed a school, the entire school was reopened in temporary buildings while the damaged buildings were rebuilt. PKL provided the school kitchen facility as part of this temporary structure, enabling the continuation of school meal provision to pupils and staff.

Case Study: Prison Kitchen Loss
When a large prison experienced a problem with the gas supply to its kitchen, PKL supplied an 
all-electric temporary kitchen facility to maintain catering provision in the meantime. For prisons, kitchen contingency planning is especially important, as inmates often cannot leave site to go elsewhere for food, so are entirely reliant on the prison kitchen to receive their meals.

school kitchen contingency planCase Study: School Arson
Several years ago, PKL supplied an emergency kitchen to a school that had suffered an arson attack during the summer holidays, completely destroying existing facilities on site. The temporary kitchen complex we provided was a large facility which was successfully installed ready for the start of term. It stayed on site for 18 months while the school kitchen was rebuilt, and offered all the capabilities of the original school kitchen. To read more on this case study, click here.

Our temporary facilities are also ideal for use during planned kitchen closures, to keep your catering operation running smoothly during refurbishments or other works. If you have any upcoming refurbishments or other kitchen closures planned, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and I can advise you on suitable temporary facilities to provide cover for this period.

Monday, 29 July 2013

PKL Contingency Week – Part 1

For pubs, restaurants, hotels and other business operating in the hospitality industry, the kitchen is at the very heart of the business. The ability to serve food is a basic requirement, and the whole business would be put at risk if the kitchen were to become unusable.

In such a situation, maintaining foodservice provision is essential to fulfil existing bookings and maintain revenue streams, so it is important to have kitchen contingency plans in place. To receive a free, bespoke kitchen contingency plan, just fill out the quick form on our website here.

Case Study: Hotel Fire
When a hotel in Devon suffered a kitchen fire in the last quarter of the year, it was imperative that service continued so as not to lose business. With many Christmas parties and other festive events coming up, the hotel needed to maintain its catering capability urgently. PKL supplied a portable kitchen and coldroom, enabling party season to go ahead at the hotel as planned, avoiding a major loss in
pub kitchen contingency plan
Case Study: Pub Fire
When a fire destroyed the kitchen at the Three Conies Inn, they got in touch with PKL, and had a temporary kitchen and coldroom on site within a matter of days. The facility was used to cook lunchtime and evening meals while the existing kitchen was rebuilt. The landlord told us that the facility was so good that it had actually halved their normal cooking times, which was an unexpected side effect! For more info on this case study, click here.

If you are planning any kitchen or dining refurbishment work, it is also important to ensure that you have plans in place to keep your catering operation running, so as not to lose business. Contact us if you are planning a kitchen refurbishment or other temporary kitchen closure, and we can advise you on suitable temporary facilities to meet your needs, and arrange to help keep you up and running during this period.

Welcome to PKL Contingency Week!

This week is PKL Contingency Week, where we’ll be encouraging businesses and organisations to utilise our free bespoke kitchen contingency plans to make sure that they are prepared in case of a kitchen emergency.

Contingency planning is vitally important to ensure the continuation of service in the event of a fire, flood or other unexpected event resulting in unforeseen kitchen closure.

To get your free, bespoke kitchen contingency plan, simply fill out this quick online form with details about your current kitchen, and we’ll send you a personalised kitchen contingency plan. We’ll also keep a copy on file here at PKL, so if the worst happens, all you need to do is give us a ring and we’ll be able to dispatch a suitable temporary facility to you asap.

We have undertaken over 10 contingency hires in the last year alone, as well as many others over the years, so we have a great deal of experience in this area.

Each day this week, myself and my colleague John Robinson will be blogging about the importance of kitchen contingency planning in different industries and sectors and sharing some case studies of different contingency hires we've worked on over the last few years - I hope you find it useful.

As well as helping you to prepare for kitchen emergencies, we can also supply temporary kitchen and dining facilities during planned kitchen closures such as refurbishments. If you have a planned kitchen closure in the pipeline, we can provide a quote for temporary facilities to keep your operation running.

Please feel free to get in touch with John or myself if you'd like to discuss contingency planning or if you have any planned kitchen closures coming up which require temporary kitchen facilities.

Friday, 26 July 2013

PKL's 8 Point Plan for Schools

The School Food Plan was recently released, outlining a number of recommendations to improve school food.

Recommendations are centred on improving the take up of school meals, ensuring that children stay on site at lunch times to purchase their lunch, and getting food education back onto the curriculum.

PKL Group is a leading supplier of catering infrastructure solutions and has 25 years of experience in delivering both permanent and temporary kitchens to the education sector. We have worked closely with a number of organisations related to the provision and teaching of food in the education sector including the Children’s Food Trust, LACA and the National Association of School Business Managers.

We have identified a number of issues where schools may require some assistance to help implement changes to their catering and dining operations in line with recommendations made in the School Food Plan. Based on our experience working within the education sector, we have provided advice and information on how these can be overcome.

Issue: Implementing stay on site
Solution: For secondary schools in particular, keeping pupils on site and encouraging better nutritional habits is a key recommendation of the School Food Plan, in order to increase school food take up.

Competing against high street coffee shops and fast food chains can be tough, but one tried and tested solution is installing a modular servery unit in school grounds. This helps ease pressure on the main canteen, reduces queue times, and provides a quicker, easier and more desirable alternative for pupils.

Food can be cooked in the main canteen and then transferred to the servery unit for sale. The unit can also be used to sell alternative food options such as sandwiches, fruit, paninis and cold drinks. PKL Food Cubes are specifically mentioned on page 68 of the School Food Plan and are a proven solution for cutting queue times.

Issue: Pupils are not interested in the school meals on offer
Solution: The introduction of the School Food Plan represents an excellent opportunity to shake up current school meal menus and get pupils interested in school food. Improving the image of school food is a key aim of the School Food Plan, and is vital to its success.

Try getting pupils involved in developing tasty new menu options alongside your cooks.  We have seen this first hand when a school we worked with involved its pupils in helping to design the menu when implementing a new catering option. The results saw greater pupil engagement from the very beginning and helped to significantly improve school meal take up once the new catering outlet was operational.

In addition, you could create a “theatre cooking area” where your cooks can create interest through stir-frying, making fajitas, and creating delicious food in front of your pupils. 

Issue: No school kitchen on site / current kitchen is not fit for purpose
Solution: If you don’t currently have a school kitchen, or if the current one is not fit for purpose, you may need to have a new school kitchen built to enable fresh hot food to be produced on site. In these circumstances, you have two main options. These include undertaking building work with traditional on-site construction, or the installation of a permanent modular kitchen building.

The traditional construction option is likely to cause unwanted disruption on site, and could take a significant amount of time and money. The alternative option would be a modular building, built to order off-site and then delivered and installed at your school within a matter of hours, reducing disruption on site and often costing less than traditional construction methods, without compromising on quality. Modular buildings such as PKL KitchenPods are recommended by the Department of Education which outlines various baseline designs for new schools, as well as by Galliford Try’s report “The Optimum Primary School”. This option is also ideal for schools who wish to convert their existing school kitchen into valuable additional teaching space, and locate a new kitchen elsewhere on site. 

Issue: Catering equipment in the school kitchen is not fit for purpose
The School Food Plan recommends the introduction of breakfast clubs as well as increasing school meal numbers, so schools’ catering equipment will come under greater use than ever before. Many school kitchens are operating with out of date, unreliable catering equipment that is often not properly maintained, and is unlikely to cope well with increased use. Capital investment in new equipment is often not financially possible, or desirable, for schools, so contract rental of the complete catering equipment estate can be an ideal solution.

PKL has a dedicated product for the education sector called KitchenFM for Schools, which allows schools to pay a fixed monthly fee in return for the rental, service and maintenance of all catering equipment. We’ll even buy existing items owned by the school and include them in the package. This contract rental means that schools have known, fixed costs, and should catering equipment break down, it will be fixed or replaced as part of the inclusive service. This gives schools peace of mind and ensures that the catering provision will not suffer in the event of equipment failure, as under KitchenFM for Schools, PKL invest in the upkeep of catering equipment, not the school.

Issue: Not enough dining space / unappealing dining environment
One of the key outcomes of the School Food Plan is that Ofsted will consider behaviour and culture in the dining hall as one of the areas of assessment. If you have a pleasant dining environment, pupils will want to eat there, and this will be reflected in behaviour.

If your dining hall is overcrowded and tired, or if it doubles up as a sports hall or teaching space, consider adding a purpose-built, improved dining hall. Modular construction is ideal for this as it is quick and can be inexpensive compared to traditional construction, can create a standalone building or extend an existing one, and offers a high quality dining environment.

Having teachers eat their school food alongside pupils has also been shown to improve table manners and make school meals more attractive, especially among primary schools.  Additionally, try viewing the dining hall through the eyes of your pupils to see how your current facility looks and operates, to get a better idea of how you can make improvements to it.

Issue: Lack of Food Technology teaching kitchens
With the teaching of cooking becoming compulsory for all pupils up to the age of 14 from September 2014 onwards, now is the time for schools to ensure they will have enough food teaching space available. A holistic approach to food education is ideal for engaging pupils with food, and this change in the curriculum offers an excellent opportunity for pupils to grow their own vegetables and herbs and learn to cook with them to create delicious meals. This will help foster an interest in fresh, nutritious food and impact positively on school meal take up too.

Food technology kitchens which incorporate facilities to enable pupils to grow their own veg are ideal solutions which provide a flexible, high quality learning environment. These facilities could also be used for after school cooking lessons for parents, pupils and community members, strengthening ties with the local community and spreading the healthy eating message.

For primary schools, the Jamie Oliver Kitchen Garden Project provides an excellent resource if you require help or advice with getting food education back on the curriculum.

Issue: Lack of funding
Finding out what funding is available, and accessing it can be a daunting task. Luckily, there is a large amount of funding available for school kitchen and dining facilities, both from the government and other organisations. For anyone considering PKL school solutions, we can offer advice on suitable funding streams and even assist with funding applications if required. In addition, we offer a range of flexible procurement options to schools for new kitchens, kitchen estate management and for new kiosk buildings, including lease hire, contract rental and capital purchase.

Issue: Lack of cooking skills / confidence of school cooks
The School Food Plan aims to improve the skills of the catering workforce, as well as bringing school cooks closer to the rest of the catering sector. Revised food based standards will be introduced into schools, and food and nutrition will be included in head teacher training. Most school cooks are great at what they do, however some may lack confidence in implementing a new range of school meals, or may need to update their cooking skills to tackle new menu options.

There are many organisations that can help with skills development and support, and the Children’s Food Trust or the Food For Life Partnership are great places to start. They can offer a huge range of advice and assistance to both school catering staff and head teachers to help schools improve their food offering.

Further Information
If you are planning any changes to your school meal provision in light of the recommendations made in the School Food Plan and would like some more information regarding the options that are available to you in terms of catering infrastructure, please do get in contact with PKL.

We are vastly experienced in the supply of permanent kitchens, food kiosks, catering equipment and teaching kitchens to the education sector and can provide you with expert help and assistance, whatever your project.

For more information, contact PKL on 0845 840 4242, email or visit us on the web at

Thursday, 18 July 2013

LACA Conference 2013

In this post, Ian from our KitchenPod team blogs about the LACA conference which we attended last week.

If you follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn, you’ll know that a team of us from PKL were at the LACA Conference in Birmingham last week. In case you missed out on attending or didn’t get the chance to come and see us, here’s what you missed!

As well as having a stand in the exhibition itself, we also took one of our Food Cubes along and set it up in the car park. The Cube we took is a special one we’ve created for Pasta King, who were also exhibiting at the conference. It drew quite a crowd, and delegates were able to take a look around and see all the different features of the Cube – it’s always nice to see things in the flesh!

On the final day of the conference (Friday 12th), we attended a talk about the new School Food Plan which had launched earlier that morning, so it was hot off the press! The talk was given by the founder of the Leon restaurant chain John Vincent who, along with co-founder Henry Dimbleby, worked on the development of the plan. LACA Chair Anne Bull was also on the stage to tell us more, along with Garden Organic's Chief Exec Myles Bremner, who will be heading the plan up going forward.

The School Food Plan represents a significant milestone for school meals, and we’ll shortly be announcing some info on how we can help schools implement positive changes to their school meal provision through our innovative school solutions. Watch this space…

Friday, 5 July 2013

Tackling the Trends: Pop-Up Restaurants

In this blog post, Dan from our Events team chats about pop-up restaurants and how PKL can help make them a success.

The Trend
Pop-up restaurants have been a huge trend in the UK over the past couple of years, especially in the summer months. They are great for boosting business to existing restaurants or showcasing artistic cooking events. For businesses, they provide a high-profile way to trial new menus, raise money for charity, highlight a current promotion or experiment with new dining concepts. These exclusive short-term restaurant events are often used for business to create a buzz and generate positive PR. For customers, it provides an exciting, exclusive dining experience, the chance to try new things, and often the opportunity to try dining in a new and unusual location.

How Can PKL Help?
Catering Equipment: There are over 10,000 items of commercial catering equipment in our hire fleet, ready to turn your pop-up restaurant kitchen into a high quality, professional standard kitchen.

Mobile Canopies: Since many pop-up restaurants take place in buildings or structures which are not designed to be used as kitchens, our mobile canopies can easily be installed to help turn any space into a fully-functioning, compliant kitchen. Incorporating an automatic fire-suppression system, automatic gas shut off system and full length extraction canopy, our mobile canopies enable you to install professional foodservice equipment just about anywhere!

Temporary Kitchens: If the venue for your pop-up restaurant doesn’t have any space for a kitchen inside, we can supply one of our portable kitchen units, which is a self-contained commercial kitchen unit all set up with catering equipment of your choice.

PKL Expertise
Warehouses, disused tram sheds, marquees, shopping centre roofs, underground tunnels – you name it, we’ve set up a kitchen in it! When it comes to pop-up restaurants, we have a huge amount of experience. Just tell us what you’re hoping to achieve, and we can guide you through the process, from selecting appropriate catering equipment for your menu requirements, to ensuring you have the right extraction in place to meet health and safety requirements.

The Proof is in the Pudding
Here are a couple of my favourite pop-up restaurant projects that we’ve worked on:

The Decorators: This was primarily an art and architecture-based project, which saw a pop-up restaurant created on a scaffolding structure in a derelict area of Ridley Road Market in Dalston, London. Guest chefs created different daily menus using only market produce, and diners shared a communal table high above the market. The meals were prepared on the ground floor kitchen then raised by a mechanical table up to the guests on the first floor. We provided a six burner, double bowl sink with hand wash, two door fridge, and a water heater for the full three weeks of the project.

Frieze Art Fair: We worked with the artists and managers at Frieze London 2012 to help bring art and food preparation together at the world’s most influential contemporary art fair. Several leading London restaurants hosted different dining areas, with each kitchen having its own specific requirements. Equipment we supplied included solid top stoves, hot cupboards, upright fridges and freezers, servery equipment and preparation tables.