Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Opening Hours (and Christmas Jumpers)

A few staff members have taken part in PKL Christmas Jumper Day today, with Event Hire Executive Dan taking things to a whole new level with his elf outfit. A terrifiying sight, we're sure you'll agree!

We close today for the Christmas break, and reopen on Thursday 2nd January.

If you have an emergency over the Christmas period and require a temporary kitchen or items of catering equipment, our emergency response line is open 24 hours a day, and you can reach us on 0845 840 42 42.

For any non-emergency enquiries, please drop us an email and we'll get back to you when we reopen in the new year.

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a successful New Year from all at PKL.

Monday, 2 December 2013

PKL Celebrates 25 Years with School Food Survey

As part of PKL’s 25th anniversary we are launching a ’25 on 25’ survey to find out more about school lunches from the past, present and future, and will be studying the potential impact this will have on schools who are currently investing in new equipment.

We’re asking people who were in primary school in 1989 to take our survey about school lunches from 1989 to find out how school meals have evolved over the past 25 years. So if you would like to be a part of this pioneering study you can take our short survey at:

As part of our survey we will be visiting groups of today’s primary school children to compare what they like and loathe about their school lunches. We’ll also be talking to leading school meals experts to gather opinions on the school food of today, 25 years ago and gain an understanding of what the school food environment might look like 25 years from now.

For schools who are working to implement the School Food Plan, we’ll be sharing insight into what pressure these changes in school food services will put on the school kitchen of 2039 and the implications involved.

We look forward to sharing our findings with you in the new year. Until then, you might find it useful to visit our website, or why not take a look at our 8 Point Plan for Schools that outlines a number of school food catering solutions for 2013 and beyond.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Ready for free school meals for all infants? Support is on offer from the Children’s Food Trust

With the government’s free school meals for infants plan gathering pace, we are delighted to welcome the Children’s Food Trust’s Jayne Greatorex to the PKL Blog, to discuss what the introduction of free school meals for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 will mean for primary schools, and ways in which the Trust can help schools prepare for any changes to their current catering and dining operations.

Jayne writes:

Jayne Greatorex of the Children's Food Trust
The Children's Food Trust's
Jayne Greatorex
If you’re based in an infant school, have you been thinking about how you’ll get ready to offer free school meals to all pupils next September?

At the Children’s Food Trust, we’ve spent years helping schools on kitchen and dining issues.  If you think you’ll need help to get ready for offering free school meals for infants, contact us for advice.

This policy’s a big change so we’ve pulled together our top tips to help your school get started on preparations.

Things to consider include making sure you know your numbers, and how an increase in ‘bums on seats’ will affect your catering team and your existing infrastructure. 

If you already offer school meals, you might want to gather some feedback from pupils who currently use the service to find out what’s good and what can be improved in your current offer. This will help you make the most of what you’re doing well, and to resolve any issues before next September.

You might also want to think about how you will communicate with parents, who will be keen to hear more about how your school is preparing and what it will mean for their child.

If you’re looking for help, our Learning Network is the national hub for learning and debate around all things to do with children's food, including e-learning courses which you can complete at a time and place which suits you, webcasts on topical issues around children’s food and a forum to share ideas and best practice.

The Learning Network is here to help schools, caterers, local authorities, early years settings and the public health sector, and is relevant for head teachers, school business managers, catering staff, school cooks, nursery staff, child-minders, public health professionals, Local Authority staff and many more.

As an early Christmas present, we’re offering you £25 off Learning Network membership, if you book before the end of term (20 December 2013). Just click on this link to register for free and browse the site. To become a full member, you’ll need to purchase a membership and don’t forget to quote ‘PKL’ for your Christmas discount voucher when going to the checkout.

More Information

If you need any support please do not hesitate to contact us at and one of our expert advisors will call you back.

Free School Meals for Infants

For more information about free school meals in primary schools, Jayne provides an overview here in this short video from the Children’s Food Trust’s Learning Network. Click here to view the webcast.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Speed: How PKL can save you time and money

“Time is money” – Benjamin Franklin

This is never more true than in the world of construction, where time on site drives up overhead costs, and delays can stall the generation of revenue. What can be even more frustrating is when this is a “back of house” or support function such as a kitchen and dining facility. 

Over the past 25 years, our PKL Transworld division has been involved in a large number of catering infrastructure projects around the world where previous experiences of delays have led clients to contact PKL for help. We’ve also worked with clients where concern over programme deadlines for rigger camps, refineries or construction worker camp kitchen and dining facilities has led to PKL being called in to get the job done.

Quite often, we are contacted after a client in a remote location has already tried to source their kitchen locally and has ended up with a significant cost and programme overrun. The savings hoped for by sourcing locally have not been realised and the whole process has become quite painful. We are focussed on providing cost and programme certainty for clients who want to focus on other core projects, knowing that the kitchen facilities will just sort themselves out. We can help clients spend their energy and money on more mission-critical areas.

There are several ways to reduce programme on site:

  • Faster supply
  • Concurrent activity
  • Get it right first time
  • Use a competent and experienced team

PKL is able to save time through having ex-rental stock available for immediate deployment; we have 900 units and about 10,000 items of catering equipment under management around the world. The design process is shortened by using tried and tested designs that can very easily be tweaked by our in-house design team.

While we prepare and ship the kitchen modules and units, we also advise clients on the services and foundations specifications so that a high level of concurrent activity can be achieved. Because they arrive with almost all mechanical and electrical work complete, PKL units require only a couple of weeks on site (in some cases just a few days) to complete and be ready for use. We can either supply a complete installation team or a project advisor to work with a local team to complete the installation. 

Thanks to our extensive experience in the world of international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, we have a company culture of completing works to a demanding and immoveable deadline. Beyond that, we help with keeping the kitchen going by providing a spares pack, full operating and maintenance manuals, planned preventative maintenance and online and telephone technical support.

We do what we can to make the kitchen our problem, and not the client’s. If we can save our customers time, energy and money that they can then direct into their core business, then we feel like we have done a good job.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

National School Meals Week – PKL Reminisces

This week is National School Meals Week, which got us thinking about our favourite school meals from our own school days. Having taken a very scientific survey of the office, we discovered some rather interesting trends. We fear that some of these answers show our age, but here are some of our responses to the question:

“What was your favourite school meal?”

Spam fritters followed by jam sponge pudding and custard. I also have fond memories of the Christmas pudding which had a real sixpence hidden inside.
Peter Schad, Commercial Director

Fish fingers, chips and peas.
Natalie, IT Support

Veggie lasagne.
Andy, Graphic Designer

Jacket potato with cheese. The flapjack was brilliant too and only cost 12p!
Ed, Business Development

Christmas dinner!

Alastair, CAD Designer

Will, Financial Controller

Steak pie. At least, I think it was steak…
Ed, IT Manager

Chicken fricassee followed by jam roly poly.
Lynda, Finance

Fish and chips on a Friday, and the Christmas dinners.
Sam, Marketing Manager

I don’t know, but I was a plate monitor so I got to sit at the head of the table!
Sue, Office Manager

Chocolate crunch with pink custard.
Linda, Finance

Chocolate crunch with pink custard on a Friday.
Ian, KitchenPod Sales Manager

At this point, the whole office started enthusiastically reminiscing about chocolate crunch with pink custard. It appears that this was something of a phenomenon in schools across the country. There was quite some debate about how and why the custard was pink, though everyone agreed wholeheartedly that this was the best pudding they’ve ever eaten. Discussion became so animated that we decided to give up and abandon the survey. As we did though, our colleague Mike who looks after our Mid West Catering Equipment division called up. As a parting question, we asked him about his favourite school meal:

Savoury mince with fried bread… and chocolate crunch with pink custard!
Mike, Mid West Catering Equipment Sales

We despair.

As you can probably tell, most of us grew up in a time before nutrition was a top priority in schools, and when discussion turned to our least favourite school meal memories (many involving limp, grey cabbage and thick custard skin), we’re very glad that times have changed!

If you’re busy working to implement the new School Food Plan in your school, you might find it useful to read our 8 Point Plan for Schools which we wrote a few months ago in response to the Plan's announcement. We also outline a number of catering solutions for schools, as well as funding information, on our recently relaunched website.

We hope you’re all enjoying National School Meals Week, and hope it’s successful in promoting your school meals service. Please do give us a ring if you’d like any advice on solutions to help boost your ability to offer great school meals; we have a range of options including KitchenPods, Food Cubes and our new KitchenFM for Schools product which enables you to contract hire all your catering equipment.

Now, we’re off to look up chocolate crunch and pink custard recipes…

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Celebrating 25 Years of PKL

This month, we are celebrating PKL’s 25 year anniversary. Over the last 25 years, we’ve undertaken 10,000 temporary kitchen hires across multiple sectors throughout the UK and around the world, and have grown to become the UK’s leading provider of outsourced catering infrastructure solutions.

Over time, the business has expanded to employ 85 people, and we now have a management and senior operations team with a collective experience of well over 100 years of working for the company, many of whom have been with us since the early days. Operating from our purpose-built head office and warehouse facility, we own 900 portable kitchen units and over 10,000 items of catering equipment which are hired to a variety of customers during kitchen refurbishments, events or during kitchen emergencies.

Some of our notable installations over the last 25 years have included large scale kitchen and dining facilities for numerous major sporting events around the world, facilities for the military in the middle east, and installations at prestigious UK sites including Buckingham Palace, Glastonbury Festival and a number of Oxford and Cambridge colleges.

PKL Quay, 10+ years apart
The PKL Quay over time. The first image was taken 10+ years ago, the second was taken today.

In the last few years, we’ve used our experience from providing temporary commercial kitchens to move into the supply of permanent modular kitchen buildings, via our KitchenPod and Food Cube products. This has resulted in local installations at Beaufort Co-operative Academy in Gloucester and Cleeve School in Cheltenham, as well as a number of projects around the country, including supplying 100 KitchenPods to schools in Northamptonshire. In addition to these products, our recently developed modular camp kitchen and dining solutions have been supplied to a number of mining and exploration sites in Africa.

PKL photos from the archives
Two of our favourite photos from the PKL archives.

One of our latest developments has been the launch of KitchenFM for Schools, which is a new product designed specifically for the education sector. Following the announcement of the School Food Plan, we developed KitchenFM for Schools with support from the Children’s Food Trust. This new contract hire solution is aimed at schools looking to expand or refurbish their existing kitchens so that they can introduce or increase their school meal provision.

Over the past 25 years we have helped a large number of establishments to implement changes to their catering and dining infrastructure. We have developed a number of innovative catering solutions which have played a significant role in shaping the future of the UK’s education, health and leisure sectors, as well as ensuring that we remain the UK’s leading supplier of temporary catering infrastructure.

PKL current staff photos
Our latest staff picture and a recent office photo.

We are very proud of our achievements to date and will continue to build on our expertise and knowledge. As we look to the future, we look forward to maintaining PKL’s position as a major kitchen infrastructure solutions provider on an international scale. We will also continue to build on our strong reputation for innovation, through our work on developing new and exciting solutions for the fast moving sectors in which we operate. Here’s to the next 25 years!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

An Ode to School Kitchens

Today is National Poetry Day so, never ones to shy away from a good limerick (or eleven...), here is a poem we have written about school kitchens. Enjoy!

An Ode to School Kitchens

With the School Food Plan launched recently,
We hope schools will embrace it and see
The importance of food
And how it lifts a child’s mood.
Our advice we can offer for free.

If your current school kitchen is bad
And your poor cook is feeling quite sad,
Cheer up, come along
Click -
Our ideas are totally rad!

With school meals hitting the news
As they’ll be offered free up to Year 2s,
Prepare your facilities
And your school meal abilities
With our school options – click here to choose!

A modular-built KitchenPod,
Installed in a jiffy by our squad,
Is a proper kitchen building
Which your cook can show their skills in -
You could expand your school menu with… cod?

If your equipment is haunted by ghouls,
You need KitchenFM for Schools!
Hire equipment hassle-free
For a fixed monthly fee
And your cook will have all the right tools.

A Food Cube is ideal to use
If your lunchtimes are spoiled by queues.
Install one outside,
Watch your revenues rise -

You really have nothing to lose!

With Food Tech from 2014
Compulsory up to Key Stage 3,
Learning institutions
May need new solutions
And ours are the best that we’ve seen!

If you need more Food Tech teaching space
Our modular options are ace.
With a number of features,
They’re sure to please teachers,
As a flexible food learning place.

If you need some funding advice,
We’ve listed some sources (coz we’re nice!).
You can apply for the money
Without cost causing worry
So you will not need to think twice.

For a refurb or emergency hire,
Our temporary kitchens will inspire.
They’ll keep your meals running
(Our facilities are stunning!)
During building works, after flooding or fire.

And so ends our school kitchens verse -
We don’t think it could be any worse!
Though poetry’s not our thing,
Kitchens are, so give us a ring -
We’d very much like to converse! About kitchens. Really, call us. We'd love to chat.

The End.

Friday, 27 September 2013

PKL's Macmillan Coffee Morning

Like many people across the country, we held a Macmillan coffee morning here at PKL today
as part of the charity's "World's Biggest Coffee Morning" fundraising event.

PKL takes part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning for Macmillan

The canteen has been filled with bunting, balloons and more cake than you could shake a stick at, and PKL staff have been ducking in throughout the day to top up their sugar levels and part with their hard-earned cash!

PKL staff are always willing to rise to the occcasion for these types of events, especially if bunting is involved, so we now have enough cake to last us until Christmas... at least!

PKL's coffee morning in aid of Macmillan

Treats on offer have included Pat's lemon drizzle cake, Sue's chocolate brownies, Linda's blueberry and lemon cake, Manisha's homemade sausage rolls (always a popular choice in the office!) plus many more fantastic offerings.

Certain members of staff have also quite literally stepped up to the plate and have selflessly taken it upon themselves to ensure they try every type of cake on offer, so as not to offend anyone's feelings - what heroes!

Macmillan coffee morning at PKL

This is a really great cause, so if you haven't managed to go to a coffee morning today, you can still donate to Macmillan online here.

EDIT: After the final count, we raised a total of £170!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


PKL - Lee VinesToday, we have launched, our new-look school kitchens website. With the announcement of the School Food Plan over the summer, we decided to pull all our information for schools into one central resource, to make it as easy as possible for schools and local authorities to access details of all the different school catering products we offer. is designed to complement our 8 Point Plan for Schools which we created in response to the School Food Plan, and outlines our options for school kitchen facilities, food kiosks and teaching kitchens.

The website includes details of our KitchenPods, FoodCubes, KitchenFM for Schools, Food Technology Kitchens and Temporary Kitchen & Dining Facilities. It also features a new interactive funding map, which details various sources of funding available to help schools procure our products.
School Kitchens website homepage

As well as product information and funding options, the new website gives you the opportunity to read PKL case studies from the education sector, showing how our products have made a difference to schools across the country. also ties in with the launch of our new KitchenFM for Schools product, whereby schools can contract hire all their catering equipment from us, giving them a low, fixed monthly cost with no large capital outlay. With all service and maintenance included in the package, plus the opportunity to change the equipment if the school menu changes, it provides a low risk option with no capital expenditure. What’s more, the Children’s Food Trust are on board with KitchenFM for Schools, and for every contract undertaken, we will make a donation to support their valuable work.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the new website – take a look and let me know what you think!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Food Cube Installation

One of our Food Cubes was installed at an academy school near Birmingham last week, ready for the new school year. We took a few photos of the installation, as clients often ask us what to expect!

The academy is expanding to take on more pupils this September, so contacted us needing additional servery space at breaks and lunchtimes. A PKL Food Cube is an ideal solution to enable the school to cope with the increased pupil numbers and continue to allow easy access to school food for all pupils and staff.

The bespoke exterior was chosen by the academy and was our first all-building wrap. Our Food Cubes are incredibly versatile in terms of the range of exterior options available, and we worked with the academy to help make their ideas a reality.

The Food Cube was built and fitted out here at PKL, so the finished unit was loaded up onto our truck ready to go. Driver Stuart and Project Manager Tim then took the Cube on a trip up the motorway to the academy.

Food Cube leaving PKL on truck
The Food Cube is loaded onto the truck, ready to leave PKL

Food Cube arriving on site
The Food Cube arrives on site at the academy

Food Cube being craned into position
The truck's Hiab crane is used to lift the Food Cube into position

Food Cube being detatched from hiab crane
Once in position, the Food Cube is detatched from the crane

Food Cube in its final position
The Food Cube in its final position

Now the Food Cube has been installed, the next step is to connect it up to services to get it running. This only takes a few hours, so there is very little work to be done on site. The academy also has exciting plans to carry out some more work on the land surrounding the Cube, adding decking and other features to turn it into an outdoor café style outlet.

As the Cube has been installed during the holidays, this means that it will be ready for the start of the new school year next month, and the school’s catering operation will be able to hit the ground running!

If you'd like more information on our Food Cubes or would like to see how a Food Cube may be able to help your school or business, visit our website or feel free to contact me for a chat.

Friday, 2 August 2013

PKL Contingency Week – Part 5

As we come to the end of PKL Contingency Week, you will have seen just how many businesses and institutions can benefit from kitchen emergency planning. Now is the ideal time to take advantage of our free contingency plan service, to make sure you have a kitchen contingency plan in place before the festive rush starts over the next couple of months.

If you have any upcoming refurbishment works and require temporary kitchen/dining facilities, don’t forget you can contact us about that too. Likewise, if you have any events planned over the next few months which require the hire of kitchen facilities or catering equipment, give my colleagues in our Events division a call and they'll be happy to help.

I’ll leave you with a couple more kitchen contingency case studies from the PKL archives…

Case Study: Care Home Kitchen Loss

When a care centre was faced with immediate kitchen closure, they called PKL to request a temporary facility to use until their kitchen was operable again. As a residential care home, the provision of meals was vital in order for the centre to look after its residents, so a replacement kitchen was needed on site straight away. PKL provided a temporary kitchen to enable the care centre to continue to provide food to its residents, without disrupting the running of the home.

golf club contingency kitchen Case Study: Golf Club Fire
PKL provided a temporary kitchen and dining facility to a golf club when a fire destroyed the existing building. With their dining facility normally serving 200 golfers a day, the golf club was keen to continue offering food and drink to their customers. Within just a few days of order, PKL had a temporary kitchen on site, with a dining room for 40 people per sitting, enabling the golf club to maintain its catering service for the 12 months while the clubhouse was rebuilt. Read more of this case study here.

That’s it for PKL Contingency Week – I hope you’ve enjoyed our blog posts! Click here and fill out the short form to receive a free bespoke kitchen contingency plan from us, so you’re prepared in case of a kitchen emergency. There is no obligation and no catch - it’s just one of the many services we offer, so please do feel free to take advantage of it!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

PKL Contingency Week – Part 4

No matter how hard you try, there will always be some emergencies that you can’t fully prepare for. In these circumstances, often the best way to be prepared is to have details of the suppliers you might need, and make sure you are aware of the kind of help they are able to provide.

For example, it can be useful to familiarise yourself with PKL and know that we are able to provide a variety of different catering facilities of different sizes, including prep kitchens, production kitchens, warewashing facilities, dry storage, cold rooms and dining facilities. In the following PKL case studies, we were able to help the clients during their emergencies because they knew to contact us and that we would be able to help.

Case Study: Terrorist Attack
When the 7/7 bombings took place in London in 2005, huge numbers of emergency service personnel were drafted in to help control the situation and manage the aftermath. Due to the large number of officers working day and night following the attack, the police hired a temporary kitchen facility from us to cater for the increased number of staff who were drafted in, working around the clock to deal with the crisis.

Case Study: Disease Outbreak
When the mass bird flu outbreak hit the UK, the provision and distribution of vaccines was vital to controlling the spread of the virus. Due to the large quantities of vaccine being produced, stored and distributed, there was a demand for more cold storage. PKL supplied coldrooms to PCTs, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to enable them to safely store the additional vaccines.

Case Study: Severe Flooding
During the major UK flooding in 2007, PKL received a phone call at 2.00am one night telling us that the army was being flown in by helicopter to help protect Gloucestershire’s main power substation from the flooding, as the whole county was at risk of evacuation if the substation was compromised. They requested an emergency kitchen facility to cater for the huge number of troops and fire service personnel working there, and we had a portable kitchen on site within just a few hours of receiving the call. When our drivers arrived to deliver the facility, the army also asked if they could utilise our truck to help with the efforts, as it had a Hiab crane. We were of course happy to offer our assistance – just another average day at PKL!

In this set of case studies, the clients did not require temporary replacements for existing kitchens, but developed a need for these facilities due to the emergency situations they found themselves dealing with. If you already have a kitchen and would like to be prepared for a situation where you lose the ability to use it, you can fill out a short online form to request one of our free, bespoke kitchen contingency plans. This way, you’ll be able to contact us in an emergency and we’ll already know exactly what facilities to supply to get you back up and running again as quickly as possible.

We can also provide temporary kitchen facilities to keep catering operations running during planned kitchen closures such as refurbishments – just get in touch and we’ll be able to discuss the best options to suit your requirements and provide you with a quote.

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.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Power Station Outages: Catering Facility Solutions

Power Station Experience

When power station outages take place, either planned or otherwise, it often results in a significantly increased number of staff on site. When this happens, additional catering infrastructure is often required to feed the extra numbers and cater for any teams working on sites away from the main canteen. This is where PKL can help.

With most power stations located in remote settings, there is rarely a local community infrastructure to fall back on to assist in the welfare of the contractors. Additionally, due to tight security measures in place to ensure site safety, it is often time-consuming and impractical for contractors to leave site to get food.

In recent years, PKL has provided a number of outage feeding solutions for energy generation stations and energy related industries such as petrochemical plants. This extensive experience has enabled us to tailor our service to the very specific requirements of these sites, and our detailed preparation allows each hire process to run smoothly and efficiently. We know that site safety and security are top priorities, and understand that PKL staff working on site may require induction, security clearance and site escorts.

To minimise installation time and disruption on site, we carry out a site survey prior to delivery and appreciate the need to book in vehicles and drivers beforehand. We always issue risk assessments, method statements and lift plans prior to arriving on site, and our vehicles and any lifting equipment come with the correct certification. We also ensure our drivers and engineers are aware of any specific PPE and ID required by the site.

To demonstrate PKL’s commitment to safety, security and operational excellence, we have the approved accreditations to back up our knowledge and demonstrate our competence in practice. PKL is OHSAS 18001 approved for our occupational health and safety management systems and we also hold both ISO 9001 for process management and ISO 14001 for the implementation and management of environmental management systems. Furthermore, we are SAFEcontractor and CHAS approved and our site operatives are all CSCS approved. We
are also a Gas Safe approved contractor and F-Gas approved for refrigeration.

PKL Solutions

PKL can supply a number of different options, depending on each site’s exact requirements.

PKL kitchens are designed to be dual fuel and can run off either gas or electricity. This is an important feature for power station hires as many sites will not allow gas use or storage for safety reasons. All our hot kitchens come with full under canopy fire suppression.

Our newly developed Food Cube satellite feeding stations are designed to ease the pressure on canteen servery lines and save remote workers from spending valuable time getting to and from meal breaks. Food is cooked and prepared in the main canteen and then transferred to the Food Cube located elsewhere on site, where it can be kept warm or refrigerated prior to being served. The Food Cube design allows for the retailing of hot and cold meals, snacks, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks.

Where a cook and serve option is required, we offer three different sizes of Portable Kitchen,all with service hatches to allow a grab and go meal service. These self-contained kitchens use brand name commercial catering equipment for the storage, preparation, production and service of meals.

We also offer fully integrated temporary catering arrangements that comprise multiple buildings linked together to provide a tailor made kitchen solution. These can be linked to an existing dining structure, or to a servery building where the contractors can collect their meals to be eaten in their own mess buildings. Alternatively, we can provide a temporary dining facility on request.

Want More Info?

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on how PKL can help power stations with the provision of catering facilities.