We're just a few short weeks away from the second B&I Catering StrEAT Food Awards at the Islington metal works, and we couldn't be more excited!
The 16 talented chefs that have made it to the final will be competing in four heats of four, with the winner walking away with a cool £1000 prize!
We're delighted to be partnering the event again, and our samples are 'winging' their way to the finalists so that they can get creating before the live cook off on March 20th.
With multiple options including Chipotle, Garlic Butter, Mango & Lime and Lemon & Herb marinated chicken available to the finalists, we're really excited to see what the chefs come up with. The raw product is great, but their creativity, innovation and talent will wow us all!
And of course, it's not just our 16 finalists that are putting amazing food out, as for the evening reception the tables are turned - the sponsors are cooking and the contestants are StrEATing! We've been working with our fellow sponsors on some fantastic collaborative dishes - you'll see the good people at Quorn using our Katsu curry sauce for a canape option, and Old El Paso are manning their fantastic tortilla boats with our fajita flavoured sliced chicken.
Meanwhile we've taken StrEAT Food to its roots... Joe himself will be manning the barbecue for our 'main event' dish - a sourdough flatbread souvlaki. Being a Greek family-run business, you just know that this dish is going to be as authentic as they come!
During the day, guests and competitors will be able to snack on a beer-battered halloumi fry that's an absolute game-changer, and those with the need for a bit of spice can munch on our new Oriental burrito.
This is such an amazing event, from the moment the competitors start cooking, to the awards ceremony itself – and we're actively encouraging our B&I colleagues to come along. You'll see some spectacular street food, some mind-blowing innovation and creativity, and there are live competition tasters available for guests too. We guarantee you'll take something from the event - ideas, inspiration, some great tastes and a full stomach!
Get in touch with your account manager for details on how to attend, and we'll see you there!
We'll leave with a message for the finalists. You've beaten dozens of entrants for a spot on the final stage - you should be proud. It's a fun, exciting, high-pressured environment and we know from experience that you'll have a great time, make some amazing food, and who knows, maybe you'll be the one to be crowned the 2018 B&I StrEAT Food Awards winner!
After a sensational debut year, the B&I StrEAT Food Awards returns to the iconic Islington Metalworks, on March 20th. We were a proud partner for the event's opening year, and we're delighted to be involved for a second year.
Entries are exclusively invited from chefs in the Business and Industry sector - we want to recognise some of the top talent that's in our market! Street food's rise has been exponential, and we've seen some amazing dishes in workplace restaurants up and down the country; now is your time to shine – and maybe walk away with the £1000 cash prize!
Innovation, creativity, presentation and imagination are all vital in this contest - the quality and variety of the dishes cooked by last year's finalists was absolutely outstanding.
We caught up with last year's winner, Mark Wetherill, Development Chef for catering giants Sodexo, to talk all things street food.
Mark, first of all, congratulations! 2017 saw you win the inaugural StrEAT Food Awards - what did you think of the event?
I absolutely loved it, every minute of it. It was really well organised, from the online entry, the fantastic support from you guys as sponsors, loads of communication before the event, everything was spot on. The day itself was brilliant; what a fantastic venue! The running of the day was so smooth, no mean feat given the number of competitors and the timescales involved.
Must have felt pretty special when your name was read out as the winner!
Watching some of the other chefs... the food that was being produced in such a short time was outstanding. Some of the dishes wouldn't have looked out of place in quality restaurants – the standard was phenomenal. When I was announced as the winner of the signature dish I was absolutely over the moon, but to be named winner of the whole competition was just unbelievable, a real high point for me professionally.
I was lucky enough to be a judge on the signature dish, and some of the imagination on show was mind-blowing. What inspired your dish?
One of the key things about street food is theatre. People love watching the food being cooked, the colours, the energy, it's fantastic. But it struck me that as the customer then takes their food away to eat, the theatre stops…I wanted to give them a second hit of theatre! I served my dish in smoking jars, so when they remove the lid, the smoke hits them – BANG – that aroma kicks in, more theatre for the customer away from the stall. Using Lap Sang for the smoke gave the dish a real depth, and the baby pickles and smoked apple gel combo gave it a further dimension.
It really was beautifully balanced.
Thanks, I was really pleased with it. Smoking with tea really gives a richer flavour to the meats, but each ingredient plays its part. Street food is about fun, personality and creativity – it's less about precision presentation, and more about these diverse, amazing flavours and fusions.
Street food is definitely not going anywhere, is it?
It's certainly top of my agenda at Sodexo. Its spectrum is so huge, and that's one of its great appeals to me. There are so many flavours, regions, cooking methods that we can use – the only limit to it is our imagination. Customers love it, they demand more of it, and I'm striving to create the food that people love to eat. That's why we're chefs, after all!
At Sodexo we've held our own Street Food competitions, and the results have been amazing – it's a great way to see what our chefs can do, get ideas for sharing, as well as seeing a bit of competitive spirit! Having judged them, I know it's a difficult thing to do!
What would you say to somebody thinking of entering The B&I StrEAT Food Awards 2018?
Don't think about, do it. Like I said earlier, the venue, the organisation and the atmosphere were excellent. The quality of the food was top notch, and certainly there's plenty of inspiration there that we can take with us back to work. It's a great event and I'm hoping to attend as the guest of Sodexo's entrant if he's lucky enough to get through to the 2018 final!
At Love Joes, we're committed to street food innovation, so the B&I StrEAT Food Awards is a great event for us to partner – we get to be inspired by your creations, and that in turn helps us be a real food partner for our customers.
So, B&I chefs... What are you waiting for? Apply now at www.bandistreatfoodawards.co.uk for your chance to win £1000, and have a great experience along the way!
From schools, to universities, factories and offices, there's one question that dominates every visit that our demonstration team go on.
"What's new, what's exciting?"
And the answer? Street food!
The next food revolution is here. Street food isn't a fad that's going away. Pop up restaurants account for more start-ups than any other food business at the moment, and it's a trend that's growing.
And if it's not dominating your next menu development discussion, then don't be surprised if your lunch take-up continues to disappoint. Street food isn't just the next big thing - it's already here, and it's already featuring heavily in the sites of our more successful customers.
And it's no surprise to us. Over the last few years, we've all seen the continuing shift from the plated meal towards the grab and go option, as shortening service times and social/work demands make sitting down at lunch almost a thing of the past.
A recent Santa Maria survey found that 50% of those interviewed bought street food at least once a week, and that 81% of those purchases were at lunchtime. Two thirds said they'd spend more than £5 on a street food creation - the vibrancy of tastes and flavours, variety and a desire for British sourced ingredients were the key drivers.
47% of the respondents to that survey said that they planned to increase their street food consumption. This is a wave that you need to be riding.
Global flavours, hand-held delivery and low-fat proteins are vital to getting your street food offering right. And with 23 marinades from every corner of the planet, we can help create your perfect street food menu. Whether you're looking at authentic Indian, fusion foods, or even if you don't know where to start... well, we're here.
With the right inspiration and planning, you can come up with street food menu solutions that are everything you need them to be:
It can be everything you need it to be. And more importantly, it's exactly what your customers want to eat! Fresh, vibrant, colourful, full of texture - food that tells a story. Food that excites them, and we can be proud to serve. Let's serve it together.
Call 01922 745 500 now to book a taster day
"The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity"
To understand the history of fusion cuisine, we need to delve a little deeper than the Oxford English Dictionary!
For as long as there have been people and goods travelling the world, fusion cuisine has followed them; as cooking techniques and comfort foods from one culture blended with the available ingredients from another. Migration and colonialisation embedded fusion cuisine into food's history; Vindaloo, for example, is a blend of Goan and Portuguese recipes. Bánh mì - one of Viet Nam's most well-known dishes - is a result of French colonialisation. Italy wouldn't even have spaghetti, had the Chinese not perfected the noodle first!
Modern fusion cuisine is more easily dated; Wolfgang Puck is thought of as the Godfather of Fusion, opening Chinois on Main in the eighties, blending Asian ingredients with French and American techniques and tastes, laying the groundwork for fusion cooking in the West.
Today, street food stalls, pop ups and food trucks across the country take fusion foods to the next level. Global travel, cookery channels and the public's ever-more-adventurous tastes mean that chefs are serving food with bigger twists than The Sixth Sense (I still can't believe he was dead) - and foodies love it.
Despite its popularity, it's a cooking style that can often yield results that are more CON-fusion, than anything else. And that's why we were asked to come up with some ideas that will look great on menus, using top quality British Red Tractor chicken, utilising innovative fusion with inspiration from all over the world. And what my customers want... they get.
We've developed a fantastic range of burritos, with globally inspired fusion that have wowed our market research panels. Simple to make, great to eat, and with plenty of premiumisation opportunities for customers that want that little bit extra. Each bag of chicken in sauce comes with a FREE bag of rice, and is available in the following flavours
The Italian - Tomato and basil give this great flavour a real freshness, and the subtle, smoky chipotle back-note lifts things nicely….without ‘blowing the bladdy doors off'! Take it to the next level by adding roasted peppers, mozzarella and fresh basil
The Malaysian - Inspired by the Rendang, this wonderfully authentic flavour is sure to be a hit. Coconut, garlic, lemongrass, chillies, onion and a blend of herbs and spices lift this burrito to new heights; Sambal matah, grated carrot and crushed tortilla chips will give the dish a ren-BANG that will have customers coming back again and again!
The Indian - Based around a Jalfrezi, tomatoes, peppers onions and a fantastic spicy kick give one of the Nation's favourite curries a fusion that's been a hit on street food markets up and down the country. Indian/Mexican fusion at its finest, but you can give it a five-star finish by adding crumbled paneer, wilted spinach and crushed poppadum for a Bombay burrito experience that will have your customers currying back for more
The Veggie - Low fat, high in protein and great tasting, this veggie Balti-burrito has taken our offices by storm - and for a team of chicken lovers that's some achievement! This will be a veggie favourite, and can even be kicked up a notch by adding griddled aubergine, roasted sweet potato cubes and garlic mayo
The Oriental - Yoshoku is a Western-inspired, Japanese dish - and Katsu is the most popular in the world. We took this immensely popular flavour, Burritoed the heck out of it, and here we are! You can add julienne carrot, spring onion and coriander to give customers a colour and texture combination that will blow them away
The Mexican - The Daddy of the range, we've taken a Mexican bean salsa, vegetables and chicken and have developed an authentic burrito mix that will have you reaching for your sombrero before you can say “ARRRRIBA”. Adding fresh avocado, tortilla chips and garlic mayo will give you a dish that Mexi-can't be beaten!
So, there we have it! A range we're proud of; fusion cuisine that's grab and go, street-food inspired, with something for every palate. The humble, ever-popular burrito has been transformed, with flavours from around the world, top quality, British Red Tractor chicken, served with FREE rice and in a market-leading Santa Maria tortilla wrap.
Burritos made easy - that's how we roll
Trends come and go, and priorities change as our industry gets shaken about and reshaped by the world around us. The right hipster, on the right Shoreditch market stall, on the right day, can influence the menu in a B&I site in Gateshead, in some bizarre foodie version of the Chaos Theory.
It's not just our food offering that's influenced by these outside majesties; the way we work, the messages we send, the partnerships we make, the decisions we take... even who we are can all be enhanced by the things we see.
8 years ago, we completely rebranded, taking Love Joes to the food-service market; and what a success story since then. There have been over ten million portions of fresh, British Red Tractor chicken served up by Love Joes' customers nationwide, from the smallest primary school, to the most affluent of City workplace restaurants.
We continued to roll with the seas of change in that time, but about 18 months ago we began consultation for our rebrand. To us, Love Joes is more than a strapline, or a logo. To our customers, it's more than a name, than a letterhead.
It's a guarantee of freshness, vibrancy, of innovation.
It's a promise of a great tasting food, healthy and on-trend menu solutions.
It's a partnership - we work with you, we don't just supply you.
Our brand needed to reflect that; and not just in our stationary, but in our approach. Our sales team have taken concepts out of their box, and will talk to you about menus, street food offerings, and fresh, versatile ingredients. Our website has broken down barriers with recipe cards, videos, and our state-of-the-art eCommerce offering.
Our new packaging is refined, sleeker, and in keeping with the competition your kitchens are facing from the high street. We rationalised from nudging twenty options, to just five. Working with customers across all industries to find out what's needed, what you do with it, how we can make things better and more versatile - and we're delighted to the response to the offering we've taken to market.
A slender food folder perfect for wraps, snacks, and perfect on the go. Two sizes of wax-lined box, for burgers, meals-on-the-go, or even soups. A pot for curries, ramen and pasta dishes, and then a redesigned wrap-paper, for flatbreads, sandwiches, and all that bready goodness.
Our POS and marketing support is where we've been most proud of your comments. We didn't commission a photographer, we found a wizard with a camera. I could show you three posters right now, and I guarantee you'd be hungry. Over a dozen posters that scream healthy, great tasting, fresh and vibrant food are available to sites, each one tempting customers into a feast fit for a king. They say a picture speaks a thousand words...well I should really shut up and let you look!
We're sure you'll love the new offering, and between the eCommerce, free POS & marketing support and the fantastic packaging, we're here to help you make the most out of the great fresh food we get onto your menus every single day of the year.
We took the opportunity to launch our rebrand, with the reaction to our stand being even better than our wildest expectations. With some of our fantastic street-food menu solutions being displayed on a giant screen, catering professionals were leaving the stand inspired to create, and with our ongoing support, we're looking forward to helping you come up with some great menu options for education sites the length and breadth of the country.
Reaction to the rebrand was great, with our new logo and colour scheme going down a storm, but by far the best reaction was for our new point of sale material. The photography and imagery created is mouth-watering, contemporary and judging by your reactions, going to be a great way to improve sales. As one area manager said to us, "you can't see that picture, and then choose something else for lunch!".
Obviously we couldn't make you all hungry with the POS and then not feed you! This year we treated what seemed like record delegate footfall with a street food platter containing hand held, messy-but-awesome food with Mexico, China and India as their roots - and wow you guys enjoyed it! Our team of chefs were kept busy as we handed over 1000 platters to delegates (and fellow hungry suppliers!) over the three days, leaving bellies full of food and heads full of ideas - and diaries full of appointments for our team to go and work with catering managers and development chefs on menu items that are on trend, practical, great value and incredibly popular!
In our debrief, the team were unanimous that it was our best LACA ever, in terms of reaction to the stand, to the food, and to list of customers that have asked us to do some development work with them. Very hard work, great fun, and an awesome response... roll on next year!
Over the last five years in the UK, Mexican restaurants are opening at a faster rate than any kind of restaurant, with an average of 57% outlet growth per year. Burritos are big business, and if this is a food phenomenon you haven't yet got wrapped up, you need to chimi-change your menus, and quickly!
We're not sure there's a cooler sounding book than "The Book of Mexicanisms". It's in the 1895 publication that The Burrito made its first entry, being defined as "a rolled Tortilla with meat and other ingredients inside". Burrito translates literally as "little donkey" - and the most popular theory being that it's so named as street vendors used a donkey to get around the villages of Northern Mexico, where it originated.
The El Cholo Spanish café was the first American menu to feature our Mexican friend during the 1930s, and later that decade Burritos made their American literary debut, by appearing in The Mexican Cookbook, authored by an historian and great traveller of Mexico. It was in the late 1950's, before The Burrito was first mentioned in the Los Angeles Times, and the Oxford English Dictionary - both in the same year.
For the first seventy years of its life, The Burrito was a simple little thing, just beans, rice and meat. Then in the early 1960s, it got San Fransisco-ed - hard. A small, simple meal was made bigger, messier, cheesier, tastier, fuller. BETTER!
The Latin quarter of San-Fran introduced bigger wraps, brought flavours to life with the inclusion of cheese, tomato salsa, soured cream, jalapenos and lettuce - thus transforming our old friend The Little Donkey, into a fiery, culinary unicorn bursting with flavour. From humble beginnings, The Burrito began to take over the world.
Big, tasty and cheap - The Mission Burrito's growth in popularity in the 60's and 70's was exponential. It had gone from a small meaty snack to a portable meal, that is now more popular than ever. American chain Chipotle sell over 1.5m burritos daily. Every. Single. Day.
While the Mission-style burrito is rightfully going to be a staple on menus up and down the country; it's known and loved by people of all ages and palates. The Shoreditch hipsters have been chowing down on burrito inspired fusion for the last few years, and we're big fans. The most popular fusion is the Indian burrito (curry-to, anyone?), and it's not hard to see why - sloppy, filling, customisable and healthy - it's a natural, if long lost cousin to the Mexican.
Other fusion possibilities about ready to explode onto the market include Chinese (rice noodles, bean-sprouts, hoi-sin pulled duck), Katsu (breaded chicken, rice, katsu sauce), Rendang (Malaysian/Indonesian chicken stew with rice) - keep your eyes peeled for an announcement soon!
At Love Joes, our customers have consistently asked us to achieve three things: Healthy, British sourced food; On trend, great tasting menu solutions; excellent value for money. The Burrito ticks all of those boxes and more - it's a great grab 'n' go option that has been flying out of our kitchens, with almost a quarter of a million portions of our Mexican/fusion burrito sold last year. With burritos becoming more and more visible on the high street, we're proud to give you a simple to cook, great tasting product that puts your menus bang on trend. Together, we'll keep Britain burritoing!
We would like to say a big thankyou to Catering Academy for awarding us Supplier of the year 2016! A big thankyou to the Love Joe's team for getting us to where we are today. A very proud moment for us here at love joes.
Our exhibitions this year took a very scientific turn as we decided to take an explorative journey of tastes, sensations and perceptions. We created a range of marinades designed to trigger the five taste receptors on the tongue: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Each marinated piece of chicken was accompanied by an equally tasty side dish as we proceeded to ask our customers "what's your flavour?"
The menu was designed to push some boundaries and raise some eyebrows whilst tickling taste buds to the max. All of the flavours, including chocolate and chilli, were well received but there was one in particular that stood out from the crowd.
Moroccan citrus offers an aromatically spiced flavour with zesty orange and lemon. The complexity of the spice, coupled with the freshness of citrus is a winning combination and after listening to your feedback at LACA and TUCO we have launched it across a range of cuts for a limited time only!!
Our most recent product launch has seen innovation and provenance combine to create a range of products that are both on trend and are of the highest quality. With no other British coated chicken products on the market, we decided that we were the company to fill that gap. We have kicked off with a breaded bite and a crunchy goujon, with a hot fillet coming to join the trio in the coming weeks.
The products lend themselves to a variety of uses but primarily allow caterers to re-create a high street style, coated chicken offer, safe in the knowledge that the chicken has been sourced from high welfare British farms. The provenance of poultry has become a focus point for many of our customers over the past few months and we have taken note. Our marinated chicken has been red tractor certified for a number of years so it seems only logical that we can provide a coated product that meets the same quality standards.
We are undeniably excited about the launch of these new product lines in time for British Food Fortnight, an annual, national celebration of British food and drink, so we decided to celebrate in style!
Our British themed incentive day went down a storm with staff and customers alike. With inspiration taken from the everyone's favourite baking show, our telesales team donned grey wigs and glasses in an office laden with union jack bunting and all things red, white and blue. The team all got behind the product to promote its benefits to our customers, winning prizes for their efforts throughout the day. They were also rewarded with afternoon tea and there was not a soggy bottom in sight!
Love Joes have launched an exclusive range of coated british chicken products. We have kicked off with a breaded bite and a crunchy goujon, with a hot fillet coming to join the trio in the coming weeks.
We are pleased to announce that we achieved the highest standard possible and have been accredited with an BRC AA grade.
Joe Koumi, director of Chicken Joes was delighted to receive the award for Greek business of the year 2015 on 11th June 2015.
Pupils love a good curry, according to Lisa Pigott, catering manager for Solihull Catering Services (SCC), which is responsible for school food provision at Langley School in Solihull.
However, with the different spice profiles of curries, getting the level of 'hotness' consistently right for pupils' palates, let alone having the time and skills to rustle them up daily, means that serving freshly-prepared curry in schools can be seen as too much of a challenge.
Already a firm fan of Love Joes chicken concepts, Lisa was, therefore, very interested when the supplier launched Love Curry two years ago.
Young customers can choose from plain or marinated chicken and 14 authentic sauces made with the finest spices including Korma, Balti, Madras, Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, Bhuna, Jalfrezi and Soya Balti, with sides including rice, naans, shish kebabs, vegetable samosa rolls and non-fried vegetable samosa and, new to the range, onion bhaji burger.
Preparing the curry is made easy as you just have to defrost the frozen chicken the day before, and reheat the sauce and chicken in a steamer on the day.
Each sauce is developed to either a vegetarian or vegan recipe, while school food-compliant Love Curry also carries the official Food For Life (FFL) catering mark as the official seal of approval when it comes to being nutritious and spot on in terms of traceability.
"Love Joes came in to do a promotion, giving out freebies, which we then sold on our grab and go bar that afternoon," said Lisa. "A huge hit, we now sell around 75 portions every day, serving it up in the Love Joes branded pots with rice and a mini naan bread for just £1.65."
The convenience of Love Curry also helps meet another of Langley School's key principles. "We are very conscious about queuing time and the need for students to make the most of their lunchtime without the need to spend most of their time waiting to be served," she said.
"Love Curry is incredibly easy to prepare and serve; you just pour the sauces out of the tubs, add the chicken and put it in the steamer. No hassle. The curries look nice and taste really lovely, and we have Love Joes boards up and use the branded pots, which are colourful and have a lot of visual appeal with the pupils. Students eat with their eyes, after all."
Love Curry comes in 2.5kg containers, chicken strips in 2.5kg packs, rice in 1kg or 3kg tubs and naans in boxes of 72, while branded cups come in batches of 25.
Copy specially prepared for EDUcatering, case study on Sidney Stringer Academy, Coventry
Standing like a shining beacon of hope in the St Michael's ward of Coventry, the second most deprived area of the city1 and situated within a diversely populated city, is the Sidney Stringer Academy, founded in 1973 by Alderman Sidney Stringer as the first urban community school in the country. Oozing grit and determination and a promise to deliver an outstanding education for its pupils, the pioneering school was ravaged by fire in 2007, destroying 40% of the school buildings, before rising like a phoenix from the ashes. Rebuilt at a cost of £29million, it reopened in 2012 with an official opening ceremony conducted by the Duke of York and in March 2013 the academy was judged to be outstanding on all accounts...
In a secondary school of 1,320 pupils, of which 90% take up school lunches and 36% receive free school meals, it is vital that the catering team get their breakfast and lunch offer right. The school does this by getting creative with its menu to ensure its pupils are engaged and educated when it comes to meal time, theme days playing a strong part.
Breakfast service is at 8am and pupils can expect to see muffins, toast and fruit pots on the menu. If it happens to be British Farmhouse Breakfast Week, a hearty bowl of porridge makes an appearance as well. A further break mid morning is in two sittings, 10.45am and 11.10am, with lunch also taken in two sittings, from 12.30-1.10pm and 1.30-2.10pm.
Pupils can dine in two ways, firstly in Cafe 71, a 'grab-and-go' outlet offering fresh sandwiches, baguettes, pizza and pasties, as well as baked chicken products from Love Joes.
Secondly, Restaurant 71 is the main restaurant, where the majority of pupils dine and which sees most of the action. It is in here that Ian Carroll, catering manager at Sidney Stringer Academy, whose catering is delivered by national independent contact caterer Catering Academy, gets most of his inspiration when devising his menu.
Ian is passionate about passing his love of food on to pupils and ensuring the menu echoes the seasons, where possible, as well as offering educational aids including posters about certain food types, so pupils learn about what they are eating. Ian even hosts fortnightly sessions with Year 7 pupils and their parents to talk about food and recreate healthy dishes.
Theme days are also held each month, with inspired menus full of great tasting and nutritious fresh food which are created by the experienced and innovative team at Catering Academy and passed to schools' catering managers. From here the catering managers draw up quality daily menus based on these themes.
"Theme days are always very popular with great feedback, and they fit in brilliantly with what I'm trying to achieve here at the school, giving me the opportunity to introduce healthy and nutritionally balanced food that some students may not have tasted before. For example, I've included star fruit on the menu before, it's an unfamiliar fruit and helps create conversation and stimulate curiosity about food.
"Ultimately, menus are designed to be fun and encourage those who would normally not have a school meal to try school lunches instead. I see lunchtime as not just for filling an empty stomach, it is a time to chat and develop social skills. By encouraging as many pupils as possible to take part in theme days more, we hope to increase uptake further."
Love Joes Pan Asian range, inspired by Japanese and oriental cuisine, lent itself perfectly to a Chinese New Year theme at the Sidney Stringer Academy, while tapping into demand for Asian food, which recorded a 24% rise in value sales between 2007-2011 to reach £1.4 billion, having grown by a solid 6.6% in 20112.
Bedecked in Chinese lanterns with free fortune cookies, Chinese prawn crackers and a lucky dip to win high street shopping vouchers up for grabs, all laid on by Love Joes, it really helped set the scene. "Love Joes offered to give out free samples of its new range to the students during lunch break," said Ian. "I knew this would be popular, but when they turned up with a Gok Wan look alike, who also happened to be a development chef for Love Joes, the pupils all wanted to have their 'selfie' with him as well. It's all about making food fun!"
"The focus is on creating fresh home-cooked food, supported by an authentic twist from our suppliers. I've seen uptake of school meals grow by 25 per cent in the past year, which is very positive, especially when my menu isn't always traditional and familiar - Love Joes is part of that. I always consult the school council, which is run by the pupils, on new food concepts I'm thinking of introducing and Love Joes obviously passed the bill, helping to really liven up the menu."
Love Joes' Japanese Style Chicken products in the new Pan Asian range include Chicken Karaage (approx. 23 pieces in 500g bag), Steamed Chicken Gyoza (approx. 28 pieces in 600g bag) and Chicken Roll (approx. 55 pieces in 1kg bag), which makes a great side dish.
With Love Joes Teriyaki Chicken, caterers can create everything from a traditional dish with rice to stir fries with noodles, and is also delicious in a steamed bun or on a flatbread. Each case of teriyaki chicken steak contains two 5kg bags (approx. 83 pieces).
While chicken is Love Joes' speciality, the new Pan Asian range also includes seafood concepts including Prawn Wanton Soup with Noodles (8 x 145g) and Prawn Ebi Fry (approx. 20 pieces in 700g bag), which go great with the Love Joes' Katsu curry sauce.
Completing the range is Love Joes Chicken Katsu, breaded chicken fillets (approx. 110 pieces per bag) with a Katsu curry sauce (2.5kg) and a choice of rice or paninette kiln fired flatbreads (approx. 100 pieces per bag), curries, salads and wraps being a few menu ideas.
A substantial proportion of Love Joes chicken is Red Tractor accredited, while Love Joes is also Food for Life certified, the catering mark showing your customers that the food you serve is freshly prepared and from trustworthy, traceable sources. Using Love Joes' freshly prepared chicken and marinades also helps you achieve your own Food for Life award.
Love Joes is also accredited by The British Retail Consortium (BRC), with its Gold Standard regarded as the benchmark for best practice in the food industry. For more information about Love Joes, call 01922 745500 or log onto www.lovejoes.co.uk
When students at Shelfield Community Academy near Walsall moved into their newly built school last September, they were thrilled to have a new school canteen known as The Mall and The Point and, within this, a counter dedicated to made-to-order wraps from Love Joes.
Complementing traditional meals and salads from the Bistro, Love Wrappin Joes is a healthy grab-and-go concept which makes ordering a wrap as much fun as eating it, holding huge appeal at the secondary school of 1,340 pupils, of which 900 take up school lunch.
Catering manager Tracy Maley said: "We now have bistro style tables inside and outside at one end of The Mall, and then half way down The Mall, we have the Love Joes counter. With so many students queuing for the wraps, we found we needed our own counter for it."
Overall, the school has been offering Love Joes wraps for about eight or nine years and they have grown so much in popularity during that time, kitchen staff have gone from using four bags of fresh chicken during one day's service to using nine to 10 bags a day.
"I would say the chicken wraps are one of our most popular dishes," said Tracy, who said they offered Love Joes chicken with a choice of Tikka, Tandoori and Mediterranean marinades, as well as occasionally Chinese and BBQ and then salad and choice of sauces. "Students can't get enough of the Mediterranean marinade. We do loads of that.
"Pupils would rather have a wrap than a sandwich, it's just a different culture and something different. It's also nice for them to have something that is hot, though we also do cold wraps, which go down fabulously as well with a bit of salad and yoghurt.
"I think it's lovely that the majority of the pupils have it with salad now, which ticks the box for a healthy option. Overall, I could not leave the wraps off the menu. It's a massive thing. We sell 100-plus a day so what would those pupils do if they weren't available?"
Love Wrappin Joes, which can be produced quickly, easily and replicated in large volumes, has been developed as a complete package, from ingredients to branding, and appeals across the board from picky eaters who know just what they like, to flavour fiends who want to make lunchtime an adventure. The three-step concept is simple:
Choose your filling: Pupils choose from a selection of succulent Love Joes chicken marinated with a choice of flavour
Choose your salad: Fresh salad is then added
Choose your sauce: Wrap is rounded off with one of eight Love Joes sauces
The kids also love the branding. While Tracy has opted to use her own non-branded boxes and packaging, she still places the Love Joes posters strategically around the school in order to increase take-up further. "I think now pupils like to know what they are eating," she said.
With around 900 pupils aged 3-18 at Newcastle-under-Lyme School in Staffordshire, the independent school's catering services team has its work cut out.
With new products added as often as possible - everything tested by the student council - and chicken being the most popular meat offering, it made sense at the start of the last academic year to install a branded food station from Love Joes in the main dining room.
"It has proved to be one of the most popular of our service options and, since it went in, uptake has increased termly," said Lesley catering services manager Lesley Byatt, who was then keen to try out the mini chicken skewers in Love Joes' new Street Eats range.
Creating succulent chicken without the need for washing up, it is the first chicken concept to be launched by Love Joes using the roastable bag concept, the cook-in-the-bag technology allowing cooking with simplicity, locking in flavour and minimising waste. Furthermore, the low skill cooking requirement also frees up caterers prep time and reduces cost.
The skewers, sourced from 100% British Farm Assured chicken, use a variety of Love Joes marinades to create flavours from around the world, whether customers want a taste of Greece with a traditional yoghurt, mint and cucumber dressing, pop off to Turkey and Israel with Love Joes Houmous or go across the pond to Jamaica with Reggae Reggae sauce.
Pupils who are keen to try out mouth-watering new flavour combinations can also now whizz off to Portugal with Love Joes mini chicken skewers with NEW Peri Peri marinade. To wrap it all up, the skewers are served in a choice of delicious paninette bread, pitta pocket or Mexican-style wrap, with Newcastle-under-Lyme School plumping for the paninette.
"We serve them as a handheld, grab-and-go option price at £1.80-£2.40, and as part of our main meal deal, where pupils and staff are offered the skewers with garlic bread, oven baked potatoes and mixed salad with a pudding for £3.25.
"Love Joes is our main grab-and-go offering and the majority of children will take something from the counter every day, while staff tend to purchase a main meal option. I would say we generally use the mini chicken skewers as part of the meal deal once or twice a week.
"Overall, the skewers are proving a very popular choice, boosted by branded POS material, which helps to bring the concept together. Children really do enjoy a branded concept."
For school caterers looking for a grab-and-go offering this new term, Lesley said she had no hesitation in recommending the Love Joes concepts. "There is lots of variety, it is good value and we receive excellent service from the Love Joes team," she said.