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De-skilling? No, its re-skilling!

It is hard work maintaining and improving professional skills, but ensuring that your staff are up to date is an essential part of any catering operation. Nutrition is no exception. Many chefs spend little time on the subject during their training but life moves at a pace and now this is an area of increasing concern for customers and one which caterers ignore at their peril. The ability to create nutritionally balanced dishes and menus and cater for special diets will give chefs the edge in todays increasingly health conscious society. It is a sound investment in staff training to equip them to meet the needs of todays and tomorrows customers. And lets not stop at kitchen staff; front of house teams also need to be knowledgeable about production methods and the nutritional benets of particular dishes, in order to be able to accurately respond to customer queries and sell on the benets of any healthy eating food policy. To help you ascertain whether your team have the necessary nutrition know-how, here are ve simple questions: 1. Name four balanced vegetarian protein sources aside from cheese and processed meat substitutes like soya burgers. 2. Can you name four grains which contain gluten and which therefore should not be served to celiac customers? 3. Which of the following sh contain benecial omega 3 essential fats: salmon/haddock/canned tuna? 4. Which of the following is/are a source of whole grains: bulghar wheat/brown rice/cous cous? 5. You are choosing a new yoghurt range and have to decide between one described as strawberry avoured and one which is strawberry avour. Which contains real fruit and which uses articial avourings? The answers are listed below. How did you and your team score? Is there room for improvement? If so, consider putting nutrition on your training schedule for this year. Id like to see nutrition as a basic requirement for any catering qualication, just as food hygiene is. So lets help put health back on the menu. (Answers: 1: Nuts, seeds, eggs, grains served with beans or pulses. 2: Wheat, oats, rye, barley. 3: Salmon. 4: Brown rice. 5: Strawberry avoured yoghurt contains real fruit.)

Michael Caines MBE discusses his recent visit to Peru.

Peros, the UKs leading distributor of Fairtrade beverages and snacks to the university catering sector, recently brought together an eclectic mix of presenters for their inaugural TasteFair event. Organised in conjunction with Cafdirect and held at Whole Foods Market, Kensington, the gathering was organised as part of Fairtrade Fortnight. The rst presenter was Michael Caines MBE, acclaimed chef and driving force behind the ABode Hotels group who in 2007 committed to using Cafdirect Fairtrade coffee across all his hotels and cafs. Talking of a recent trip to Peru he said: It is great to think that every cup we sell has a direct and positive impact on the lives of these people, who live such simple lives. I feel were giving something back and that really touches my heart and satises my conscience. Also on the bill was celebrity wine bofn Olly Smith, who led a sampling session with the audience. He then introduced Amen Mtui, one of Cafdirects expert coffee cuppers from Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, and together they explained coffee cupping processes and techniques using freshly-roasted, single-origin beans. For more information on the Fairtrade movement, go to Olly Smith and Amen Mtui.

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