ESSENTIAL NEIGHBOUR FOR HARPER ADAMS

ESSENTIAL NEIGHBOUR FOR HARPER ADAMS
Essential  Cuisine

Essential Cuisine

Premium Supplier 19th May 2011

ESSENTIAL NEIGHBOUR FOR HARPER ADAMS

Some of the most pressing global concerns involve the future provision of food and the management of rural land and environments. At Harper Adams University College, one of the UK’s leading agricultural colleges, students not only learn about sustainability in theory, they experience it all around them, right down to the food served, which is either ethically grown or reared at the college or comes from suppliers as local as possible. Essential Cuisine not only helps the catering team cut down on its food miles, but keeps the energy costs of making quality sauces and gravies to an absolute minimum…    
From farm to fork
For four years, Harper Adams in Newport, Shropshire, has been University College of the Year in The Sunday Times University Guide. With a graduate employment rate of over 96 percent at the last count, it’s also one of the top 10 higher education institutions in the UK.
As well as its agri-food focused, academic departments, the university college boasts some of the best practical facilities in the UK, from the Veterinary and Small Animal Unit to the National Institute of Poultry Husbandry and Animal Science Research Centre (ASRC).
The watchword at the university college today is sustainability, the idea being that its 4,000 students will forthrightly take the agricultural industry forward in a more positive direction.
The importance of sustainability is not just banded about in theory, however. Harper Adams recently installed a £3m renewable power system on-site, including a bio-mass energy plant to convert farm and food waste into fuel and offset carbon emissions three times over.
Crucially, the in-house catering team now uses as much of the college farm’s livestock and crops on its menus as possible, whether serving 400 students breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of their accommodation; customers eating at the self catering restaurant, cosy student café with wireless internet access or conference facilities; or guests enjoying a huge hog roast in the grounds.
This not only allows the team to reduce the food miles to less than 400 metres, it also helps make a 50 percent cost saving when buying meat alone, said head chef Wayne Wright.
“It’s all about sustainability of supply,” he said. “We use our own pedigree Lleyn lambs, an Aberdeen Angus herd, which we use for homemade beef burgers, and White Cross Belgium pigs for roasts and chops, all slaughtered at a respected butcher 10 miles away. We now get eggs and milk from our own poultry and dairy units, while herbs are also grown on campus.”
When Harper Adams does have to buy in, local producers are the order of the day. “We buy handmade cheeses from Mr Moyden's in town and bread from Jaspers, a bakery in Newport, just three miles away. Fruit and vegetables are supplied by Morning Fresh Farm in Staffordshire, while our bottled water is from Jane’s Beverages in Market Drayton. We are very proud of this sustainable food chain, which also allows us to use fresh, seasonal produce on menus.”
Saving time and energy
One of the most important elements of a dish is the sauce or gravy, which, if scratch-made, can mean a process that is not only time-consuming, but a huge drain on energy. “Making stock from scratch can take a whole day, a good demi-glace up to three days on the stove, and the amount of energy used is not exactly sustainable” said Wayne. “We are also feeding, on average, at least 1,200 customers a day and, with only six chefs plus myself, we don’t have the staff support to turn this around every day.”
In line with Harper Adams’ commitment to local provenance, sustainability and quality at all costs, the university college catering team uses Essential Cuisine for its stocks, demi-glace and gravy, a company run by chefs for chefs and based just 50 miles away in Cheshire.
“We use Essential Cuisine’s stocks to complement our sauces and reductions, which give us the flavour we require, but are significantly less salty than the competition, and use the demi-glace to finish our beef Wellington or venison. Students love a good roast dinner, but it’s not easy to make 50-60 litres of gravy from scratch at one time, so we use Essential’s No1 Gravy, which is rich and tasty, not bland or watery.
“Steak pies are our speciality in the winter, but we also do a lot of hog roasts and barbecues in the summer. Essential Cuisine comes in extremely handy for such large-scale events.”
Essential Cuisine’s comprehensive range of powdered stock mixes offers a superior yield of 50ltrs per 800g tub, and, unlike most others on the market, each flavour - from chicken to light vegetable - tastes just like kitchen-made stock with a clear appearance and appropriate levels of seasoning.
Each one has a low level of fat (c3%), is simple and easy to use, with no MSG or preservatives. With a 12 month shelf life, there is no need to refrigerate after opening, and each tub is colour coded for easy recognition.
Essential Cuisine’s No1 Gravy range guarantees dishes have that inimitable taste and smell. Its versatility also allows chefs to use their own creativity. No1 Chicken and Beef contain stock and dripping for that great gravy taste, while Essential Cuisine also offers a rich, savoury gravy that is gluten-free and suitable for vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements.
“I have also asked them to do a gluten-free hollandaise sauce and hear they are bringing out a range of halal stocks, which will help us deliver at events such as the Peace Conference, which attracts delegates from around the world,” said Wayne. “Essential are always happy to take our ideas on board and being ‘up the road’ fits in with our sustainable approach.”
Having Nigel Crane, a Dorchester-trained chef who developed some of the most well-known gravies on the market, at the helm at Essential Cuisine, is also welcome. “Overall, we can tell by the consistency and flavour that it is a chef that is making these products, which is important to what we do here and the quality we aim to deliver,” he said.
For samples, call 01606 541 490 or visit www.essentialcuisine.com. For more on Harper Adams University College, visit www.harper-adams.ac.uk/