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Meet our recipe maestro who’s still a chef at heart

Eurest | Great food |  13 December 2012

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NIK VARNEY, PART OF THE EUREST BUSINESS EXCELLENCE TEAM, TALKS ABOUT HOW HER EARLY EXPERIENCE WORKING IN A MICHELIN-STARRED KITCHEN DRIVES EVERYTHING SHE DOES IN HER ROLE TODAY.

“I think it’s a case of ‘once a chef, always a chef’; which is also one of our main strengths. I’m now more office based in my role, but the focus of my work — areas such as health and wellbeing, sourcing and ingredients — is just the same as when I worked in the kitchen. The same passion for providing great food still sits at the core of what we do, which is down to the fact that our chefs are involved in all areas of our operations.

“I’m continually impressed with how our chefs drive innovation, the latest trends and what they hear from our customers into our menus. There is a misconception that because we are the market leader, our success comes at the expense of our creative integrity. This is just not true. Our chefs are amazingly talented and drive their skill and imagination into every dish they serve.

“Our challenge is to take their innovative spirit, preserve it, and give all our chefs access to the experience, brilliance and knowledge we have in our people. In doing so, it allows us to ensure consistent quality and a great experience for our clients’ people every time.

“For example, our chefs have created an online recipe book based on ingredients chosen by our expert culinary team, which also contains the nutritional value of every dish per recommended portion size. Containing over 20,000 recipes that become live depending on what’s in season, it helps us make sure our food is prepared, presented and served consistently every time, and that we’re making the most of seasonal produce. And by linking this recipe book into our supply system, we have a constant eye on our supply lines to check we have the best seasonal range available. I don’t think there’s a comparable recipe management system in use by anyone else in the market — certainly not on our scale or with the detailed nutritional information that we provide.

“This is just one aspect of how my role is about taking the chef’s passion for food and making sure that enthusiasm reaches our customers. Our ‘Know Your Food’ boards in our restaurants also give people the information they need to make smart, informed, seasonal food choices inside, as well as outside, of work. For example, this month white cabbage is in season, and so will be reflected in our recipe choices and what our chefs will be preparing.

“I do miss the kitchen sometimes, but being able to use the chef mindset in this role means I am still part of the culinary world.”

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