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Cateys 2011: Best Use of Technology Award – Dolce

15 July 2011
Cateys 2011: Best Use of Technology Award – Dolce

Sponsored by Fourth Hospitality

To get an idea of how simple but effective Live Kitchen technology has been in streamlining the provision of school meals, allow yourself to be dazzled by the financials for a minute - it has generated £200,000 since being piloted in 2007, easily paying off the development costs of £75,000.

This clearly successful technology is the brainchild of Dolce, a facilities management company, owned by the Curtis family since 1999. The £4m-turnover company has 111 catering sites, of which 61 schools now operate Live Kitchen technology and the rest will go live this summer.

The decision of the company's catering division to develop and adopt Live Kitchen solved a fundamental problem. One of the biggest issues in school catering is meal numbers and one of the biggest obstructions to increasing meal numbers is the extra administration it creates. As many school meals providers will appreciate, if you don't serve sufficient meals at the right cost and price, then the subsidy has to increase.

Live Kitchen not only solves these problems, it also benefits teachers, parents, pupils and caterers. In a nutshell, the children pre-order their meals, which minimises waste and enables Dolce to keep the average price of meals at £2. This, in turn, helps increase meal numbers - in fact sales have been boosted by 11%, adding £352,000 to turnover a year.

Additional perks include the fact parents can see what their children are eating, queues are reduced, direct debit systems make payment easier and the burden of administration is taken away from schools, saving secretaries at least 15 minutes a day.

The system has helped Dolce to control costs and simplify procedures by linking orders to shopping lists online and then on to authorised suppliers, saving up to £50,000 a year. The software also removes all mathematical procedures from the kitchen, enabling chefs to simply enter basic information and get the calculations of, say, recipe volumes done for them. The reduction in wasted ingredients saves £30,000 a year.

The bottom line for Dolce is that once the £40,000 annual cost of Live Kitchen is paid, there is a profit of £323,600. An extraordinary result from adapting new technology.

"This company showed a true understanding of its clients' needs and offered a real user-friendly solution, speaking directly in the dialect of today's dotcom consumer," said Wrapid director Stephen Minall.

Alan Taylor, non-executive director, Ponti's, added: "A well-defined project with clear objectives that met the needs of the wide range of users."

ShortlistedApex Hotels â- Caternet â- Dolce

The JudgesDuncan Cressall, regional director, UPP Residential Services
Clive Holland, managing director, Sugarvine
Stephen Minall, director, Wrapid
Sam Rubra, head of products, Atos Origin
Diana Spellman, managing director, Partners in Purchasing
Bryan Steele, managing director, Jireh-Tek
Alan Taylor, non-executive director, Ponti's

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