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Foodservice Cateys 2019: Chef Manager of the Year – Andrea Fawcett, Gather & Gather

14 October 2019 by
Foodservice Cateys 2019: Chef Manager of the Year – Andrea Fawcett, Gather & Gather

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The workers at plastics firm Renolit in Cramlington in the north of England posed a challenge for Andrea Fawcett when Gather & Gather won the £130,000 contract with the firm. The contract caterer promised to deliver a more nutritionally balanced menu for the client, but the problem was convincing the firm's 250 workers, all keen on high-calorie meals, to change their menu choices.

The answer came from a close working partnership with Gather & Gather nutritionists, who began to introduce changes that not only boosted nutrition among workers, but sales and gross profit. As well as the usual choice of fried eggs, poached and scrambled were offered, leading to a 25% boost in sales of eggs. The removal of creams and fats from the lunch menu meant a reduction in ingredient cost along with a lowering of calories. And baked beans with reduced salt and sugar were added to the menu with the clientele none the wiser.

The adaptations, along with modern dishes offered under the group's Gathered Table banner, not only saw healthier food making their ways to the site's plates, it also saw an increase in canteen use and an overall revenue increase of 2.8% on the previous year. Meanwhile, at the time of the submission, gross profit stood 5% ahead of the site's budget.

Fawcett has been instrumental in boosting a feeling of unity among the team. When she joined the firm the site was suffering with high sickness levels and staff absences, while morale was broadly considered to be low. Through a structured campaign of rotating work placements, Fawcett has given staff the opportunity to engage with each other's roles, helping with joined-up thinking across the site while boosting the sense of team play to such an extent that agency spend has reduced by 50%.

Beyond maintaining costs, enfranchising staff and ensuring the health of consumers, Fawcett's character has been instrumental in the changes at the Renolit site. Her positive outlook and natural enthusiasm have proven to be infectious, and her can-do attitude has led to a better business and a happier staff.

As regional manager Jackie Armstrong put it: "You couldn't ask for a better manager – she is a pleasure to work with and works hard every day, going above and beyond to exceed expectation."

What the judges said

"Andrea demonstrates the granular detail that goes into running a catering operation. She has all bases of her business covered as well as a view to broader engagement. A great representative of the catering sector."

John Nugent, chief executive, Green & Fortune

"Andrea has clearly done an excellent job for her client and company alike, made possible by her approach, work ethic and dedication. She has had a balanced impact across the key elements of her business and, while her developments have been product-led, she had tailored it to the individual client and customer needs.

"Andrea is perhaps one of the unsung heroes of the sector as she has achieved all of this in a challenging environment and economic background."

Alan Beddie, managing director, Wilson Vale

The shortlist

Andrea Fawcett Gather & Gather

Graham Hart Eurest, Compass Group UK & Ireland

Suzanne Moore Sodexo

Past winners

2018

Tony Mulgrew Ravenscliffe High School, Halifax

2017

Hanke Fischer H+J

2016

Henry Maasdorp Blue Apple

2015

Nigel Simmonds Connect Catering

2014

Steve Deacon Sodexo UK & Ireland

2013

Fred Ockwell Brookwood Partnership

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