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The CIS Excellence-Nominated CalMac Ferries: On Board With Healthy Scottish Food

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The CIS Excellence-Nominated CalMac Ferries: On Board With Healthy Scottish Food

The CIS Excellence-Nominated CalMac Ferries: On Board With Healthy Scottish Food
May 30
09:57 2019

With the 15th anniversary CIS Excellence Awards coming up this evening and several prolific companies and individuals on the shortlist this year, now is the perfect time to highlight those organisations who are championing the fight for healthier food.

A co-finalist in this year’s Training and Employee Retention Award, Calmac Ferries are proud to serve Scottish produce on board their fleet of vessels, the the majority of which hold the healthyliving award and the Taste Our Best Award, enabling customers to eat more healthily.

Providing tourist ferry services to the island and mainland communities around the west coast of Scotland, CalMac operates from Ardrossan
in the south west and as far north as Ullapool.
With a fleet of 14 major vessels – all offering onboard food and retail services – the carrier ferried in excess of 3.5m passengers in 2017. The outlets and services vary by vessel size but most have a Mariners-branded buffet-style restaurant with menus based around crowd-pleasing dishes with the emphasis on Scottish ingredients.

Retail development manager, Gordon Smith, is involved in menu planning and development of the onboard food offering. ‘Shipping is quite a traditional industry and we could see that a fair proportion of the cooking was based around traditional techniques and methods,’ he explains. Given the drive to improve obesity rates, we felt we could play a part in helping to change how people viewed and looked at healthier diets.

‘Added to this, because all our crew eat and live onboard, any such improvement in diet and cooking practices could also have a tangible
effect on the health and wellbeing of our workforce.’

‘Given the depth and breadth of great quality produce that Scotland has to offer, we felt we could celebrate and champion not only local island produce but also the produce across Scotland as a whole.’

The on-board catering teams were especially important to help us achieve the healthyliving award; without their support there was a real
chance we would not have succeeded. The shore-based on-board sales team played an integral part in gaining Taste Our Best as they liaised with suppliers and distributors in sourcing the Scottish produce we needed.

‘In the event, the healthyliving award has helped change the way we cook and prepare meals. We consider cooking methods now as an integral part of any dish development, which in turn opens up new possibilities for the kind of food we can cook and serve our passengers.

The style, size and age of the ships in our fleet can vary, and all our galleys are different. This causes differences in what type, size and capacity of cooking equipment is available and as such there were real challenges in achieving consistency of cookery method across the
fleet. Where one vessel had enough oven space to oven-cook most food, another ship did not. To overcome this, we had to give a fair amount of consideration to each and every menu item to make sure that we could achieve our goals. Before we gained the healthyliving award we
would start with an idea that we liked and then simply come up with a dish based on the idea or product. Cooking method was not
something that would hinder us either as we could work round it. However, because we now hold the award we have to consider it at the start of any menu planning session, and make any changes based on these.
Now, though, we need work from the outset by keeping the criteria in mind all the time. We have to be more focused and deliberate with our ingredient choices and this process makes the development a lot more structured as there are always the overarching award rules that help guide decisions each step of the way.

‘Ultimately, we get a lot of good feedback from customers about it.’


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Catering Scotland

Catering Scotland

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