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Contract Caterer of the Year Award: Cleverchefs

9th Apr 2024 - 11:15

Cleverchefs describes itself as a chef-led, innovative catering company that has made a significant impact in the field, providing high-quality, nutritious food for the education sector, workplace and leisure.

Founded in 2016 by Nick Collins, Cleverchefs has grown from £2.7m in 2019 to £11.9m in 2023, with a growing portfolio of 82 schools, three workplaces and two leisure sites.

“It has been wonderful to witness the company’s growth and the impact good food has on people’s health,” says Nick, who is also the chief executive officer.

“This sentiment underscores our commitment to nurturing the minds and bodies of the next generation through our carefully crafted, nutritious menus. We believe that food quality directly correlates with academic performance and overall wellbeing. Cleverchefs is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of the individuals we serve.”

In the last few years, it has established partnerships with visitor attractions, including the National Lido at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park in Pontypridd and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Wokingham.

It has ventured into staff catering and hospitality collaborations with The Orangebox in Cardiff, South Wales Police in Bridgend, and West Mercia Police in Worcester.

The company has also expanded into independent schools, such as St John’s College in Cardiff, in addition to gains in its core state school business encompassing primary and secondary schools across the South West, Gloucestershire, Guildford, Oxfordshire and London.

The company has developed TECH, its training academy for bringing new talent through the business and giving them the skills they need.

Says Nick: “We are committed to bringing back that cook-from scratch mentality. Our kitchen teams know the classics of sauces, potatoes, vegetable preparation, butchery and baking. Knowing the classics is where our chefs can innovate and step up our food to the next level.”

A fundamental element of the caterer’s social value strategy is recognising its environmental influence.

To this end it has reduced water consumption by introducing policies such as only passing dirty crockery through the dishwasher when a tray is full, the installation of knee-operated hand wash sinks that only dispense water when in use, only boiling water when needed, and steaming vegetables as opposed to boiling on the stove.

And put into practice simple steps such as only turning on the gas for cooking when needed, turning off lights in storerooms and office not in use, and switching off completely equipment not leaving on standby.

Cleverchefs has also adopted a holistic approach to food waste that means every part of the vegetables is used whenever possible. It has introduced Root Cakes, where chefs take all the vegetable peels from roast dinner day and use them to make a more nutritious cake that is lower in sugar and higher in fibre.

And all menus have been boosted by the addition of more plant-based options, salads, and hot meals featuring protein, carbs, healthy fats and reduced sugar.

PSC Alliance