Cucina wins new schools contract

Cucina Restaurants could be looking to step up its catering recruitment levels in order fulfil a new contract it has just been awarded by Hertswood Lower and Upper Schools in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

The contract, which commences in February this year, will see the caterer serve meals to 1,500 pupils across the two schools, with an estimated first year turnover of just over £300,000 and a five-year turnover of £1.6 million.

Commenting on the new contract, Cucina director Sam Davies said: "As with all our previous new contracts, we expect to see a dramatic rise in uptake of school meals at Hertswood Upper and Lower Schools."

Cucina operates 41 school restaurants across the UK. Each has its own trained chef and all Cucina meals are cooked from scratch with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.

The company's business model relies on a doubling or tripling of school meal uptake after it begins operating at a new school.

"As a school food company we have no desire to be the biggest on the block," explained Cucina managing director Steve Quinn.

"We achieve benchmark standards of excellence by staying small and being highly selective in our pitching, which singles us out somewhat from many of our competitors.

"We're delighted to have won this contract because these schools already have so much in place to help us implement our 'stealthy eating' approach."

Last month, Cucina announced a new partnership with chef Ash Mair – winner of the 2011 edition of the BBC programme ‘Masterchef: the Professionals’.

Under the partnership, Mair worked with Cucina's chefs to develop eight new gourmet menu items designed specifically for young palates, which will be served to 50,000 UK students across Cucina's school restaurants.

"I really enjoyed doing this, it was different from anything I have done before," said Mair. "It looks great and I'm pleased with it. As long as the kids like it, I'm happy. "

Berkeley Scott is a specialist recruitment agency in the catering industry