James Tanner

James Tanner: Food excellence and beyond

Published on : 1/1/19
  • What is food excellence? And how do we achieve it? Award-winning chef and Sodexo ambassador, James Tanner, discusses the issue of food excellence and sustainability ahead of Salon Culinaire 2017.

    Sodexo’s commitment to food excellence goes right across the business and is not restricted to fine dining venues such as Ascot Racecourse or the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As an ambassador for Independents by Sodexo, I’ve had the privilege of visiting schools all over the country from Scotland all the way down to London and the South West.

    I’ve witnessed incredibly high food standards at all the schools I’ve visited; from the cleanliness of the kitchens, to the exacting standards of the staff, and the quality of the food they serve.

    They are always evolving to keep up with the latest trends. A good example is Sodexo’s high street-style offer ‘The Social’ which provides healthy grab and go options, including filled wraps and fresh fruit pots.

    Menus change daily, which means chefs get to develop their skills across different types of cuisine, while pupils get to enjoy an ever-changing menu. It’s great to see such a vibrant food culture in a school setting.

    The way Sodexo’s teams combine variety with quality is particularly impressive when you consider the number of meals being served in each unit up and down the country. It’s mass catering but with passion and a keen eye for detail.

    As part of Sodexo’s chef scholarship programme, I’ve hosted master classes in fine dining and I can see how it inspires chefs at different stages of their careers. Anyone with passion and talent has the opportunity to progress at Sodexo because there are such a wide variety of opportunities available. Salon Culinaire is a perfect example because you’ll see Sodexo chefs from all over the country, from a wide variety of venues, putting their best dishes forward in a celebration of culinary excellence.

    Experienced chefs and apprentice chefs compete side-by-side, which makes it a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.

    When it comes to food excellence, sourcing the right ingredients is vital. Sodexo’s commitment to a ‘fresh food from scratch’ philosophy means fresh, seasonal and high quality ingredients are at the heart of its food offering.

    This forward-thinking approach extends to their ethics. Their buying decisions take into account the environmental impact: has it been ethically farmed? Is it seasonal? They care about food being fresh and ethically sourced. If it’s not right, they won’t order it.

    Sustainable fishing is an issue that’s close to my heart. As a dad I want the same variety of fish we have today available for future generations. Part of my work for Sodexo has involved visiting schools and talking about the importance of sustainable fishing not just to pupils but to the chefs as well.

    By purchasing seafood which is MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) accredited, you can be sure it’s sustainably sourced and caught using the right nets to ensure younger fish can escape, grow bigger, breed and continue the cycle of life.

    It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about, but a big company like Sodexo can really make a difference so it’s brilliant that they are committed to buying from sustainable sources.

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