A recipe for ‘souper’ yummy soup for cold winter nights. Its easy and good for you. ENJOY!
Sweet corn and sweet potato soup
1 large onion, peeled, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cubed
10ml vegetable stock powder, dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 bay leaf
Pinch of nutmeg
1ml dried garlic
½ tin creamed sweet corn
½ tin low fat evaporated milk
15ml fresh coriander leaves, chopped
15ml fresh parsley, chopped
Black pepper to taste
Heat oil in large saucepan.
Add onion and cook over medium heat until transparent .
Add the sweet potato, stock, bay leaf, nutmeg and garlic.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minute.
Once sweet potatoes are soft, remove bay leaf and puree soup.
Pour back into sauce pan and add sweet corn and evaporated milk.
Season with salt and pepper, heat through.
Sprinkle chopped herbs on top just before serving.
As a small niche company we are conscious of positioning ourselves correctly in the already saturated contract catering market. On the 20 April a publicity gift was handed to us, this is what happened.
First, some background
Jamie Oliver is on a mission again to teach people how to eat healthy food, especially in schools and more importantly, this time, in America. You can follow his ‘Food Revolution” journey here. Jamie’s project resonated with us as we are on a similar mission in the Education sector here in South Africa, on a MUCH smaller scale.
We have been contracted to Bridge House School in the winelands since the beginning of this year and have worked tirelessly to offer a fantastic product and service. We have not gone all out on excessive marketing, as we believe our authenticity will speak for us when we deliver what we promised our client and word will travel.
On to the Story
On the morning of the 20th April, Radio 5 and the DJ Gareth Cliff [morning show] asked his audience to contact them about their school catering and he referenced Jamie’s’ Food Revolution. Most calls were negative until Gareth read out a message from the Bridge House Boarding House written by the boarders who gave only positive rave reviews of our food. We did not see that coming and we certainly did not pay for it, we could however, not be more grateful to the boarders for acknowledging all the hard work our people put in every day.
For a small company like ours, that kind of marketing is a gift and it set off a chain of events and connections. There is truly no marketing as valuable as word of mouth, not to mention winning the trust of your customers – nothing feels as great. Now all we have to do is stay there! The lesson confirmed for us, is that we all know [as customers of some brand/company ourselves] that if a company delivers what they say they can consistently and with great passion they gain your loyalty….loyalty is a wonderful ‘currency’ in a world with so much choice.
Innovation in a service industry such as the foodservice or rather contract catering industry has always been a personal interest. The market is huge, varied and cannot really be categorized in any specific operating industry because of it’s diversity, yet it’s a pretty simple business. It operates and feeds people at your business on a contract basis over a specified period of time, ‘invisible’ people trained to integrate seamlessly yet professionally.
After years in the industry reviewing and researching, not only South African market industry innovation but also European and North American innovation, its hard to find anything really earth shattering or radically new. From the South African perspective this is partly because at times, the industry has been locked in a trend of cyclical idea rehashing as well as a lack of quantitative industry research. It’s important to note that the lack of research often stems from a lack of budget, in a low margin, labour intensive and cost conscious business. Besides the cost though, the diversity of the contract base and substantially reduced contract tenure over the past 10 years has created an environment of constant change, which has made research difficult and exceedingly costly. Coupled with this the industry is highly competitive and secretive which makes it’s hard to gain a really deep view of industry innovation.
In saying all that though, a shift seems to be well on it’s way that has breathed air into the lungs of the contract catering industry by increasing the competitive pressure for new ways of operating and new thinking. This new pressure is…… the niche service provider.
Until a few years ago, industry players of any note (by ‘note’ I mean those that are large employers with large turnovers) have been monopolising the market. This has very gradually changed over the years in South Africa though with the proliferation and growth of the SMME sector since the downfall of apartheid. Contract catering as an industry has a low barrier to entry with low set up costs and the perception that anyone can cook. Although this group has eroded the monopoly market and niched themselves in the tender/government industry they have shown little customer focused innovation as far as I can tell (please send any new info that I may have missed). In the private sector, the growth of facility management companies has forced business to business catering companies’ to reduce margins and has created a rather cold contractual relationship with limited access to ‘the real client’. The private sector market has also begun gradually changing shape, breaking up and growing into a multitude of smaller more technically skilled SMEs or focussed niche service category providers who’s focus seems to be ‘innovating’ and providing clients and customers with a more authentic, focussed, improved localised service via their people, offering, products, processes, technology, the environment but most importantly the delivery and flexibility of their approach. We’re not saying the ‘big guys’ are not part of that party, they are all still around, offering what they offer and doing what they do. They are however also often anchored by their corporate mentality being inwardly focussed and not structured to support innovation or personalised service from the ground up, ironic considering the industry’s initial intention of servicing clients and customers. There tends to be alot of sizzle but no actual steak. For some that approach works, there are many clients that are all about cost but we believe true success comes from a well balance approach involving many variables not least a rather ‘intimate’ partnership with clients that smaller owner managed niche provider can offer.
We all know mass production has a market but lets be honest it’s just not cool. The smaller niche companies are a fertile ground for future innovation in this sector and it’s going to be interesting to watch the industry path as the little guys make bigger ripples.
Origin Food Service Management is proud to have been awarded the catering contract at Bridge House School in Franschhoek in the Western Cape.
Origin is feeding ±90 boarders, 6 times a day at the school. The meals are prepared from scratch with fresh, locally sourced product and all menus are approved by a registered dietician to ensure they are healthy and balanced.
Origin also has a programme called Food-i-cation running at the school. The platform of this programme is based on basic dietetics standards and each segment that is built up from that will be customized to suit the environment in which Origin operates. The premise at Bridge House is to educate scholars about living a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on food. An important part of the programme is the ‘-i-‘ in Food-i-cation, which implies children taking responsibility for what they eat and their lifestyle in general. This healthy approach will support Bridge House’s ‘Fittest School Campaign’ which the school has embarked on this year.
Origin is also responsible for the Tuckshop at the school and is working alongside the school committee to achieve a healthy yet balanced eating environment.
Origin is excited about working with the school and achieving their goal of changing the way the business-to-business catering industry operates by not only fostering wholesome values but reverting to the origin of good food and an authentic personalised service.