Woodvale Secondary College canteen turns corner with chefs

Principal Lea Fairfoul-Hutcheon, P&C president Oliver Wolf, canteen assistant Helen Johnston and chefs Emily Dos Santos and Ian Vears. Picture: Martin Kennealey.
Principal Lea Fairfoul-Hutcheon, P&C president Oliver Wolf, canteen assistant Helen Johnston and chefs Emily Dos Santos and Ian Vears. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

WOODVALE Secondary College has spent the year encouraging healthier lifestyles by putting professionals in the canteen.

Parents and Citizens Association president Oliver Wolf said the idea was also a bid to make the canteen more financially viable after it had been running at a loss for several years.

“Our school has about 1400 students and with that amount of students and annual turnover, the canteen would need to be run like a small business, which just hasn’t happened in the previous years,” he said.

He said P&C contributions and school fees had previously covered the loss but figures from Term 1 showed changes were needed or the canteen would close.

“It was decided to implement a new concept focusing on freshly prepared food with a new personnel structure and a reviewed menu to go with it,” Mr Wolf said.

“This involved providing freshly prepared, healthy, nutritious and affordable food instead of buying in and reheating ready-made food.

“The P&C committee was convinced qualified professionals would be best suited to fulfil our requirements.

Chef Emily Dos Santos. Picture: Martin Kennealey.

“As far as I know, Woodvale Secondary College is currently the only public school that went down the path of employing chefs and running the canteen in a more caf-style fashion.”

This includes general hot and cold choices available every day for recess as well as a daily chefs’ special, and two menu choices for lunch, again with a chefs’ special based on factors such as in-season vegetables.

Mr Wolf said since implementing the changes, they had raised the canteen turnover by 38 per cent and lowered the cost of goods sold by 30 per cent.

“This means the canteen was able to break even for Term 3,” he said,

“In 2019 we might even look at a light profit, which we need to upgrade and refurbish the canteen equipment to our new style.”

Mr Wolf said both chefs had years of experience in the hospitality sector, ranging from cruise ships, restaurants, mining camps and a private boarding school.

“One of our chefs was also involved closely with the Institute of Sport dieticians to produce diets and menus for Australia’s top Olympic athletes for both the Sydney and Salt Lake City Olympics Games,” he said.