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Moffat's Chillogen trolleys are match day winners at Ipswich Town FC

Match days are important days in any football club calendar and are excellent opportunities to offer VIP pre-match hospitality on a big scale. But the time is tight for serving meals before the match as everyone needs to be in their seats for the 3pm kick-off.

Ipswich Town Football Club recently decided to expand its hospitality and conferencing facilities and appointed Mike Rieder from Gillingham FC to look into cost effective ways of increasing business and streamlining service.

When Mike took over all the food was cooked on the day, plated up and served there and then. In this way they managed to serve about 200 covers but the idea was to expand this capacity considerably and also to offer conference facilities up to 350 in the future.

"I'm a chef by training," says Mike. "So knew the advantages of using regen techniques to streamline operations. What we needed was a mobile system that we could wheel into the serving area when required. By far the best option was the Moffat Chillogen banqueting trolley."

E & R Moffat's Chillogen banqueting trolley can quick-chill, hold and regenerate cooked food - fully automatically and all in the same compartment. A single Chillogen unit can hold up to 90 ten-inch plates (with covers) on 15 shelves. The Ipswich units were supplied by Brakes Catering Equipment.

To use the Chillogen trolley, the chef pre-chills it, loads the plated-up meals and sets the quick-chill mode to bring the food down to storage temperature (under 10 degrees Centigrade in 90 minutes). The trolley is then unplugged, wheeled to its required location and plugged in again. It holds the food at the required temperature for as long as required - up to several days if necessary.

"The Chillogens are perfect for us," says Mike. "We can order the food three to four days in advance of match day, prepare and cook up to two days early, plate-up the day before, load up the trolley and leave it overnight. It's great. All we have to do on match day is flick a switch and hey presto the meal is ready to perfection right on time."

In the Galleria Suite at Ipswich the diners tend to drift in from 1pm onwards. Previously this had caused problems for and serving had to be strictly timetabled. But now the Galleria uses four Chillogen trolleys so serving times can be staggered.

"There's much more leeway with the Chillogens," says Mike. "They hold the food perfectly at the correct temperature so we can serve the food as and when the diners sit down."

The Chillogen trolleys have helped Mike and his Head Chef Carl Collins to enhance the serving quality of the food because they offer superb consistency. Now a typical match day main course might be rack of lamb with roast fondant potatoes, seed mustard sauce, courgettes provencale, balsamic roasted vine tomatoes and honey roasted root vegetables.

The Chillogens are also a big help with the new 'Low-GI' menus Mike has developed in conjunction with a leading dietician to meet the realities of modern dining. Dubbed 'Food For Thought', the Ipswich system avoids the use of high-fat foods, not purely for health reasons, but especially to avoid the 'post-prandial slump' that can ruin many a conference or pre-match dining as digestion saps concentration. They include many of the same Low-GI foods the club's own footballers eat to ensure peak attention during a match. "We want our conference clients to have a productive day, just as we want our team to be at peak performance", says Mike Rieder.

"Chillogen is a really simple system," he adds. "We've found it saves us time, frees up space in the kitchen and saves in labour costs - we don't need as many chefs in on match days."

The Chillogen trolleys have worked so well in the Galleria Suite that Mike is recommending to Ipswich Town that they invest in a further six Chillogens to take club catering onto the next level. The Club is very much hoping the players will do the same!

E & R Moffat is one of the UK's leading manufacturers of quality foodservice equipment, designing and manufacturing in-house. Based in Bonnybridge, Scotland, the company manufactures standard and bespoke servery, regeneration and storage equipment with a full nationwide after-sales engineering team. E & R Moffat is accredited to ISO 9001:2000 and many of the products have gas approvals and are EMC tested.

Posted on Fri 16th Mar 2007