An Interview with: Leiths Buyer Diggory Orr-Ewing

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An Interview with: Leiths Buyer Diggory Orr-Ewing

96 diploma students, daily enthusiast classes, corporate bookings, evening classes, 6 days a week, one man, Diggory Orr-Ewing. How does our buyer tackle the task that is the Leiths food orders?

How do you even begin to juggle the food orders for so many different requirements?

Everything starts with the recipe pack for a class and from this I can make the tray list of ingredients required and use it to work out
ingredients to order. Then it is a lot about thinking logically and getting ahead. Most important is that the store room weigh up
ingredients for classes in advance when they can. Dry stores such as flour and caster sugar can be weighed ahead and stored, as they will keep. Fresh produce and dairy must be left until the last minute.

Talk us through your day…

I start work at 8am as orders can arrive from this time. From 8am until 10am I process orders and fire fight any last minute problems. I
then begin planning ahead, putting tray lists and orders together for upcoming classes, with a break for lunch at about 12.30 in the staff
room. Between 3pm and 4pm I will place orders for the next day and check that we have everything required for classes that evening or the next morning. This means I am able to place last minute orders for anything that is missing and I am able to sleep at night as my mind is settled. My day ends at 4pm but I will stay as late as I am needed.

As buyer, who are your closest allies within the school?

The storeroom and admin team. Admin start the ball rolling by supplying me with the necessary recipe packs to get started.

What is the most important issue for the store room to consider?

Checking the quality of the products we receive is key. When a delivery comes in it is essential that the exact products ordered have
arrived (for example chicken legs, bone in, skin off). The importance of finer details is dependent on how the product will be used. If carrots are for stock then any shape and size will do, however for julienning, they must be straight.

How often is food ordered?

Every day. Meat and fish orders are placed a week in advance of a class so that any issues with stock can be resolved. Dairy and fruit
& veg are ordered the day before they are needed.

How far ahead do you plan?

It can be up to a fortnight, I rarely have any information before that. For a complex or specialist class I will begin immediately to find
ingredients that may not be readily available, such as kimchee. Sous Chef are a great one stop shop for sourcing ingredients that are hard to find and offer a next day delivery service. The game demonstration put on each year for diploma students requires careful planning to ensure we are in time with shooting seasons. Woodcock is always a nightmare to source and for that reason my supplier will have frozen woodcock on standby in case he is unable to supply the fresh birds that we would ideally like to have. No amount of planning can prepare you for the occasional unforeseen hitches. An example would be a delivery of fresh wild boar mince due this morning that arrived late in the form of cubed frozen wild boar meat. The supplier was late as they had been searching for the correct product until the last moment but due to the time of year there was none available. The solution? The meat was defrosted (hygienically) and then arrangements were made with the local butcher tomince the meat that afternoon in time for the store room to weigh up and be ready for the evening’s class.

What is the busiest time of the week?

Monday is always the busiest day. On a Monday morning we are often receiving goods for 16 classes. We are currently running our nutrition in practice class on a Monday which has increased the amount coming in still further. If meat and fish orders arrive at the same time, you canimagine the volume of food we are trying to process at one time, it’s all hands on deck! The key is prioritising and good communication. I will let the teachers know when goods for their classes have arrived andif anything is missing then a solution must be found as quickly as possible

What are the biggest orders you make each week?

Fruit and vegetables usually. Sometimes we have a very large number of a particular meat product arriving for the diploma. Last week there were 212 chickens coming into the building, along with other meat, and we have to find the space to store it all. In this instance we were able to send the chickens straight to the kitchens as they were going tobe used immediately. Usually we have to remove any meat and fish from its delivery box and re-pack in our own containers so that they are stored hygienically and not sat in blood or other fluid.

What do you look for in a supplier?

The ability to accurately follow an order and supply the spec. that has been requested. On the Diploma it is essential that there is uniformity of ingredients so that all students receive an amount of food that is roughly equal. A supplier needs to be able to guarantee that they will supply 96 equally sized plaice for a class and that they will arrive on time, timing is crucial so that a class are not left waiting on produce.

How do you handle any leftovers or food waste?

We have a new recycling system for disposing of food waste from the kitchens. A company now take it for converting into bio-organic
fertiliser. leftovers from classes, if students are absent and have notused their pork tenderloin or they did not use all the leeks that were
supplied for a class, are used to prepare dishes for staff lunch. Anything the students do not wish to take home or other leftovers at
the end of the week will be sent to a charity supporting vulnerable people in the local community.

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