Less waste, more predictability
This is made possible by an exchange of atmosphere, explains chef Vocale, who completed his training at FSGG and returned to the company after working in Michelin-starred restaurants. ‘The oxygen content under the protective film is reduced to less than 1%,’ he says. As Executive Head, Vocale is responsible for the product and concept development of ‘S-Chefs’. The technology functions differently to the conventional vacuum packing of foods – but precisely how it works is a trade secret. What we are allowed to tell you is that the machine that covers the food with the mystery protective film measures an impressive 9 metres. Equipped with grabbers and conveyor belts, the mighty machine clatters and hisses as 2 plates of meatballs undergo the process. The whole thing takes 15 to 17 seconds, and ends with a jet of air blowing a label onto the ready-wrapped ‘Meatball Parade’. Up to 6,000 catering platters can be wrapped over a 22-hour period – at least in theory, as the business is only just getting started. The next step will be to set up an online shop for the catering dishes on offer, and then things will really get going.
Securely packed for transport, the platters can then set off on their journey to the customer. In comparison to traditional catering, the much longer advance preparation and storage times this process permits offer a number of advantages. For a party planned for a Sunday, for example, all the preparations can be carried out stress-free several days beforehand. Or a pre-school that suddenly needs fewer lunches than planned can simply keep the excess meals and use them the next day. This means less food waste. Schwarz and his team also appreciate other sustainability-related aspects of the process. The reusable plates can withstand at least 100 dishwasher cycles and the single-use plates offered as an alternative are made from 85% recycled plastic. The film used to cover the food contains no palm oil, and there are plans to switch fully to organic film that is also free of microplastics. Here too, months of testing are required before the materials used satisfy all quality and handling standards. Business consultant Özgür Güneş will support Frank Schwarz with the strategic placement of the project.
It is during the testing process that METRO comes into play. Every food reacts differently, which means countless different ingredients have to be tested. FSGG uses the METRO food service distribution , with METRO delivering to the catering company 5 times a week. Customer manager Sven Fydrich is in daily contact with FSGG. Schwarz sources a range of products from METRO, from meat to dairy products and dry goods through to cleaning products. Now, with ‘S-Chefs’, the collaboration has intensified further and the requirements have become even more bespoke. ‘Customer service is paramount,’ Schwarz says. ‘The personal connection to the customer service manager is crucial.’