How To Serve Chicken Soup

The catering industry is often portrayed as an elitist environment where chefs battle it out in the quest for Michelin Stars and AA rosettes to display on a restaurant wall. There are numerous television programmes that aim to rip apart a badly performing establishment and rebuild it as a kitchen that delivers the best food in the galaxy; and beyond. There was once a time when TV chefs aimed to educate, provide a service of sorts by teaching lesser mortals to knock up a fish pie and apple crumble.

These days, if it is not about hard to get hold of ingredients, the shows are generally a celebrity slagging match offering no information of any value, let alone a recipe to follow. Hell's Kitchen, F Word and the like fail to entertain; they just offend anyone with an ounce of sensibility. It was due to this inherent elitist behaviour that I decided to move away from the restaurant environment and take to the streets in search of some wholesome nourishment for body and soul.

Having established a number of restaurants, I am obviously well educated when it comes to equipping a kitchen. However, deciding to engage in mobile catering with al fresco dining, I realised that I was somewhat of a novice. I wanted to be able to provide a diverse range of foods, and yet I had to consider that I would be on the move daily, so space was of a premium and weight needed to be kept to a minimum.

After much discussion with others in the industry, and a bit of healthy scouting of competitor set-ups I decided that I would go back to basics and invest in one pot cooking and utilise the much overlooked soup kettle. The preparation involved for this type of cooking can be done in advance, thus eliminating the need for a preparatory area on site and the soup kettle doubles up as a cooking pot and as a bain marie. I figured that this not only saved precious space, but kept the weight down too.

The plan was to have a selection of foods - soup, casserole, stew, chilli and curry on offer with various types of breads that complemented each dish, and entice the passing hoards to part with a small amount of cash for a bowl of wholesome goodness. The plan worked, and was an astounding success.

Although this was a pleasing and rewarding experience, it wasn't long before my desire to turn my back on the restaurant industry morphed into an ever more altruistic desire to feed the people that needed food more than anyone else; the homeless. From high class fussy eaters bickering about the finer points of a rare steak, to hungry people that are grateful for a full belly; this was a recipe for fulfilment as far as I was concerned.

The plan was simple. Each day I started with soup kettles full to the brim with the day's offerings, and at the close of business, as shops were shutting, whatever was left in the pots was distributed free of charge to the hungry and homeless in the town. No chef likes to see good food go to waste, but the ultimate reward is in seeing the food being enjoyed. I can testify that taking to the streets and becoming a freelance soup kitchen of sorts had reaped a greater sense of satisfaction than any Michelin Star could deliver.

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About The Author, Dominicdonaldson
Dominic Donaldson is an expert in the catering industry.
Find out more about soup kettles and other specialist catering equipment at Commercial Kitchens Online.