Michael Williams & Simon Scott
Michael Williams & Simon Scott Nathan Greaves

Third year running for catering award

The state's best food by an industrial caterer can be found tucked away in the Lockyer Valley.

For the third year running, UQ in Gatton have taken the title of Best Site & Industrial Caterer, for Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The award was given by the Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence, a nationally recognised, independent awards program that recognises service and culinary talent across Australia.

The dining hall at UQ Gatton beat out seven other finalists in its category and region to win the award, and are now through to the National finals once again.

The latest win comes thanks to the efforts of the 30-strong local team from Chartwells Catering, led by Site Manager Michael Williams.

He said the atmosphere, quality, and presentation of the hall, food, and staff played a big part in swaying the judge's opinion.

"I think it's the experience they have when they come and judge us; the dining hall looks fantastic, and the food that the chefs produce is a big part of it as well,” he said.

The judges pre-book a day to come in and conduct a tour kitchens and venue, before sitting down to sample the food, and observe the interactions between staff and students.

With another state award to add to the wall, Michael and his team will now have to wait and see what outcomes the national finals might bring.

"They don't come back out, so I'd say that our scores would then be what's judged at the nationals,” Michael said.

"It's a bit of a mystery to us sometimes,” Head of Halls of Residence Simon Scott said.

"We've sort of been thinking, surely after three state titles we've got a chance at the nationals.”

UQ Gatton have come close to placing at the national level as well, being named runners-up in 2017.

"They usually don't even actually announce runners-up, so that year obviously we were very close,” Simon said.

He said the strong relationship between the university and the catering contractors was integral to continued success.

"We focus very much on having a partnership, and getting the best outcomes we can from the students who are both of our customers,” he said.

"It's a difficult thing to do, if you think about feeding 400 people, three times a day, seven days a week, for 17 to 21 year-olds who aren't afraid of telling you what they think.”

Though their focus is on providing for the students in their care, Simon and Michael are hoping to add a few more awards to the university's name.

"We've nominated in the food and dining category for the Lockyer Valley Business Awards. We've never nominated, this is the first time, so we're seeing how that goes,” Simon said.

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