Our new Catering Manager, Richard Johnston, has already made a big impact on the lunch, breakfast and dinner menus at both the Prep School and Senior School, with pupils giving their new term meals rave reviews. As well as serving consistently delicious and healthy food, he says he has plans to ensure that educating our pupils on the importance of nutrition as well as the production of their food is a priority.

Having just started, ahead of the new term, Mr Johnston is taking the first half term to scope out the current catering structure across the Prep and Senior Schools before working out where to bring in changes. He said: “One of the things I’m always keen on is to be more environmentally friendly. It’s a broad topic, but I want to bring in more recycling and reduce the plastic we use.

“Healthy eating is an absolute priority too. In my previous role, I spent a great deal of time with pupils, teaching them about how to cook healthy meals and prepare food that is both appealing and nutritious. Especially for the older pupils, it’s good for them to know how to cook for themselves before they go off to university.”

Before joining our team, Richard was a Catering Manager at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich for 18 years, where he worked his way up from washing up in the kitchen. He said: “I’ll be in the kitchen here whenever I can. I’m very much a hands-on chef. But equally I know I need to take a step back sometimes so I can see opportunities to make improvements.”

“I’m very much into Thai food. I was taught to cook by a Thai chef and I try to infuse that style of cooking into the meals we serve here.”

Richard resides in the stunning Shotley Peninsula, with his young family. He said: “I’m very family orientated. I’m the coach of my daughter’s football team and she has just had trials for Ipswich Town Football Team which was a proud moment of course.

“I love sport. I’m into football, formula one, and plenty of others. It’s great to come here and see how the pupils are all so active. Personally, I really love cycling. I’m working out ways I can cycle to work here. I haven’t worked it out yet, but I’m keen to reduce my petrol usage.”

The pupils have certainly been enjoying the changes to the catering at lunchtimes already. Rocco, in Year 13, said: “The food’s been really good this term. It’s good that after not being able to have the salad bar because of Covid-19, that’s back. I always get things from there. I had the Sunday brunch at the weekend and I loved it.”

Richard says he has been welcomed with open arms and is looking forward to the challenge ahead of him. He adds: “The staff here are fantastic. I have found they are so open minded. So, when I’ve talked about things I would like to bring in, they have been really open to a new direction.”

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