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Case Study: University of East Anglia

July 16th , 2023 by

With a student population of around 18,000 students, the University of East Anglia boasts 14 catering facilities on site, where they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As Head Chef at UEA, Matt Crooks oversees all 14 of these outlets, and deals with everything from creating and costing menus, customer queries, ensuring food quality, and safety checking all food deliveries. High on his agenda is end-to-end food safety through the entire delivery, preparation, and serving process, as he explains;

“Our biggest challenges on a day-to-day basis include getting the food out on time, making sure all the food is safe to eat, making sure all our temperatures are all in line, and organising staff – we have around 30 people working back of house at any given time, so demands are high.”

To provide this food safety assurance, Matt and his team have over 40 in-fridge Monika sensors, and 5 handheld Monika probes throughout their 4 onsite kitchens. Before introducing Monika’s systems almost 2 years ago, the UEA team relied purely on handheld probes and manual paperwork, which Matt explains was extremely time consuming, and a lot of hassle. In the instance something had mistakenly been incorrectly recorded, the Health Organisation would require backlogs of data to check nothing else had been inadvertently missed. Now, with the Monika systems, Matt is able to provide detailed reports within minutes.

“It’s like having a team mate with you at all times, and you can rely on it to get things correct for you. It just takes away the element of human error. The Monika system provides a safety net, it looks after everything you might miss. Catering is a high stress environment; there’s lots to take in. So anything that can save you time is going to make your day a lot better.” 

Beyond helping the UEA stay compliant with legislation, Matt also highlighted the role Monika has played in preventing unnecessary food waste, thanks to their automatic alerts. Whilst cleaning, one of the catering fridges was knocked, accidentally switching the unit off. As the temperature started to rise, the Monika sensor recorded the appliance was outside the pre-determined safe temperature range, and sent out an alert.

“Once the system let me know, I went back into the kitchen, saw the fridge was off, switched it back on, and we didn’t lose any food. Previously we would’ve been unaware, and had to throw away that food.”

As somebody trained as a chef with limited interaction with office programmes and technology, Matt went on to praise the simplicity of the Monika dashboard, comparing the learning curve to getting to know a recipe – once you’ve learnt it, you know how to do it. With such a wide team, Matt determined everyone from the Head Chef to the Kitchen Porters should be familiar with how to use the Monika system, and now reports the entire team are comfortable using the technology.

Matt summarised his experience with the Monika system, saying;

“I would absolutely recommend the Monika system to other chefs. Time-saving is massive in this industry. If you can focus more time on the food, that’s what every chef wants.”

Watch the video case study here.

For more information on The University of East Anglia, please visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/. To find out more about Monika’s temperature monitoring systems, please phone 01664 420 022.