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Catherine Prior - Catering supervisor

When Catherine joined us in September of 2010, it was her first full-time role since returning to work after raising a family. She was looking for a job that fitted around her life, challenged her and put her catering skills to good use. She found it here.

Proper cooking

"I'd been working part time in a nursery, serving pre-cooked meals, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to get into 'real' catering again, and working with a school really appealed - not just for the holiday and the hours.

School dinners are quite high profile at the moment, thanks to Jamie Oliver's push for healthy eating. The meals are much better nowadays. It's all freshly cooked, with lots of fruit and veg, and we certainly don't have a deep fat fryer. This makes my job more interesting. And the food's more interesting for the children too, of course."

Lots of support

Coming into a team of three making 150 meals a day was a big step after so long away from work. The support Catherine received made all the difference. "The regional office team were so helpful. They answered every question I had, and there was someone with me for the first two weeks to help me get back into the swing of things.

Surrey Commercial Services are really good. As well as the support they give, they source good ingredients and always make sure that we've got new and interesting recipes to work with.

Fulfilling work

I love what I do. Working with the team is great fun. And I really enjoy the challenge of making the lunches appealing to the children. The better the meals look, the easier it is to encourage the children to eat well.

But the best thing about the job is the children. I get to build relationships with them and cajole them into trying new things and eating a more varied diet. Seeing them appreciate the food I've prepared is lovely too. I never get tired of seeing how excited they get when one of their favourites is back on the menu."

A word of advice

It's clear to see the passion that Catherine has for her work. So what would her advice be to anyone considering joining the catering team? "They should definitely do it. First of all you need to enjoy cooking. You must be able to relate to children too. They're your customers, at the end of the day. You've also got to be able to work quickly and think on your feet, as things can get very busy sometimes. But it's so rewarding. I'm really happy in my work, and there's a real satisfaction to seeing the kids enjoy their lunches."

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