Setting up Abingdon School for innovative catering


In 2017, WilcoxBurchmore installed the biggest dishwasher they have ever seen into Abingdon School as part of a kitchen refurbishment project. It is 5.7m long, and it took some skilful manoeuvring to get it in place.

The brief

The initial brief was to change the dishwasher due to multiple breakdowns. Initiated by this requirement, further discussion revealed more issues:
1. Damp, humid environment in the dishwasher area with staff getting ‘rained on’ due to poor ventilation
2. Inefficient waste disposal – all waste (including liquids like soup) had to be bagged and collected twice weekly. An onerous, unpleasant and surprisingly expensive task.
3. Patched, cracked and dangerous flooring throughout kitchen which needed replacing

The client

Abingdon is an innovative school when it comes to catering, partly driven by the fact that the pupils are so knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to food. There is a ‘food committee’ and each year group takes part in a discussion about food with the catering team, talking about their likes, dislikes and preferences. As a boarding school, they have a large percentage of pupils from Asia including Hong Kong and China and the challenge is to try and balance familiar tastes whilst introducing a different culture.
The kitchen also provides event catering and post-match catering at fixtures with a high standard of tea, coffee and comfort food for the pupils, parents and visiting teams.
Parents often ask for recipes for meals that their boys have particularly enjoyed and at open days, parents are encouraged to come and try the food for themselves. It’s an opportunity for the catering team to showcase what they do.
This enthusiasm for cooking requires a kitchen geared up to prepare and produce great quality food with the minimum of fuss.

The solution

We replaced the dishwasher with a Meiko flight machine, and incorporated an IMC Wastepro within the waste disposal track, asking Trak to amend the conveyor to accommodate the new equipment. The area is extremely tight and the design needed absolute precision. We asked Nationwide to help sort out the heat and moisture in the wash up area which, whilst it would be helped by the new Meiko machine, needed additional extraction.
The amendment to the ventilation meant the area was well ventilated and along with the heat recovery properties of the dishwasher a whole different experience for the dishwash staff! We were also able to prove that the new machine would actually decrease the electricity used (by heat recovery), the detergent and rinse aid used.

In addition, the WilcoxBurchmore team, stripped the whole kitchen floor, replacing it with Altro flooring, installed a new Frima pan, Rational oven, fridges and refrigerated counters. They also replaced an outdated floor in the servery area with a beautiful hard-wearing wood.

The result

Catering Manager John Marvelly is delighted with the results:

“Although we thought we knew what we wanted, WilcoxBurchmore offered options and challenged some of our decisions based on their experiences. They were keen to find solutions that really worked for us. An example of their tenacity to resolve a potential problem was in transferring an oven from main school to the prep school. Although at first glance it looked an impossible task, WilcoxBurchmore found a way. The refit has created more space, and we are delighted with the new facilities. Thanks to the Frima we can now provide proper fish and chips. Even Executive Chef Clive is a convert from his beloved bratt pan! Equally important to the installation is the after-care such as training on the equipment, dealing with snagging etc. all of which WilcoxBurchmore handled smoothly.”

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