Downside Boarding School Catering: Local Fresh and Homemade
08 Feb 2017
Too often boarding school food is disregarded, ridiculed and even feared for its distaste and lack of resemblance to anything recognisable! However, this could not be more out of touch with reality:
Here at Downside School in Somerset, we pride ourselves on producing fresh, tasty and nutritious food. All meals are homemade every day for our pupils and staff to help them achieve their best in and outside of the classroom.
Our boarding school catering is all taken care of by Holroyd Howe. This dedicated team produce homemade, wholesome and delicious food in the Downside kitchens for us daily. After tasting our boarding school food, it isn’t surprising that Holroyd Howe has been named as independent and school caterer of the year. And on several occasions – see a list of their awards here.
The team at Holroyd Howe cater for all school events ranging from Match Teas to Fine Dining, and from Canapé Receptions to Morning Coffee – so that there’s never a hungry tummy here!
At Downside School, we are also extremely proud of our ties with leading local suppliers. This enables us to provide the best seasonal produce and menus for all our staff and pupils throughout the day.
Education is On Our Boarding School Menu!
We also ensure that we educate our pupils about where their food comes from, introducing them to what the South West can offer. Throughout the year we invite our suppliers to showcase the best of their produce, explain what they do and most bring in lots of tasters! This builds an important understanding and appreciation of the journey that food takes to go from field to plate. One that unfortunately so many today don’t appear to be aware of.
“Food can provide the most tangible sense of well-being, important when you are settling into your new home, and vital in maintaining concentration during the school day. The menus at Downside offer a wide range of choice. Pupils are helped to make the right choices by being engaged in the importance of food and its nutritional benefits; we also encourage social eating, making mealtimes something to look forward to.” – Sarah Kieck, Downside’s Catering Manager – a former employee of River Cottage and Brasserie Blanc.
We are proud of the fact that our menus are in a constant state of flux; ever developing and evolving. Not only in response to the seasons but also based on the feedback we receive. This feedback comes from the pupils themselves via our regular Pupil Council meetings that our catering staff attend. This means that at Downside pupils eat meals that they request and enjoy a nutritionally balanced menu. This input also helps to generate interest and appreciation for the food on their plate. Our pupils understand where it comes from and who cooks it, this makes them eating it a far more enjoyable and rounded process.
This love and appreciation of the food we eat transpires from our working monastery ties. Traditionally, monks grew, harvested and cooked everything themselves. This passion still lives in our monastic community, where our monks have discovered in Downside’s archives one of the oldest English curry recipes to be found. In fact, the forgotten cookbook in which the recipe lies dates all the way back to 1793!
So what’s on the Downside Menu?
“We think it sufficient for the daily meal, whether at the sixth or the ninth hour, that there be at all the tables two dishes of cooked food because of the weaknesses of different persons; so that he who perhaps cannot eat of the one may make his meal of the other.” – The Rule of St Benedict, 39
Health and wellbeing are central features of Downside pastoral care. This is why all Downside pupils and staff enjoy a wide range of choice when choosing their meals. This is to ensure that each and everyone is catered for and no one goes hungry:
Every lunchtime and suppertime, there are choices between hot meals, a salad bar, bread, a range of puddings and, of course, fruit. Over the course of the weekdays, pupils are able to help themselves to a selection of bagels, bacon sandwiches or pastries at 11:30 – ‘morning half’. Again, at our 3:15 ‘afternoon half,’ our catering team provide a slice of cake. This ensures concentration and energy levels remain high throughout afternoon lessons and activities.
In addition to our splendid kitchen and dining room, The Downside Weld Café is also open most evenings. This provides snacks and takeaways for our boarders and a sense of freedom. In the boarding houses, there is always fresh fruit in the kitchens, where pupils are allowed to make hot drinks, toast and other refreshments.
Following, it is unsurprising that Downside School was ‘Best for Wellbeing’ in The Week, Independent Schools Guide 2015.
To view Downside School’s lunch menus, click the links below. Our lunch menu works on a four-weekly rotation.
Come and Taste our Remarkable Boarding School Catering for Yourself
If this menu takes your fancy, then why don’t you come and taste the Downside experience for yourself?
If you and your child would like to visit Downside School or you would more information, please visit our website or contact us today. We would love to arrange a trial day or night, open day visit or a taster day to help you with your decision.