Friends of Culzean

Supporting the National Trust for Scotland's Culzean Castle and Country Park

A Charitable Company Limited By Guarantee

Company No: 317093  Scottish Charity No: SC037983

Catering @ Culzean

The catering department at Culzean Castle has experienced some difficult times over recent years. With management of the catering department being undertaken by five different temporary managers it was inevitable that the standards of food quality and service should have been difficult to maintain. In addition, this included a period of major upheaval involving extensive reconstruction and decoration work to the restaurant facilities. Unfortunately, following the old adage "once bitten twice shy", some visitors during this period might have been put off from using the restaurant at Culzean.

Chis in the KitchenSince last Easter however, the catering department has had a new Catering Manager, Chris Gilroy, and the future is looking bright. With his newly appointed Chef De Maison, major changes are taking place that will make the restaurant a popular and successful venue, not just for one-off visitors to the castle but for regular local members looking for a nice meal out. Chris is determined to ensure top-quality food served efficiently in an attractive and comfortable environment and at a rate that competes well with other restaurants in the vicinity.

A comprehensive staff training programme has been implemented to ensure that catering staff are properly inducted into the team and receive effective ongoing training in health and safety, first aid and customer care. In a commercial restaurant the staff come into contact with many potentially dangerous chemicals that are used to ensure a clean and healthy kitchen and eating area. These chemicals are far more potent than the ones used in a normal domestic environment so effective training ensures that they are used safely, effectively and efficiently. There's a lot more to customer care than just smiling and being polite. Staff must be able to deal with a wide range of incidents that might include accidents, potential confrontations, or medical emergencies. With training, the staff can handle these situations successfully; ensuring visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience, and giving staff confidence and pride in their work. An effective training programme is not only good for team building, but will provide staff with additional career opportunities. In fact, Chris is hoping to develop a full programme of catering training at Culzean which will integrate well with similar programs such as the stonemason apprenticeships operating on the property.

The gleaming kitchenThe catering department also takes environmental issues seriously. A busy restaurant can create large quantities of waste, and through the sale of packaged goods it can cause a significant litter problem. All food in the restaurant is prepared daily from fresh produce which not only provides high-quality food for visitors, but also reduces the amount of waste packaging that is normally associated with frozen or pre-packed foods. Sandwiches available at the restaurant will be packaged in biodegradable materials from this spring which not only means that the waste can be recycled but also helps reduce the litter problem in the park. All waste at the restaurant is carefully recycled.

The two main restaurant options available to visitors are the Home Farm Visitor Centre restaurant and the Stables restaurant near the castle. The restaurant at Home Farm will cater for the bulk of family visitors whilst the Stables restaurant currently undergoing major refurbishment, will provide a quieter and more sophisticated environment.

Chris and his Chef De Maison have quality food at the heart of their strategy for success at Culzean, and this includes ensuring that all the food at Culzean is now cooked with fresh produce and no additives.

The splendid and versatile serving areaAt the Home Farm visitor centre restaurant, two or even three soups are offered each day with lots of variety including such favorites as French onion, Ham & Pea and Cullen Skink. Two main dishes are available which change each day and a hot desert is available. In addition to main meals there are a range of lighter options including sandwiches and jacket potatoes with a range of fillings (three hot and two cold fillings). A wider variety of kidsí meals are on offer now including the popular kidsí boxes with a healthy range of options available. Of course, a quality range of coffees and teas are always on hand with a range of tasty bites to accompany them. In addition to the normal day-to-day catering for visitors to the park, catering is also required for the many weddings and other celebrations held at the castle or in the restaurant in the evenings. At present, the tables and chairs used in the restaurant are not suitable for these events so furniture has to be transported from the castle up to the restaurant while the restaurant furniture is put in storage. Chris has selected a new range of tables and upholstered chairs that provide the versatility needed to cater for all events. All that is lacking is the funding.

Home Fram restuarant eating areaThe new Stables restaurant will provide table service after you have placed your order at the counter. There will be an attractive and consistent environment that will be distinctly different from that at the visitor centre, with a different range of food incorporating lots of local Ayrshire produce.

Chris not only has his eye on the needs of visitors and local members, but also local businesses. The visitor centre is equipped with a 90 seater auditorium with all mod cons that would be ideal for a wide range of corporate activities including conferences and annual general meetings. Of course, full catering facilities will be on hand!

With all these exciting developments in progress and the importance the catering department has within our organization, we can only wish Chris and his team every success for the future.