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A fresh connection
25/12/2006 | Channel:
Health, Packaging & Logistics
Chef's Connection is a major supplier of quality fresh fruit, vegetables and specialist foods
With around 18 years of experience, and a rich family heritage, Chef's Connection is the professional chef's premier choice for high-quality, fresh and dry fruit and vegetables. From its base in New Covent Garden Market, London, the company's fleet of refrigerated lorries delivers the finest, fresh produce to customers in London,
the Midlands, and the South of England. Chef's Connection's experienced employees source the finest, fresh fruit and vegetables from around Europe.
"I originally founded Chef's Connection in 1989," explains Daniel Murphy, managing director at the company. "I have been in the fruit and vegetable business since I was around 11 years old. Both my father, and his father sold fruit and vegetables from barrows in London, so the industry is very much in my blood. Together with owning a fruit and vegetable shop in Ilford, I built and opened a restaurant called the Café Rouge, in the Barbican Centre, which achieved 13 out of 20 in the Good Food Guide.
"I used to do all of the buying, in terms of fruit and vegetables, meat, and fish for the restaurant, so I gained more experience in the industry," Daniel continues. "During this time, I became friends with Paul Gaylor, a top London chef, and began sourcing fruit and vegetables for his kitchen, which is how Chef's Connection originally started. This gradually increased until I was sourcing fresh produce for other kitchens, and I eventually sold Café Rouge to permanently concentrate on Chef's Connection. I'm glad that I have my family participating in the business actively on a board level - Paul Murphy, my son deals with all the buying from New Covent Garden Market, which is by far the best market there is in terms of quality and distribution. Miles Browne, my son-in-law is responsible for all office procedures and distribution.
"Today we source high-quality, fresh fruit and vegetables from across Europe," says
Daniel. "We fly to various countries to evaluate growers, and visit the main fruit
and vegetable markets, such as Milan, Barcelona and Perpignan. We spend a great deal of time finding people to grow the specific product that we want, and one of the key factors that sets us apart as a supplier is that we never like to say no. We pride ourselves on our service, and do not draw the line until we haveexhausted every possible avenue of getting the product."
Chef's Connection operates from a number of purpose built, refrigerated units in central London: "In Covent Garden Market we have six units," Says Daniel. "We have an area for dairy products, which we import directly from around the British Isles and France. We have separate freezer facilities where we work very closely with a company called Ravi Foods, which distributes excellent purees, and a dry stores area where we store produce that we get directly from Italy and France.
"Together with this, we built a new preparation area in 2005," Daniel continues. "The building cost around £250,000, and it runs very efficiently, the produce is controlled excellently, and it is a great environment to work in. It was constructed in close co-operation with a potato company that we work with. It gives us complete control of the potato prepping, from the initial lifting of the potato, to the control temperatures, which are vitally important. Ideally potatoes should be kept at nine degrees, because when the temperature drops below this the starch turns to sugar, meaning the potato will not fry properly, but will burn and caramelise. Together with the prepping area we have two units that run at nine degrees, where we store potatoes."
The company's prep service prepares vegetables to individual specifications for customers: "Our prep process includes the peeling of vegetables, the washing and spinning of salads, chipping and peeling potatoes, and churning carrots, although it varies for each individual customer," says Daniel. "We are very proud of all of our facilities, and they are always spotlessly clean and efficiently run. So much so that we welcome anyone to visit our units, unannounced, 24-hours a day, and we will give them a complete tour of the premises."
Looking to the future, Daniel is confident that Chef's Connection can continue to offer all of its customers the best possible service available: "We are very good at what we do, and we always guarantee our customers that we will give them 100 per cent, all of the time. We have complete respect for all of our customers, whatever their size, and their order. I believe in becoming firm friends with the chefs, and that it is equally important to love food and cooking if you want to succeed in this business. I think the key to all of our success is our staff, I would not change them for anyone else in the market, and throughout the company we are known for the quality and enthusiasm we put into our operations."