Today while helping in the cooking of Indian Butter Chicken Curry fundraiser, I had an interesting lesson in promoting Quality & Social Capital in my Teen's High School Kitchen in Wollongong, a regional city 50 miles south of Sydney. So as an ASQ Global Influential Voice for Quality, I like to share my unexpected lesson in Quality during my day of Volunteering.
I had agreed to help out with the fundraising drive, of Butter Chicken, Beef Korma, Basmati Rice & Dahl, for our local Illawarra Disability Trust. I've long been a fan of Indian Food & own several books on Indian & Asian Food (Charmaine Solomon, Madhur Jaffrey, etc). Recently I'd seen "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly & Beautiful " movie (due for release in the USA in May 2012 ?), which reminded me of travelling in India in the mid 1980's & my love of Indian food.
And so I found myself helping with production of approximately 200 packs of Butter Chicken Curry, but not realising that I, as Metallurgist & Quality Manager, was about to receive a down to earth & practical lesson in promoting Quality by two very experienced Indian women cooks, one hailing from India itself, and the other, an Indian, originally from Kenya.
Coordinated by these two Indian women, another school Mum (aka Mom) & her friend, I noticed a number of quality aspects in the Curry fundraising activity :
- a time-tested & true recipe was being followed - having been used successfully on previous curry drives for several decades
- various marketing approaches were used - word of mouth, order forms at school & emails - with several reminders issued
- customer focus - several time slots were offered for collecting the curries
- outsourcing management - trusted suppliers were used to source the curry powder, chicken & other ingredients
- resources management - ingredient quantities were checked & re-checked with the two experts conferring throughout the activity to calibrate that all was in control
- OTJ on the job learning was employed with help & guidance gently provided throughout - and we had soon figured out each others' accents to avoid any confusion
- technology, online cloud ordering system & an excel spreadsheet, along with old fashioned hard copy order forms, were used to manage the 100's of orders
- differing quality of kitchen tools impacted operational efficiencies - having the right slotted spoon, or not etc
- OHS - Safety was crucial when the huge stockpot of Butter Chicken was transported from Cooktop to Benches
- Spec checks - final weights of the finished Butter Chicken packs were checked to make sure they were in "spec"
- Labelling & Identification of all curry packs to ensure there was no mix-up between the Butter Chicken & Beef Korma - although visually they were quite different in colour.
- Food Safety - all ingredients were supplied fresh, stainless steel benches in the school kitchen, no cross contamination of utensils for raw chicken & Coriander (aka Cilantro), not to mention all finished Curry packs were transferred to the fridge as soon as possible to reduce bacterial problems
- Pride in the product appearance with guidance on final presentation - ie cleaning drips on the edges of the curry packs & Coriander (aka Cilantro) leaf garnishes to meet the high standards of our Indian mentors
- Great cooperation from those working in the School Kitchen providing normal school day canteen/cafeteria services - ie no friction when we "occupied some of their usual territory"
- Volunteer management - a nice touch with the school's Marketing Director & Senior School Captains popping in & thanking the volunteers for their efforts to support the Illawarra Disability Trust fundraiser
- Lots of Stories of how the individual curry packs would be shared across families & friends - viz one of mine was "gifted" to the partner of a workmate recovering in hospital from neural surgery - she spends almost every waking hour supporting him at the rehab hospital & so had very few home cooked meals in the last three months
The outcome - an unexpected and practical lesson in promoting both Quality & Social Capital created by tired, but happy, volunteers supplying highly regarded & safe products to hundreds of eager customers - which raised money for a much needed local charity program.