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New air fryers making our kitchens greener

Barnsley College Head of Catering Martyn Hollingsworth with his new air fryers.

Barnsley College Head of Catering Martyn Hollingsworth with his new air fryers.

Barnsley College is showing its sustainable credentials – and commitment to staff and student wellbeing – by removing fried foods and implementing air fryers in its outlets.

The College’s Head of Catering, Martyn Hollingsworth, was inspired by years of experience working in the industry to make a healthier choice for the thousands of students and staff accessing the seven outlets across the College’s campuses.

Martyn started his career in large-scale catering at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary before a spell working in pubs. He moved on to Leeds Metropolitan University, before working as a lecturer at Harrogate Tutorial College in 2004 – and has since worked with more than 2,000 young chefs in 18 years at Barnsley College.

“Wanting to go back to my roots, I took the decision to move to catering services for the challenge – to make a difference to all the learners and staff at the college,” said Martyn.

“I soon saw that the main dish was pizza and chips. I thought, with the obesity that we see, catering services really wasn’t helping people to make better choices.

“I really wanted to provide a service with healthier, more exciting dishes that challenge what we typically expect from catering in an environment like a college.

“Look at our Street Eats concept with dishes like curry bowls of sweet potato and chickpea curry on rice and topped with Bhaji crumb and riata. It’s fantastic, quality food that we can produce in high quantities and serve quickly.”

NHS Digital figures show 25.9 per cent of year six pupils in Barnsley schools were obese last year. When looking at those in later life, around 38.3 per cent of over-18s in Barnsley were obese at the end of 2022 and 70.9 per cent were either overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9) or obese (30 to 39.9).

Martyn attended a LACA (Local Authority Caterers’ Association) conference and had his ‘lightbulb’ moment that he would make Barnsley College one of the first further education providers to serve ‘guilt-free’ air-fried chips at its sites.

Currently in six of the College’s seven campuses, the 2.5kg air fryers remove staff’s need to use up to 20 litres of cooking oil to cook around 100 bags of chips every day.

He added: “Then, there’s the sustainability side of things – we have at Barnsley College seven outlets that serve fried foods, with a total of 16 fryers burning gas or electricity at an alarming rate.

“These are turned on from 7am to 3pm most days, trying to keep at the optimum temperature of 180 degrees. The kilowatts per hour generated by them was frightening.

“Not to mention the money that I spent last year on vegetable oil – and believe me, we didn’t throw it away, topping up fryers daily with 10 to 20 litres of oil.

“Our learners now eat chips that contain 80 per cent less saturated fat, are energy efficient, and ultimately more sustainable.”

Last updated: 12th December 2023

Originally posted on: 17th November 2023

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