Kerry Lockeridge Selfie at a Life, Functions & Catering Event

Interview with Kerrie Lockeridge

It’s a big job keeping the staff and students of UNE fed on a daily basis!

The team from UNE Life, Functions & Catering manage The Cafe, internal and external catering jobs, The ‘Stro and Booloominbah kitchen. Some of these things are currently closed due to COVID – but that doesn’t mean the team of legends behind the catering services at UNE have slowed down… They’ve been busy creating condiments and sauces for people to take home courtesy of The Shop, they have made special event flavoured choc-tops for the Belgrave Cinema, collaborated with the team from Advocacy & Welfare to bring students Meal Kits over exam time, and they’ve been ensuring all of our hospitality services operate at the highest COVID Safe levels humanly possible.

We would hazard a guess that you might not even know some of the people that work behind the scenes! So we thought we would introduce you to a few of the people that make the kitchens on campus work like magic.

Meet Kerrie, you may have seen her through the kitchen window at The Cafe, transporting catering around campus or even diving down the blowup slide at Winter last year!

Kerrie has worked for UNE Life, for 5 years now, our head chef Chris knew her from working at the bowling club 20-odd years ago

One day, I got a phone call from Chris asking if I could help out with food preparation for one graduation celebration lunch. The rest is history.

She is part of the team that look after everyday catering services as well as across big events like graduation, college, club and staff events, weddings on the lawns of Booloominbah, functions and conferences at The ‘Stro and other places on and off campus.

Kerrie is vivacious, always looking for the best in people and situations, she is an incredible team player and always puts her hands up to help or get involved. Over the past few months of madness, she has helped out at The Shop packing textbook orders to ensure students had all the resources they needed. She worked on the Meal Kit Pop Up events – everything from helping the team decide the meals, packing individual bags of ingredients to driving the van with the boxes and handing them out to students with the Advocacy team.

Tiarne, James, Chris and Kerry, standing at the UNE Life, Advocacy & Welfare Pop Up event on campus at UNE

Here’s a snap of two of the Advocates; Tiarne and James with Chris and Kerrie from the UNE Life, Functions & Catering team.

“I LOVE to cook! Anything and everything, but especially baking sweets. For me, the most enjoyable days are the busiest ones. I really enjoy the whole process of thinking big and elaborate, getting involved in functions and events from the start – this is one of the exciting things about work that I’m involved in”

“Offsite catering is excellent; it’s super fun going to new places and meeting the array of people we cater for”

What a regular day looks like for you?

This is a hard question during COVID times! Before our industry was shaken up by the pandemic, a regular day would consist of:

  • Make batches of muffins*
  • Organise, prep, cook and pack morning teas for catering, and then start on the lunches and afternoon teas!
  • Help to run lunch service in our many outlets
  • Pack up, clean up
  • Get everything ready for the next day!

Busy and full on – just how we like it, actually a fun fact is that the muffin tally for us last year: 10,200. How crazy is that!

Tell us about your involvement with the Meal Kits

I loved doing this project. The first batch, we made 60 samples packs of 2 dishes each for the students… and it took off like crazy! Over the next two weeks we made 160 boxes, with 5 meals in each pack! Each bag needed to be individually packed so people could just take it all out and have everything prepped and organised for cooking. The last week was 100 boxes, 5 bags to a box. Big job.

Tuesday’s we spent literally ALL DAY packaging, Wednesday morning we would drop them all off, and then Wednesday afternoon – we would start prepping, ordering and packaging again. I absolutely loved it! But I was just one cog in the whole machine, our amazing head chef Chris and the whole team in the UNE Life Café kitchen helped out getting this together. They are a great bunch!

What’s your favorite part about your role?

Wow, there are so many, where do I start? I really enjoy just organizing a busy day, it might sound a bit silly, but it’s exciting! When the kitchen is going crazy and orders are flying in from the front counter, and we have a pile of catering jobs to do and a big function on at night that we’re prepping for… those are the best days.

My colleagues are a lot of fun, we have lots of laughs in the kitchen!

Last year, my focus was almost entirely on catering – Life Functions and Catering had a record year! – and I absolutely loved it, a busy catering day is really exciting. Hopefully catering picks up again after the pandemic.

Hospitality can be a high-pressure environment! What helps you relax outside of work?

I love entertaining guests at home with my family, walking with the kids and our 2 dogs, I also enjoy gardening. As a family, we do a lot of DIY home renovation stuff, Oh, and I regularly foster puppies for the RSPCA (so cute!). We love exploring and go on lots of camping trips and adventures; swimming, boating. When I’m not busy… I do crafty things. I never really “do nothing” haha!

Who do you look up to?

Oh, that’s obvious! It’s UNE Life’s head chef, Chris Moloney. I’ve known Chris for years, we used to work together. He’s just so competent, calm, and he really cares about the people who work for him. I love Chris, everyone knows that!

Do you have a signature dish?

Ooh, baking is my favorite! I know that’s not an actual cuisine, but I love to bake sweets. Anything… cakes, slices, biscuits, 10,000 muffins, haha. I do like to change it up – melting moments are always fun to make, and people love a freshly baked melting moment, yum. My blondie recipe is a hit, too… I hope you’ve tried one!

About 11 years ago… I worked at Caffeinds in Armidale mall, I made up a dish called “Blazon” to put on their menu. It’s a scooped out avocado filled with bacon, onion and mashed avocado with melted cheese on top, served with a bit of toast and chutney. The idea is that you spread the filling onto the toast. We wanted to name the dish something fancy, so we looked up ‘spread’ in the thesaurus and ‘blazon’ was a synonym, apparently. The ‘blazon’ is still on their menu, and lots of people think that ‘blazon’ is some fancy French avocado dish, but it really just means ‘spread’!

What skills have you learned or developed that you didn’t expect working for UNE Life?

This organisation is so much more so than just “singular kitchens” or department. It’s awesome because we’re so busy here –  managing so many different menus, running from the one kitchen. It requires a lot of organising, great teamwork and multi-tasking to ensure this place runs well! We’re always thinking about multiple dietary requirements, quality, sustainability, variety – its a big responsibility.

On top of work, UNE Life has offered me some quite unique experiences – some that are so random and enjoyable, like wrestling a colleague in a sumo suit at Tune!FM’s Winter Welfare event one year, a riding a crazy mechanical bull, oh and that time we tested the waterslide – during O-Week at SportUNE. I’ve had a lot of fun at the student events UNE Life has hosted over the years, the obstacle course last year was awesome, I just love that my role plays a part in creating these events, making them successful and that I’ve got to participate in some of the fun too!

Kerrie, you’re a total delight, thank you for chatting with us and for keeping the magic alive in the kitchen!

If you’re in Armidale and looking for for something just a little different
visit The Shop, it’s open Monday to Friday and has a range of
amazing local gifts including seasonal treats cooked by the team at UNE Life, Functions & Catering.