Winchester catering boss Dave wins top award from his colleagues in university food sector

18 Aug 2023

The University of Winchester Catering Operations Manager has received an Outstanding Achievement award from his peers.

Dave Morton received the honour at the summer conference of TUCO (The University Caterers Organisation) held at St Andrew’s University.

The award came as a complete surprise to Dave who was nominated by his industry colleagues.

Ryan Hanson, South West Regional Chair for TUCO, said in the award nomination: “Dave has been a member of the TUCO family for as long as I have had a career in catering. During this time, he has achieved countless awards and accolades, all of which are of great merit and show his commitment to his team, students and industry.

“However, those awards as great as they may be, are not a patch on the amount of respect, admiration and kinship he shares with his colleagues.”

Dave said: “It’s really nice to be recognised but the award is not just about me. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my catering team.”

The 60-year-old has been catering manager at Winchester in 1998 when the institution was still King Alfred’s College. Since then, he has adapted to changing tastes moving from a ‘meat-and-two-veg’ world to one where students and staff are ‘grazing’ and eating on the go and there is greater demand for vegetarian, vegan, and free-from options.

Dave created the catering departments vision of “we cater for LIFE” which is still used to this day. LIFE stands for Local, Independent, Fair and Ethical which promotes the use of local suppliers, high welfare meat and dairy and sustainability.

Under Dave’s leadership, the University has won a host of food awards including holding three stars from the Sustainable Restaurant Association for 10 years, eight awards including one gold from the Soil Association. Winchester was awarded the Compassion in World Farming’s Good Egg Award in 2009 for its use of free-range eggs and was one of only three higher education institutions to receive the Good Chicken Award in 2010. This was followed by the Good Dairy Award in 2011 and more recently two consecutive golds in the annual Free From Eating Out Awards

One Dave’s biggest achievements the massive reduction in the use of disposable coffee cups. In 2016 he introduced a 25p surcharge on a disposable coffee cup, and in conjunction with the University’s environment team, offered reusable Gum-tec cups to all first-year students, something that still happens, to this day.

This has seen reusable coffee cup use at the university increase by 900 per cent One of Dave’s latest projects has been helping to establish the Winchester Food Partnership which supports and develops sustainable food practices across the Winchester district.

The move toward greater sustainability within the University’s catering department is one of Dave’s proudest achievements.

“We have always tried to be market leaders in this. We were ahead of the field in many projects – the coffee surcharge which became known nationally as the ‘latte levy’ is just one example,” said Dave.

“The work from Winchester was a key factor in Professor Wouter Poortinga’s, research paper, and the paper was included in a 2017 white paper, by the Environmental Audit Committee. We were also a runner up to Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir, for the Sustainable Restaurant Association Environmental Award, in 2012, not bad for a small university” 

He also proud of the department’s record in staff retention.

“We have many staff who have been here for ten, 20 or even 30 years, starting as part time or casual staff and becoming managers or specialist in key areas. I have always tried to recruit from within and plan for succession, providing the necessary training ensures the team keep their skills and knowledge as current as possible.”

Dave started in catering at 16 as a washer-up in a restaurant kitchen and went on to work in hotels and restaurants, was head chef at St Mary’s Hospital, Portsmouth and worked in events catering and contract catering.

Among the famous names he has cooked for include Princess Anne.

Now after a quarter of a century at the University and more than 40 years in catering Dave is looking forward to retirement in December and spending more time with his family.

He and his wife plan to move from Portsmouth to Devon to be closer to their daughter and her family.

A keen biker, Dave has been ‘blood runner’, for 12 years, with SERV the volunteer motorcycle group which transports blood products between hospitals, and he hopes to continue this service in the West Country.

He also plans to pursue his hobby in woodwork and interests in sustainability, with a view to gaining some academic qualifications in the field in which he has become something of an expert.

Pictured above: Dave Morton (centre) receiving his award at the TUCO summer conference. he is flanked by Phil Rees-Jones,c hair of TUCO, and James McGrath from award sponsors Britivic.

Back to media centre