Every weekday at lunchtime, Bandon Grammar School’s kitchen buzzes with activity as it serves up at least 1000 covers.
At the heart of this culinary whirlwind is Shane Deane, the catering manager. From busy chopping stations to rows of sizzling saucepans, Shane ensures everything runs seamlessly.
Yet, nestled among these familiar sights is an unassuming element that’s doing wonders to increase the school’s sustainability efforts…
It’s a solitary hob that sits on its own countertop, heating a large stock pot that gently simmers away.
But this isn’t just an extra piece of kitchen equipment.
This is Shane’s trusty partner in sustainability, made possible by MyGug (more on that in a bit).
Because this hob is powered not by the standard gas mains, but by the very food waste the school produces.
It’s a revolutionary solution to the challenge of food waste that plagues schools.
A partnership powering a green (school) revolution
Fiona Kelleher, the CEO of MyGug, and Kieran Coffey, its CTO, share more than just business ties with Bandon Grammar School.
Their eldest son once made daily treks from Clonakilty to attend.
Back then, the school’s approach to sustainability was still budding. It’s in no small part thanks to Shane’s arrival that things have begun to shift in big ways.
Collaborating with Fiona and Kieran, Shane has leveraged the power of MyGug to not just transform the school kitchen, but to champion a larger, greener vision for the entire school.
The chef crafting meals and shaping sustainable choices
Shane’s expertise is undeniable.
He hold accolades to his name like the Knorr Student Chef of the Year 2012 and a tenure as head chef at the esteemed Celtic Ross Hotel.
But his brilliance goes beyond his credentials.
It’s in his philosophy. Shane possesses a genuine zest for sustainability that couples beautifully with his passion for crafting good, wholesome food.
With Shane in the kitchen, students at Bandon Grammar School aren’t merely fed – they’re nourished in body and mind as they’re introduced to the concept of eating responsibly and sustainably.
Shane’s always looking for innovative ways to boost sustainability
He’s found a key ally in the large egg-shaped MyGug that sits right outside the school’s kitchen door.
But what is it exactly?
MyGug is Ireland’s pioneering micro-scale anaerobic biodigester, designed specifically for schools and food businesses.
Through maceration and bacterial activity, the biodigester transforms Bandon Grammar School’s unavoidable food waste into clean and efficient biogas for cooking.
Yes, even the tricky stuff like cooked meat, dairy and cakes go in. Nothing is off the table.
But MyGug’s capabilities don’t stop at creating biogas
The waste Shane feeds into the MyGug returns not just as cooking fuel but also as liquid fertiliser for gardening, supporting the school’s efforts to produce more of its own food.
MyGug is helping Shane create a true farm-to-fork circular economy.
Sustainability in every simmer
About twice a week, Shane’s kitchen prepares a large pot of chicken stock.
Positioned on its own biogas hob, this pot simmers for hours, relying entirely on the energy generated by the MyGug biodigester.
Once the stock is perfectly rich and tasty, Shane and his team turn it into chicken soup. ‘You get so many more nutrients and much more flavour into the soup by starting with homemade stock,’ Shane says. ‘There’s nothing like it.’
One batch of this extra-nourishing soup lasts the students at Bandon Grammar School about half a week.
But the cycle doesn’t end there.
The used chicken bones are fed into the MyGug and the unit gets to work replenishing its biogas supply. By the time the last ladle of chicken soup is served, the MyGug’s gas bag is refilled, ready to fuel the next round of stock.
Shane says he can tell no difference between cooking with biogas versus cooking with fossil fuel.
But it’s definitely making a difference…
Because with every blue flame sparked by the biogas, Shane is helping propel Bandon Grammar School’s journey towards a greener future.
Shane’s next goal is to strengthen the cycle
With the school’s MyGug turning food waste into energy and fertiliser, Shane is making plans for an even more sustainable future.
The next step he’s excited about?
Raising chickens. They’ll further close the loop on the school’s circular food system.
The plan is to have the chickens consume even more of the school’s unavoidable food waste. These chickens, in turn, will provide the core ingredients for the stock and soup.
After that, their bones will be processed by the MyGug biodigester to produce more biogas for cooking and fertiliser for growing.
‘Locally-grown’ isn’t just a buzzword here
Right now, most of the fertiliser from the MyGug is used in the school’s polytunnel.
That’s where Shane oversees the growing of vibrant salad leaves and wildly delicious tomatoes that put any bland, water-laden imports to shame.
‘Growing our own means we don’t have to bring our salad ingredients in from Spain or anywhere like that,’ Shane says. ‘It’s all grown right here.’
With the polytunnel doing so well, the plan is to expand the growing programme so the school can become even more self-sufficient.
From the lunch plate to the science lab
It’s not just Shane who gets to marvel at the process of biodigestion.
In addition to powering sustainable meals, the MyGug has also become a hands-on teaching tool for the students.
Shane says, ‘It’s great that the science teachers can bring their classes over to see the MyGug up close so they can learn about anaerobic digestion in action.’
And in that way, sustainability isn’t just being served on plates – it’s now part of the school’s lesson plan too.
Dishing out sustainability, one lunch at a time
Without a doubt, Chef Shane and his team are revolutionising the kitchen at Bandon Grammar School.
But their efforts are bigger than just one kitchen and one school.
They’re showing what can be achieved when dedication meets innovative solutions.
Beyond merely cooking more sustainably, Shane and his team are creating a conscious, educated community that values every drop of biogas, every homegrown tomato and every student’s understanding of a sustainable future.
MyGug could be the changemaker your business or school needs. Get in touch to book a call with Fiona and Kieran. We’ll chat about how you can set the course for a more sustainable and flavourful future.
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