Title ID 1267Collection ID161
TitleTime to Eat
CollectionElectricity Council
Genre/TypeProfessionalFilm/Video companyNon-fictionActuality/Factual
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsAirports Aircraft Companies Food Industry Leisure Time Activities Education Tourism Workers Uniforms
LocalSouthampton Bournemouth Danbury Gatwick
RegionalSurrey Hampshire Essex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionDrayton Film Productions Ltd., London
Commissioning bodyThe Electricity Council, London
FormatColour Sound
Duration20 Min.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


Managers and teachers working in the South East's catering industry are interviewed to explain how electricity has changed modern meals, preparation times and eating habits in this film produced by Drayton Film Productions Ltd. for The Electricity Council, London, in 1973.


Narration begins, continuing throughout the film; 'Haute Cuisine accounts for merely 10% of meals served in this country today.' Popular catering accounts for the remaining 90%. Cafe Scenes follow, where much of the foods served are snacks. Scenes of working men eating their lunch, market stalls and produce follow. The narrator explains that 1,000,000 men and women are employed in the hotel and catering industry. In a period kitchen, ingredients for a grand meal are laid out. The stove range is seen, the only way to boil water before electricity. Meals, preparation times and eating habits have changed. A modern kitchen in a restaurant is seen, providing 24 hour eating services to a highly mobile public. Hot meals are served to customers in a aeroplane and department store.

Jeff Haynes of Southampton explains the new equipment, including modern ovens, saves time when cooking meat and pastries. He cooks for department stores, where there is a high demand for pastries, made on the premises. The staff canteen and snack bars are seen, made possible with smaller and lighter electrical equipment.

George Ranson, Head of Catering at Bournemouth College, is interviewed. The town is dependent on the catering industry, he explains. Students at the college are seen, preparing food and carrying out research. 200 portions of chicken are cooked at one time, training the student in bulk catering and using commercial equipment, as well as preparing more than one dish at a time. In the training restaurant, supporting skills are taught and service standards maintained. The students learn how to use a blast freezer to freeze cooked food before reconstituting. Experiments are made with the equipment to maintain the texture and taste of bakeries. A student pulls out a tray of croissants from a modern oven.

In Danbury, Essex, Mr. Waddell has opened a restaurant at a pub after convincing the brewery with his business plan. Visitors drink and eat in the pub. The kitchen houses the necessary equipment, including a warming cupboard, bain marie, deep freeze, grills and ovens. Chefs prepare lobster and other meals. Both have college training.

At Surrey University, students are prepared for the responsibilities in the hotel and catering industry, which is becoming increasingly technologically orientated. They operate restaurants with a flexible stage that changes several times a year, from a self-service snack bar to a high-end restaurant. Various transformations are demonstrated, as the 'stage' is modified into different eateries. Food and services change with the furniture, decor, layout, equipment and lighting. Students prepare for managerial positions in the industry at electrically equipped units.

The narrator explains how an increase in tourism has provided new opportunities. Mr. Gale, who has opened a restaurant adjoining Gatwick Airport, is interviewed. The hotel has expanded thanks to a 24 hour food service. The chefs can rely on the electrical equipment to produce food with fresh and frozen produce. He caters for the delayed passengers from Gatwick. Hundreds of frozen meals are on hand to cater for a sudden rush in customers. Frozen meals are combined with conventional cooking at the hotel, catering for conferences and dinner dances.

The Electric Catering Centre is shown, where up to the minute advise on catering trends and equipment is available. Commercial equipment is seen. Planning is carried out with area electricity boards. 'The first move in planning for profits, which is the very essence of modern commercial catering, whether it is for popular meals or haute cuisine, is to employ all the advantages offered by electricity.'


A still from 'Time to Eat' (1973)A still from 'Time to Eat' (1973)