Quality matters - meet Basanta, our Quality Assurance Manager

Quality matters - meet Basanta, our Quality Assurance Manager

He’s passionate about Quality Assurance, and he’s leading the QA team in our kitchen – which is great news for everyone!  Because we all want our tenderloins to be tip-top, and our fritter mix flawless.

What’s your role at Dinner Ladies?

I’m the manager of a Quality Assurance (QA) team of four and my main responsibility is to maintain the hygienic safety and high quality of the food for our customers.

The QA team

It might sound crazy, but I love to talk about food safety! For example, current food safety practices in industry and households, food recalls and labelling, the right cooking temperatures for food, protecting against cross-contamination and so on. I’ve worked in QA for over a decade and I’m passionate about it!

Checking the temperature of the Dinner Ladies coconut rice

Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in the western part of Nepal, with my Mum, Dad, brother and sister. Now I live in Australia with my wife and little one. I worked at Simmone Logue Fine Food Company in Sydney before Dinner Ladies.

Most of my friends work in the food and hospitality industry. Outside work I like to watch soccer and all kinds of sport, and travel with my friends and family.

Give us an idea of your average day at work…

Kitchen shifts start at 5am and end at 10pm. We’re a QA team of four, and one of us is in the kitchen at all times. I’d say our main motto is: ‘time and temperature’. We are constantly checking cooking temperatures and times, and that all dishes are cooled down at exactly the right speed, ready to be frozen. It’s very highly regulated – we work with probes to check and record temperatures every 10 minutes. We check all the ingredients delivered from suppliers – that temperatures are correct and that packaging isn’t damaged. In the kitchen, we even have a piece of equipment that measures the consistency of our sauces so we can freeze at the right texture and maintain uniformity.

 Checking sauce consistency with the Consistometer

First thing in the morning, I check in with my team to see if there have been any concerns passed on from the Customer Experience department. We keep all our records for 5 years, so if a customer has a query about a dish, we go back to the notes on that batch and check what the problem could possibly be. Then we prepare a report. 

We walk around before everyone leaves and make overnight cooling and freezing plans. Our probes take the food temperatures every 10 minutes so that in the morning we can check everything has gone completely according to plan.

Regular temperature checks are essential to maintain quality

I also spend at least one hour a day learning more and researching world food and current affairs so that we’re always aware of the latest findings. The science on allergens moves fast and we have to keep completely up to date with labelling requirements.

Are you a good cook? What do you cook at home?

I would say I’m an average cook, rather than good. I can cook competently for myself. I enjoy authentic food – I believe food reflects culture, which I respect. My wife generally cooks for our family because she is the best at cooking. But I can cook good creamy egg curries, so I guess they’re my signature dish!

What would be your dream job if you weren’t a Dinner Lady?

I’ve been working in this field for more than a decade and I'm very passionate about it, but if I had followed my childhood dream, I’d be flying an aeroplane!

What’s your favourites DL dish ever?

It’s the mouth-watering Chilli Jam Chicken. It’s full of flavour, fresh herbs, perfect taste, and amazing aroma! Have you tried this? 

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