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The Inside Story – Richard Ayres

January 13, 2023, 15:54 GMT+1
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The Inside Story – Richard Ayres
  • Meet Richard, the IT Super Guru who created Relish-Ops, the pioneering school meal system...
The Inside Story – Richard Ayres

Richard’s IT and system skills were already finely honed as he had worked extensively with Japanese automotive companies. Being fascinated with Asian methods of organisation he developed an advanced level of integration knowledge, working with supply chains across Europe.

This was followed by stints in the mobile telecoms sector. He was involved in developing commercial web portals, rapidly absorbing new methodologies to develop large-scale on-line ordering platforms.

He joined Relish in 2014, to design and develop a new approach to recipe and menu management, and has played a major role in the continual evolution and development of the company.

Serving schools

Richard intrinsically linked menus to the government’s School Food Standards, designing complex algorithms to enable catering managers to tailor menus to individual school requirements, with the assurance that they were compliant, something never automated before.

The software was able to fully analyse three-week rotating menus within seconds, and a bank of over 4,000 recipes are now available within the software, another truly unique factor.

Another significant milestone integrated the entire supply chain. He designed a homogenised yet flexible system that was customer-facing, accommodated all the chains’ ‘unique attributes’ and ensured seamless and quick ordering processes.

It was fully auditable, with valuable metric data and management information to hand. This facilitated real-time allergen control of ingredients ensuring that, at any given time, Relish’s ever-growing bank of recipes were automatically updated with full allergen, lifestyle and nutritional analysis.

Any change to ingredient components now automatically feed through to all recipes and menus.

Richard then took Relish-Ops from a compliance management system to an all-encompassing customer-driven modularised kitchen management system.

One module, Reli-Till, encompasses parent pre-order, class ordering and registration syncing, ensuring no child would have accessibility to a dish incompatible with their profile.

Richard has also worked with MIS and cashless payment providers to ensure Relish can securely and automatically analyse the food requirements of tens of thousands of pupils. This led to the ‘on-the-fly’ importing of pupil data, automatic creation of labelling for compliance with Natasha’s Law and ultimately guaranteeing to parents and carers that Relish can keep their children nutritionally well-fed and safe.

Thousands of validated meal orders are placed each day, up-to 50 per second at peak times.


Richard Ayres - IT Director. Richard is a committed petrol-head, an armchair F1 fan and a lover of all things ‘Strictly’ – sadly, he says, with the middle-age IT professional physique to match. He is a proud father and husband, and the owner of a ‘bonkers’ cockapoo called Bagel.

Sanjin Hadžić - API Developer & Connections Manager. Senior developer San looks after all Reli-Till school integrations and supplier ordering systems.

Adele Mitchell - Data Manager. Adele manages all incoming data and the integrity of all systems and back-ups. She is also responsible for Junior Data Handlers.


  • 2014: Pioneering development of automated systems to guarantee menus compliant with the School Food Standards.
  • 2017: Linking with national and local supplier platforms for automated ordering processes.
  • 2018: A meal pre-order system directly linked with schools MIS data to guarantee allergy management.
  • 2022: Continued development of meal-based preferences, commercial reporting and all new legal compliances.

To discuss your options, contact Relish School Food on 03300 240016 or email

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