Sutton-based distributor, Berkeley Projects, recently took on a highly historic outfit for the Grocers’ Hall in central London.
Originally the headquarters of the Ancient Guild of Pepperers, the first official association of spice purveyors, the classic venue in Princes Street (originally constructed in 1426) not only had to be rebuilt after being burnt down in the Great Fire of London in 1666, but was then nearly destroyed in 1965 after a light bulb was inadvertently left on just below an oak lintel, which smouldered and burst into flames.
Now home to the Worshipful Company of Grocers – ranked second in the seniority of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London – the fifth Grocers’ Hall was completed in 1970 and, today, continues to play a key part in the city’s constitutional and ceremonial life, traditionally hosting the annual celebrations surrounding the election of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs.
With Grocers’ Hall catering for up to 150 covers for a four-course dinner, Berkeley Projects knew that whatever kitchen appliances it recommended needed to ensure consistency, be flexible, speed up service and save energy costs. The distributor suggested various manufacturers of equipment after site visits and much discussion with Stephen Reid, the Dorchester-trained head chef of the in-house catering team.
“Consistency of standards is crucial in banqueting, which is easier said than done when you are serving such a high volume of plated meals,” said Reid.
“Grocers’ Hall had a traditional stockpot which, as was pretty standard for many years, was left on overnight, a practice which was no longer considered safe for more than one reason. At this point, we decided to look at other options.”
Therefore Berkeley organised for Reid and his sous chef Graham Pratt to go to a demonstration of the multi-functional FlexiChef from German thermal cooking technology specialist MKN at a bespoke site in Hampshire.
Able to cook a complete dish with different time and temperature requirements concurrently thanks to the FlexiZone, the pressure level is designed to enable chefs to cook high volumes in a short time. It has a low connected load, so chefs can work efficiently and sustainably at the same time.