Choosing a champion isn’t as easy as it looks

What constitutes a truly great commercial kitchen project?

That’s a question which the judges of this year’s CEDA Grand Prix Awards must find the answer to over the next seven days.

The distributor members shortlisted for this year’s awards were announced last week, with the winners set to be crowned at the trade body’s annual conference in Oxford on May 4th.

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Assuming that any entry which made the shortlist boasts one happy customer and a brief that was followed to the tee, how do you decide what makes one project more deserved of recognition than another?

Well, the judges will be taking a number of factors into consideration. They will be examining the difficulty of the project, the design work involved and the way in which the installation was managed.

They will analyse the resources needed for the project, take into account the training provided, and note the attention paid to observing health and safety procedures.

It is no good assembling a kitchen and then failing to provide sufficient support, which is why they will also have scrutinised the focus on sustainability and level of after-sales support, and assessed the client’s feedback.

Whether you end up agreeing with their decisions or not, it must be said that this exhaustive list of criteria should have provided them with the answer to which jobs ticked most, if not all, of the boxes.

Looking at the shortlist, there are some strong contenders in there, although what really stands out is the diversity of the clients involved.

There is Court Catering’s project with the renowned Le Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts, which involved the design of nine separate kitchens, and C&C’s project at Manchester Metropolitan University’s new £50m student hub, which saw delivery of a production kitchen and cafe area that now feeds 5,000 students and 250 staff.

At the other end of the spectrum is the work that Port Catering Equipment did with Fleetwood Town FC, the newest addition to the Football League. It had to overcome some huge logistical hurdles, including having to crane equipment to the top floor of a stand where the kitchen was located.

From a sustainability point of view, meanwhile, CHR’s efforts in helping The Freemasons Arms near Burnley achieve savings of 7kW per cover is one of several projects that have genuinely made an impression on the energy efficiency front.

This time next week we will be a step closer to knowing whether any of the schemes referenced above turned out to be winners.

If they are then it means that — in the eyes of the judges at least — they excelled in the many different components that all come together to make up a project.

And, in truth, that is probably what separates the great from the good.

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