Dealer reveals role in River Cottage recovery

Space Catering Equipment has divulged details of the role it played in helping River Cottage get back on its feet after a fire destroyed its kitchen.

The Devon venue and cooking school, which is owned by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, was rocked in February when the blaze ripped through a converted barn.

Gloucester-based Space Catering was on the site the day after the fire and designed and installed a replacement facility within just seven days.

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The Space team went away from their initial site visit with nothing more than the dimensions they needed to fill and set about working to create block drawings of how the new temporary kitchen might look.

It needed the power and equipment to cook food for functions hosting more than 100 guests, and had to be located in a tented bespoke events space in a field near the main barn at Park Farm.

After sending initial drawings to River Cottage just over a week after the fire, the final plans were agreed three days later and Space set to work to order the equipment and book the engineers to carry out the installation.

Space’s Dave Griffin said that getting the new events kitchen up and running again turned the usual four to six-week project lead time completely on its head.

“The team worked solidly to site the cooking, refrigeration and dishwashing equipment in the right places and provide tabling and food prep sinks,” he said. “Two engineers and I spent a very long day getting all the equipment in and running checks to ensure it all worked, but it was a really uplifting day with a great sense of community and everyone pitching in.”

After setting up the entire production kitchen in 24 hours, Space engineers returned the next day to test the equipment with the River Cottage team and make any last minute adjustments.

Griffin added that within a week of the designs being submitted, River Cottage was serving three-course meals to more than 130 River Cottage guests.

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