If you were asked to think of a location for a potential fine dining venue, a casino would probably be one of the last places you’d list.
But Malaysia-based casino operator Genting is bidding to alter that as it continues to expand across the UK, and nowhere is that better illustrated than at its much-anticipated new venture in Sheffield.
Opened by Olympic star and Sheffield girl Jessica Ennis within the past fortnight, the casino boasts two stunning restaurant concepts that are designed to appeal as much to those who don’t gamble as those who do.
“What they are doing is taking some of the high street into these restaurants by providing live entertainment and good, quality food, while creating a cutting-edge food brand to go alongside the casino environment,” says Mark Kendall, director of Buckingham-based Inox Equip, which simultaneously installed the kitchens for both of the casino’s restaurants as part of the £200,000 project.
The Hou Mei Asian Cafe, with a pan-Asian inspired menu, including grill dishes and small plates, curries, salads, and rice and noodle dishes, looks out onto the gaming floor, while the Farenheit Grill is based on a mezzanine level and has space for 160 diners. It is also accessible from the road and has its own entrance separate to the casino.
“The grill menu has been developed alongside Josper and they’ll be able to produce some phenomenal food,” says Kendall. “Everything about the menu experience has been planned around the charcoal fired oven and then backed onto that there is a range of Falcon equipment. We have put some flat griddles in and taken advantage of Falcon’s new induction range from the Dominator series, while an Adande unit is also included within the cookline.”
Additionally, the grill kitchen features two Hatco salamanders, as well as combi ovens from Rational to ensure the restaurant can cope with the volume of customers that the casino is hoping to attract. “We have got the White Efficiency oven in there,” says Kendall. “There is one on the main cookline and one in the preparation area out the back, and both are 10 grids. If you are going to put a production kitchen together you wouldn’t do it without one. They are just a superb piece of kit.”
As one of Foster’s primary dealers in the UK, Inox also supplied a selection of kit from the Kings Lynn-based manufacturer’s refrigeration portfolio, although the real highlight from a storage point of view was the installation of bespoke coldrooms and freezer rooms in both the grill and pan-Asian kitchens. They were designed and fitted by Rugby-based Nationwide Cold Room Services (NCRS).
“To be honest, without their expertise we wouldn’t have been able to deliver the coldroom solution. They did a superb job for us,” acknowledges Kendall. “Our game is all about partnerships and I think if you embrace that and try to work together with the manufacturers you tend to get a better end-product.”
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As the Fahrenheit kitchen is open-planned to emphasise the Josper oven, a bespoke Britannia extraction canopy has been produced with a curved front and LED downlights to ensure the restaurant is eye-catching to passers-by, even when it is closed. The seven-metre stainless steel pass also features downlights to help accentuate the black and chrome Josper centrepiece.
The approach to the Hou Mei kitchen, meanwhile, is completely different, as it is a closed facility. It contains a bespoke two-tier pass with commercial refrigeration cabinets and hot cupboards underneath, including an Adande drawer unit that can be used as either a fridge or freezer.
“We have got flat griddles for woks in there, as well as the Rational combi, to deliver a very fast Asian-style menu. It is a real departure from the buffet-style casino food, which is generally what most [casinos] do,” says Kendall.
The casino is located in Sheffield’s iconic ‘Cheese Grater’ building and Inox was on and off site for a four-week period during the overall 26-week build project, with the cold stores, extraction canopies and more than 85 metres of refrigeration line runs being installed first.
Due to the casino’s city centre location, Inox had to organise most deliveries before 8am, while heavy items such as the Josper oven had to be moved into position using stair walkers and other apparatus.
Kendall admits that it’s a satisfactory feeling when all challenges are overcome and the project is completed on time. “The handover is the greatest part of a project,” he says. “It’s always a highlight when you look at the visuals produced by the architect and are more or less bang-on when delivering the final scheme. For us, the key things about this project were its complexity and getting over issues such as coldroom line runs, ceiling levels and ductwork, as well as just working together with the main contractor to deliver an ever-moving scheme.”
For a business that quite literally knows what it means to play for high stakes, it would seem that the launch of two quality restaurant concepts is anything but a gamble for Genting.
And one of the main reasons for that is Inox’s ability to design a kitchen set-up capable of delivering a menu experience that will appeal to more than just the ordinary casino punter.
See pictures of the fit-out in our exclusive online picture gallery here.
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View from the kitchen
The opening of Genting Club’s latest UK venue brings two new dining and restaurant options to the centre of Sheffield in the form of the Fahrenheit Grill and the Hou Mei Asian cafe.
The Grill menu features fresh, seasonal ingredients gathered from around the country, with all the dishes freshly prepared by a team of highly skilled chefs. It will offer 35-day matured ‘Mathers Black Gold’ fillet of Scotch beef, seared sea bass fillet, and Josper-roasted lobster and monkfish loin. The pan-Asian offering, meanwhile, represents the first time that Malaysia-based Genting has bought the Hou Mei brand to the UK.
Paul Farr, an ex-head chef at London’s famous Claridge’s restaurant, joined Genting earlier this year and he has masterminded the food and drinks offering at the club. “Genting as a brand is primarily known for its first-class casino and gaming facilities, but I am confident that in the city of Sheffield the Genting Club will become equally known for the quality of its restaurants and the drinking and dining experiences it offers,” he says.
Farr insists the company has invested a great deal of time and energy into developing the very best cooking methods, sourcing high quality ingredients and designing original menus with dishes that are full of flavour.
“The atmosphere in both restaurants is heightened by the nearby gaming floor and casino surroundings and, of course, diners have the choice of three bars at which to enjoy a pre- or post-meal drink,” he adds.
Equipment from a variety of manufacturers was used during the kitchen fit-outs at Genting Casino in Sheffield, including:
Bridge Group Fabrication
Britannia Extract canopies
Falcon Griddles & induction
Foster Undercounter refrigeration
Hatco Salamander grills
Josper Charcoal oven
NCRS Cold rooms
Rational Combi ovens