It’s standard practice for operators investing in a new kitchen to want to see the equipment they are thinking of buying in a live environment before they pull out their pen and write the cheque.
So when Nayati, the Indonesian catering equipment brand now present in the UK through ex-CaterQuotes managing director Stuart Campbell, found itself in with a chance of supplying the prime cooking equipment for Bishop Auckland College’s new £200,000 training kitchen, it had a bit of conundrum on its hands.
With the business still in its soft launch phase, and no significant UK reference sites to be able to direct the college to, it had to come up with another way of getting the kit in front of the customer.
“They said to me where can we go to see this equipment,” recalls Jason Fish, director of Rotherham-based HK Projects, the catering equipment distributor in charge of designing and delivering the scheme.
“I had a chat with Stuart about what we were going to do about it because they did need to ‘kick tyres’, so to speak. So Stuart said, ‘I will bring it to them’. Their response was, ‘great, that’s brilliant, nobody has ever done that before’. Normally you have to jump in the car and these guys haven’t got the time or budgets to be disappearing for two days to go and see another kitchen that might just be what they are looking for.”
So that’s what happened: Campbell drove a company van packed with Nayati kit up to County Durham, giving the college’s decision-makers the chance to inspect the equipment. If that wasn’t enough to convince them of the brand’s credentials, they were also offered a three-year warranty — 12 months more than the standard cover — which Fish says was a crucial factor for both distributor and client.
“As it was the first project with Nayati, it really was a case of trusting each other, but the fact that three years’ warranty was being offered reinforced that promise and gave me the assurance that it could do this,” he says.
Nayati is one of the largest producers of commercial catering equipment in South East Asia and has been manufacturing for almost 30 years. The kit specified for Bishop Auckland College was built and shipped by sea within eight weeks, ensuring it made the project deadline with time to spare.
“One of the concerns I originally had when taking on Nayati was delivery times,” says Campbell. “However, speaking to dealers about other manufacturers, they are quoting the same delivery times as I am quoting, so it might not be as much of an issue as I thought it was going to be.”
The Nayati equipment now forms the backbone of Bishop Auckland College’s training facility and has been planned into a completely new kitchen lay-out designed to prepare the next generation of chefs for life in the industry. The college currently has 1,200 students enrolled on full-time courses in numerous disciplines, including catering and hospitality NVQs and diplomas, as well as a full range of adult education courses.
HK’s mission from day one was to create an environment that was as practical as any training hub in the country by giving students full working autonomy while also making sure that teaching can take place without any physical obstructions.
One of the fundamental design changes was a repositioning of the services and the introduction of four large Nayati island suites, clearing the way for groups of students to be able to view cooking demonstrations unimpeded while creating extra individual workspace.
Grills were attached to the end of each suite to optimise space further, while improved storage use within the main fabrication allowed the college to lose the wall shelves that had dominated the previous kitchen.
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Each of the Nayati suites at Bishop Auckland College consists of conventional electric ovens, gas solid tops and induction, allowing students to experience different cooking methods.
One of the most significant features of the suites is that while they are essentially based on a modular template, they were made to measure before being shipped, negating the need for any external fabrication on-site that might usually be expected.
Fish says the island suites have made a big difference to the learning environment. “All of the students work adjacently now, so they are never turning their back,” explains Fish.
“And they have all got access to the under-counter commercial refrigeration, whereas before they had to leave their station, go round and get the products, and come back. When it comes to doing an examination, they can operate individually with their own drawer area, mise en place area and prep area rather than competing with others for space. And there is enough room between the islands to move around the corridors without interrupting anybody.”
Nayati’s production facilities are based on European standards, but access to lower labour costs provides it with cost advantages that it aims to take advantage of in markets such as the UK.
“We’ve coined a phrase which is ‘value engineering without compromise’,” says Campbell. “We are a quality-driven product, but the price point is very effective, which allows distributors to put more profit back into their pocket, hopefully, instead of giving it away. We are going to be restricted on who we deal with — we are not going to sell it to anybody and everybody, it is going to be a targeted approach.”
Before installation, HK had to remove all of the previous equipment and canopies, take down the ceiling, rip up the floor and take the facilities back to source before reassembling it all from the ground up.
“It was all a rather tight process and, yes, it was challenging,” says Fish. “There were a few sleepless nights as there always is when you are trying to do these things turnkey. We got to certain points where the fabrication quality wasn’t as best as we liked, so we put it right. And there were a few things with electrics that needed to be put right, so we did that. We never ran away from the job.”
A retractable acoustic wall was also installed, allowing the main kitchen training area to be divided into two rooms, both a mirror image of each other, so that separate lessons or exams can take place simultaneously.
Fish insists the secret to getting the project right was demonstrating what was achievable in tight spaces and finding out what actually worked well in the previous set-up rather than just steaming in with changes. As he says: “What I like to do is give them a damn good listening to.”
Although he admits there was a “fairly limited” budget to play with, Fish says it was hugely satisfying to deliver a kitchen facility purpose-built for teaching the chefs of tomorrow.
“The highlight was being given a bit of a blank canvas and a budget and a brief of ‘what can you do with that?’, and having a supply chain that all pulled on the same rope,” he comments. “What the college has got is a very compliant, safe kitchen that replicates a world that hopefully the students are going to graduate into for a long time to come.”
Click here to view our images of the project in our exclusive online picture gallery.
Nayati’s UK service structure takes shape as showroom opens
Nayati has opened a showroom for dealers to see its kit up close as its plans for the UK begin to take shape. The Manchester-based showroom is in the same building as catering maintenance firm Broughco, which is Nayati’s service agent in the UK.
“The showroom is linked in with the service because I want them to do the training for any distributors that want to do [installs] themselves,” explains Stuart Campbell, who has the exclusive rights to import Nayati to the UK “We’ve got fryers, pasta stations, combi ovens, induction woks and equipment from our 750 and 900 lines.”
Campbell said there was ample space in the facility for presentations and said partners had already expressed an interest in making use of the site. “We have only just opened it, so we haven’t invited anybody across yet, but I have got several dealers who want to hold sales meetings there. The equipment isn’t live at the moment, but it will be within a few months.”
Campbell’s mission between now and Hotelympia is to build relationships with catering equipment distributors interested in seeing how the brand can work for them. “Everything is going through distributors,” he commented. “I have done a soft launch to about half a dozen distributors and just about everyone has bought something from me, even if it is just a one-off item. So at least the product is getting out there and it is getting specced and getting installed.”
Since inking a deal to become Nayati’s first ever UK agent, Campbell has been working to get the necessary infrastructure in place to support the business.
As well as appointing Broughco as its service agent, it has signed Keith Elkington Transport as a logistics partner and currently holds £600,000 worth of stock in the UK. Two more deliveries are planned before Hotelympia to ensure it is has sufficient capacity to meet requests.
Campbell said: “We are offering a ‘no quibble’ guarantee and for projects we have put spares on site. We have got the authorised service agent in place, we have got transport and we have got stock, so as far as I am concerned we have the three elements in place to assist anybody who is looking to buy equipment.”