SeftonHornWinch starts work on first Jason Atherton kitchen

Heston Blumenthal, Raymond Blanc, Giorgio Locatelli, Mark Sargeant. SeftonHornWinch has designed kitchens for some of the most renowned culinary figures in the world.

And now the Kent-based FCSI foodservice consultancy is set to add another name of that pedigree to its roster in the shape of Jason Atherton.

His business, The Social Company, has appointed SHW to manage the kitchen design of a Japanese-themed restaurant launching later this year at the Turnmill Building on Clerkenwell Road, close to Farringdon tube station.

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According to the company’s website, it promises to be the complete Japanese dining experience, serving teppanyaki, robatayaki and sashimi, combined with an innovative izakaya.

For SHW, it’s set to be a real landmark project for 2015 and another feather in its cap.

“It is our first project with Jason and obviously it adds to a number of other high-profile chefs that we work with,” director Gareth Sefton tells Catering Insight. “Working with someone of Jason’s calibre is incredibly exciting for us and we are very excited about the challenge.”

As well as liaising with Atherton, SHW is also working closely with Alex Craciun, who is currently based at Atherton’s Michelin starred Pollen Street Social restaurant and who will be the head chef at the new venue, which hasn’t officially been named yet.

Japan was one of the countries that Craciun travelled to last year to gain hands-on experience in restaurant kitchens across various cities before returning to London to develop new and exciting recipes with Atherton.

While no completion date or opening date has been officially announced yet, Sefton confirms that as far as the food and beverage areas are concerned, SHW has commenced the initial design and development stage, which includes setting out the workflows and establishing how the spaces are going to work for the chefs in the kitchens and the bars.

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Specification of equipment will come later down the line, so SFW hasn’t yet opened dialogue with potential contractors on that particular front yet.

The equipment aspect is certainly poised to be an interesting element of the overall design given the techniques that will need to be used to deliver the menu.

Sefton comments: “The parameters of the kitchen design remain the same [as other kitchens] in terms of the workflow, but obviously you do get more specific equipment that is required for Asian and particularly short-grain Japanese cooking. There are grill elements, tempura elements, that sort of stuff.

“We have done a few Japanese restaurant concepts, not too many here in the UK, more so in the Middle East, but we have obviously got a good understanding of Asian cuisine with the work that Ken Winch has been doing with Alan Yau over the last 10 to 12 years.”

While this represents The Social Company’s first Japanese-themed venture in the UK, it does operate Asian-style restaurants overseas, so it has been able to provide SHW with a comprehensive overview of what it requires from the design.

“They have a clear understanding of what they want to do in the kitchen and how they want to do it,” says Sefton.

“What we bring is a broader knowledge of how things may be done slightly differently and also our specific equipment expertise — making sure we have got the right equipment for what they want to do or showing them things they may not be aware of, for instance.”

One element of the design will be the inclusion of an open kitchen, which will bring a sense of live theatre for customers dining at the restaurant.

For SHW, the challenge is delivering every aspect of the brief within the space that has been let.

“We have got a lower ground and a ground floor, and working with the concepts that Jason wants in there we will set about with the rest of the design team splitting the space up between front-of-house, back-of-house and kitchen,” says Sefton. “It is a very exciting challenge.”

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