Executive head chef Mark Fletcher oversees three dining spaces at the stunning Mere Golf Resort & Spa in Knutsford, including the two-rosette restaurant, Browns. With a passion for creating delicious and beautifully presented food, chef Fletcher also presides over the banqueting function that caters for up to 750 guests.
Running the food offering for such a large and diverse resort is a substantial undertaking and having the right catering equipment makes a significant difference to all aspects of kitchen operations. For Fletcher, the banqueting process in particular is a specific skillset that requires precise planning, as he explained: “Our main kitchen services the banqueting, it’s compact, so every centimetre of space has to work hard.
“Every piece of equipment that I put into that space really has to deliver. Serving the club lounge, spa, room service, Browns restaurant and banqueting for up to 750 guests requires a high level of planning, and the impact on the kitchen if we get it wrong can be considerable. Staffing, and even the volume of pans and trays going over potwash can bring a kitchen to gridlock if it isn’t planned correctly with the right pieces of kit.”
To ensure he has the best set up, Fletcher often visits other kitchens to observe their operations, and on one such trip, to Grosvenor House, he saw Welbilt’s Convotherm oven in action and was immediately impressed: “Watching how the brigade operated and what the Convotherm could do was seriously exciting. The quality of product coming out of the ovens was amazing and the volume they could turn around was phenomenal. This was one amazing bit of kit.”
After seeing the Convotherm in action, Fletcher contacted Paul Patel, business development manager at Welbilt, to arrange a personal demo. Patel explained: “Having known Mark for many years, initially through ‘Skills for Chefs’, we were delighted to get him over to our kitchens to show him exactly what the Convotherm 4 could do.
“We demonstrated a range of dishes and particularly focused on regen as Mark was keen to utilise the Convotherm for banqueting. The Convotherm 4 Easy Touch 20:20 is an impressive machine and with our consultation and training, as well as our 10 steps to banqueting process, we can help operators to deliver large volumes of plated dishes at a level of quality and consistency that is unparalleled in the industry. As a trained chef, I have a particular interest in banqueting and we often say, cooking is an art, pastry is a science and banqueting is both!”
The consultation process with Welbilt is totally individual to the needs of the chef and their kitchen. Chefs spend a day in Welbilt’s demo kitchen, using the equipment, learning how it works and how it can reduce costs and time whilst still delivering a consistently high standard of food. This really is time well spent and is a crucial part of the Welbilt support model.
The Convotherm 4 Easy Touch is specifically designed for banqueting and can deliver up to 500 meals in just 30 minutes. Product can then be held for up to 20 minutes for speedy service. Since Fletcher installed two Convotherm ovens at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa, it has revolutionised his banqueting operation by allowing the kitchen to prepare and chill the food the day before. Taking the plates out of the fridge around 45 minutes before service and using the Convotherm to regen, increases speed, yet retains the quality and consistency of the menu.
Fletcher explained: “The Convotherm 4 Easy Touch works differently to other brands I’ve used and really does take the hard work out for you. We are always finding new things to use it for. You get great colouration on food and the oven even works out its own humidity, it’s just a very clever, clever bit of engineering!
“And we have to talk about the door – the disappearing door is just brilliant. It saves space as it slides back along the side of the oven, which helps improve safety in the kitchen as we haven’t got oven doors swinging open and closed. Plus, because of the way it unlocks, it draws the heat out of the back of the oven so it forces you to wait a few seconds before being able to open the door, which means you don’t get that rush of steam in your face. And, it helps to keep the roof canopy cleaner as well.
“I really am so impressed with the Convotherm 4 Easy Touch, it’s a top-notch piece of equipment, a very worthwhile investment, and the team at Welbilt has been incredibly helpful and supportive, both before and after we bought the Convotherm ovens.”
The Convotherm 4 was supplied and installed by Caterware, which fully accommodated chef Mark’s desire to opt for the Convotherm. The distributor’s business development manager Neil Johnson reported: “Mark believes that the Convotherm 4 is a superior combi oven that cooks faster, has more benefits than other manufacturers and is the best oven for banqueting especially with the extra capacity gained from the additional shelf, and in such a small, compact space, the disappearing door is a significant benefit that makes day to day life easier.”
Johnson stated: “The onsite post installation set-up and demonstration of the oven was superbly managed by Welbilt. Overall, it was a seamless installation despite a few challenges due to the age of the building.”