Andrew Pern’s Star Inn The City restaurant in York was in need of repair after a fire tore through it in late 2018 and destroyed the majority of equipment in the kitchen.
Having previously worked with C&C Catering Engineers on the kitchen at sister venue The Star Inn the Harbour in Whitby, The Star Inn The City decided to work with the C&C team again, enlisting its help to provide and install the new kitchen. The remit was simple: to create a dynamic working area that could produce excellent results at large volume, and to do so quickly to minimise downtime for the restaurant.
Pern and his team also took the opportunity to refocus and refresh the menu, with a state-of-the-art Electrolux Professional thermaline suite at its heart.
He commented: “For the design of the kitchen, we had a blank canvas because everything that was there before had to be pulled out, so we could really start from scratch.
“One of the major challenges we face is the volume of covers. We can do four or five hundred covers on a Saturday evening, and up to a thousand on a busy bank holiday Monday. When you’re catering for such a high volume, you don’t want to be moving up and down the kitchen everywhere. You really want to be standing in one place in arm’s reach and that’s exactly what we went for.”
Therefore C&C and Electrolux Profession tailored the thermaline to Pern’s exact specifications.
He continued: “I’d known of Electrolux for a while. Our previous kitchen featured some Electrolux XP equipment, including stoves, fryers and pasta cookers; and I’d cooked on its thermaline equipment while participating in the Obsession series at Northcote.”
Made from 2mm thick AISI 304 stainless steel, the thermaline suite combines a variety of cooking methods in a compact footprint for flexibility. At one ends sits the thermaline Free Cooking Top. Said to be unique to Electrolux, it is effectively a plancha with four individual zones; each of which can be used for direct and indirect cooking, and controlled to the exact degree, up to 350°C.
The suite also features an induction hob and four gas burners which provide different cooking methods and contingency in the event of a gas or electricity outage. Both the Free Cooking Top and the induction hob are said to contribute to reduced operating temperatures in the kitchen, while also helping minimise energy wasted through heat loss.
All three modular methods of cooking – as well as a bain marie Aqua Cooker, which can be used for sous vide cooking and blanching vegetable garnishes – are contained within a single stainless steel top, known as Swiss Finish. This is designed to help promote a sleek finish and enable quick cleaning as there are not gaps of crevices for food to accumulate.
To streamline the flow of the kitchen, each cooking zone can be controlled from either side of the island, meaning the kitchen team do not need to jostle for position on just one side of the suite. To maximise space and ensure fresh ingredients are within easy reach of the cooking zones, a series of refrigerated drawers have been integrated into both sides of the suite.
Further refrigeration is close at hand, with refrigerated counters from Electrolux’s ecostoreHP range are located within arm’s reach of the suite, underneath the pass. Rated both Climate Class 5 and Class A for energy efficiency, the units also operate using R290 refrigerant gas with cyclopentane in the foaming process, which further improves efficiency. A built-in intelligent air circulation system, OptiFlow, adapts to the contents of the fridge in order to preserve food for as long as possible.
“It’s a lot more relaxed, which is a bit unnerving for me as an old school chef,” said Pern. “I think that now we have a much nicer working environment. You haven’t got the smoking ovens, everything in there is brand new, even down to the extraction and the refrigeration. Refrigeration isn’t something you always necessarily think about when you’re buying a cooking suite but having it built in has improved the ergonomics of the kitchen.
“It’s a lot nicer place to work in. The thermaline is quite sleek and it gives us a lot more space. People aren’t bumping into each other, other people aren’t getting grumpy; it’s a just a nice place to work.”
He added: “Having the thermaline cooking top is fantastic. You’ve got the four areas of heat, so you can be searing something there in front of you, then you can let it rest at an ambient temperature on the other side of the stove. You can have some pans in a bain marie or some purees ticking over, which allows you to do a full menu really around yourself. If you’ve got a pan of mussels that you want to come on quickly – bang, there you go. Everything is very immediate; it can be as quick as or as slow as you want it to be, and I think that’s the beauty of it.”
Star Inn The City reopened in April, with Pern commenting: “Having seen the kit in action, choosing Electrolux was a no-brainer.”