Lowestoft-based distributor Elite Foodservice Design has completed a project for Norwich Theatre Royal, within the site’s Prelude restaurant.
A refurbishment was required following a small fire in the kitchen, which gave the theatre the opportunity to modernise its facilities.
Hospitality manager Stephen Wright detailed: “We saw the opportunity to improve the workflow within the kitchen, as well as giving us capacity to grow going forwards.
“We have room for between 70 and 80 covers here, but we offer pre-show dining for guests which means that we regularly have to serve that number in a very short period of time before the show starts.
“We need to have access to the full variety of our ingredients in quantities large enough for us to be able to produce up to 80 meals in an hour, or even less.”
The kitchen had to be ready for the summer season, and so Elite had just 12 weeks to complete the scheme. An entirely new layout for the kitchen was drawn up in 2 weeks, and equipment from major manufacturers was chosen, including a range of products from Williams Refrigeration.
Daniel Ridd, Elite’s design manager, explained: “I’ve worked with Williams on projects for 15 years now. They’ve got a tried and tested range and their support is second to none.”
The kitchen in the Theatre Royal is in a room not originally designed for the purpose, so finding a new way to arrange the equipment within it was a key part of the project. Getting the right refrigeration for each stage of the production process was important.
Wright said: “We have a new walk-in coldroom for bulk storage, a selection of cabinets and under-counter units for ingredients that need to be kept close to hand. Our Onyx prep counter gives staff access to everything they need for making sandwiches and starters.
“The Onyx helps speed up the service during our busy periods, and it holds the temperature rock solid, even with the lids being taken off repeatedly. It’s very impressive technology.”
The theatre also selected a blast chiller. “We mainly use it for cook-chill,” said Wright. “We can prepare food for the evening service during the day, which saves a lot of time. It’s a very powerful addition to the kitchen, but very simple to use. The staff picked it up instantly.”
Installing a walk in coldroom was one of the more complex tasks for the Theatre Royal refurbishment. According to Wright: “We knew that it would be a vital part of ensuring we had enough capacity for future growth, but if we’d used an off the shelf product it wouldn’t have made the best use of the space.”
Williams has decades of experience creating bespoke coldrooms for a variety of purposes, and was able to build one optimised for the Theatre’s needs. Wright commented: “It’s superb. It can accommodate plenty of prep for several complete services and buffets at once, so we don’t have to worry that we’ll run out at the wrong moment.”
The undercounter cabinets are another key part of the improvement of working conditions. “Having storage right next to where chefs work helps save them time, as they don’t have to constantly walk around the kitchen collecting ingredients,” said Wright. “They’re also very robust, kitchens are very busy places and chefs do have a tendency to treat the equipment a little roughly when things get particularly intense, but the Williams products are tough enough that it’s not an issue.”
He added: “We were working on a very tight schedule, but the lead times quoted by other manufacturers would have halted our progress entirely. But Williams understood our needs immediately, and were able to work to the required timescale without missing a beat.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Williams to any company looking to embark on similar projects.”