HCE helps Blue Jasmine to bloom

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HCE worked with Blue Jasmine’s owners for 2 years to deliver a kitchen fit for fine Asian dining.

Eastleigh-based distributor HCE Foodservice Equipment has ensured a local fine dining Asian restaurant got off the ground in style.

The firm was tasked with bringing Blue Jasmine to life in nearby Southampton, within the city’s waterside Ocean Village Marina. The restaurant was the first fine dining concept for co-owner Phoebe Zhao and her husband, and they wanted to set their standards high.

Zhao recalled: “Blue Jasmine was our first fine dining restaurant and we wanted it to be perfect, so we researched a lot of kitchen design and project management companies and chose HCE as they had the best reputation and the best customers’ reviews.”

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The time she spent researching HCE paid off, as she detailed: “We started to work with HCE 2 years ago when the restaurant was an empty shell, and I can’t praise the HCE team enough. They’ve been very attentive and very patient, no matter how many changes we wanted. We always received a positive ‘no problem’ response from HCE.”

Executive chef Daren Liew had very clear aims for the kitchen at Blue Jasmine and worked closely with HCE to deliver his vision: “The design of the kitchen was very important for us as we needed a good flow between the different stations including the BBQ area, starters and the wok cooking stations. The kitchen had to provide the volume we need, as on a busy weekend evening we can serve 350 covers – so it needed to optimise chefs’ productivity, by creating a comfortable working environment so they can concentrate on their tasks to achieve the consistently high standards we demand.”

Therefore together the parties chose equipment including Rational combi ovens, Synergy Grill grill, Lincat salamander grill with plate detection, Williams Refrigeration counter fridges, Adande refrigerated drawers, Precision duck dryers, a Wexiödisk twin pass-through dishwasher, Gamko bottle coolers, IMC Bartender modular bar system, Winterhalter glasswashers and Hoshizaki ice machines comprising large cube and flakers.

Liew underlined: “HCE became part of the team and took my briefs for the kitchen and made them a reality. Working with HCE has been fantastic and they provided all the assistance we required to deliver a kitchen all the chefs love working in.”

While Zhao agreed: “It’s essential to work with an experienced design and project management company like HCE. As the owners, we have ideas, but HCE are the experts that take the ideas and offer solutions based on these. As we needed to combine traditional Asian cooking methods in our kitchen with Western techniques, their advice has been invaluable.”

Creating a prestigious fine dining restaurant like Blue Jasmine from scratch involves the combined efforts of numerous stakeholders, from the owners, to architects, consultants through to the main construction contractor and HCE played a key role throughout the project as Zhao highlighted: “HCE co-ordinated seamlessly with the architects and all the parties involved to bring Blue Jasmine alive; from the design of the kitchen, which worked seamlessly, through to our front of house bar and terrace. The main contractor was very happy working with HCE as not only did HCE support and guide them through the design process – but the HCE team were always prompt and efficient responding to any issues they raised. It was real team effort.”

HCE’s project management skills also came to the fore during the installation phase as Zhao explained: “The installation with HCE went smoothly as they always let us know beforehand what was going to happen, at what time and who would be on-site. It really helped our team to co-ordinate and stay in control.”

In addition to its kitchen design and project management services, HCE also offers equipment servicing and maintenance contracts to ensure operators can maximise uptime – a service which has proved beneficial for Zhao and the team at Blue Jasmine. She said: “I remember one time when we had a problem with a key piece an equipment and the manufacturer wasn’t able to send anyone on site to fix it. HCE stepped in and sent their own engineer immediately, who fixed the problem straight away. We were extremely grateful as it kept us operating. HCE provides a perfect service and always goes the extra mile beyond want is contracted.”

In a final thought about working with HCE, she enthused: “I would rate the final kitchen design and service from HCE as 10 or maybe 9.5 (only joking). I would 100% recommend HCE to other restaurateurs and operators.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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