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With just three weeks to transform the kitchen and servery area of one of Durham University’s most historic colleges, Howell Cummings Catering Equipment had very little wiggle room as it embarked on a multi-brand build project that needed to be ‘fast tracked’ to completion.

Hatfield College certainly has some history — and not just because it opened in 1846. The college, which is part of Durham University, has its own place in catering folklore courtesy of its founder, the Rev. David Melville, who pioneered the idea of catered residences for students.

The establishment of the college as a furnished and catered residence with fees set in advance was then a revolutionary idea before it later evolved to the now common practice of student residences. But there was little time for a history lesson for Howell Cummings Catering Equipment when it was awarded the contract to carry out the final design and installation of the catering equipment package during a refurbishment and upgrade scheme at the college being managed by main contractor Interserve.

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The design for the proposed refurbishment was developed in conjunction with the catering team at Durham University, with the emphasis of the brief heavily geared towards Hatfield College’s future requirements and known successes of the servery at Durham Castle, also home to student residence and facilities.

A site visit was undertaken to identify the possibilities within the current structure of the building, while a visit to the Durham Castle servery was conducted to examine the design with a view to further development possibilities within the Hatfield College kitchen design.

Following that, a detailed ‘wish list’ of equipment was requested and supplied by the catering team at Durham University together with room specification data, including sizes and requirements.

The kitchen has been designed to be efficient in use, both in terms of travel distances and equipment choices. And although mainly gas equipment was specified where practical, a large degree of sustainability and energy efficiency has been built into the design, while modern refrigerants were used within the Williams refrigeration units.

“The most important issue considered within the design is one of compliancy with the Food Act and to ensure that there is adequate safe storage of chilled foods both high and low risk, dry storage and consumables,” explains project manager Mark Robson. “This has been satisfactorily achieved. Additionally separate food handling areas have been incorporated for high and low risk food preparation together with adequate hand wash facilities.”

One major issue that Howell Cummings faced was the need to reduce the noise levels in the dishwasher area to facilitate a quieter dining space, which it overcame by relocating the dishwash section to a separate part of the kitchen.

Additionally, to allow an efficient flow through the kitchen for banquet service, a hot pass and banquet cart storage area was introduced, benefiting from a one-way flow system for food handlers and service staff. New bespoke cold and freezer rooms were also integrated into the design.

Robson adds: “There were a number of challenges within the design due to the existing structural architecture, with size restrictions both in terms of floor area and clear storey height. Along with that, there was a requirement to re-locate the cooking suite to an area closer to the new location of the servery in the annexe.”

The main cookline equipment was installed below a new ventilation canopy system and was centred around three Rational 20 grid WhiteEfficiency combination ovens, along with an Electrolux 100 litre gas boiling pan. The remainder of the cookline equipment consisted of Rosinox ranges featuring two fryers along with a six burner open top oven range. Complementing the cooking equipment was the addition of a Frima 100 litre electric bratt pan.

Included within the scheme to cater for waste disposal was a Mechline Waste20 food waste digester, which allows waste to be connected directly to the mains drainage system.

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Howell Cummings worked with Trak Hupfer on the serveries, with an Electrolux Libero theatre cooking suite with induction supplied as a standalone unit, but built to ‘fit’ the main servery counter.

A full 360-degree view of the servery area can be viewed here.

Away from the equipment side, Howell Cummings put provisions in place to improve the working environment, including hygienic safety floors designed for ease of cleaning, and a new hygienic ceiling with enhanced lighting. All walls were also hygienically clad in bacteria-resistant polymer sheeting to facilitate cleaning and good hygiene practice.

Paul Surtees, managing director of Howell Cummings, says that there were several challenges from a project management point of view, not least the fact that the site was located in the centre of Durham city and vehicles could not exceed seven tonnes.

“We had to plan deliveries on a ‘just in time’ basis due to restricted access through the city market place and onto site, plus we were working on an old existing building,” he explains. “Because of the restricted access to the site gates into Hatfield College, deliveries needed to be carefully co-ordinated with the main contractor and other deliveries.”

And although it was very much a ‘fast track’ installation in time for the autumn 2013 intake of students, the timeframe didn’t prove to be a burden: “The project required the co-operation of all suppliers and specialists, and we were able to work closely with Interserve to coordinate the planning and installation and make a difference to achieving the end-result.”

See pictures of the project in our exclusive project image gallery here.

Serving up a treat

The servery was one of the most important aspects of the Hatfield College kitchen design, with Howell Cummings Catering Equipment working with the Durham University team to understand the successes and issues with the servery area put in at the Durham Castle sister site.

A decision was made to style the servery on a ‘food court’ format in a bid to ensure that the potential issues caused through lengthy queues were reduced. The servery, which was built by Merseyside-based Trak Hupfer, has a number of innovative items designed within it to ‘future proof’ evolving food styles and trends, as well as a versatile self-extracting chefs’ theatre cooking station.

From an aesthetic point of view, Howell Cummings says that the intention from the start was to create a servery with a contemporary appearance, but also to ensure that it will still look fresh and current in years to come.

Spec sheet

Equipment from a variety of manufacturers was used during the fit-out, including:

Alto-Shaam: Hot-holding banqueting trolleys
CED: Fabrications Benches & tabling
Electrolux: Boiling pan & cooking station
Frima: Bratt pan
Halton: Extract & ventilation canopy
Mechline: Food waste digester
Rational: Combi ovens
Rosinox: Fryers & oven range
Trak Hupfer: Counters & servery counters
Williams: Refrigeration

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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