When you supply food to some of the world’s leading airlines and a number of the UK’s most exclusive retailers you need access to kitchen equipment that will deliver the results expected.
That’s certainly the case for DSI Foods, a 16-year-old catering company which counts the likes of British Airways, Qantas, BMI, Harrods, Selfridges, Debenhams, and soon Harvey Nicholls, among its customer base.
The firm took the decision earlier this year to create a brand new development kitchen and presentation suite at its West London facility in order to further its chances of retaining and winning client contracts.
“Presenting a menu or concept to existing or potential clients is a key element of our business and it’s really difficult to do this effectively in a company boardroom using a hired-in oven and hotplate,” explains DSI managing director, David Hyde.
“We wanted to be able to present our ideas and creations in the very best light possible and we came to the conclusion that the most practical way to do this was to create our own facility, so that’s what we have done.”
With plenty of foodservice experience within its ranks, DSI set about drawing up a shortlist of three specialist design companies that it thought could create what it wanted before settling on IFSE, the Croydon-based catering equipment distributor.
“Three became two and from those two we chose IFSE because not only did they show they understood our vision of the form and function, but they were also prepared to go that extra mile, especially when it came to factoring in some important aspects that we hadn’t even thought about!” comments Hyde. “It’s very easy to discuss a design on paper but recreating it is very hard — and in that respect IFSE has excelled because what they have created is actually better than the drawing.”
IFSE recommended Electrolux Professional as their preferred equipment supplier, which suited DSI’s head of food and development, Olivier Geyer, as he and his team had worked with a number of the manufacturer’s products before.
The kitchen is very much in keeping with the simple, minimalist vision that DSI had in mind from the beginning. Items such as the under-counter dishwasher with continuous water softener, under-counter fridge and ice machine, for instance, are all discreetly positioned but accessible.
However, it also incorporates the latest in technology, such as a six-grid air-o-chill blast chiller/freezer, six-grid Touchline air-o-steam combi oven and Libero Point theatre cooking station with a chrome griddle, induction wok and two-zone induction top.
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In terms of functionality, the induction tops and wok on the Libero Point keep the temperature comfortable for presenting new menu concepts to clients, as well as saving energy.
“Equally the combi oven meets a multitude of requirements from toasting and bake-off to roasting and steaming, maximising the output of the presentation suite and the menu concepts we can bring to life,” says Hyde. “Add all of this to the informal coffee bar that IFSE has created at the entrance for ‘meeting and greeting’, wall mounted AV screens and a central conference table and you have a world-class facility all in one open plan area.”
Nigel Westall, head of sales for the UK and Ireland at Electrolux Professional, says that unlike many presentation suites of this kind, there are no restrictions.
“It is a purpose built room, offering flexible, comfortable and attractive facilities which can be enjoyed by customers, and it is in a good London location too,” he says.
“We even have the flexibility to introduce new products when relevant. And it’s a great opportunity for our customers, both new and existing, to touch, feel and use the equipment, which is really important.”
Westall says that Electrolux Professional is so satisfied with how the project turned out that it has agreed to sponsor the equipment by way of maintaining it during its working life.
In return, the suite will be made available to Electrolux for showcasing the products within it, as well as for other external and internal promotional activity.
For DSI’s Hyde, the biggest benefit is that when people visit the new facility the impression they get is exactly the one the company wants to project: that it takes food very seriously and is prepared to invest accordingly.
“In the current economic climate it is this sort of initiative, as well as investment in Quality Assurance and technical facilities, that will enable companies to get SALSA (Safe And Local Supplier Approval) and BRC (British Retail Consortium) accreditation, which will open doors for them and ensure that they are taken seriously,” he concludes.