When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge officially opened the new St George’s Park national football centre at Burton upon Trent, it was images of lush green playing surfaces and famous England footballers that were splashed across the TV screens and daily newspapers rather than the familiar glint of stainless steel catering equipment.
But when you’ve got a site that spans 330 acres, contains two hotels, employs 250 people and serves as the home of English football’s 24 representative teams, it’s imperative that the kitchen facilities are as slick as anything that happens out on the pitch.
One man who knows more about that than anyone else is Lee Williams, project manager of Cambridge-based Intracat, which had the task of delivering all of the kitchen facilities at St George’s Park within the design framework set out by foodservice consultants Humble Arnold Associates.
That included the kitchen and servery within the main FA sports science building, as well as five dedicated kitchens serving the Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels, both of which are located within the site. Not surprisingly, it was the most comprehensive catering scheme that the distributor has ever delivered.
Given that Intracat was on site up to a year before the final handover, the one thing it had on its side — although it might disagree — was time.
That provided it with an opportunity to break the project down into logical segments, so that each kitchen could be assembled methodically as building work took place around it.
Williams explains: “Although it was the largest project the company has handled, I broke it down into five separate packages of work: the coldroom package; the canopy package; the first fix service risers; the main equipment including the sinks, ovens and dishwashers; and finally all the light equipment. I broke it down into smaller manageable chunks and the timing of each phase was spaced over several months — that way it felt like five small projects going in at different times in order to achieve a phased sectional handover.”
The early stages of the project primarily involved installing the coldrooms and ventilation canopies, provided by Foster and Halton respectively. Foster supplied a dozen coldrooms in total, with the Hilton’s three basement preparation areas — fruit and veg; meat and fish; and general prep — each being served by their own dedicated coldroom.
A temperature monitoring system was installed in all kitchen and foodservice areas, recording performances to walk-in coldrooms and freezers, chilled display units and upright and undercounter refrigeration units.
The ground floor essentially serves as the catering hub of the hotel, containing the hot and cold production kitchens, the main wash-up area, the beverage prep area, a separate banquet finishing kitchen, room service, a bar dispense area and the main buffet restaurant.
Williams says that one of the most important aspects of the project was co-ordinating with the mechanical and electrical contractors. “For me that is always the biggest challenge,” he says. “I spent a good deal of time at an early stage in site discussions and meetings, agreeing positions with the M&E contractors, mainly because we had to get service risers installed in all areas at an early stage in the project so that all the pipework could drop within, rather than being all surface run.
"All vertical services are hidden behind stainless steel risers to avoid exposed pipework, and we had to get those in early so the mechanical contractor could start running pipework down and then out to the appliances. The refrigeration pipework for the coldrooms was also a first fix item and had to be negotiated within a narrow service riser up through the building to the exposed plant room on the second floor roof.”
When the initial mechanical and electrical service work was complete, Intracat commenced with the main kitchen installations, which involved the deployment of a large heavy duty Angelo Po suite and five Angelo Po combination ovens, along with other branded cooking appliances, over a six-week period. Angelo Po’s presence in the project was particularly noteworthy for the reason that it marked the first time its suites had gone into a UK Hilton.
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As well as coldrooms, Foster supplied more than 30 refrigeration cabinets, while Hobart provided a total of 12 glass and dishwashers. Food servery display specialist Nuttalls, based in Leicestershire, delivered all the front-of-house buffet displays and counters for Hilton and the FA’s catering areas, while a number of Scotsman ice cube machines and crushers were supplied — for general foodservice purposes but also for use within the sports science department to treat injuries. Bespoke fabrication work was carried out by Merseyside-based Fabs 4.
All in all, more than 500 individual items were delivered and installed throughout the duration of the project. “The size and scale of the project was challenging,” says Williams. “From the point of view of site logistics and project progress, it was important to get the right items delivered at the correct time and on the correct day to enable associated trades to follow on in a timely fashion.”
Intracat worked closely with main contractor Bowmer & Kirkland, which managed the overall £105m development project, to ensure that each kitchen was delivered without any major glitches.
“We had a good relationship with the main contractor, and also with the mechanical and electrical contractors,” says Williams. “Any differences of opinion were quickly resolved — the project progressed in a reasonably smooth fashion and there were no major hurdles that spring to mind. It was mainly just the size of the project and getting things in at the right time.” Indeed, it’s impossible to escape the theme of scale when discussing this project. Williams admits that being involved in a scheme just shy of £1m was a real highlight, as was the standard of construction.
“In line with Intracat’s philosophy, I was very pleased with the quality of the installation and the attention to detail from the manufacturers of all the bespoke equipment. It is great to deal with people who you know can do the job to the standard you expect.”
As English football settles into its new home, anybody using the facilities at St George’s Park can expect a dining experience that meets the highest standards — regardless of whether they are a delegate attending a conference or one of the Premier League’s top stars.
To see pictures of the St George’s Park project click here.
Equipment from a variety of manufacturers was used during the kitchen fit-out at St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent, including:
Angelo Po Cook lines & combi ovens
Fabs4 Specialist fabrication
Foster Cabinets & coldrooms
Metos Mechanical dishwash handling system
Robot Coupe Food processors
Scotsman Ice machines