When Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton wanted to expand his empire from his gastropub, The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna near Bristol, he turned to local distributor QCM Equipment.
The project involved turning what was the nearby Chew Valley Lake Tea Room into a multi-faceted operation comprising a fish and chip takeaway, and a cafe for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea transforming into a fish cafe and restaurant and an ice cream parlour in the evening.
The resulting Salt & Malt operation would need to accommodate 75 people indoors, with space outside for 200 covers and 100 cars.
The project began last autumn and with completion slated for December, there was much work to do. Gerry Oakley, MD of QCM Equipment explained: “Due to the building’s layout, when I sat down with Josh in autumn 2014 to start developing the kitchen design, it became clear that there was little choice over the position and size of the kitchen.
“However, the space for the new restaurant kitchen was then occupied by the plate wash area and the teashop’s office so a new extension had to be constructed at the outset to enable a new wash-up area to be built – this was done prior to Christmas and allowed the building work to start on the new kitchen.”
The new kitchen forms a walkway between the fish shop and restaurant, but is only 2.5m wide so QCM needed to use made to measure equipment on both sides of a galley kitchen to fit everything in.
On one side a 500mm-deep Williams Jade Slimline chilled counter was fitted, along with a bespoke kitchen pass from Bridge Fabrications. QCM even had to manufacture a sink unit with taps on the end to fit in a preparation bowl and keep the maximum width available for chefs to work.
The distributor worked closely with Eggleton to develop a flexible cookline – capable of adapting to different menus, a Rational 5 Senses combination provides the backbone of the production equipment. QCM sourced and installed a French plancha and Universo char grill, both of which offer the potential for cooking fish. [[page-break]]
To minimise costs several items were reused from the old tea shop kitchen, including a Falcon gas convection range and a Lincat twin pan fryer. “We even found space for a small ‘rise and fall’ grill which Josh had bought and used for his appearance on last year’s BBC Great British Menu television series,” recalled Oakley.
A low split level ceiling in the kitchen and the 5metre-long cookline demanded a made to measure supply and extract ventilation system from BW Fabrications, with gas interlock.
“As the new restaurant will specialise in fish we have included a modified XL 10 stone fish fridge which sits under a worktop close to the plancha and char grill, so the kitchen has wet fish to hand without having to go to the adjacent fish and chip shop storage,” Oakley said.
The compact galley kitchen is supported with a small back of house area which provides an icemaker and glasswasher for the teashop and a small preparation area for the daytime counter service. The front counter itself has a drop-in chilled display from XL Refrigeration and is designed for dual use; in the day it’s a chilled display for the tea shop, but it has a drain so in the evening it can be filled with ice to become a wet fish display for the restaurant.
Eggleton commented: “Salt & Malt has to cater to a lot of different elements working together at the same time. The kitchen is managed by one head chef and has several different sections that link together to produce and service all of the different elements of the building.”
Oakley reported that timing was vital for the project, as the takeaway needed to be built on the same site as the existing tea room while it was still in operation. Once the tea room had closed, the rest of the elements of the refurbishment could take place, but this period had to be kept to a minimum to reduce revenue loss.
He concluded: “Working with Josh is always a fascinating process – it’s his nature to be constantly looking for ways to evolve his businesses and menus, which in turn means QCM has to be very flexible and responsive in the way that we work. Whether that’s trying to get every last bit of space of a kitchen to work efficiently, investigating new technologies or methods, every project that we have done with him has been great for us and often enhanced our knowledge.”