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The Oyster Bar – Adam Stokes image one crop
Adam Stokes' Oyster Bar was the first in the UK to have a Mareno suite installed with Power Guardian.

Cooking suites are being deployed in foodservice sites which were once thought to be impossible. Catering Insight takes a look at some recent unique case studies where manufacturers and dealers worked together to deliver challenging kitchen projects:

The Oyster Club

Cooking suite: Mareno IChef
Dealer: CCE

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Having successfully worked with CCE Group Ltd and Grande Cuisine on his first restaurant, Adam’s, Adam Stokes turned to them again for The Oyster Club. The chef and owner remarked: “I love fish and seafood and really wanted to bring a seafood style restaurant to Birmingham – and I had noticed a bit of a gap in the market.”

CCE designed both the kitchen and bar areas for the new restaurant, with group commercial manager Andy Wood reflecting on the differences between The Oyster Club and Adam’s: “At Adam’s we installed an Athanor suite, and although Adam would happily have opted for another at The Oyster Club, he wanted to put in a unique cook suite, something special, something that was a bit new and a bit different, so I suggested to Steve Hobbs at Grande Cuisine that we present Mareno’s IChef with Power Guardian.”

The Power Guardian system automatically reduces power usage if consumption nears the maximum load. Stokes analysed: “This was almost a new way of cooking to us, using new technology, but one that would help us to produce fabulous food on a clever system that almost thinks for itself.

“Initially I was a bit nervous as I knew we would be the first restaurant in the UK to have an IChef suite installed with Power Guardian, but I think it’s indicative of the relationship I have with CCE and Grande Cuisine that I knew they were going to deliver every single step of the way, and they have.”

The Oyster Club is busy all day and the kitchen has got to cope with this. “This is essential for us,” said Stokes, “as we have limited power coming into the site, and no gas. Service goes on for 10, 11, 12 hours of the day but obviously we have busy points at lunch and dinner, so our electrical consumption does fluctuate and that’s where the Power Guardian really does help us.”

He continued: “I was really excited about using induction for the first time in a bespoke suite. Some people talk about the flavour you get from gas cooking with a naked flame but nowadays you get that same flavour from barbecues, you get it from roasting and blowtorching.

“At the end of the day it’s just a heat source and we very quickly found that induction delivered what we needed, when we needed it. It is also more powerful and more precise than gas – not to mention all the energy saving benefits derived from the fact that it only uses power when there is a pan on it. Gas is very dirty, it’s very slow, it’s not an energy that we want to associate with anymore and so when it came to the installation at The Oyster Club gas just wasn’t an option. For me, gas is gone.”

While CCE’s Wood concluded: “There are other options on the market that will reduce power requirements. But they would have been more difficult to manage and quite possibly more expensive. So, as more and more kitchens move away from gas, and power consumption becomes increasingly important from both cost and sustainability perspectives I expect innovation such as Mareno’s Power Guardian to become increasingly popular.”

The Yan at Broadrayne

Cooking suite: Lincat Opus 800
Dealer: Lakes Catering Maintenance

Set in a 17th century former farm building in the Lake District National Park, The Yan at Broadrayne has evolved from a youth hostel to a rustic boutique hotel with on-site restaurant The Bistro. As a result, its small domestic kitchen was no longer fit for purpose.

As the kitchen space was located in the small boot room of the barn, with no gas access, design and installation of a commercial kitchen would be a challenge.

The owners of The Yan at Broadrayne consulted distributor Lakes Catering Maintenance, with MD Leigh Howard working with them and their head chef Will Manley to learn more about the equipment he would need to deliver a variety of menus around the clock, from breakfast and sharing platters for hotel guests during the day, to evening meals for visitors to The Bistro.

Equipment that is heavy-duty, multi-functional, reliable, robust and able to deliver high output from a small, slimline footprint was high on the agenda. It also had to be easy for Manley to use, and quick and easy to clean. Most importantly, it had to be electric.

The build budget didn’t stretch to bespoke equipment, so affordable off-the-shelf solutions were the only option – which is where Lincat was asked to get involved.

Lincat’s national sales manager Sev Uzar recalled: “Leigh worked with us to specify the new kitchen, with the final scheme including a bespoke front counter and open pass into a kitchen consisting of a Lincat Opus 800 cookline and Rational SCC combi. The cookline included an energy efficient induction range, a rise and fall salamander, a double fryer and a griddle.

“Induction technology was something we recommended for The Yan at Broadrayne. Not only will it provide energy and cost savings in the long-run, but it delivers accurate cooking control, is easy to clean and a provides a more comfortable working environment.”

He concluded: “This project was unusual because of the amount of heavy-duty catering equipment and cutting-edge technology that has been squeezed into a small, restricted footprint.”

Publicis staff dining

Cooking suite: Baron Queen series
Dealer: C&C Catering Equipment

During 2019, consultants Tricon worked on a new project for media agency Publicis, after it relocated to the site of the former BBC TV studios in White City, west London. Tricon’s tender was subsequently won by Cheshire-headquartered distributor, C&C Catering Equipment.

All parties decided that the most suitable cookline would comprise Baron’s new modular Queen series with services cover in the centre and a full length potrack with a set down shelf for a Baron salamander.

The initial sales drawings were completed by Baron and its UK supplier, Universal Foodservice Equipment, while C&C carried out the kitchen layout CAD drawings.

Universal’s sales director Tony Aris reported: “This was to be a very upmarket project with some quite difficult parameters. But between us, Tricon and C&C, the work was completed perfectly.”

Baron’s new Queen range incorporated other features including waterproof knobs to IPX5 rating, soft-close cabinet doors, full length chefs rail to each side of the suite and a range matched end cabinet to house all the isolators.

Aris detailed: “The positioning of these isolators was the most difficult to achieve and here C&C was really excellent in siting and refitting the Baron unit to incorporate all the items required.

“The communications between Universal and C&C went perfectly and just went to show that a professional approach, in this case from Tricon, C&C and Universal (Baron), can achieve excellent results.”

Aris then carried out kitchen staff training at the site, which he said “rounded off a really difficult project to everyone’s satisfaction”.

Mama Shelter

Cooking suite: Ambach one-piece island

At a recent show-kitchen installation in Shoreditch, London for the Mama Shelter hotel, the specification called for an Ambach one-piece top island wrapped around a structural column, pre-installed gas-rail, water connections, services access panels and electrical MCB on a site with access restrictions.

Once Ambach’s initial proposal was accepted, its team met with the kitchen contractor, design consultant and the cooking equipment manufacturer’s own specialist handling/delivery partners to finalise the manufacturing drawings. Ambach’s UK sales director Toby Magness said: “The attention to detail is not just in the design features of the suite, it’s in understanding the whole scheme and factoring in the complexities of the installation that make the difference.”

The project manager then finalised the site measurements so Ambach was able to start manufacture and arrange delivery/positioning within the required timescales. According to Magness: “This simplified the installation process for the kitchen contractors when they were onsite, undertaking the final connections.

“All parties were delighted with the co-ordinated approach and simplified installation which ultimately provided the operator with a very pleasing end result originally thought to be difficult to achieve within the budget.”

Ambach is also able to incorporate third party appliances into its cook-suites where the operator’s menu demands, such as combi ovens, robata grills or tandoor ovens. The manufacturer has also utilised drop-down sections and incorporated knobs and displays into its control panels which it believes results in an improved level of hygiene, eliminating any potential dirt traps between appliances in the cookline, controls and services, and an improvement in aesthetics.

Magness reported: “We are being asked to provide cooking suites to a high level of quality and flexibility where it was previously thought impossible to achieve such great results within a reduced budget. This is relevant to all foodservice sites from a busy food-led pub to full banqueting or show kitchens in hotels and resorts.

“By intelligent use of engineering, technology and with an extensive range of over 1,200 appliances plus cantilever and double service islands, we have the capability to meet the design intent, incorporate features and accessories previously thought difficult or expensive and also accommodate site restrictions faced by the kitchen contractors when on site, such as access or services limitations.”

He concluded: “Our design, engineering and technical teams at the factory in South Tyrol are incredible and can offer solutions for the most challenging kitchens and demanding of budgets where it was previously thought impossible to achieve such high levels of quality. Our growing customer base and incredible reference sites in the UK and around the world are testament to what can be achieved, whether with single piece top suites or our range of modular solutions with the Ambach hygienic junction.”

Joining success

Blue Seal’s Waldorf Bold modular suites have been installed in sites such as Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire.

One of Blue Seal’s most popular lines is the Waldorf Bold modular cooking suites, which are built to include a full range of equipment, and are designed to create an efficient/practical cook line as individual units, joined together to form a continuous work area. These suites can have a number of coloured stove enamel finishes to the front panels, creating what is designed to be a hard-wearing yet attractive looking centre piece for a front of house kitchen restaurant.

UK MD Glenn Danks reported: “We have conducted successful client solutions throughout the global market, working with our relevant design house dealers, including at the Etihad Towers, which is a complex of buildings with five towers in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates, with our New Zealand contracts team; the Hilton Curio at Lincoln Plaza Canary Wharf, with Northern Refrigeration; Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire, working with Bournville Catering; and Sky by the Water at Genting’s Resort World Birmingham, to name a few sites.”

Waldorf Bold suites can be designed to suit any size of premises. According to Danks: “Some operations want the appearance, efficiency and performance of a bespoke suite, along with the ability to add equipment or change the configuration in the future.

“For these operations, modular cooking suites are the perfect answer. Waldorf Bold suites will have the necessary components for a client’s requirements using gas and electric cooking. These suites typically incorporate open burners, solid tops, induction hobs and radiant heating hobs with ovens under or refrigeration if required, plus griddles, chargrills, salamander grills, bratt pans, pasta and noodle cookers and fryers.

“Taking all the above into consideration, we can plainly see these type of cooking suites are a necessity for the relevant concepts and not a novelty in any way. The practicality, efficiency and aesthetics all re-enforce the future requirement, safeguarding the investments and continuous development by manufacturers with this type of product.”

Tags : ambachbaronblue sealC&C Catering Equipmentccecooking suitesGrande CuisineLakes Catering MaintenanceLincatmarenouniversal foodservice equipment
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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