Upwardly mobile 20 September 2019 The founders of coffee and brunch chain Caravan are on the move, taking their business model to new Chelsea restaurant Vardo
In this week's issue... Upwardly mobile The founders of coffee and brunch chain Caravan are on the move, taking their business model to new Chelsea restaurant Vardo
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Visible qualities

01 January 2000
Visible qualities

1. Blast chiller

2. Slicer

3. Freezer cabinet

4. Two-tier deck oven/prover

5. Six-burner range

6. Bratt pan

7. Two-tier combi- oven

8. Fryer

9. Two burners with ovens under

10. Grill over hot cupboard

11. Chargrill

12. Rôtisserie unit with hot cupboard under

13. Carvery heated display pad

14. Heated granite pads

15. Sauteuse

16. Refrigerated sandwich counter

17. Meat refrigerator

WHEN Halliday Catering set out to install a new restaurant for computer software company Oracle in Reading, Berkshire, it wanted to provide something a little different, because it considered Oracle's 3,500 staff and their visitors to be "sophisticated and well-travelled".

"We wanted to create restaurants as good as those they go to outside," says Halliday group manager David Emes (pictured right). "It's a case of trying to produce the high street in the workplace."

Consequently, the 140-seat Riverside restaurant has a theatre-style kitchen, in contrast to the building's five other catering outlets, which include a foodcourt, a rustic Mediterranean-style outlet, a deli bar, a traditional restaurant and a US-style diner.

The Riverside's kitchen, as well as being visible to diners through the hot food service counter and the deli bar counter, can also be seen by passers-by through huge windows.

Designed and project-managed by Sun Associates, the restaurant opened just before Christmas last year. The high visibility of the kitchen meant its design had to be compact and logical. "We wanted to keep it small, keep it tight and keep it tidy," says Halliday managing director Nigel Anker.

To this end, a Bonnet Maestro Modern bespoke range from the HMI Group was installed immediately behind the service counter. It combines two fryers, two gas burners, a salamander, chargrill, rôtisserie, oven and hot cupboard in a single unit. Not only does it look sleek and attractive, but its single-piece construction makes it easy to keep clean.

"It looks impressive when you see it from the customers' side and it's long enough for two or three chefs to work without bumping into each other," says head chef Olivier Hubert. Adding to the sense of theatre is the Bonnet Labesse rôtisserie at one end of the range. "The smell really gets the juices going," says Hubert. As does the sauteuse incorporated in the service counter on which dishes such as cassoulet, coq au vin and paella are finished and served.

Hubert likes the kitchen to do as much à la minute cooking as possible, but the volume - about 40 breakfasts and 250 lunches - means that more pre-cooking is necessary than in a restaurant. This is done in a hot preparation area at the back of the kitchen, where it is far less visible. Equipment here includes two Convotherm combi-ovens, a Mareno bratt pan and a Mareno range with six gas hobs and an oven.

"We can't cook everything to order," says Hubert, "so six hobs are ideal because they take six large pans, whereas a restaurant would probably want a flat top that would take 20 small pans."

Also at the back of the kitchen is a pastry area where pastry chef Martin Killeen makes sweets, pastries and cakes for all six restaurants. To make maximum use of space, Killeen's pastry oven and prover is alongside the hot preparation equipment, while the bins for sugar and flour are underneath the deli bar's prep table.

Purely functional areas are hidden from public view. For example, the potwash area with its double sinks is to the rear of the kitchen, and dishwashing, with a Meiko flight dishwasher, is in a separate room.

The least visible area of all is the office - a small room next to the back door (convenient for deliveries) with just enough space for a safe, computer and filing cabinet. Emes says its compact design is deliberate. "If we had a bigger office, the chefs would be more likely to spend more time in it. We want them out in the kitchen because our whole focus is out front." n

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