The kitchen at Gordon Ramsay au Trianon, the chef's first restaurant in France, affords plenty of space to chef de cuisine Simone Zanoni and his brigade. Diane Lane reports
OK, so let me explain: this kitchen isn't technically new. In fact, the idea was to use as much of the existing equipment as possible. But when the opportunity arose to poke around the kitchens of Gordon Ramsay's new operation at the renovated 199-bedroom Trianon Palace and Spa in Versailles, Caterer was hardly going to refuse.
In charge of fine dining is Simone Zanoni, previously head chef at the three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London. The other hotel operations are the responsibility of Jerome Legra, formerly executive chef at London's Savoy hotel.
It's not hard to see why the kitchen itself swung it for Zanoni when he was offered the position of chef de cuisine. It's one of the most beautifully situated kitchens in existence, with 15ft-high French windows opening up on to a terrace, small formal garden and the extensive grounds of the ChÁ¢teau de Versailles beyond the railings. "I saw the kitchen and said yes, I'm going," says Zanoni who hails from Lake Garda in Italy.
When Berkeley Projects was brought on board to reorganise the food prep areas, the decision had already been made about the restaurant layout. The fine-dining restaurant occupies a grand room rich in architectural features which was previously used as a bar, while the neighbouring space previously housed the hotel's restaurant and is now La Veranda brasserie, which spills out on to a terrace overlooking the palace gardens.
The main service kitchen sits next to the two dining areas. Its basic structure has been retained, with its main attraction being a 17-year-old Molteni island suite, which sits in the centre.
Stainless-steel worktops with built-in refrigeration line the walls of the room, which curves at one end, breaking to accommodate the French doors, which have a reflective coating to prevent the heat of the sun sending the kitchen temperature sky-high.
"It was a case of coming up with a good solution with the minimum amount of work, while meeting local regulations, which are very demanding," says Graham Barrie, director of Berkeley Projects, which worked with Gordon Ramsay Holdings on Heathrow's Terminal 5. "The suite answered all the needs, so just a couple of changes were made to it, and it was serviced and cleaned."
Changes to the kitchen include a new pass, a pot rack and salamander on the suite and two extra sinks in the worktop. The existing pass was replaced with new fabrication by French company Lanef - fitted to Gordon Ramsay Holdings' exacting specification - and a Halton extraction canopy and a fire-suppression system have been added above the suite.
A large window set into the wall to one side provides a view of the brigade in action for six diners seated at the chef's table in the area between the kitchen and brasserie dining room.
Downstairs in the basement lies a myriad of food prep areas which are, quite frankly, vast in comparison with today's more compact kitchens in buildings where space is often at a premium. A run of five coldrooms provides more than enough refrigerated space for deliveries of meat, fish, veg and dairy produce.
The biggest alteration of the whole project was the knocking through of two rooms, the garde manger and a meat and fish prep area, to create one open space. Two passes have been added, one for starters and another for banqueting and the creation of a "front-of-house corridor" allows waiting staff access from one end of the room to the other.
Refrigeration here is by Foster and includes underâ'counter cabinets with a mix of drawers and doors a double-door upright cabinet used exclusively for fish and a blast chiller, for which one use is to stop the cooking process of foods being prepared ahead for banqueting.
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Another hot kitchen houses two Bergerand island suites, one for room service and breakfast and the other for the brasserie. There's a Rational combi-oven here, too, while two boiling kettles make stocks and two bratt pans take care of tasks such as braising for banqueting.
Rather than being shoehorned into a corner, the dedicated bakery and pastry areas alone are larger than most London kitchens and have remained largely unchanged.
Most of the equipment here was existing and - besides the more usual ice-cream machine (by Carpigiani), pastry brake and deck oven - includes specialist kit on a scale that most pastry chefs can only dream of, such as a Panimatic proving room, two chocolate holding cabinets and acres of marble worktops.
- Berkeley Projects 020 8643 1228 www.berkeleyprojects.co.uk
- Carpigiani 01432 346018 www.carpigiani.com
- Convotherm/Enodis UK 0845 370 4888 www.enodisuk.com
- Foster Refrigerator 0500 691 1222 www.fosterrefrigerator.co.uk
- Gordon Ramsay au Trianon 00 33 1 30 84 55 55 www.gordonramsay.com/grautrianon
- Halton 01634 666111 www.halton.com/foodservice
- Lanef www.lanef.fr
- Molteni/Electrolux Professional 0121-220 2800 www.professional.electrolux.com
- Panimatic www.panimatic.fr
- Rational 01582 480388 www.rational-uk.com
- Rosinox 01226 350450 www.dawsonmmp.co.uk