At the Hinds Head in Bray, head chef Kevin Love and his brigade have a separate stock production area, where sauces are prepared for the pub, as well as by the Fat Duck team for the restaurant. Diane Lane took a look around
Serving 1,200 customers a week while running a sauce production unit in the same kitchen is no easy task as Kevin Love, head chef at Heston Blumenthal's Hinds Head pub in Bray, is all too aware.
"Due to limited space in the Fat Duck kitchen, the Fat Duck chefs use the Hinds Head kitchen for preparation," he says. "However, reducing the sauces was the problem; it was taking up most of the room in the kitchen."
The solution lay in creating a new section dedicated to bulk sauce production. However, given the constraints of the Tudor building housing the pub, extra space was not easy to come by as extending it was not an option.
The person tasked with making it happen was James Lee, director at Eximius Projects. "The aim was to remove the area set aside for stock production away from the main kitchen and so allow it to operate independently of the main service area," he says.
"We had to reorganise the cellar and the storage areas to allow us to add the extra space for the production kitchen and we had to relocate the staff locker room and wine storage."
EXTRA ROOM In effect then, half of the beer cellar became the new section. The two Charvet gas-powered solid top ranges that previously formed the kitchen's main cooking section were shifted into the newly created room, and were joined by an 80-litre Elro bratt pan and upright freezers by Precision.
While creating a self-contained stock and sauce production section was the main purpose of the refurbishment, there were other issues to be addressed. One was to reduce the ambient temperature in the kitchen and another was to save money on servicing and utility costs. Both of these led to the selection of a Menu System induction cooking suite from Exclusive Ranges.
"By switching from a conventional gas cooking island to an induction suite, in which the gas element has been reduced to a single chargrill, we have reduced the heat output in the kitchen by 50%," says Lee.
Love's previous experience of induction was limited to single mobile units so switching to an induction suite was something of a culture change. "You have to move with the times," he says. "I saw the induction suite at Dinner at Mandarin Oriental and decided I wanted one. Induction takes a bit of getting used to and it changes everything you know but the power of these things is amazing. It's more controllable and it's doubled the prep space."
The suite measures 2950mm by 1800mm and incorporates a combination of multi-zone, full coverage and Slide Control induction hobs to give maximum flexibility. Each hob is fitted with different coil types, depending on the pan size used and type of cooking. The multi-zone hobs are ideal for cooking with two to four pans, whereas the full coverage large hob is for cooking with several small pans or when even heat distribution in a large pan is required. The Slide Control hob involves sliding the pan across the hob to control the cooking power. "We use the Slide Control during service because it works like a bull's eye," says Love.
Additionally, the meat section has a grill (the only gas-fired element) and a Grant water bath for sous vide built in. On the opposite side there are two Valentine V-400 single tank deep-fat fryers each with a capacity of 18 litres for the renowned triple-cooked chips.
A griddle plate or plancha provides the fish section with a 400mm by 600mm flat frying surface with a non-stick chrome coating, for a minimum of heat radiation and simple cleaning, and a temperature range of 60° C to 250°C.
Below the surface is an integral refrigeration unit for the fish section and ovens either side. Also built into the suite is a Salvis salamander with automatic plate detection that switches the grill on and off automatically, thus saving energy.
To enable the monitoring of the amount of energy being used a Menu System Net Comfort energy management system has been built into the suite to ensure each appliance is operating at optimum efficiency.
As the suite is sited in the same position as the previous ranges there was no need for a new extraction canopy but an additional canopy was required over the old ranges in their new position in the stock production area.
The relocation of the sauce production section also served to enlarge the larder section where there is now room for two chefs to work where previously there was just one.
Since most of the refrigeration was replaced last year, the existing cabinets were retained and areas such as pastry and warewashing haven't changed a great deal although they have benefited from some new stainless steel benches.
Another aim of the refurbishment was to ensure ease of cleaning throughout, which was achieved by installing a new floor, new walls and a new ceiling.
The requirement for a lower ambient kitchen temperature combined with intentions to save energy was addressed by switching to a mostly electric cooking suite incorporating induction technology.
A variety of coil types means the induction hobs offer flexibility in the way they are used by providing multi-zone and full-coverage pot detection. Since they are fitted flush with the suite's surface they also provide extra prep space when not in use for cooking.
The pass has stayed in the same location and is the site of a daily tasting of the whole menu before service. Every dish is broken down and the elements tasted every day at 11.15am so there is time to make any adjustments. "It's the only way to achieve consistency," says Love.
Fish is cooked directly on the surface of the plancha, which has its temperature set at 230°C. "It heats up in minutes and has a good recovery rate," says Love. "And you get such an even cook."
The fish section has refrigerated drawers fitted below the griddle or plancha so ingredients are close at hand for the chef. It also benefits from having its own Hold-o-Mat oven and water bath, sometimes used to start off the fish before finishing by direct cooking on the plancha.
Sauce production has a new home in what was half of the beer cellar. Now the numerous pots of sauces can reduce without taking over the main kitchen and the Elro bratt pan is out of the way too.
Removing the sauce production section from the main kitchen allowed for the creation of a much bigger larder section equipped with counter refrigerators providing plenty of prep space
The triple-cooked chips are produced in two electric Valentine deep-fat fryers
Charvet 01342 717936 www.charvet.co.uk
Elro 01908 526 444 www.elro-uk.ltd.uk
Eximius Projects 08452 710008
Grant 01763 264723 www.grantsousvide.com
Menu System/Exclusive Ranges 01707 361770 www.exclusiveranges.co.uk
Precision Refrigeration 01842 753 994 www.precision-refrigeration.co.uk
Valentine 0118 957 1344 www.valentinefryers.com