The Waterside Inn's kitchen has had its first makeover in 24 years, costing £1.5m. Diane Lane finds patron Alain Roux has ditched the gas burners for a combination of gas solid tops and radiant hobs but achieved a dream of a rôtisserie
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In terms of a kitchen extension, you might think that moving one wall back 1.5m and another by 1m isn't going to make a lot of difference. But you'd be wrong. The extra 22sq m created is a very significant space, says Charles Parker, senior contracts manager of CEDA (Catering Equipment Distributors Association) member Gratte Brothers, speaking about his company's installation of a £1.5m kitchen at the three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire.
"It gives corridor space and enables the suite to be positioned centrally so chefs can work on both sides," Parker explains. "We also needed that extra space to fit the pot wash in."
It's the kitchen's first refurbishment in 24 years and has been on the cards for the past five or six. "The kitchen was becoming old-fashioned," says Alain Roux, who took over as chef-patron from his father, Michel. "Dad goes into different kitchens around the world and sees so much improvement. We realised we had some work to do in that area."
The new external walls were built before the restaurant closed for 14 weeks earlier this year, with a date for reopening fixed for the Easter weekend in April. Besides shifting the exterior walls, numerous columns were taken out to make the space more open.
The design and flow of the kitchen has been radically altered. Previously, there was just one pass from which pastry, hot dishes and starters were all sent. Now there are three separate passes, which has enabled segmentation of the various production areas, each furnished with everything needed for that particular section.
At the rear of the kitchen, a meat coldroom and a veg, fruit and dairy coldroom from Foster Refrigerator - which supplied all the refrigeration - house the incoming fresh produce. All the fish and shellfish are housed in two upright fish fridges.
Close by, one half of a purpose-built island raw prep station by Pioneer Fabrications provides one station for butchery and another for fish filleting. The other half, the divide marked by a Foster blast chiller, provides separate stations for cold and hot starters each of which has an inset Adventys induction hob.
Canapé prep has its own section opposite, adjacent to a pass it shares with cold starters, complete with a Merrychef combination microwave oven for cooking and reheating, among other tasks.
Two boiling kettles and a bratt pan, all by Bonnet and not seen normally in a restaurant kitchen, facilitate bulk cooking of the hundreds of litres of chicken, duck, veal and lamb stocks used each week. Alain Roux is full of praise for the quality of the stocks the kettles produce. "With water all around and underneath the heat is constant, you get such a clear stock," he says.
Next door is the kit Roux calls his "new toy" - a Cuisine Design rôtisserie on which suckling pig, shoulder of veal, legs of lamb and fish such as salmon and sea bass turn in front of the ceramic fibre wicks. "It's always been a dream for me to have one in my kitchen," he says.
At the heart of the hot kitchen sits an Athanor bespoke island suite measuring 3.5m long and 1.8m wide, chosen following a visit to France to see other Athanor suites in situ.
"The previous cooking suite was positioned parallel to the pass, a configuration which had implications on the availability of working space during service," says Stephen Hobbs director of Signature FSE, UK agent for Athanor. Consequently the new suite sits at a 90º angle to the hot pass so its two long sides, and one end, are flanked by workstations with undercounter refrigeration. One of the stations is equipped with a Hatco retractable ceiling-mounted heat lamp for use during meat carving.
Hobbs continues: "In France we saw examples of traditional gas suites and modern electric suites and came up with a hybrid of the two."
Whereas the kitchen's old suite contained eight open gas burners, there's not one to be found on the new suite. In their place is a range of cooking elements including two single radiant hobs, two 12kW gas solid tops, three double Plaques Athanor (planchas) and a 1/1 gastronorm multi-cooker or bain-marie. Below the surface there are two gas ovens, a two-drawer Alto Shaam holding cabinet and a warming cupboard.
The surface elements provide lots of space for pan work during prep with the 4kW radiants working on the same principle as open burners with a temperature range of 70ºC-500ºC.
Two six-grid Rational combi-ovens are stacked opposite the far end of the suite while at the top end is the hot pass run by head chef Fabrice Uhryn. There he has a microphone linked to a PA system at his disposal for calling checks above the noise of about 20 busy chefs - led by sous chefs Michael Nizzero and Fabio Ciervo - and a TV monitor which allows him to keep an eye on the dining room.
Nearby are three Hatco Quick-Therm salamanders, one closest to the suite for meat and fish and the two either side for garnishes and finishing.
The pastry pass sits at a right angle to the hot pass creating an "L" shape and both have pull-down shelves to one end, providing more room for finishing during service. Behind the pastry pass, the pastry section under the direction of pastry chef Richard Guérin has its own 10-grid Rational combi oven, a Falcon counter-top convection oven and a three-door Koma H-Cabinet combination freezer, one section of which also functions as a blast freezer.
As in other prep areas, an induction hob is set into the pastry section work surface.
Separated from the pastry area by a sliding door is a dedicated bakery area, domain of chef tourier Douglas Gregory. Equipment here includes a Caplain prover retarder, a Caplain dough kneeder and an expanse of granite worktop.
Dishwashing and potwashing have their own separate areas fitted with a Hobart AMX dishwasher with drain heat recovery system and a Hobart UX front-loading utensil washer.
A finishing touch of Michel and Alain Roux's signatures etched with lasers into the stainless steel ventilation canopy above the suite and backflushed with resin confirms that this is a family business and, at 37 years old, one that is still going strong.
1. Three double planchas sit on top of the Athanor suite's one-piece chrome titanium stainless steel top. A custom-built removable ribbed searing plate fits on to the plancha and eliminates the need for a separate gas searing grill.
2. There was only space for one door into the set of Foster coldrooms so the meat room is accessed from the general coldroom. Since the meat room doesn't open directly on to the kitchen, there is less heat loss. The internal walls of the meat room are stainless steel for ease of cleaning and are fitted with custom fabricated stainless steel meat hanging rails.
3. Adventys induction hobs are set into the work surface of the starters prep station and the pastry section providing a convenient and energy-efficient heat source close at hand.
4. The Cuisine Design gas-fired rotisserie has a stainless steel finish and two levels of ceramic fibre wicks, each divided into two sections so just one-quarter can be used if required. The leg of milk lamb currently on the menu takes 18-20 minutes to cookand there are baskets for cooking items such as lobster or pigeon.
5. Three Hatco Quick-Therm Salamanders operate by way of a plate detection switch which automatically activates the heating elements once the plate comes in contact with the grilling plate bar. Removing the plate turns off the elements.
6. Previously, stocks were prepared in big pans on the stove but now two Bonnet gas boiling kettles, each with a 150-litre capacity, take care of that task. A 70-litre gas bratt pan is used for such dishes as blanquette de veau and lamb navarin, in addition to braising and staff meals.
7. The radiants are used for cooking during mise en place but in service they are left on a low temperature and the whole area is used for plating and finishing
8. The fish prep station has a section in the top constructed with an integral waste chute and in which to fit a poly board with a cut out in one side for trimmings
EQUIPMENT PROVIDED BY
[Adventys/Athanor/SignatureFSE ](http://www.signature-fse.com)01908 745500
[Bonnet/Hobart ](http://www.hobartuk.co.uk)0844 888 7777
0033 0160 021919
[Hatco ](http://www.hatcocorp.com)01509 260140
[Koma ](http://www.koma.com)0031 04754 74700
0845 370 4888
[Rational UK0800 389 2944
YOUR CHANCE TO DINE AT THE WATERSIDE INN
The Waterside Inn is a member of the Hobart Service Club, which covers all the kitchen equipment and assures a next-day response from Monday to Friday.
To celebrate the reopening of the Waterside Inn following the new kitchen installation, Hobart is offering one lucky Caterer and Hotelkeeper reader a complimentary dinner for two at the Waterside Inn, including a glass of Champagne on arrival. Six runners-up will win a signed copy of Michel Roux's latest book, Pastry.
To enter the draw, send your full name, job title, workplace name and address and contact telephone number to email@example.com by Friday 12 June 2009.
The first entry drawn after the closing date will receive a complimentary dinner for two at the Waterside Inn and the six subsequent entries drawn will receive a copy of Pastry signed by Michel Roux.
Terms and conditions apply and are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.