As I look at the notice on the wall of the new kitchen at the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, in my head I hear the voice of Dad's Army's Lance Corporal Jones reading out the words: "Keep calm and carry on."
The notice is a reproduction of a Second World War poster from the Ministry of Information, and when Tom Kerridge spotted it in a pub in Whitstable, he just had to have one to rally the troops at the Michelin-starred pub-restaurant he runs with his wife, Beth.
Not that morale is anything of a problem, far from it. Everyone in the brigade is smiling as they go about their mise en place, and it's hardly surprising, given such a lovely environment to work in. The colour alone is soothing and uplifting. Instead of the usual plain, white walls, Kerridge has gone for a relaxing turquoise, reminiscent of the sea, called Sheer Glass from the Altro Chameleon range.
"It's quite calming and more interesting than plain white, more pleasing on the eye," he says. "I didn't want the kitchen to look like the inside of a submarine."
An extension was built on to the 18th-century pub to house the new kitchen, which is about four times the size of the one that five of the eight-strong brigade had to squeeze into for a service. That space is now given over to a training and demonstration kitchen. And now the main kitchen is so much more roomy, Kerridge is looking to recruit another commis and chef de partie.
Kerridge designed the kitchen himself, using some ideas gathered from other chefs' kitchens, and his pencil etchings were converted to CAD drawings by Cater Kwik, which also undertook the installation.
"We worked to the spec Tom wanted and his design was very well thought out," says Cater Kwik sales administrator Rebecca Harrison, who worked on the project with managing director Matthew Mayvers. "It was about maximising the available space and every part was utilised, with not one blank under-cupboard."
The company was able to further improve the use of space by placing the six-grid Rational combi-oven on a stand it designed to house its water treatment unit and provide storage space.
As an additional space-saving measure, the pass incorporates a few pieces of kit. A shelf was built in to accommodate an Elro salamander and one end houses a small, glass-fronted fridge for use by front-of-house staff for cheese and butter.
The fridge is by Foster, as are all the undercounter fridges, which were a welcome change: previously all the fridges were upright cabinets. The bulk of refrigerated storage is provided by a Foster coldroom built on to the corner of the kitchen.
Even redundant space in the corner of the pastry section work-top is used by fitting a sunken ice-cream fridge by Caravell (now AHT Cooling Systems) and all mixers and various other food-prep items - the Pacojet has its own specially-designed space - are stowed away in wall cupboards.
For the centrepiece of the main kitchen, Kerridge splashed out £29,000 on an Athanor bespoke island suite. However, to Anthony Demetre's disapproval - "It's like buying a Ferrari and putting a roof rack on it," he laments - Kerridge insisted on a central gantry for storage of pots and pans.
Although initial plans were to have a gas solid top and oven, in the end the suite is all electric. "Tom chose electric to minimise cost and energy usage and because heat in the kitchen is considerably less with electric," says Steve Hobbs, director of Signature FSE, the managing agent for the French bespoke suite manufacturer.
In place of a gas solid top are two planchas - a two-zone and a four-zone. Each zone is individually temperature controlled between 70°C and 450°C. "I chose them over a solid top with bull's eye for the temperature control," Kerridge says. Although the planchas are designed for direct cooking, he prefers to use them as he would a solid top and cook in pans.
At the pass end of the suite, there are two radiant hobs which sit flush with the 3mm one-piece stainless steel chrome titanium alloy top. The hobs provide extra heat sources when needed for tasks such as blanching and heating sauces, but when cold, the flat surface serves as extra prep space.
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