Alan Bird explains to Diane Lane how a bespoke kitchen with some clever space-saving ideas can cope with providing service over five floors. Serving high-quality food on every level of a five-storey building is no easy task, but with the help of two kitchens, clever design and innovative equipment, former Ivy chef Alan Bird has achieved his aim of providing customers with a diverse offer.
The building that houses Bird's eponymous restaurant, Bird of Smithfield, is a Georgian townhouse overlooking the market. It includes a lounge bar, restaurant, private dining room, basement cocktail bar and roof terrace.
"We wanted somewhere that offered customers the feeling of a members' club but without needing to be a member," says Bird. "Inclusive rather than exclusive."
The transport of food throughout the building is facilitated by a heated dumb waiter. This originally only went from the basement to the first floor, and so had to be extended to serve the whole building; a second dumb waiter shifts dirty dishes between floors.
Bird drafted in Ray Costelloe of Contract Catering Equipment to work on the design and installation, including the manufacture of bespoke fabrication and to build the various bars throughout the building. Every opportunity to maximize kitchen space has been taken, from Adande refrigerated drawers with heat-shield worktops fitted beneath the cookline to more Adande units with a built-in blast-chiller facility. Precision wall units provide refrigerated storage in service areas and tops fitted over sinks ensure they double up as work surfaces.
With no space for a dedicated wash-up area, the dishwasher - a Meiko DV80.2GiO pass-through machine with integral reverse â¨osmosis unit - is located within the kitchen, next to the dirties lift.
One floor up is another kitchen that doubles as a development and second service kitchen, and this takes care of additional prep and â¨breakfast service for the bar. The equipment includes a 10-grid Rational SelfCookingCenter Whitefficiency, one of three Rationals in the building. "You can't service five floors from one kitchen," says Bird. "If you want some kind of food offer on each level, separate â¨facilities are needed."
The second kitchen sits adjacent to a private dining area. This features a large window with a blind that can be rolled up for a 'chef's table' for the 16 diners seated at the table beyond.
Two dumbwaiters carry plates throughout the whole building. This kitchen provides breakfast service for the bar using equipment such as a 10-grid Rational SelfCooking Center WhiteEfficiency, two Adventys induction hobs and a Lincat table-top fryer. Further Adande and Precision units provide plenty of refrigerated storage.
A CookTek Induction stockpot stove was chosen both for its energy saving properties and, in preference to an open gas burner at low level, with safety in mind.
A walk-in coldroom with remote compressor provides bulk storage. It is also used to release space in the two Adande drawers that are equipped for blast chilling when this facility is required.
The Charvet Pro700 series suite features both gas and electric. Gas elements include two solid tops with bull's eyes and a chargill, and electric elements include a chrome plancha and twin-basket deep-fat fryer.
Underneath the cookline sit two Adande refrigerated drawers to keep ingredients close at hand, such as steaks that are marked off on the chargrill before finishing in one of two six-grid Rational combi ovens stacked beside the suite. Scallops get direct cooking on the chrome plancha.
Wash-up is conveniently placed next to the dumbwaiter shaft used to transport dirty dishes. It is furnished with a Meiko DV80.2 GIO pass-through dishwasher with integral reverse osmosis that cuts down on labour by leaving washed items smear-free.
An island pass stretches down the centre of the kitchen, with a two-tiered heated overshelf suspended from the ceiling. This maximises workspace and doubles as prep space outside service times. A speedrail, usually found in bars, has been fitted for easy access to items such as bottles of oil. Beneath the pass are two more Adande refrigerated drawers and a HatCo Quick-Therm salamander sits on top.
Extra localised refrigeration has been distributed throughout the kitchen in the pastry and prep areas. This includes a three-drawer refrigerated counter and a two-door wall-mounted cabinet, both by Precision, and four more Adande refrigerated drawers. The pastry workbench features a 20mm-thick white Sicilian marble top (below).
Adande 0844 376 0023www.andande.comAdventys/Signature FSE 01908 745500www.signature-fse.com Charvet Premier Ranges 01342 717936www.charvet.co.uk ](http://www.charvet.co.uk)Contract Catering Equipment 01268 412121www.contractcateringequipment.co.ukCookTek/MCS Technical Products 01793 538308[www.mcstechproducts.co.uk ](http://www.mcstechproducts.co.uk)Hatco 01509 260 150www.hatcocorp.comLincat 01522 875500[www.lincat.co.uk ](http://www.lincat.co.uk)Meiko 01753 215120www.meiko-uk.co.ukPrecision 01842 753994[www.precision-refrigeration.co.ukRational">http://www.precision-refrigeration.co.uk)Rational 0800 389 2944www.rational-UK.com