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To make sure the design was bang- on, Nic and his team went as far as creating their own to-scale floor plan for the new kitchen using stacked up chairs and units in the old conference suite.

Once the layout was right, Nic set about making sure the kitchen would be a long-term investment; ultra-efficient to save on labour costs and energy, eco-friendly and sustainable, as well as a clean, hygienic and pleasant environment for chefs to work in. It should have plenty of space, counter and fridge-wise, and all the correct units and cooking equipment.

Commercial design agency, CHR Equipment Ltd, specialists in commercial food service equipment design, supply and installation has been working closely with Lancashire County Cricket Club for the past 17 years, so had a good understanding of the club’s catering facilities requirements.

Having brought in MKN to create a kitchen that met every aspect of Nic’s brief, CHR ensured that Nic and his team could continue to provide an excellent service by creating a specially designed marquee to work from during the 18 months while the development took shape. This actually won the CEDA Grand Prix award for outstanding customer service in 2009.

The £570,000 kitchen finally became a reality, and, on its first operational day in June, served up 1,000 covers during a one-day international between England and Australia, with 1,800 covers around the pavilion.

With acclaimed chef, proud Lancastrian and keen cricket fan Paul Heathcotes on board as an advisor, the venture is proving a huge success for Nic, front of house and bar manager Martin Coleman and commercial manager Geoff Durbin, who run The Point on a daily basis. In the run-up to Christmas, more than 2,500 covers were served every week for four weeks.

A major reason for this success, according to Nic, comes down to the efficiency of the equipment in the new kitchen, with cooking now taking a third of the time.

Banqueting, in particular, has been stepped up through the installation of eight HansDampf Gold Combination ovens from innovative commercial kitchen equipment supplier MKN, built in one section with 20 grids. Powerful but exact, the equipment is designed for operations of high output and calibre.

“We used to have to prepare for banquets two days earlier, but, with these ovens, you can do 800 covers at the last minute and still have them plated and set up in time,” he said.

“I have been offered regeneration ovens that can reheat 112 plates in six minutes, but, to my mind, re-heating lessens the quality and I’m not interested. I’m not that type of chef and I believe if you take a piece of chicken, cook it, slice it and serve it, it’s as fresh as it gets.

“These ovens are also great for slow roasting. We do a shoulder of lamb for four hours, wrap it in cling film, form a black pudding shape, and then cut out beautiful, tender rings of lamb, something different made possible by equipment that brings the best out in the food.”

An Optima 850 Electric Pressure Brat Pan from MKN is also making labour and energy cost savings at The Point. “It’s a magnificent piece of equipment, and will do 300 steaks in an hour against four hours in a normal pan,” said Nic. “You also get a lot of shrinkage and the meat can dry out if you are braising in any old pan, but the pressurised brat pan seals the flavours and makes them immense. By reducing the energy used, it’s also a lot greener.”

Sourcing the right equipment for a project as big as The Point is vital, but good after-sales support is just as important, according to Nic. “Stuart, the business development manager from MKN, has been in on five or six occasions to do training with us, and is setting up a visit from their development chefs in Germany for next February,” he said.

“What makes MKN quite unique is they don’t work Monday to Friday, nine to five. Neither do caterers. As a chef, it is immense to have this kind of support. Saying that, we haven’t had to call them out once for repairs and, with eight ovens, this takes away a lot of the stress.

“When CHR talk about quality and service it means something. They have been here with the club for a very long time supporting our business and understand that we work when the catering equipment industry is closed.

“ When they told me about the MKN product and we agreed the deal I didn’t expect so much support from Stuart at MKN, the business development manager, who has really helped us tweak what we do and made it easy for my team to deliver the service our customers expect. We haven’t had a single problem since it went in, and with regular service I don’t expect we will with what we have seen so far.”

As one of CHR Equipment’s trusted suppliers, MKN puts together efficient and powerful solutions using blocks of equipment from a 600-strong range of appliances in eight different lines, from innovative single units to complete cooking islands.

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