Following consultation with Paul Neville of Preston-based CHR Foodservice Equipment, the plans began to take shape. “CHR presented Aiden and the design team with a project called ‘sustainability in operation’. The scheme, which incorporated a totally bespoke solution would be delivered ensuring that a large percentage of the spend (it turned out to be around 80%) would be made locally. Our proven energy efficiency strategies would be a standard feature and Eco-Chef, with its own inbuilt energy monitoring system, would be the chosen cooking equipment to ‘showcase’ the new venture,” says Neville.
Four locally built Eco-Chef units were installed to service the 70-cover fine dining restaurant on Level 2 of the Tower while the fifth unit is to be sited in the 10-seat development kitchen which also doubles as a private dining area planned in phase two. Manchester House also houses an 80-seat private members club and reception bar on Level 12 with panoramic views over Manchester that is open 24/7 to serve champagne and canapés.
The main central Eco-Chef suite is just 1 metre wide and 5 metres long, comprising – four multipoint induction zones, a two zone plancha, a multifunctional vessel and a full 180° rotating combination oven that allows it to be used throughout the production process. It is also Aiden’s main oven overlooking the Chef’s Table. The outer and front Eco-Chefs have been built to double up as the Chef’s Table and two individual pass sections, which also incorporate refrigeration and multipoint induction. In total there are around 40 metres of Eco-Chef cooking blocks.
Other service areas on Level 2 include a feature pastry section, which according to Neville, “makes the customer feel like they are walking right through the kitchen itself”, while the meat and fish sections are also in full view of the public. A back kitchen, comprising of cold room and prep area with a smaller batch cooking and chiller area and a separate glass and dishwasher area with crockery store, completes Level 2. CHR was also asked to retro fit a lot of additional steel works to bespoke furniture at the end of the contract to match up with all the work in the kitchen.
The interior design for Manchester House was achieved by working with interior design team Keane Design. “CHR worked closely with Keene Design who took our brief on the interior decoration and created a truly marvellous space that dovetails kitchen and restaurant into one seamless design: it screams ‘serious restaurant’ yet does it in a non-pretentious manner that can be enjoyed by all,” commented Living Ventures. The whole back wall which hides the back kitchen is concrete with openings to inset ovens, grills and Green Egg BBQ’s to complete the cooking area front of house. “The concept of walking through a kitchen to get to the restaurant is unusual to say the least but the customers have embraced it in the way it was intended. We have nothing to hide and want the experience and process of delivery to be shared by all.”
Byrne remarks: “Fuel bills have been a pleasant surprise with Eco-Chef: as it is a new start-up we cannot compare with anything that has gone before, but compared with other restaurants on the site our bills are minuscule in our new all-electric kitchen. Keeping consumption as low as possible was a major driver and we are definitely seeing that happen.”
As for reaction to the kitchen, he says the staff love working in it. “With the old style gas solid tops they would be pumping out heat 24/7 with extractors noisily working overtime. Now we have less extraction, which has helped keep running cost down, and thanks to the new induction tops the kitchen temperature is much lower and the kitchen is virtually silent.”