The Mondrian Hotel, also known as Sea Containers, is one of the hottest new additions to the London hotel scene. FEJ finds out how the Morgans Hotel Group-owned property worked with Williams Refrigeration to solve the vast cold storage and preparation needs it had across multiple kitchens on different floors.
The Mondrian London in the heart of the Southbank has barely been open for six months, but it already has all the attributes to become one of the capital’s iconic hotels. A transatlantic fusion of English and American aesthetics, it is inspired by the glory days of 1920s ocean liners — a theme that runs from the lobby’s giant, copper-clad wall, shaped like a hull, to the first-class menu served in the brasserie-style restaurant, Sea Containers.
Sea Containers is open from 6am to midnight and serves up to 700 covers every day from a theatre-style kitchen at the rear of the restaurant, overlooking the Thames. Designed by foodservice design consultants Tricon and fitted by contractor Vision Commercial Kitchens, the kitchen contains an array of catering equipment from some of the top names in the industry. Executive chef Luke Rayment (pictured opposite page), who oversees the entire operation, admits there is a reason for that, namely that the kit gets a pounding. “It has to be very hard wearing,” he says.
Rayment works alongside the hotel’s culinary director, New York chef Seamus Mullen, who together have created a menu that blends the best of British and American cuisine, but is very much about sharing and healthy foods, reflecting the restaurant’s youthful, refined ambiance. The shaved mushroom salad with pine nuts, Idiazabal cheese and brown butter vinaigrette won an industry award within months of the hotel opening.
The equipment was built around what we do. Some refrigeration can look great, but is complicated to use”
The Sea Containers kitchen, along with separate bakery and banqueting kitchens, form the three major catering areas within the hotel, while there is also a staff canteen with cooking equipment, refrigeration and servery. Some of the industry’s top brands are evident throughout the kitchens, from the Bonnet cooking suites and Rational and Turbofan ovens to the Mono baking equipment and Trak counters.
One of the most visible brands within the back-of-house operations is Williams Refrigeration, the Norfolk-based manufacturer of refrigeration systems. It provided virtually all of the refrigeration for the hotel, accounting for some £200,000 of the equipment spend.
With a menu based on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, the specification was for reliable, functional and adaptable refrigeration. The Mondrian’s Rayment says: “Sustainability is a very important issue for the hotel. We source locally and responsibly, whether its food or equipment, and we try to have the least possible impact on the environment. The equipment was built around what we do. Some refrigeration can look great, but is complicated to use. The Williams kit works very well, it’s functional and easy to clean.”
Williams supplied a wide variety of equipment, including upright cabinets, ‘biscuit top’ undercounters, cold rooms and blast chillers, as well as refrigeration systems for two temperature-controlled prep rooms for fish and general produce. 28 cabinets were installed in total, while three more have just been ordered to provide it with extra capacity beyond what it thought it initially needed.
An important facet of the refrigeration contract was the design of seven walk-in coldrooms. Williams Refrigeration Southern undertook the site survey for the coldrooms, supplying the drawings as well as testing and commissioning the units.
Each coldroom was constructed using Williams’ roof and wall panels with camlocks, which are securely foamed into tongue and groove joints for a tight-locking, stable structure. These eliminate the risk of ice build-up in joints and ensure the ‘thermal envelope’ is 100%, thereby reducing energy consumption. The panels use 90mm, zero ODP foam insulation for optimum efficiency.
The coldrooms include dedicated units for beverages, dairy, meat, general purpose items and two freezers. Each is fitted with bumper rails, to prevent damage from trolleys used to transport the food, and viewing panels. The doors are also fitted with curtains to help prevent temperature loss while open.
One notable aspect of the coldrooms is the heavy duty doors, which have a specific role to play. “During the installation, it emerged that the coldrooms opened onto main fire escape corridors, so Williams replaced the original doors with PIR fire retardant ones,” explains Rayment. “I’d never seen these types of doors on a coldroom. Williams created a special lock for them, too, with an interior release mechanism and reinforced handles.”
We do thermal imaging to prove that all our edges are 100% tight, so there is no way for cold air to escape or warm air to get in”
Malcolm Harling, sales and marketing director at Williams, says that the Mondrian is one of a growing number of customers selecting fire rated doors. “It is becoming more prevalent to see customers needing fire retardancy up to 30 minutes. Our standard panels do have a certain amount of retardancy but not enough for insurance purposes that the customer here needs, so the big heavy duty doors along with the PIR fireproof panels, particularly in the corridors, were a feature that the designers had to build in.”
Harling added that Williams was also able to offer the hotel a thermal imaging service, to prove that the coldrooms are properly insulated.
“We generally build our coldroom structures with camlocks, so we lock down the roof, the walls and the floor to provide a completely solid structure that will give you the 100% refrigeration thermal envelope. Some of our competitors use a jigsaw to cut the walls and sometimes the floor, and if you don’t get a perfect line you don’t get a complete insulation. We do thermal imaging to prove that all our edges are 100% tight, so there is no way for cold air to escape or warm air to get in.”
Nautical reminders are everywhere you look in the Mondrian, but with some of the best kit on the market installed in its kitchens, the hotel’s catering staff have every right to think their job should be plain sailing.
The full line-up of refrigeration specified for the project included:
3 x Amber undercounter refrigerators, one with glass door
5 x Jade biscuit top counters
7 x Jade cabinet refrigerators
2 x Jade cabinet freezers
Jade cabinet refrigerator with glass door
WBC40 blast chiller
R65-SCS multideck merchandiser
TW18 Thermowell ingredients well
HRMR1T ruby modular roll-in cabinet
7 x custom-built coldrooms
About Morgans Hotel Group
Morgans Hotel Group is one of the leading operators in the lifestyle hospitality sector, boasting an array of hotels renowned for their individuality. It was founded by Ian Schrager, the much-acclaimed king of boutique hotels, and operates four brands under its umbrella including Delano, Mondrian, Hudson and Originals. The Mondrian is the company’s third hotel in London, after the Sanderson and St Martins Lane. It currently operates 15 hotels around the world, with four more confirmed sites in the pipeline.