The development kitchen at the new National Catering Equipment Centre is already booked out until the end of the year, even though it only officially opened this week, bosses at the facility have revealed.
The kitchen, which is manned by full-time development chef Dean Starling, who joined from P&O Cruises-owned Carnival, where he worked closely with Marco Pierre White on menu creation, is regarded as an intrinsic part of the NCEC site in Bristol.
Richard Ebbs, head of brands at Uropa Brands, who is based at the NCEC, said the response to the test kitchen has been tremendous.
“The development kitchen is booked out right to the end of the year, probably to January now, so Dean is going to be a very busy chef for the next few months. Literally every day we have got some major chains in there,” he said.
The development kitchen is open to the entire industry to use, including non-Nisbets group companies such as suppliers, dealers and end-users.
So far it has been heavily used by multi-site operators, including one of the country’s most well-known supermarket chains, a large pub group, a leading contract caterer and a motorway services provider, Mr Ebbs said.
“A lot of these major chains are stripping out development kitchens because of the costs involved and instead they use working kitchens, which is not very practical because if you use a working kitchen it gets in the way of the actual trade. To have someone that is able to provide that development kitchen for them without the cost is a real benefit.”
The development kitchen has been constructed to be able to accommodate any arrangement of equipment, regardless of power supply.
“One of the key selling points is that behind every single point we have got gas, electric, three-phase, single-phase and a 13 amp plug, which means we can replicate any cookline we want to. So if a major chain comes in and says, ‘right we want to do our menu development but we want the flow of our kitchen, we can replicate that. Also, from a dealer point of view, if they want to try different products or gas, electric or induction we can do that. The kitchen is fully modular, so everything can be placed on wheels and switched around.”
The development kitchen features high definition cameras that point down on the cooking appliances and counter to give spectators a close-up view of the action.
The cameras also allow demonstrations or cooking competitions to be live streamed if required.