Brakes’ £750k kitchen hub is a toolbox for chefs and menu developers

Brakes’ Innovation Centre

Customers of Brakes Catering Equipment will now be able to develop menus and train their chefs at a state-of-the-art development kitchen facility it has opened in Reading.

The £750,000 Innovation Centre contains more than £175,000 of equipment spread across the main development kitchen and a neighbouring presentation kitchen.

The primary kitchen features six individual workstations that are designed to ensure visitors get the hands-on experience they require.

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While Brakes’ existing and well-established training facility in Covent Garden features more of a traditional set-up, the creation of the standalone work areas gives it a clear USP that will allow it to meet a wide range of purposes.

“What we want to be able to do is host chef competitions, run workshops and master-classes, and help operators with recipe sign-off,” Brakes’ head of food development, Mark Irish, told FEJ. “In order to be able to do that chefs need somewhere to work, so it was important that we had these pods to be able to do that.”

Each station contains an Adventys induction hob, Unox convection oven, Blizzard refrigeration cabinet, storage drawers and sufficient prep space.

“We couldn’t be too sophisticated with the kit because there is no extraction directly above, but it is good quality and functional and it allows the chef to have their own cooking environment,” he said.

Irish says Brakes is increasingly seeing clients using induction in their own operations, so it made sense to make this technology available on each workstation, particularly as a gas hob would have brought complexities.

“We know it is cleaner, potentially cheaper and more efficient, and certainly the younger chefs that are coming through are used to working with induction. It is really important that we had something that was future-proof.”

Both kitchens have flat-screen TVs that provide visitors with live close-up footage of the dishes being built by either Brakes’ development chef team or the operators’ own chefs. Individual work stations can also be filmed, allowing operators to monitor progress from outside the room if required.

“We have got the facility to record and capture stills, which is useful when demonstrating product and even kit. We have just had a hotel group in that we are supporting with menu changes and we did about 20 dishes, recorded them and captured stills,” said Mr Irish. “They will now use those as part of their training processes so they don’t have to replicate it. Things like the audio-visual facilities are about adding more value to the partnership with clients.”

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Andrew Seymour

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