When restaurateur Richard Phillips, of Thackeray’s Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, was asked to cater for a celebratory dinner to mark the centenary of the prestigious car marque, Bentley, he was thrilled. The event did, however, present a number of significant challenges – both logistical and culinary.
First of all, the VIP dinner for 30 was to be held in the local Bentley dealer’s showroom – which has no kitchen. So, a temporary kitchen would need to be installed, used and removed on the same day – so that the showroom could be operational the next. What’s more, the Bentley team specifically required there to be no cooking smells left behind.
They also wanted to serve their guests a tasting menu of six dishes – to reflect different stages of the Bentley story through time.
The menu had been designed externally and highlights would include Welsh rarebit, braised neck of lamb with wild garlic and, somewhat worryingly for Mr Phillips, fish and chips.
“Everyone loves fish and chips except, perhaps, for chefs catering for large numbers of guests at events. This is because very few fryers have the power to produce the quality needed. When the chilled food hits the oil, the temperature drops and can take too long to return to optimum frying temperature – resulting in soggy fish and chips.”
However, Mr Phillips found a solution to his challenge in the shape of Rexmartins, which was able to provide a 4-zone induction oven range, induction fryer, induction griddle and a front cooking station – a mobile fume filtration unit with carbon filters.
The combination of induction technology and inverter temperature control ensured quick heat-up times and temperature stability for consistent results at high volumes.
He said: “People had told me that induction fryers performed better than their traditional counterparts, but I have to admit that I was sceptical until we tried one in the restaurant. It really is solid and made light work of the fish and chips at the Bentley event, with each batch as crispy as the last.
“With regard to the rest of the kitchen, we were able to load the items into our truck, and set the kitchen up using the showroom’s existing electricity supply. Each piece of equipment performed effectively and was well-built and easy to operate.
“After the event we cleaned down, packed the kitchen into the van and left everything exactly as we had found it. And, amazingly, thanks to the efficiency of the carbon filters on the front cooking station, we didn’t even leave the smell of cooking behind. On the contrary, our customer rang to say that when they opened the showroom the following day, you would literally not have known we had been there.”
Mr Phillips said the experience had convinced him to think about investing in more induction technology in his restaurants and outside catering operations moving forward.