From L-shape to ‘no shape’ – why kitchen design no longer leaves The Alchemist unfazed

Seamus O’Donnell, executive chef

Cocktail specialist The Alchemist continues to see food sales increase – and according to the chain’s executive chef it has grown used to tailoring the kitchen environment to the site.

Seamus O’Donnell, who is approaching 10 years with the firm, said that when it comes to new sites, there’s no telling what sort of space will be afforded to the kitchen.

But once he receives the footprint of the kitchen space, he will work with his team to establish how it can best utilise the space.

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“Sometimes I’m very lucky and I get my ’square’, other times I get an L-shape or a shape that doesn’t even have a name!” he said. “The chefs need the correct equipment to work with so it’s about trying to fit it in and deliver our menu. We are very lucky as a team in that it is very much give and take — we work together to try and deliver an operational unit at the end of the day.

“I’ll go back to my kitchen fitters, they’ll design it from scratch and then maybe we’ll shuffle some things around. But it’s quite a quick process. We can be given a blank canvas and have a kitchen designed in two weeks.”

The chain, which is closing in on 20 sites with new additions due in Birmingham and London, offers a contemporary and eclectic menu that dovetails with its acclaimed cocktail range.

O’Donnell, talking during a Commercial Kitchen panel hosted by FEJ, says that experience has taught it that getting the kitchen specification right is the secret to driving the entire operation.

“If you’ve got the right equipment, it’s very easy to develop your menus. Compared to eight or nine years ago, if you get the right piece of equipment you know you can cook it more efficiently and in less time, which helps your chefs.”

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Andrew Seymour

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