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‘Our motto is little and often’ – why Young’s likes to do pub kitchens differently

Chris Knights, group executive chef

Young’s Pubs has completed another round of training for chefs as part of an ongoing programme to replace legacy combi ovens across its estate.

As a great British pub company with a focus on fresh food, Young’s prides itself on having a different approach to the food menu when compared with most pub companies.

Using a framework developed by a central development team, chefs across the 205-strong estate have the freedom to create their own menus in-house, focusing on premium pub dishes dictated by British seasonality.

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This approach requires an ‘old school’ kitchen set-up, encouraging kitchen craftsmanship using traditional pots and pans, while baking key menu items through the oven.

A growing number of its sites are now using Unox’s Cheftop Mind.Maps Plus range of combi ovens after it started working with the brand three years ago.

The most recent installation has just been completed at The Albans Well in St. Albans, which has had a complete refurbishment ahead of reopening after Covid-19 restrictions.

Chris Knights, director of food at Young’s, said the ovens assist with volume and capacity but the real priority for its chefs is the consistency of the cook.

“Our motto is little and often, we’re not cooking in volume and holding food like you might expect from a pub kitchen. Instead we use the combis to meet individual requirements with quality, whether that’s a new batch of roast potatoes every 10 minutes or baking pies to order.”

The combi oven range is used for roasting joints of meat, cooking Yorkshire puddings and roasting potatoes to help deliver Sunday roasts on the biggest food trading day of the week.

It is also used for batch booking, pie mixes, finishing products including fish and other individual menu items throughout the week.

Mr Knights said: “Obviously on a Sunday it is the centrepiece of the kitchen and this is where any combi oven comes into its own right. We needed an oven that can handle this capacity but the great thing about the Unox ovens is that they deliver that same performance and consistency when finishing products or baking a pie too.

“When we first looked at switching to Unox ovens it was all about the consistent bake throughout the chamber and we’ve not been disappointed. With a more even cooking temperature we have a better product coming out of the oven, whether that is on the top tray or the bottom tray.”

Young’s has benefited from stacking countertop models to provide separate cooking chambers. Side loading also allows chefs to see the products for a more consistent bake.

The Mind.Maps technology gives chefs the opportunity to tap into ‘Data Driven Cooking’ by collecting data, processing information, analysing the modes of use and producing daily reports.

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Andrew Seymour

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