Top chef channels ‘marginal gains’ theory for warewashing roll-out

The proprietor of The Woodspeen in Berkshire – the Michelin restaurant and cookery school owned by WSH and JC Restaurants – has revealed his ‘marginal gains’ approach to back-of-house efficiency after a major roll-out of new warewashing equipment.

John Campbell, whose emphasis on good cooking at an affordable price has won him acclaim, has commissioned several of Meiko’s latest innovations this year, including an M-iClean H hood type dishwasher as the mainstay in the kitchen and an M-iClean undercounter glasswasher for the bar.

Key to both new machines is the GiO reverse osmosis water treatment, which removes the need for water softeners and provides spot-free results with no hand polishing required.

The M-iClean H also features Meiko’s new energy saving heat recovery systems, delivering up to 21% savings compared to previous models.

“The catalyst for me always to go back to Meiko is the reverse osmosis water treatment,” he explains. “With Meiko I saw a machine that produced crystal clear glassware as it comes out of the dishwasher and that is a great advantage to a business owner.

“RO is always going to save us labour and if you look at the costs within the business – labour, utilities, materials – they are not going down and are on an upward slant. I think as a business owner it is important reduce the effect of that by reducing the labour impact that washing and then polishing glasses creates, along with the breakages. It is almost like marginal gain theory.”

The automatic hood on the machine also saves labour as it means the operator can be getting on with their job, instead of interrupting the workflow to lift or lower the hood.

Lifting usually wastes time because operators need to stop once or twice during the lift to allow steam to escape upwards, rather than outwards towards them. During a busy – 125 racks – shift, the time saved could easily add up to 45 minutes or more.

“Out of all the businesses I have run, The Woodspeen is the most multifunctional, so the KP, for example, might also do some maintenance or help harvest some of the vegetables,” continues Campbell. “So, when I can find efficiencies across the day by using the new dishwashing machine, certainly that is going to save money. If machines can take things away so the team can get on with other things, clearly that is labour saving and a commercial opportunity within the business.”

He says that affordability is massively important, but thinks a lot of businesses don’t look at the spread of the investment – preferring instead to choose the cheapest option.

“The partners we engage with are very important, because they help you run the business and if you choose the wrong partner or equipment, it affects your business. If you are looking for marginal gains – that extra 1% – if your partners are wrong, your business model will be wrong. It is important to choose partners to help you run the business and Meiko is part of our business relationship and I am very proud to have them on board.”

Having worked in hotels and restaurants around the world, Mr Campbell’s business experience is second to none and The Woodspeen practices environmental conservation and recycling as much as possible.

He says: “Everything we do is about consumption and waste and running the business efficiently. If there was a policy of being ‘Carbon Positive’ I would certainly go for that! Our food waste and carboard goes to compost; our utilities are managed to the finest degree and the business model focusses on ‘not excess’. And there is also the charity aspect. For us, the community is our most important asset and where most of our customers come from.”

Meiko has produced a video on its work at The Woodspeen, which can be viewed below:

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