Wahaca has confirmed that it plans to open a new test kitchen with a difference later this month – customers will be able to trial and review dishes before they are rolled out across its estate.
The site in Shoreditch, which forms part of a 120-cover restaurant, is due to open on Monday 27 November.
Test kitchens are typically operated discreetly by operators and used to test out new menu ideas, ingredients and equipment. But Wahaca’s move will give the public a unique opportunity to influence dishes before they make it into the rest of its stores.
Wahaca is currently appealing for customers to be part of its team’s final stage training ahead of the launch the week after next.
It wants people to help put its waiters, chefs and bartenders through their paces before it officially throws open the doors and is offering a 50% discount on the bill as an incentive.
Wahaca told the trade media that the new Shoreditch site will be central to its growth plans. “Wahaca’s new Shoreditch restaurant will act as an innovation platform to develop new ideas and recipes — with the ambition of taking many of the dishes created to the group’s restaurants around the UK,” it stated.
Wahaca is the first restaurant chain in the UK to be certified as a CarbonNeutral company. Since opening its first site in Covent Garden in 2007, it has challenged itself to minimise environmental impact and ensure that each of its 23 branches has the greenest kitchen possible.
Co-founder Mark Selby told FEJ last year that it had reduced total energy consumption in its newer sites by more than 30%.
He said: “We utilise heat energy created by fridges and freezers to heat the restaurant’s hot water — we no longer have water boilers. Furthermore, our extract systems now all use the latest technology in energy efficiency, increasing the pull of the extract only as the sensors pick up smoke from the grills. Additionally, Wahaca regularly re-assesses existing systems and appliances in all locations. For example, we have introduced knee-push taps into all our new kitchens and our back-of-house lighting is all done on movement sensors now.”