'The Kitchen now standing at platform one is the Vision Commercial Kitchen, at St Pancras Grand Restaurant, St. Pancras International Station.' When world class catering company Searcy's were asked to create a station restaurant at the newly renovated St. Pancras International, their CEO Duncan Ackery and appointed Executive Head Chef Billy Reid knew that they had to catch a northern connection.
A huge project like this doesn't happen overnight and obviously requires a great deal of process and planning, not least of all from the point of view of the kitchen requirements. Take me through the initial stages.
Duncan - You're right, this project developed over a considerable period of time. London Continental Railways were looking for partners to provide catering services to work within the Station. Part of their plan was to create a top end restaurant in keeping with the highly aspirational nature of the environment. The renovation of the Barlow Shed, the intricate architectural detailing and the high quality catering and retail offer on ground level had already set the benchmark. They had approached a number of people to deliver the restaurant and Searcy's I'm glad to say secured the project. I came to it after Alternative Hotel Group purchased Searcy's in the spring of 07 and I was put in place as the new Chief Executive Officer. The first thing I did was to review the plans for both front and back of house and I decided that all things considered we needed to be a little more aspirational. I appointed Martin Budnidski as the new Front of House designer and chose Vision Commercial Kitchens to deliver the Back of House requirements.
A restaurant on this scale must generate huge demand on it's resources, did this have a bearing on your decision regarding kitchen provision?
Duncan - The restaurant will be feeding 800 people per day, without the right equipment you can't control your food cost effectively. In this day and age with food costs on the increase, recruitment a constant issue and the cost of replacing breakages hugely expensive, we needed to bring in a professional outfit. When I approached Vision they came back with what I thought was a cracking proposition, admittedly higher spec'd so a little more expensive than the previous people, but using raw kit from exclusive ranges means that what?s in there today being hammered during our soft opening, will still be there in ten years time. Appointing a high quality operator like Vision was absolutely the right choice.
Had you any knowledge of other projects that Vision had delivered?
Duncan - Yes, I actually worked with Vision on a lot of DeVere projects. Jack Sharkey and I developed the Steam Bake and Grill concept together, so I have first hand experience and am really impressed with the quality of their workmanship.
On this project you're in London and with Vision being based in the North West did that pose any problems?
Duncan - None, distance is no barrier, electronic communications being what they are today and with Vision's digital capabilities it is very easy to review a set of plans and move forward. Look, on a project of this scale there are so many factors to be considered, the kitchen was drifting into the bars and the bars was drifting into the kitchen, there were no clear lines where an
area begins and ends so you need to have complete trust.
Billy, you're probably best placed to illustrate how the lines have been blurred. Tell me about Vision's role in this and how you feel the requirements have been dealt with.
Billy - Follow me, if we go around to the other side of the pass and out of this door you can see that we are now Front of House where Vision have fitted us out with two stunning display chillers, both will be stocked with produce cooked in the kitchen. In one, we will have ham hock terrine, potted beef and various sauces, slice the meat, sauce on a side plate, have a nice day. In the other we?ll have smoked salmon hanging, lobster cocktails and dressed crab, beautiful. The quality of the workmanship together with the offering all adds to the theatre.