A good workflow, adequate space, suitable lightning and temperature and good robust equipment well installed.
With the Somerville Group experience and standing in the local and regional market. Somerville (Singapore) has over the 50 years, been appointed kitchen designers for new build and renovation developments for hotels, hospitals, clubs, restaurants, food courts and staff cafeterias. Our clients are global companies with regional projects covering Singapore, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Turkey.
Human nature dictates that the equipment a chef will probably buy when opening his own restaurant will almost inevitably be less sophisticated and cost less than the equipment he will request with someone else paying the bill. Likewise the size of the kitchen and amount of equipment would almost certainly be more than budgeted for if the owner of the hotel were to work in the kitchen himself. Thus, in the most projects it is up to the consultant to act as mediator and work out a suitable compromise in both space and equipment so that both sides get a fair deal.
There are consultants who are only consultants and those who are also contractors. The design can be equally good from either one and the equipment specified by the independent is not necessarily better. In fact if the consultant/contractor is the agent/distributor for several good manufacturers and wins the contract you can usually be assured of an adequate after sales service and supply of spare parts. Furthermore as all equipment specified is also subject to the offer of “or equal” alternatives, other bidders have an equal chance of securing the contract.
The consultant/contractor, whose consultancy fee is often reimbursable (if he secures the contract) should be as conscientious as the independent consultant he is unable to walk away from the job once installation is completed and must face the wrath of the chef and the other food and beverage Managers if design is poor or equipment inadequate.
While every consultant must keep up-to-date with the latest developments and equipment available it does not follow that the latest equipment or innovations to equipment should be specified. In many areas robust simple equipment is preferable to the latest expensive, computer controlled marvel of technology shown with great fanfare at recent international food equipment show.
For example, just as one question whether electrically operated car windows are necessarily better and safer than manually wound windows, one must question whether electronic push button controls on tilt mechanisms and other areas of equipment are in fact better in the long term existing manual operations. Cast iron cooking surfaces on brat pans have been changed over the years to stainless steel and then to Teflon and many chefs still prefer cast iron. In some instance, manufacturers are simply installing new gadgets in order to be one up on their competitors, in a field where a considerable amount of manual work and physical dexterity is inevitable.
The combi oven/steamer (combining steaming and roasting) is approximately the same price as separate steamer and oven of equivalent sizes. Therefore, although certain may benefits from combined baking and steaming(less shrinkage), space permitting it is often better to specify a separate steamer and oven thereby allowing the two separated operations to be performed at the same time, especially if more than combi is considered, and until such time as the price comes down through increased manufacturing competition.
Even if the specialty cook and hold oven is fractionally better than the under-range convection oven, the counter cooler with drawers easier to operate than the ordinary open door counter cooler and the special pastry cream dispenser cleaner to use than the old fashioned cream bag with nozzle, are these modifications worth the additional cost. The more complex the equipment usually the more difficult and expensive the after sales service.
Where there is always a vast price difference is between locally made and imported exhaust hoods and box/counter refrigerators. Imported exhausted hoods with self-wash systems and complex fire protection systems can cost three times as much as the locally made stainless steel exhaust hood without the self-washing facility but with adequate grease filters and a mechanical fusible link CO2 fire extinguishing system. While fire insurance for the building will probably be lower if the highly engineered imported hoods are installed, the option out to the owner especially for smaller low-rise buildings. Likewise the quality of locally made and counter refrigerators has increased considerably over the last ten years and as the price for these items is about half that of the imported units the owner should be made aware of this considerable cost saving option.
The cost of stainless steel has risen over the years and thus alternatives must be considered by the consultant wherever possible. Polycarbonate shelves for transport carts, polyethylene for large containers, aluminum exteriors for box refrigerators, non-toxic plastic coated galvanized steel walls for the inside of walk-in chillers and freezers are some of the possibilities that can be considered to overcome the present high cost of stainless steel.
With the restaurant kitchen equipment consultant acting as designer, mediator, technical advisor and cost controller and often being stronger in some of these fields and weaker in others the actual arrangements/workflow, total installation cost and durability of past kitchen installations serve as the best guidelines in selecting your consultant. After all, as in most things, the proof is in the pudding