When the Savoy re-opened in 2010 following a £220 million refurbishment, the main cooking power in the kitchen featured two bespoke Charvet ranges with four heavy duty plancha sections on each top, alongside two gas open burners, two induction hobs and a salamander.
That was what chef specified at that time, but after leaving a year later, the requirements of the kitchen changed when the kitchen was re-launched as ‘Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill’.
Kaspar’s new Executive Chef James Pare introduced a new menu that required more pan work and cooking space, with the facility of grill cooking incorporated.
“Plancha are meant to cook directly on; not for pots and pans,” says Pare, “and it became an issue for us because the plancha would never get hot enough for pans and I wanted to be picking things up quicker.”
Charvet Partner Distributor TAG was brought in by Pare to look after the equipment maintenance at the Savoy, which features Charvet throughout all its kitchens. TAG are specialists in Charvet equipment and have been working with Charvet for over 25 years.
REMAKING THE RANGE
TAG’s first task with the Charvet ranges was to increase the heat output of the plancha sections, enabling them to provide enough cooking power for the pan work.
“Because Charvet ranges are constructed logically and simply,” explains TAG MD Martin Stephens, “they are very flexible and alterations are always achievable. When designing their ranges Charvet always think about issues such as access for servicing.
“While they are extremely proud of what they make, perhaps unusually for a prestige manufacturer, Charvet are willing to listen to customer feedback and make changes to the way they build the ranges.”
A reasonable life expectancy for a heavy duty bespoke Charvet is 20 years (The Dorchester’s Charvet ranges have just hit 25 years and still going strong!).
Following the short-term fix of uprating the plancha, to fully meet the demands of the new menu at the Savoy the plancha-based Charvet ranges were dismantled and then re-constructed within the existing one-piece top and now featuring two solid tops in the centre, two induction hobs, two open burners and two chargrills.
“I said what I wanted and left that challenge with TAG,” says Pare. “It worked out better than expected. They have created more cooking space – at least 25% – and I am extremely happy with the result. TAG has tackled the challenges and have been like a breath of fresh air.”
Even the area to the side of the solid tops is now productive and is used for simmering. “Charvet is so well made that the stainless steel top next to the solid top makes a great heat conductor, reaching temperatures of 150degC, all without buckling and allowing for the entirety of the top to be used for cooking.”
Another successful joint initiative between TAG and James Pare is a collaborative programme designed to reduce breakdowns and speed up reactive maintenance.
This has involved additional training for kitchen staff, with emphasis on cleaning and safety.
Equipment is constantly assessed to make sure it is right for the job, with TAG’s extensive knowledge of the latest products, helping to advise on any potential improvements to the demands of a busy kitchen.
A weekly ‘walk-round’ checks the condition of the kit and helps identify problems. Spares are also stocked at The Savoy to enable quick turnaround of repairs and reactive maintenance. This service is combined with all maintenance details being held on computer software, both at TAG’s head office and on site with engineers handheld PDA’s. This allows for all work sheets and estimates to be done in real time, keeping the chefs fully aware and up to date of timescales, whilst reducing downtime of the equipment and avoiding the need to call and ask when the item will be repaired.
TAG also looks after kitchens at a variety of Five Star Hotels, Blue Chip Companies and Michelin Star Restaurants.
“Due to our fully trained and extensive engineering staff, we can do anything with a Charvet suite,” says Stephens. “Because they are constructed so well and built to last, we can refurbish them with new solid tops, open burners or chargrills. We are also one of the few companies in the UK who are able to replace the refractory cement around the burners, which is essential to maintain the energy efficiency and high performance.”