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City Zebrano Restaurant is located in the City of London in the shadow of the iconic Gherkin building. It is part of the Zebrano Group which also includes Soho Zebrano and Carnaby Zebrano.
Zebrano is a venue offering a restaurant and lounge bar. In the basement, a chef’s table located in the kitchen gives diners a unique opportunity to enjoy fine dining while gaining an insight into the beating heart of the operation. Private dining for groups of up to ten people is also available in a space located next to the restaurant and features a set menu for lunch and dinner.
The kitchen management of the City Zebrano kitchen is overseen by executive head chef Chris MacCormick. Chris, who gained his love of cooking while making scones in his grandmother’s kitchen, has extensive experience as executive chef in the City of London. He was previously executive head chef for investment banking firm Nomura and Lehman Brothers so he knows his audience.
Chris is a proponent of seasonality in his menus and this is reflected in the offering at City Zebrano. Dishes have ingredients that are at their peak of freshness and flavour. The menu includes starters such as marinated scallops, avocado, charred cucumber, radish and lentil sprouts; main courses include Scottish cod fillet, Pyrenean lamb shoulder or steamed brill with chorizo crust while the dessert menu features a selection of seasonal ice creams and sorbets, soufflés and tarts. There are also vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available.
Motivation for investment
City Zebrano reflects the vision of Cevat Riza and Don Cameron, the entrepreneurial partnership behind Zebrano Group, to expand beyond the lounge/bar experience into fine dining.
Chris MacCormick’s remit is to deliver on Zebrano’s philosophy of providing an exceptional culinary experience with food and drink that meets the highest standards of quality, freshness and seasonality and combines modern creativity and traditional styles of British cooking.
The restaurant is located on the ground floor of 33-38 Duke Street in Houndsditch. It occupies the former premises of Dukes Bar and the underground dance venue T Bar.
The eclectic design of the restaurant is an energetic fusion of ‘earthy chic’ and industrial futurism. It uses recycled materials to deliver bespoke, handcrafted furniture and an atmospheric décor. This meant that the whole area required re-fitting from scratch. This need extended to the kitchen.
Because the venue was being completely refitted the kitchen space was a blank canvas. It had to be designed to be versatile and robust to allow for preparation of a variety of dishes that vary depending on the season.
The space had to be flexible and practical. Because the kitchen is also the focal point of the chef’s table it also had to look as good as the rest of the restaurant. The position of the work stations was as much about providing the guests a view of the theatrical element of preparation as it was about creating a streamlined workflow of dishes which could include as many as 16 elements in their creation.
In order to rationalise the workflow each work station needed to be able to cater for multiple uses to make the kitchen as efficient as possible.
The new kitchen had to be energy-efficient; easy to clean and well ventilated. It also had to include elements of heat and noise suppression in order to maximise the comfort both of the staff and the guests dining at the chef’s table. In addition, cost of ownership was an issue in terms of maintenance, repair and certification over the lifetime of the equipment, which could be 20 years or more.
Access to the kitchen, located in the basement of the building, was also a challenge and this had a bearing on the suite that would ultimately be specified and fitted.
After investigating several alternatives for the kitchen design and equipment Zebrano opted for equipment from Grande Cuisine.
The Grande Cuisine solution working in partnership with Salix features a bespoke Athanor ‘table-top’ island suite that measures 3.8 metres by 1.6 metres. The suite comprises one single glass ceran radiant hob, three double Plaque Athanor plancha/cook plates, one single 525 mm Plaque Athanor plancha/cook plate, a 1/1Gn multi-cooker, one double inset fryer and one single zone induction hob.
In order to plan workflows and to ensure potential niggles were ironed out, Chris was invited to see the entire kitchen laid out in the factory setting to get the feel for it. The suite had to be manufactured in two parts in order to get it into Zebrano’s building. Once in situ the two halves of the suite were welded together.
The inclusion of the Adventys 4kW three-phase induction hob was to allow for large volume production to take place without impacting on service. Running overhead along the full length of the suite is an over-shelf which is mounted with a CAPIC hi-light salamander grill for glazing, browning and crisping.
To provide additional worktop space and room for condiment containers a plating rail is mounted to each side of the cook suite.
Additional cooking equipment consists of electric fryers, a gas char grill and combination ovens with a separate dedicated combination oven in the pastry area.
Benefits for the customer
In essence, the suite is about allowing the chefs to double up on equipment during the day. There are fewer elements but they can do more, therefore creating greater efficiencies in the preparation, cooking and presentation processes.
Using induction hob and radiant at either end enables cooking with precise temperature control and instant response. Induction technology heats the cookware while the surrounding area stays cool to the touch. Built-in safety features include overheat and boil-over sensors and an empty pan detector.
The double-sided island maximises the space available and helps to create a highly productive work flow at any time.
Executive head chef Chris MacCormick said: “A new kitchen can change the way you think about your cooking, in a good way. It challenges you and makes you a better chef in the long run – the flexibility of the Plaques is amazing – in the morning they give us plenty of cooking surface for large pans – then in service can be used for much more precise cooking with either pans or direct cooking.”