Grande Cuisine at Farlam Hall Hotel

Billed as Cumbria’s “Best kept secret”, Farlam Hall Hotel, part of the Relais & Chateaux hotel association, is the perfect place to rest, unwind and enjoy the elegance and serenity of a traditional English country house, with 21st century standards of service and care. And now, thanks to Grande Cuisine and leading UK distributor Prois, its Cedar Tree restaurant has a 21st century kitchen to match.

The brief Prois received for the kitchen refurbishment project was to create a professional, efficient space that would allow Executive Chef Steven Pott to get the most from his brigade, and take his menu beyond the levels that had already earned three AA stars and two rosettes. All in a modern, clean, and efficient environment.

The project – which also involved new floors, wall cladding, ceilings, canopies and extraction – was due to be carried out in January 2021 but when Covid struck the decision was made to take advantage of the downtime afforded by lockdown and bring the project forward to this summer.

‘We needed to upgrade the kitchen because it hadn’t been touched for over 10 years and there is only so much you can achieve working off what was effectively just a six burner gas range and a salamander,’ says Steven. ‘But we also wanted to move forward in terms of what we were able to cook and how we were able to cook it – a better work flow, increased energy efficiency, consistency and reliability were my key goals for all aspects of the kitchen, not just the cook suite.’

Steven was new to Athanor, but the idea of switching to an all-electric, induction cooking suite was perfectly in line with his commitment to creating a ‘greener’ kitchen. A vision shared by Farlam Hall’s owners. ‘A quick visit to Jesmond Dene House and a chat with Exec Chef Danny Parker convinced me that I had to have an Athanor,’ says Steven. ‘Nothing tops a peer recommendation!’

The new Athanor suite, supplied by Grande Cuisine, and set flush into the primary worktop, is home to three single 5kW induction hobs, two double Plaque Athanor planchas, a single drop in fryer and two drop in spoon pots. Above the top, and set on an over-shelf, are an infrared touch plate salamander grill, a filling tap, and storage space for pots and pans.

‘I designed the suite so that it will allow service to flow, but will also enable us to grow,’ says Steven. ‘One side is used by larder, breakfast and pastry, whilst the other side is given over to the sauce section. We cook directly on the planchas which we set at different temperatures for meat and fish. We use the induction hobs to bring sauces and garnishes to temperature quickly and consistently, and the grill to finish dishes just before sending them to the pass.’

‘Grande Cuisine were great, right from the initial meeting,’ says Prois’ Design and Project Manager, Scott McAllister. ‘They provided us with all the necessary drawings and technical information prior to install, including all electrical requirements, along with details of how the suite would be made in order to gain access and get the unit in place – which made life a lot easier for our installation team – and were onsite throughout the installation. The training they provided on the suite post-install was also extremely helpful to the brigade, especially those that weren’t familiar with induction.’

‘I couldn’t be more pleased with the finished project,’ says Steven. ‘I am now able to achieve what I wanted – a more consistent standard of product due in no small part to the quality and reliability of the equipment. The workflow in the kitchen has also been seriously improved – we can now comfortably accommodate 3/4 chefs in the kitchen, each with their own station and prep area. Thanks to the switch from gas to electricity energy efficiency has been greatly improved and the working environment is now much more comfortable, which makes for happy chefs!

‘It’s difficult to pick out one particular highlight if I am being honest – it is just the suite as a whole. The reliability, efficiency and consistency, the ease of maintenance and cleaning, and just the feel and flow of the kitchen during service. I also love the badge and the fact that we have the only Athanor in Cumbria – that is a huge statement!’