CLAREMONT SCHOOL KITCHEN AND FOOD SERVERY COUNTER DESIGN
Claremont School has always led the way in providing the best for its pupils. It was the first school in Brent to convert to Grant Maintained Status, which enabled it to embark on a series of regeneration and capital projects, thus improving opportunities for students. Next came Foundation Status during which it has continued to thrive - and now the school is seeking to convert to Academy Status, a move which will further strengthen its continuing success.
Ofsted recently pronounced it as ‘outstanding - a school that provides exceptionally well for all its pupils’ needs’. Because Claremont takes an altogether holistic approach to its pupils’ welfare, it is not surprising that, as part of the recent regeneration, the decision was taken to build a major extension with the main purpose being to provide a substantial dining hall complete with brand new school kitchen - all fronted by a super stylish servery.
As the pupil population is just under 1500, and the vast majority of this number could potentially use the school’s facilities for both a mid-morning and lunchtime break, it was clearly crucial that a company with significant expertise in this area should be commissioned to design and install the new school kitchen and servery. The architects running the building project were aware of Nelson Catering Equipment’s reputation for school kitchen design through the excellent results we had achieved in similar establishments and we were duly brought on board.
John Nelson headed a team who worked closely with the architects, from the very beginning of the project, to devise a layout which incorporated the key elements of storage, preparation and service in a way that maximised efficiency in every area – from goods being delivered right through to pupils being served.
The result is a school kitchen and servery that works superbly at every level.
At the back of house the storage area comprises a walk in freezer room, cold room and large dry store, all sited by a delivery access point. Cooking, meanwhile, is focused around a large central island containing 2 x 6 burner oven ranges, 2 x combination ovens, a bratt pan and a twin fryer. Sited around the island are 4 x double mobile benches which create extra work space whenever and wherever required and which are also used to transfer food from the island to the adjacent servery.
One side of the school’s kitchen is dedicated to clearing and dishwashing, creating a highly streamlined system that includes a large, commercial, pass through dishwasher and various sinks. The opposite side is the main food preparation area with ample tabling, a large stand mixer, a potato peeler and more sinks.
Finally, behind the servery is an undercounter hot cupboard and fridge, a chilled garnish rail, 2 x bains marie, a rotary toaster and panini grill.
The aesthetic design of the servery was crucially important as, regardless of how efficient the kitchen was, pupils and staff needed to be drawn in to the school’s dining hall.
We worked with both the architects and members of the school board in coming up with a striking design that does not compromise on style. The custom built, cobalt blue (the school’s house colour) servery stretches right across the hall, effectively dividing the school’s dining and cooking zones. Black granite tops are practical yet make a strong design statement while polished stainless steel pelmets and plinths contrast with the deeper colours.
Because the number of people using the new facility was likely to be high, we worked on ways to prevent congestion and promote a smooth flow. We installed two multi-deck refrigerated displays adjacent to the servery and a further one to the edge of it where drinks, snacks and cold desserts could be held, meaning that pupils selecting only these could proceed directly to a checkout point. For those choosing something more substantial there are 4 separate checkout points to help prevent queues from forming.
The final proof of success in a project like this is in the proverbial ‘pudding’ and, in Claremont’s case, numbers of pupils dining in the new hall not only saw a sharp rise immediately following the installation, but are still continuing to increase. And a further, unexpected benefit is that the contemporary new environment has provoked a keen interest amongst students in healthy eating.