Grocers Hall London
Banking on Banqueting at Grocers Hall
Banqueting and conferencing are a key segment of a UK events industry worth 42.3 bn GBP, and historic Grocers' Hall in London's banking quarter not only plays a key part in the city's constitutional and ceremonial life, but works hard to attract its share of the 1.3 bn business events in the UK annually.
As home to the Worshipful Company of Grocers - one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies in the City of London - since 1426, the classic venue in Princess Street also counts fundraising events and private dinner parties as its bread and butter, offering clients a diverse choice of halls and rooms.
These include the opulent Livery Hall with its breath-taking chandeliers and The Piper Room with its huge spices-inspired tapestry, the exclusive use venue providing scope for everything from receptions and formal banquets with live music to seminars and lunch presentations.
Catering for up to 150 covers for a four-course dinner, Stephen Reid, the Dorchester-trained head chef of the in-house ctaering team, said, last year, he bcame keen to find out more about the cooking technology available to improve consistency, speed up service and save energy costs.
"Consistency of standards is crucial in banqueting, which is easier said than done when you are serving such a high volume of plated meals," he said. "Grocers Hall had a traditional stockpot which, as was pretty standard for many years , was left on overnight, a practice which was no longer considered safe for more than one reason. At this point, we decided to look at other options."
Stephen and his sous chef Graham Pratt were won over by the multi-functional FlexiChef from MKN, a multi-functional piece of equipment able to cook a complete dish with different time and temperature requirements concurrently thanks to the FlexiZone, the pressure level enabling chefs to cook high volumes in a short time.
Stephen said, since the FlexiChef was installed in the early Autumn, it had become invaluable to their operation as the equivalent of an extra pair of hands. "It's efficiency and recovery capabilities have taken an enormous amount of pressure off when it comes to achieving consistency," he said.
"We can do 20 kilos of a veal bone stock in one-and-a-half hours, 150 duck legs confit in 45 minutes and 15 whole shoulders of lamb in one hour," he said. "With the four, independent temperature zones and using the grill mode as a plancha, we get perfect end results when searing large amounts of tender scallops, chicken and fish etc. The statistics are quite amazing. The touch control panel takes you methodically through the cooking stages and there are over 100 pre-set recipes, but, of course, as chefs, we all have our own ideas and the FlexiChef's versatility allows for that."