If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise! For set within 170 acres of tranquil wooded parkland you’ll find De Vere’s Dunston Hall Hotel.
The Norwich hotel has been converted from a Grade II listed Country House and has kept many original features.In addition to its 130 bedrooms, Dunston Hall Hotel boasts two floodlit tennis courts, swimming pool, gym and an 18 hole PGA golf course and club.
With all this, guests expect their dining experience to be equally superb – and they’re not disappointed. Executive chef, Kevin Luke is the man responsible for catering throughout the Hotel. He joined Dunston Hall Hotel in 1999 from The Grand in Brighton – also part of the De Vere Hotel Group – where he was Head Chef. His culinary remit now includes 400-450 covers per day in the main restaurant, another 70 in the a la Carte restaurant, room service, bar snacks and golf club meals as required.
During the week, the large majority of guests are businesses. There are three main conference rooms, the largest of which holds up to 300 delegates. At weekends, Dunston Hall Hotel is renowned for wedding banquets. Catch Kevin on a busy weekend with three weddings to cater for and there’s no room for error. Everything has to be planned to perfection. It’s not surprising, therefore, to find that he is equally exacting when it comes to cooking equipment. So when he came across Valera’s Sanyo Induction Hob, supplied by Bradford-based Airedale Catering Equipment(part of Valera’s nationwide distributor network), he knew it was a piece of equipment which could play a useful role in his catering operations.
Induction technology transfers heat directly from the induction hob to the food in the pan. Heat is only generated when pan and hob connect, saving on energy and fuel bills. This also creates a pleasant and safe environment to cook in, back of house or front of house.
It fits snugly onto any bar or counter top but is equally at home built into a hob unit to extend a traditional range, thanks to a modular design which includes an angled back and simple air filter system. Unlike most induction hobs, the Sanyo model’s cooking surface is glass from edge to edge, so you can create one continuous easy-to-clean work surface.
For Luke, the mobility appeals. Because it is compact, easy to move around, and runs off a 13amp plug, the Induction Hob means he can display a variety of cooking techniques with one simple front-of-house piece of equipment – whether it’s whipping up fresh omelettes and scrambled eggs for sleepy breakfasters, or creating colourful stir fries for an exotic addition to a carvery lunch. The Induction Hob brings all the theatre of the kitchen front of house. “It’s an ideal piece of equipment to use for our carvery meals. Because the Induction Hob is so versatile, I can just move it to the table with soup in a cast iron dish and leave it to simmer,” says Kevin. The hobs can be used very effectively for functions as well, because they can plug in to any available socket or extension lead and used for both prime cooking and holding. And with Sanyo, you only need ordinary 18/8 or 18/10 steel pans – no need for expensive high ferrous-content vessels, a traditional expense associated with induction technology.
The hob is something of a hero at the Hall when it comes to events hosted in the hotel’s 250-seater marquee. “We use the hob as an alternative to stoves because there’s no gas supply in the marquee. It’s perfect for creating soups and sauces – from Double Chicken Consommé with Lightly Spiced Apple Brunoise to Smoked Haddock Bisque – while from a safety angle too, it fits the bill,” says Kevin. As soon as pans are taken off the hob, they cool almost immediately, as there is no flame, thus safety risks are minimised.
Kevin finished with “Its so easy to use, all the kitchen staff are extremely happy and comfortable with it. We really haven’t had any problems with it whatsoever and it’s very simple to keep clean which is really important for hygiene!”
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