Emmanuel College, in the heart of Cambridge, hosts a wide range of events including weddings, conferences, dinners and summer parties for businesses, arts organisations, charities, academics and last, but by no means least, the general public. “We serve 650 meals a day to students, plus we cater for private events,” says Francois Reverchon, Catering Bursar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. “So our chefs have to be flexible, offering everything from cafeteria snacks to formal haute cuisine, from the fashionable to the classic. The cooking equipment and refrigeration has to be able to cope with that flexibility.”
The buildings range from the medieval to the late twentieth century. Williams Refrigeration and B.I Catering Equipment Services have completed part of a total refurbishment of the College’s main kitchen, which is housed in a modern shell constructed within an 18th century building.
“The last time the kitchen was refurbished was in the ‘90’s” says Francois Reverchon. “I wanted to avoid a three month shut down, so we have split the project into stages that can be carried out during holiday times.”
The limited timescale was one of the key challenges on the project. “There was no margin for error,” says Andrew Jones of B.I Catering Equipment Services. “We had two weeks to pull out the old equipment, re-pipe, put in new flooring, fit compressors and install the first set of refrigeration.” The second tranche of the Williams equipment was installed later, during a 17-day period.
“In both cases, time was very tight,” says Andrew Jones. “For example, the flooring is listed, so it had to be replaced very carefully. Equally, the exterior compressors had to be below a certain height, so that they couldn’t be viewed from the John Lewis store opposite, and they had to run very quietly, since this is the middle of Cambridge, so we specified Williams’ ultra-low noise models.
“We had to get it right first time: if we didn’t, there would be no way to feed the students, a fact that Francois and his team impressed on us very strongly!”
Several of the models supplied were adapted to the specific needs and shape of the site. They include bespoke dual and triple compartment coldrooms and an L-shaped workstation with granite work surface, over undercounters. During install, some of the equipment had to be adjusted for the site – for example, the top of the Ruby bakery cabinet, used for desserts and pastries, was remodelled to fit the available space.
Even the Williams condenser packs were tailored to the exact requirements of the bespoke coldrooms, avoiding using standard sizes that may have been slightly over or under the duty required.
The roll-in blast chiller and three coldrooms are remote units, running from the Williams compressors sited outside the building.
“Williams’ ability to tailor equipment for the site was a big plus,” says Andrew Jones. “As well as supplying the catering equipment we are servicing it, and that’s another reason for specifying Williams: it’s reliable, easy to work on and the company’s support is first class.”
Head chef Matt Carter is delighted with the first stage of the refurbishment. “The Williams equipment works really, really well. It’s also easy to use and easy to clean. Plus, the after-sales support is very good. After the equipment was up and running, they were happy to come in and adjust things.”
“Sustainability is very much top of our minds when it comes to choosing catering equipment,” says Francois Reverchon. “Our new refrigeration gives us a much better and greener system.”
The cabinets, blast chillers and coldrooms have many energy-saving features developed under Williams’ Greenlogic initiative. These include Williams’ energy-saving CoolSmart controller, which monitors activities such as door openings and adjusts the cabinet’s operation to minimise energy use, cutting consumption by around 15%.
As part of the College’s health and safety routine, monitors have been set on all the Williams equipment. “Temperature control has been excellent,” says Matt Carter. “We’ve had no alarms or spikes at all. Our monitors match pretty much exactly what the Williams controllers are showing.”
Francois Reverchon adds: “With so many people to feed, all our catering equipment has to meet stringent health and safety criteria. Our refrigeration has to be totally reliable. That’s why we chose Williams.”