It’s not often that an entirely new catering concept hits the high street or, in the case of Amelie Flam-Kuche, the shopping mall.
The restaurant, set up by father and son team Regis and Alex Crepy, is in the Grafton Centre in Cambridge.
Flammekueche comes from the Alsace region in France and is often compared to pizza, although its origins are even older than the Italian version, dating back to the 15th century. Flammekueche is all about fresh ingredients, served on a crisp, yeast-free rectangular flat bread that’s cooked in just 90 seconds and, with the pastry just 2mm thick, melts in the mouth. Traditionally served with crème fraîche, onions and bacon, the Crepys have given it a modern twist with lots of different, fresh toppings.
To achieve the quality they want to deliver, Amelie Flam-Kuche relies on the freshest of ingredients which means the refrigeration, supplied by Williams, plays a key role in the restaurant’s success.
Suffolk-based Elite Foodservice Design managed the project and the Amelie kitchen, which is right in the middle of the restaurant, is entirely open-plan – from the KP area through prep and cooking to the pass. One of the key pieces of equipment is the Williams Onyx prep counter which features chilled wells that let the chefs have fast, easy access to ingredients as they prepare the flammekueches.
That ease of preparation is essential in a restaurant that’s proving to be very popular with a wide range of customers. “We can serve 230 covers a day, and often we will get waves of people coming in together,” says Alex Crepy. “From placing an order to the customer getting their cooked flammekueche takes four minutes – so speed is critical. The Onyx is brilliant because it keeps ingredients within easy reach and at the perfect temperature – so the EHOs are happy!”
The Onyx has sloping refrigerated wells to store ingredients at the back of the work top, with a large prep area in front where there’s plenty of room to spread out the dough and make the flammekueche. “The design really helps our young chefs, because it’s simple and it lets them work fast,” says Alex.
Daniel Ridd, design manager at Elite says, “The Onyx ingredients counter is an absolutely essential piece of equipment in this kitchen. It is permanently manned and put through its paces, and with its clever air flow system, the flammekueche toppings in the GN pans stay at the correct temperature, and stay fresh without drying out.”
Like lots of modern restaurant kitchens, Amelie’s is very compact. “Space is at an absolute premium here and the Crepys were keen to keep the kitchen as small as physically possible,” says Daniel. “We had to create a very dynamic, flexible and durable environment.”
Design restrictions meant they couldn’t have upright cabinets, so for chilled and frozen storage they rely on Williams Jade counters. “We had to get equipment that would make the most use of the available space,” says Alex. “The counters are very reliable, we do regular checks and temperature control is spot on.”
The Jade counters were supplied as ‘biscuit tops’, meaning they have no worktops and so could be fitted under Amelie’s own worktops. “They create an attractive flush stainless bench,” says Daniel. “The counters can also be easily pulled out for cleaning.”
Both the Jade counters and the Onyx prep counter feature a mix of doors and drawers. “When you have two people working close to each other at the pass, opening a drawer takes very little room compared to opening a door,” says Alex. “As well as making organising and accessing ingredients easier, drawers are a very practical solution in busy kitchens where space is limited.”
Daniel says, “Williams has a range of equipment suited for this type of kitchen. Doors would be opened regularly and ingredients drawers would need to be spacious, meanwhile the compressors would need to keep working, despite the warmer ambient temperatures of the kiosk-type environment.”
Style is a major part of the Amelie experience – for example, the bar is in a vintage delivery van right in the middle of the dining area. “That took some getting in to the site!” says Alex. “Elite were great, they cut it up, took it down the escalators and reassembled it right here.” With an open plan kitchen, everything has to look attractive and the Williams equipment scores well here, too. “It’s good looking, it’s easy to clean and look after, and it stays shiny.”
Alex is full of praise for the way Elite worked with them to fulfil their vision. “They are great. They weren’t the cheapest but what they offered was really good value. They know what they’re talking about – they recommended Williams! We’re looking to expand and we’ll definitely use them again.
“Williams’ support has been first class,” he adds. “We had a couple of teething issues but they came and sorted them right away. The equipment is robust, easy to look after and we can absolutely rely on it to keep our food safe.”