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28th January 2021
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Season: the Exclusive Cookery School
Hobsons|choice has completed a unique kitchen project at historic Lainston House, Winchester. Working with Exclusive Hotels&Venues, the talented design and installation team created the kitchen area of the new Season, Exclusive Cookery School - the brainchild of Exclusive Hotels & Venues managing director, Danny Pecorelli, who says:
"Season is set to make a fantastic addition to the luxury facilities on offer at Lainston House, and will provide a superb outlet for our multi-award winning chefs across the group to relay their expertise and knowledge.''
Season has been created in a redundant wheelhouse barn adjacent to the kitchen garden of the 49-bedroom hotel. Featuring a Grade I listed donkey water wheel and glass-covered 55m well shaft, the school hosts a range of public 'Master Classes' and bespoke corporate events in addition to the being the home of the 'Exclusive Chefs' Academy'.
Danny and his team wanted Season to be the very best in the UK. To create their vision, they approached suppliers with the highest quality products, design acumen and installation craftsmanship. bulthaup, renowned for being at the pinnacle of kitchen design and furniture quality, was selected as the manufacturer Season would work with to build the kitchen area. The contemporary b1 and b3 kitchen systems provided all the adaptability, functionality and surface finishes to design the hardwearing and ergonomic kitchens that will stand the test of time.
During months of preparation, the design consultants worked with the many contractors and architect practices assigned to the large-scale project. Through open collaboration and considered design; the cookery school evolved into a space that complements the architecture of the Wheelhouse, whilst providing true contemporary kitchen style and functionality.
The requirements of a cooking school are quite different from those of a normal kitchen, even though all the elements remain familiar. The design team needed to envisage themselves using the space as a student to fully understand how they would cook, move around, listen to instruction and interact with other attendees.
To achieve the functionality, budget and visual appeal Mr Pecorreli desired, both bulthaup b1 and b3 kitchen furniture were combined within the overall space. The kitchen area was always to be complementary to the many characterful, architectural elements and visual highlights within the building.
The focus was the cooking zones for both students and chefs - the preparation space, lighting, electrical outlets, water points, waste disposal and utensil storage.
"We were aware that certain elements would not be required," say the team. "Dishwashers would be housed in a separate, more commercial area, whilst food would be stored and refrigerated elsewhere dispensed to the students from a trolley when necessary."
Beginning with a student cooking zone, different layouts were explored for the positioning of the induction hob, oven and warming drawer. A traditional, hob above the oven, appliance formation was chosen to centralise the cooking area within the island. The shape of the cook school space steered the design towards the peninsula layout, creating a central aisle for easy access and clear separation of student zones. The layout allowed the adjacent wall space to unobtrusively accommodate electrical sockets, saving valuable worktop space which would otherwise have required 'pop-up' solutions.
The overall functionality of the cookery school space was increased through the 'mirroring' of the student cooking zones on each peninsula. The 'back to back' islands increase available worktop space whilst minimising the area of movement required for students to work. Rather than standing in rows, classroom style, a more sociable environment was created as students faced each other during lessons.
Finding the optimum position for the student cooking zone water point proved challenging. Through the exploration of different layouts and working models, issues such as the reduction in preparation space and 'real world' physical installation limitations were overcome. The agreed and tested solution was to have a single sink, located on the end of the island, shared by students from either side. Swivel taps, with a pull-out spray nozzle, were selected, enabling water flow to be directed to any part of the sink and accessed from any side of the island.
Equally as challenging was the design and implementation of the required waste element. Being able to quickly remove wastage was deemed essential to student progression, it was to remain hidden and could not interfere with class footfall or the visual kitchen aesthetic. After researching professional kitchen spaces, an innovative solution using the worktop material Corian was developed.
A circular hole was cut in the worktop and, using the same Corian material, a flush-fit lid was designed to fit perfectly into the space. Below a stainless steel chute fed waste into a receptacle housed within the unit. Three drawers were positioned on each side of the cooking zone to house smaller, 'more immediate' items such as cutlery, mixing spoons, whisks and tea towels.
The reciprocating layout of the workstations accentuates the minimalism of the b1 kitchen furniture and underpins the core functionality of the room, serious cooking. Storage cupboards completed the workstation design accommodating the wide variety of bowls, trays, chopping boards and other bulky items the students would need day-to-day.
The demo kitchen for the chef had a completely different set of requirements. It needed to face out into the room, enabling the chef to showcase to the gathered students all the processes needed to cook a particular dish before they themselves did so.
The space was to provide preparation space visible from a wide angle and different heights, separate fridge and freezer appliances, two water points, lighting and a waste bin.
An encompassing U-shape was developed to clearly divide students from teacher whilst providing a large area to gather around. A stainless steel worktop surface reflected the professional nature of the space and was able to withstand the temperatures created by the heat lamps above. A deliberate worktop overhang created the desired space for student barstool seating.
The designated, 10 day, build window required a multi-team approach to make certain all of the bulthaup kitchen furniture and Gaggenau appliances, could be installed and commissioned. The regional fitting teams worked as a single, cohesive unit, supporting each other with all aspects of the construction.
In addition to the hobsons|choice installation team, a number of other contractors were on site at any one time. The interior beam ceiling structure was being finalised, electrics and plumbing were being routed and the Wheelhouse function area was being decorated. Throughout this period, the team worked in a professional and courteous manner, unfazed by minor delays due to third parties and happy to assist other fitting teams where appropriate.
As working partners of Season, The Exclusive Cookery School, hobsons|choice was invited to 'system test days' prior to the official launch.
Speaking about his experience, Richard Carter, hobsons|choice managing director, said: "Visually, Season is stunning. The exterior of the fully restored Wheelhouse is exquisite, dovetailing neatly with the aesthetic of the house, without giving away the new purpose of the interior.
"A sumptuous function room, with comfortable seating and a large dining space, greets all of the guests as they enter the cookery school. Original Wheelhouse features provide eye-catching elements in the space including the Donkey wheel and a glass topped 55m deep well shaft.
"The Cookery School space is an impressive sight to behold. The exposed brickwork and large Season logo draws the eye across the multiple b1 kitchen workstations towards the bespoke, small appliance shelving, at the back of the room.
"The wrap around bulthaup b3 demonstration kitchen, with a large Gaggenau induction hob and stainless steel worktop, provides the chef with a purpose lit stage to share culinary expertise. With no distinguishable noise from the overhead ventilation system, despite the large volume of on-going air extraction, conversations are held at a natural level and everyone can hear instructions with clarity. Simply a great place to learn to cook."
Feedback from attendees, chefs and key Exclusive Hotel & Venues stakeholders has been extremely positive. The meticulous architectural, interior and kitchen design has created a space perfect for cooking enjoyment.
The cookery school is housed in a renovated 17th century well house and is just a stone's throw from Lainston's brimming kitchen garden which supplies the kitchen and, on occasion, the cookery school with the finest, freshest ingredients - absolutely zero food miles.
Classes are as diverse as the perfect dinner party, show-stopping meat dishes, classic cake making, knife skills, vegetarian cooking, chocolate masterclasses from a Chocolate Master, cooking for students, parent and child cooking and many, many more.
6th November 2015