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Brockencote Hall, New Kitchen Ivestment

Alison & Joseph Petijean, with John Sherry - Head Chef Tim Jenkins- Junior Sous Chef Tom Baldwin- Chef de Partie Darren Finley -acting Sous Chef

Alison & Joseph Petijean, with John Sherry - Head Chef Tim Jenkins- Junior Sous Chef Tom Baldwin- Chef de Partie Darren Finley -acting Sous Chef

If you can’t take the heat, keep out of the kitchen

All successful restaurants share a common problem: the kitchen is too small. Brockencote Hall Hotel at Chaddesely Corbett is no exception.  Over the past twenty years husband and wife team Joseph and Alison Petitjean have built up this Worcestershire restaurant with rooms into a leading regional destination for knowledgeable gourmets.
They have added more rooms, even roofed over a terrace to extend the restaurant. But to all intents and purposes the kitchens remained untouched.  Porta-cabins were hired to become dry goods stores. Late Sunday breakfasts caused chaos as the chefs needed the space to prepare for lunch for the 90 or so guests who book up each week.
Finally Joseph and Alison took the plunge; but how could they revitalise their kitchen without closing the restaurant?  The answer was to build a new kitchen as an extension and when it was all finished and fitted-out simply knock down the wall.  Well that’s the theory.

However, because Joseph and Alison had planned the development in c detail it was almost smooth.  The new kitchen runs at right angles to the old one which has now become the washing up area, still room, bottle store and has plenty of space for breakfast preparation.
The new fully air-conditioned kitchen has a double bank of stoves, walk-in chill room as well as a walk –in freezer, a blast chiller and a state-of-the-art steam oven that cooks vegetables to perfection.  A separate pastry kitchen maintains its own special cool temperature and is equipped with a baking oven for bread.  There is even a shutter on the ‘pass’ so that the heat from the main kitchen won’t interfere with the cool level required for desserts.
Work on the new kitchens took some six months and came in at just under the £500,000 budget, all of which came from retained profits held back expressly for this development. “Building during a recession”, explained Joseph, “gives you better value”.  Which is exactly what they did in 1992/93 when they added eleven bedrooms in a brand new wing.
Chef John Sherry and his seven strong brigade are already quite at home, and cooking even better than before.  It is not only easier, but quicker. They now have no difficulty in serving the 350 or so luncheons and dinners a week, as well as catering for weddings and private dinner parties.  Indeed, if only the restaurant was larger they could cope with even greater numbers. When I suggested this to Alison Petitjean she gave me a wry smile and said, “Well, perhaps not this week”.

Brockencote Hall, Chaddesley Corbett, Kidderminster, Worcestershire DY10 4PY, 01562 777 876 Website HERE

By Philippe Boucheron 2010

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