CNG walked away with the title of overall winner at the CEDA Grand Prix Awards for its outstanding work on the Deseo dining concept at the world famous Gleneagles Hotel. Foodservice, as one would expect, is to the highest standard at Gleneagles. The Strathearn Restaurant is one of the world's ten Great Hotel Restaurants while the Andrew Fairlie @ Gleneagles Restaurant has two Michelin stars.
The client's brief to CNG was to design a new restaurant, Deseo, that would be used by both the hotel residents and members of the health and leisure centre: Deseo is Spanish for ‘whatever you desire’. The area had to be capable of offering an extremely varied service from breakfast through to dinner, serving in excess of 600 covers a day. The design had to deliver the feeling and atmosphere of a Mediterranean market with a combination of individual areas, each providing a different aspect, comprising meat, fish, deli, bakery, wine bar, coffee lounge and Chef’s Table.
The three main areas of meat, fish and deli had to be designed so that guests could either select their own produce to be cooked by the chefs or purchase the raw ingredients to take back and cook in their seasonal occupancy homes at Glenmor, a village of exclusive holiday homes set within the spectacular grounds of the hotel.
The key phrase in the brief was for CNG ‘to create the kitchen in the restaurant and the restaurant in the kitchen’, allowing the one to blend into the other while ensuring all health and safety issues were addressed. “Deseo is an exciting and fresh new concept, offering guests a wide selection of different cuisines. It suits all tastes,” says Director of Food and Beverage, Alan Hill.
“CNG were recommended to us by one of our equipment suppliers. We were taking a fresh look at the business and how we put our designs together…we needed something off the cuff and someone that would look outside the box. We visited sites where CNG had designed the kitchens, such as Terry Laybourne’s Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle – CNG were highly recommended.”
Hill explained that the idea for Deseo came from the new food ‘markets’ in Singapore. Food traders were moved off Singapore’s streets into purpose-built food courts in the 1980s, in the name of cleanliness and the environment. A court can hold 20 or more operators, offering a taste of nearly every Asian cuisine. Hoteliers in the Far East copied the concept, creating more palatial and comfortable surroundings, while offering multiple choices of cuisine. The area chosen to site Deseo took in the old hotel swimming pool, a lobby and a piece of garden. “The pool featured two domed ceilings which gave the feeling of Harrods food hall,” says Hill.
“We took the concept of having no ‘front’ or ‘back’ of house – one team, one goal – and then looked at what food would work and went for an Italian/Mediterranean style which better matches the breadth of our customer profile and offers more longevity than Asian cuisine. “In one year we have doubled revenue and profit and are very happy with the performance of the kitchen and equipment. The customer feedback has always been excellent. “CNG put the practicality into Deseo but ensured the emphasis was on the design and the customer. We have worked with CNG on another bar and kitchen already and are currently on our third project.
“The proof of the pudding is in the eating and CNG delivered a hands-on service that ensured we could make all these things happen.” The restaurant is among the first in Scotland to offer a ‘Dine Around’ experience: guests can walk around the various food stations including an Antipasto Table, laden with herb roasted vegetables, olives, charcuterie, sun-ripened fruits, cheeses, freshly baked Artisan breads, oils and delicious dressings.
Authentic Tapas is available throughout the day and into the evening, taking its cue from gastronomic delicacies of France, Italy and Spain. For dinner, a range of appetisers, pizzas, pastas and main course dishes are all cooked to order. Highlights include roast pork shoulder with cumin seeds, honeycomb and fennel gravy and Linguine pasta with poached egg, summer green beans and pesto rosso.
Chefs and local purveyors are situated at each food station to answer any questions and recommend their favourite dishes. In addition to consulting extensively with the client, CNG also worked closely with the interior designers, architects and main contractors, each of whom had their own agenda to fulfil. On several occasions, the interior designers’ insistence on retaining some aspects of their design clashed with CNG’s need to ensure the areas would function correctly. This led to protracted discussions and a series of redesigns before a satisfactory compromise was reached. One such example was a lengthy discussion about the size and positioning of the extraction canopies in the emporium. CNG specified them to meet DW172 and as such to remove all the fumes. The interior designer wanted the canopies to either not be there at all or be much smaller as they “spoilt the look” of the rear wall. Common sense prevailed and ultimately the correct size canopies were installed but it took days of debate in a tight schedule. While the client gave CNG an insight to their ideas, developed over many months, CNG also visited a number of sites both in the UK and Spain in order to get a true feel for what was required and to generate some fresh ideas.