The place to eat

Catering Design Group reveal their redesign for The Beacon's catering facilities

Catering Design Group (CDG), the award-winning restaurant and commercial kitchen design company, has completed a dramatic transformation of the catering facilities at The Beacon in Chesham Bois – one of the UK’s leading independent preparatory day schools for boys aged four to 13 years.

Having experienced continued year-on-year growth in pupil numbers and with limited space in the existing kitchen and servery, the school recognised that it needed to upgrade and expand. Commissioned by independent contract caterers Wilson Vale, the brief to CDG was to re-design the existing kitchen and servery areas to accommodate not only the increasing numbers, but also the school’s forward-thinking values and the caterer’s fresh food ethos. 

A new extension was built to house the kitchen facility and a temporary solution provided for the duration of the build. The kitchen design has a modern approach incorporating the latest Frima technology and Rational combination ovens, to ensure the caterers were able to produce a wide variety of menu items. The space and layout were improved to maximise operational efficiency, giving the catering team the ability to demonstrate their craft skills.

“This was a challenging but hugely rewarding project for the team,” commented Philip Howard, Managing Director at CD. “The planning and heritage restrictions meant we had to overcome some hurdles, which were quickly resolved with practical solutions. For front-of-house it was important that we created a vibrant and stimulating environment, where the benefits of choosing a healthy, balanced meal were showcased in an engaging way for the pupils.

The new space was required to accommodate large volumes at peak times – approximately 530 pupils, 100 teaching and administration staff, plus a busy hospitality service for evening functions. In a single week the catering operation could serve 3,000 school lunches, 100 breakfasts, fine dining for 24 school governors and up to 300 match teas.

In the dining area, CDG created a contemporary and interactive experience. 

A new state-of-the-art servery was created to showcase the fresh, seasonal ingredients and the back-of-house team at work. The servery includes pull-down heat lamps on the hot counter, rather than heated gantries, to add to the feeling of openness whilst also creating a warmer, softer look. The design features a window through to the baking area so that pupils could watch their cakes being made.

The design replicates the school’s brand colours, all the way through to the stackable chairs, chosen to save space and to ensure maximum flexibility of the space. 

Edward Stothard, Bursar at The Beacon, said, “The new facility is already having a huge impact on both the staff and pupils, reducing queuing times, enhancing the presentation of the food, whilst also making it a talking point. The investment is also reaping the benefits from a marketing point of view, when showing around prospective parents. We have a tremendous sense of caring and nurturing here at The Beacon. It’s not just about where everyone gathers to eat; it’s also for the boys to learn about the importance of nutrition and making healthy eating choices. Additionally, we also want to cultivate a love of good food. We are absolutely delighted with the end result. CDG completely delivered on the brief, creating flexibility across both front- and back-of-house within the constraints of a listed building.”