Operators are often accused of paying lip service to the topic of energy efficiency, but for Ben Brakes sustainable kitchen design lies at the very heart of what contemporary hotel and restaurant management is all about. As environment manager at Whitbread, the daily decisions that he and his colleagues make around procurement have the potential to generate energy and cost savings on a colossal scale. This, after all, is a group that posted revenues of £2.6 billion last year and employs some 45,000 people across the UK.
“Our approach to kitchen design has sustainability and the well-being of our customers at its core,” says Ben. “Investment in new, sustainable technologies in our kitchens is crucial. For example, we have installed new refrigeration systems that reduce energy usage and support our CSR targets as well as cutting-edge ovens that enable us to cook with less fat.” Whitbread’s brands are among some of the most recognised in the business, including Premier Inn, Costa, Beefeater and Brewers Fayre. The group’s main focus over the past 12 months has been to continue making improvements that help it to serve healthier food to its guests. With Premier Inn, which now totals more than 700 hotels across the UK, it installed Rational combi ovens at its in-house Thyme restaurants.
“These ovens are now in use in over 50% of our hotel restaurants,” explains Ben. “They can simulate grilling, frying and baking, meaning that many food items can be cooked at the same time with no transference of flavour. More importantly, no oil or fat needs to be added to create great taste and any excess fat or grease is expelled from the food during cooking.”
Whitbread is a shining example of a multi-brand hospitality operator that is demonstrating how kitchen design can increase sustainability and impact positively on operational success. “Changes to our kitchen equipment are driven by the commitments in the customer well-being and energy and environment pillars of our sustainability strategy. The roll-out of Rational combi ovens, the installation of eco dishwashers in our Costa stores and energy efficient refrigeration systems are enabling us to work towards our goals,” concludes Ben.
“We have installed energy efficient refrigeration and cutting-edge ovens that enable us to cook with less fat”