A 29-year-old head chef has been handed his dream task – to design his own purpose-built kitchen from scratch.
Rising star Alan Dickson – who is Scotland’s reigning Hotel Chef of the Year – will fit out the vast new premises at the expanded Ten Hill Place Hotel in Edinburgh with around £150,000 worth of cutting-edge equipment to be installed.
The new floorplan will be around six times larger than the current facility, where Alan and his team of 15 chefs and kitchen porters can be required to regularly cater for 400-person conferences, weddings and private parties – as well as food for the hotel’s popular restaurant.
Alan, who is originally from Portobello, said: ‘Many chefs wait a lifetime for an opportunity of a blank canvas and a budget like this, to design their perfect kitchen.
‘It is not your typical kitchen either – we can go from cooking for hundreds of people during the major conferences – right down to a quiet lunch menu at the restaurant.
‘Because of this I felt passionately that we look to install some of the most technologically advanced equipment out there that will make it an amazing, clean environment for the team to work in.’
The new facilities will be entirely electric – still unusual in a professional kitchen – and include induction hobs that are completely cold to touch but can boil 20 litres of water in just 90 seconds.
Mindful of the environment, power for the hobs is only on when in use while it also creates a safer setting without naked flames for staff and guests. A £20,000 self-cleaning cooking ‘suite’ by Rational, effectively the modern take on a bratt pan, will also be installed to help the team deliver the highest quality food through even the busiest shifts.
The new kitchen also includes space for a small office for Alan, so that he can remain close to the heart of the action at all times.
It is due to be complete by this summer, as part of the multi-million pound expansion that will see the four-star hotel go from 77 rooms to 129.
Surgeons Quarter, the recently rebranded commercial arm of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), operates Ten Hill Place Hotel, Drinks & Dining, as well as all conferences and weddings at the college, with profits going back into the institution.
Scott Mitchell, commercial director with Surgeons Quarter, said: ‘Alan deserves all the plaudits he gets – and it is testament to how he is rated here that he’s been given free-reign to design this kitchen.
‘His age really is irrelevant as what he has achieved is remarkable – and at the end of the day, he knows what is required better than anyone.
‘I don’t doubt that when the kitchen is complete, it will provide him and his team with the perfect base to provide the best quality hotel restaurant and conference food in the country.’
Alan, who began working in hotels as a waiter, aged 15, found himself drawn to the kitchen by the adrenaline and excitement of a busy restaurant service.
‘He prides himself on sourcing local produce and places huge importance on seasonality, something the restaurant’s modern British menu reflects throughout the year.
Alan added: ‘This is a great place to work, not only do profits help raise surgical standards around the world, but the team is really ambitious.’
Ten Hill Place Hotel is managed by Surgeons Quarter, which is tasked with making the most of the RCSEd’s impressive buildings, with all the profits being invested back into the College, which delivers life-changing surgical skills to every corner of the world.
Launched in 2006, the recently rebranded Surgeons Quarter team promotes, sells and manages conferences, corporate events, weddings and other events across the College’s buildings. It has also helped establish the College as a Festival-Fringe venue and last August hosted seven theatres frequented by 75,000 customers, while also delivering significant food and beverage sales.