07 March 2023
Williams Refrigeration has supplied a bespoke refrigeration system for an award-winning restaurant in the Yorkshire Dales.
The Angel at Hetton is widely regarded as the UK’s first gastropub and built a worldwide reputation for the quality of its food. This has reached new heights since it was taken over by chef patron Michael Wignall and his wife Johanna in 2018. Within a year the Angel was awarded a Michelin star, four AA rosettes and placed second in the National Restaurant Awards Top 100 Restaurants. Many other awards followed, including Gastropub of the Year at the 2021 National Restaurant Awards and Michael being crowned 2022 Chef of the Year.
Michael said that having the right refrigeration is a vital factor in creating a Michelin star quality menu. “For me, refrigeration primarily needs to be reliable and practical,” he said. “I need it to stay at the temperature I want it, I need it to keep records for HACCP, I need it to be easy to clean.” But along with that, aesthetics are also important. “I want something that fits in with the look we’re going for, especially for customer facing equipment.”
As well as aiming to create amazing food, increasing the sustainability of The Angel is a key part of Michael’s vision. “We’re aiming to be as green as possible here,” says Michael. “We chose to create a smart kitchen because our kitchen would have needed approximately 290KW electricity load at peak, while the total supply to the village was only 120KW.”
To avoid this, Michael had a Sicotronic intelligent energy management system from Ki-Tech installed to manage the Angel’s electricity usage. It does this by scanning the connected circuits and diverting power when and where it is needed. This, combined with the latest energy saving technology, allows them to make significant reductions on the Angel’s overall electrical consumption.
“Looking for ways to reduce energy usage ties in to our aims of being environmentally friendly as well as helping to limit the effects of rising costs, so looking for the most energy efficient equipment just makes sense,” says Michael. Furthermore, they have succeeded. “What we have now is probably the most energy efficient kitchen in the UK,” he says.
Michael knew which company he wanted handling the refrigeration before the project started. “Williams was my first port of call,” he says. “I’ve used them throughout my 30 year career, not only do they tick all the boxes but their after service is second to none.”
It was also important that Williams is a British manufacturer. “About 85% of the equipment we’ve got comes from British manufacturers,” says Michael. “As well as lowering our carbon footprint we think it’s important to keep the flag flying. We’ve got amazing equipment manufacturers in this country and we should be championing that.”
The equipment supplied by Williams creates a comprehensive solution for all the refrigeration and freezing needs at The Angel. Three bespoke coldrooms were installed, allowing for safe storage of large amounts of refrigerated and frozen produce. Williams coldrooms are completely modular and can be installed to fit in however much space is available.
They can also be fully customised to specific requirements. The three coldrooms are fitted with different doors – one sliding and one hinged, with the third set up with two compartments with separately configurable temperature zones. “We needed coldrooms that could fit into the floorprint of an older building, which isn’t something you can just get off the shelf,” says Michael. “We also needed specific doors but Williams were able to create something that makes the most of the space while giving us everything we need from it.”
Four three-door Jade counters allow for a variety of different foods and products to be stored including sauces, pastries and bottles. Each unit was modified to meet the specific size of other equipment in the kitchen. “Everything was altered to the size of the containers and gastro pans we use here,” says Michael. “For example we need deeper shelves to store sauces in, but smaller for pastry.” This helps to streamline the workflow in the kitchen as Michael and his staff know where everything is at all times. “I don’t like clutter. With our fridges everything is designed to fit in a specific place so there’s no confusion about where anything is,” he says. “It makes the whole service a lot cleaner and safer because you don’t have things lying around on work surfaces.”
Williams equipment also plays a role in setting the scene as diners arrive. “We set up a table with snacks in the back restaurant, which is one of the first things people experience as they arrive”, Michael explains. “We have a three drawer Williams Aztra cabinet there for storing food and chilling bottles, but we didn’t want it to have that industrial look the stainless steel gives it.”
Williams was able to use its Chameleon wrapping service to cover this cabinet in a black vinyl covering. “This was absolutely perfect for us,” says Michael. “It just softens it and means it doesn’t feel like a kitchen, while still giving us the same high standard of refrigeration.”
A WBC30 reach-in blast chiller rounds out the Williams roster at the Angel. “This is one of the most important pieces of equipment we have,” says Michael. “It allows us to operate cook-chill systems, which helps us increase our capacity while maintaining excellent standards of health and safety.”
The WBC30’s ability to safely cool hot food from 90°C to 3°C in just 90 minutes also makes it possible to prepare a wider range of food than standard blast chillers. “It lets us prepare desserts that use less cream or less sugar,” says Michael. “These would take far longer to set in a normal model, but the Williams blast chiller lets us process them quickly, to the high standards we demand.”
An installation of this complexity is a large undertaking, and Michael was impressed by the standard of work. “The engineers at Williams listened to what I wanted, and they were able to deliver it exactly,” he says. “But more than that, with their depth of experience they were able to suggest ways to improve our service, our cleaning methods, ideas that have really helped to improve our style. The whole process has been about helping each other and improving what we do. Williams have really pushed us forward.”