Richard Kennedy took over The Horseshoe Inn at Offord D’Arcy, Cambridgeshire, six years ago and has steadily been building up its reputation for serving good food ever since. An accomplished chef, Richard sources all his ingredients from East Anglian farmers and butchers.
Serving anything from 70 to 180 covers, the restaurant, known locally as ‘The Shoe’, uses the new Synergy 900 commercial grill for all its steaks, burgers, sausages and other grilled dishes.
“We were involved in testing the pre-production model of the Synergy grill,” says Richard. “We liked it so much that we decided to buy the full version for ourselves once it became available.”
The Synergy 900 is different to other commercial gas grills in that it features a patented burner that mixes gas with air to increase the heat of combustion. The heat is forced across the ceramic base, speeding up cooking and ‘atomising’ the juices that normally drip from the meat. This enhances flavour and succulence and means there is no need for a fat tray.
“The more we use the new grill the more we like it,” says Richard. “We find we use less pans and so there’s less washing up. Also it’s so much easier to clean than our old grill. There’s no greasy fat trap. At the end of evening service we leave it to burn for about 10 to 15 minutes and then turn it off. All we have to do in the morning is hoover up the ash with a dust buster and it’s ready to go.”
Active Food Systems, who developed and manufacture the grill here in the UK, claim it can cut gas consumption by up to 52% compared to conventional grills and Richard has certainly found his gas bill going down at The Shoe since switching to the Synergy 900.
“Apart from anything else, we used to have the old grill on all the time,” he says. “But because the Synergy only takes 10 minutes to heat up we can turn it off when the restaurant is quiet. That’s a 100% gas saving!”
This fits in with The Shoe’s ethical stance of conserving energy wherever possible and keeping food miles low. There’s also the added bonus of not having to handle and store the strong cleaning chemicals associated with restaurant grills because the grill effectively cleans itself.
“We save a massive amount of time as well as saving the cost of cleaning chemicals,” says Richard.
That’s the practical side of things but what about food quality?
“We’ve got high standards, as we are a destination pub,” says Richard.
“We’d only make a change if it was going to be for the better, and the Synergy grill has certainly proved that at both ends of the steak spectrum. Because it gets so hot it seals in the juices on well-done steaks so they retain their moisture, and with blue steaks it rapidly cooks the outside keeping the inside rare.”
It’s not just meats that benefit from cooking on the Synergy. The Shoe uses it for tuna and other ‘meaty’ fish. Richard finds he can load up the grill with meat and fish with no transference of taste.
“In fact, the more items we put on the grill the better it cooks,” he says. “We get less shrinkage than with our previous grill as well.”
“We’ve found compliments on our food have increased since we started using the Synergy grill,” says Richard. “And that’s the bottom line. We want to serve good food that our customers like so they come back and tell their friends about us.”