The Melbourne Racing Club Caulfield Racecourse is one of the city’s most iconic venues, hosting the Spring Racing Carnival among an array of annual racing, corporate, and private events.
Executive Chef Julian Robertshaw came on board four years ago after a stint working overseas in China, and immediately identified the need for a complete kitchen overhaul.
“Since I started I identified that a lot of the equipment was dated, inefficient and just needed to be upgraded,” Julian explains. “So I identified what I wanted, and slowly just slipped it into the budget and slowly worked my way up 3 floors. There are 11 kitchens in total and you’ve got to make them modern. The guys we have working for us they want to come in when they see you actually take some pride in what equipment you have and give them good tools to use it means they’ll put a lot more into their job and makes them happier.”
With the help of Comcater Sales Reps and RATIONAL Chefs, Julian not only replaced his existing equipment with more modern counterparts, but introduced new technology to the kitchen as well.
“The process I went through literally was replacing item by item, but also just getting more streamlined in the kitchen with easier to clean and diversified equipment than what we had here before. Using RATIONAL VarioCookingCenter’s®[VCC] and SelfCookingCenter’s®, getting that nice Mareno cooking line with target tops, grills, burners, refrigerated drawers underneath with a beautiful infrared salamander with the VarioCookingCenter® right in the middle is just perfect.”
Julian says his VCC has become a showpiece of sorts, with executive chefs frequenting their kitchen to view their setup regularly.
“It’s nice that we actually have a bit of a showcase and it’s good to sort of say to people that I’ve got this and you haven’t,” he laughs.
Watch our interview with Julian at the Melbourne Racing Club (story continues after video).
Julian also has some great advice for chefs thinking about utilising the VCC in their operation.
“Throw everything out the door that you’ve ever thought before and reinvent yourself; don’t look at it as a bratt pan, don’t look at it as a frying pan, look at it as something that can do anything that you want it to do as long as you have the mindset to adapt. You need to know about pressure cooking, you need to think smart about how to utilise your kitchen when no one is here, that’s the reason why we trust RATIONAL. We use them [the VCC] for deep fryers, we did a CFMEU event for 23,000 people and we had every VCC in the building filled with oil for deep frying. We went through 9 pallets of chips and 7 pallets of dim sims; they’re worth their weight in gold.”
Another way in which the VCC is utilised at Melbourne Racing Club is to seal products as part of the cook-chill process. For this process, Julian asked Comcater for advice on a reliable blast chiller, and the Tecnomac was recommended.
“Because of the quantity of people we cater for, blast chilling and holding whilst maintaining HACCP standards is very important.” Julian explains. “We’re rolling straight out of the RATIONAL overs, straight into the Tecnomac’s and straight into the holding fridges. I purchased extra oven trolleys so I can go straight in and straight out. We usually seal in the VCC, tray up in the RATIONAL, finish in the RATIONAL, straight into the blast chiller and blast chiller into the holding fridge.”
One of the most aesthetically pleasing features in the Melbourne Racing Club kitchen is the Mareno Star Series, which was the first to be installed in an Australian kitchen.
“The stainless steel flat grill is just bang on,” says Julian. “When you clean it down at the end of the day its brand new. The char grills grill perfectly, they aren’t overly hot but they give you the sear that you want, and it’s nice that they all bolt together so no food gets underneath and keeps everything clean underneath.”
Serving just shy of 15,000 heads over three days of Spring Racing, the new kitchen has certainly equipped Julian and the team with everything they could possibly need to feed the masses in record time.