Chef Manager, Julian O’Neill, talks speed, consistency and service…
Following on from two, hugely successful TV series and the subsequent launch of two books, Heston Blumenthal and his team opened The Perfectionist’s Café four years ago, in departures at Heathrow Terminal 2. Forming part of the internationally renowned ‘The Fat Duck Group’, Heston, Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts and Chef Manager, Julian O’Neill set about creating a unique concept to inspire and nourish those travelling through the airport on their way to exotic destinations across the globe.
“We were looking for food that Brits love to eat, but done in a way that was not only quick, but also used the very best ingredients.” Julian begins. “Our strapline is ‘Fantastic Food… Fast’ and we stand by that. We create our dishes using the finest ingredients, yet achieve a maximum service time of just 11 minutes – always bearing in mind our guests are limited on time as they wait to board their plane.”
The Perfectionist’s Café is open from 05:00 until the last flight leaves the terminal around 23:00, serving around 1100 customers every day of the week. This considerable demand for speed and turnaround not only puts pressure on the experienced team, but the kitchen equipment too.
“One of the most essential elements of our kitchen is smooth running. We can’t afford to have equipment that cannot take the strain of such a high number of covers, seven days a week.” Julian explains. “It’s not just the equipment that needs to deliver though. Situated in the heart of Terminal 2 at Heathrow, we must abide by stringent regulation around servicing and maintenance, so working with distributors who we know we can rely on is crucial.”
One of the most popular dishes on the menu at The Perfectionist’s Café is the ‘Extraordinary Fish & Chips’ made using freshly caught fish, delivered to the restaurant from Cornwall each morning, coated in a secret batter, made using sparkling water and beer, before being cooked to perfection in a Henny Penny Evolution Elite Fryer.
"The great thing about the Henny Penny fryers is the programmable settings which help us deliver precision and consistency, not just on the fish, but chips, burgers or even our homemade black pudding scotch eggs. It is so easy to use, allowing me to have confidence in my brigade and ensure our customers receive the quality they would expect, day in, day out."