We are often asked what it takes to build the best kitchens and what sort of equipment is needed. There is, unfortunately, no quick answer. We believe creating unique and rare experiences must always be a big focus, but one should not forget the roots in the cuisine you are planning to feature.
In almost every culinary tradition there is a long history of evolution and progress. Modern cuisine, induction cooking, sous-vide, high-tech gadgets are just a few examples of some of the evolutions we have seen in recent years in both home and professional kitchens. The big question is; "Are these new inventions really better?".
Keeping personal preferences aside, there are quite a few elements to consider, for example, practicality, costs, availability, safety, spare-parts and repair etc. There is, however, one undisputed area where chefs should never compromise; "wood-fire".
When it comes to using a significant heat source for cooking, for example, wok, roasting, pizza, tandoor etc., chefs tend to agree, while it may be less convenient and not always the cheapest option, that there is no good alternative to wood-fire when it comes to maintaining authentic flavor in such cooking.
Quick manipulations are possible and are sadly the norm nowadays, but it is quite impossible to replicate the depth and complex textures and flavours you can achieve when cooking on a live fire from wood or charcoal.
Smoke, advanced pre-heating, fire risks etc. are all part of the challenges one needs to overcome when cooking on such fire, but if well implemented and with a bit of practice, there is no greater joy then sampling your creations made through fire by wood.
Together with our client Soneva, a well-known luxury resort operator, we created one such rare experience. "Out of the Blue", an elaborate overwater restaurant featuring a sushi bar by Chef Gyoten - a three Michelin star rated chef, over-water vegetable gardens, a dedicated wine room with over 100 magnums available by the glass, a dessert, chocolate and ice cream room, a chef's table with a demo kitchen, an open kitchen with wood-fired oven, Josper oven, robata grills etc. and of course the open Asian kitchen which features, amongst some other speciality equipment, two custom designed woks operating only on charcoal. There is no gas back-up or other alternative heat sources.
The chefs are "on fire" here and creating dishes with great flavour, authenticity and depth.
It's such a pleasure to see the interests guests are having into these woks as if this is something unusual.
Then again, it nowadays is, so when we created the "Out of the Blue" concept, we quite literally went "out of the frying pan into the fire". Luckily there is a waterslide at this restaurant too, so when things get too hot, chefs can slide into the turquoise water to cool down.
You can discover more about Soneva and their incredible "Out of the Blue" restaurant here.