Following the fire which engulfed the River Cottage barn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall spoke of his shock saying “I understand there's already a plan underway to set up a working field kitchen so we can continue to host our events, teach our courses and look after our guests in the coming months.”
Ashgrove Offer their Services
Having read the news about the fire, Ashgrove Kitchens got in contact to offer their services. Ashgrove were given just one hour to produce drawings and a quote for consideration at a meeting being held to decide on the way forward.
The criteria was that Ashgrove and River Cottage would have to agree a design, with Ashgrove resourcing the materials, ordering them, building the modules for the cookery school and then delivering them within a week, so that their contractors could complete the installation in time for the first classes to start the following Monday morning – a total of ten days from the first contact to completion. A one hit operation with no chance for any error or irregularity!
The brief given was simple – “can you do us something in ten days? It will have to suit the temporary classroom and then fit into the old barn when it has been reconstructed”. The skilled Ashgrove workforce thought ‘this will be simple’ - just copy what had been in the barn. However, this proved more difficult than expected as no-one had a drawing and all that was left was one charred remain of the former cabinets, now settled under a buckled roof in the derelict barn.
A visit to the remains was undertaken. The barn looked sad, nestled amongst the otherwise pristine surroundings, now guarded by wire-fencing to protect the public from the ever present risk of collapse. Looking straight through the barn, framed by the charred doors and windows, was green turf - the site of the temporary classroom building. The project came to life as the Ashgrove team understood the ethos of River Cottage - keep it simple, user-friendly and as sustainable as possible.
The cabinets are made from a laminated board, FSC friendly, and with a veneered door to match. The tops are real wood. Ashgrove have tweaked the original design e.g. whereas before doors opened either end of the units, they now do not - making access better up through the middle of the classroom. The otherwise risky depth of the worktops has been improved with the provision for a glass upstand behind the hobs. Generally, the overall feel remains the same to keep the simple but solid appeal.
Another Ashgrove Success Story
The Ashgrove team worked extremely hard to achieve everything in the timescale required and our suppliers did not let us down – everyone pulling together to bring us the materials required. Our Ashgrove team have been outstanding - with some members starting as early as 4am and others finishing at 1am. Everyone has been pushing the boundaries in the spirit of teamwork and to support our new friends in our new working relationship.
Indeed three weeks following the fire Hugh was happy to report “with so much fantastic support, we’ve been able to create a new event space in the field beyond the barn – a stunning field kitchen, demonstration area and tented dining room that will ensure that all our guests in the coming months have the fantastic experience they are hoping for”.