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Shannon Kellam Reinvents the Commercial Kitchen with the Help of Digital Innovation

Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery

Shannon Kellam’s production kitchen and culinary school at Breakfast Creek share a lot of qualities with the cars that dot the Mercedes-Benz Brisbane showroom below.

Both the cars and the kitchens are best described as high-specification, high-performance examples of innovation - and the work of true professionals.

In fact, the kitchens at the Lumiere Events & Culinary Studio, and The Kneadery production kitchens that service MICA at the same location (not to mention Shannon’s other venues around Brisbane) are possibly the most advanced in Australia.

Designed in partnership with Food Strategy Australia, the kitchens feature digitally connected SKOPE ReFlex undercounter food storage fridges throughout, as well as multiple Irinox blast chillers and ice machines from ITV Ice Makers.

“Good equipment, a good team, and good produce – they are the three most important factors,” Shannon says.

“If you don’t have good equipment keeping the best produce, and you don’t have the best team who know how to work both of those things together, then you’re not going to achieve the best that you can.”

Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery
Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery

 

Master Innovator

Shannon Kellam is one of Australia’s most decorated chefs and culinary competitors, renowned as much for his professionalism as his innovation and love of a good challenge.

Together with his wife and business partner Clare, he built a Brisbane-based culinary empire that includes the 1 Chef’s Hat French restaurant Montrachet and the authentic boulangerie experience of the King Street Bakery.

And when it came to the Breakfast Creek lifestyle precinct, Shannon approached the opportunity with equal ambition.

The precinct was designed to offer a lifestyle and luxury experience to complement the Mercedes-Benz showroom on the ground floor. However, Shannon, Clare, and his team also saw the precinct as an opportunity to revolutionise and centralise food production not only for the new culinary outlets at Lifestyle Creek, but also their existing iconic venues around Brisbane.

“It’s about going back to the old structure of a kitchen working the brigade system, where you’ve got various production stations for various sites. But on a production kitchen scale, producing everything for all our various operations from this one single kitchen, with a highly skilled team making premium product from scratch.”

“The biggest challenge was finding the right venue to do it all. Where you could have that central production kitchen and put the logistics for that in place, but also have an event kitchen and have premium event spaces onsite, as well as a high-volume shop like MICA. That gives you many different dimensions to work with.”

Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery

 

School of Thought

Alongside the Kneadery production kitchen is the Lumiere Events & Culinary Studio which offers premium private cooking classes while also organising and catering events at the showroom on the ground floor.

Two cooking studios – one for savoury food and one for pastry – feature kitchen spaces that cater to food lovers while being specified just as highly as any other kitchen in the facility.

“The design of the Lumiere kitchen in itself is very unique, in the sense of the amount of equipment and appliances that have been fitted into it, so everyone has their own working station. This is quite unique for a cooking class.”

“It’s a hybrid - what you’d expect in a professional commercial environment, but aimed at the domestic market and people who have fun learning various styles of cooking.”

With the help of the kitchen design team at Food Strategy Australia, Shannon and his team have put an incredible amount of thought into how both staff and students can work smarter and learn faster.

This goes right down to ReFlex, Shannon’s choice of undercounter food storage refrigeration.

As well as featuring a food-grade 304 stainless steel build, ReFlex comes with the SKOPE-connect app that helps chefs save time while safeguarding food safety.

“SKOPE has worked extremely hard to develop their products and the technology that goes into them,” Shannon says.

“I’ve got the undercounter fridges connected to my phone, so I can see what temperatures they’re running at as I’m going along. I can also change the temperature of the fridge if we want to start using it, say, for chocolate instead of other products, just with the press of a button.

“And it also all helps with our food safety programmes because there is no manual reporting – checking the temperatures twice a day on templates, all that kind of thing – because it’s all logged on my phone.

“For the amount of fridges we have, SKOPE-connect saves us at least 3-4 hours of labour every day.”

Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery
SKOPE-connect: Change temperature on the go
Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery
SKOPE-connect: Scan to get ReFlex data on your smartphone

 

Where Technology Meets Professionalism

Alongside ReFlex, is a host of Irinox blast chillers (the CP Multi, plus various roll-in and reach-in variants) – technology Shannon considers essential for reducing the workload and ensuring food safety.

“Could we do what we do without a blast chiller? No chance! A blast chiller is used by all – chefs, pastry chefs, bakers – and they’re important because they save you time and help you protect food safety, both massive benefits in any modern kitchen.”

For Shannon, embracing innovation is all part of being a professional. As well as finding a broad grounding of experience in different kitchens (from gastronomic to banquet and short-order environments), he advises young chefs and kitchen leaders to seek out anything that can improve operations and help their teams achieve better standards.

“It’s about creating a professional working environment and having a professional team, which is something that is often lacking in our industry. People expect to have a professional team, but they don’t always provide a professional space to work in.”

Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery
Irinox blast chiller
Shannon Kellam Lumiere MICA Kneadery
ITV ice machine

 

Capability and Flexibility

The value of the Kneadery and Lumiere kitchens was immediately obvious after launch, but not for reasons anyone expected.

If delivering on the central production kitchen and culinary school concept wasn’t challenging in itself, Shannon and Clare also had to open the facility just after COVID-19 emerged on the world stage and sent Australia into lockdown.

The pandemic was a true test of capability, but one the kitchen, its leaders, and staff passed with flying colours.

“I wouldn’t say we were lucky, because everyone worked extremely hard, but we pulled through and created a lot of business for ourselves by using the central kitchen, and that kept us really busy all the way through,” Shannon says.

“In fact, the last six months was one of the hardest periods that I’ve ever worked, and this is my 29thyear in the industry. But we’ve come out the other side of it having kept all of our team together. In fact, we grew the team through the shut-down as we pivoted, so we’ve gone from 40 staff to 73.”

The kitchens have been in full swing for some months now, producing 10,000+ artisan breads and pastries from scratch every week. Nothing is bought in and everything is produced onsite, with food dispatched from a truck lift that sees the company’s vans taken up to the kitchens to be loaded throughout the day.

It’s the way of the future, a smarter, more flexible and scalable vision of the commercial kitchen.

“I think it’s the start of a new way forward for our industry,” Shannon says.

“We’ve created a central kitchen where you can rotate your staff to learn butchery, pastry, fish, bread - the full gun. In fact, this is probably one of the only venues in Brisbane where you can actually see all the techniques of cookery from top to bottom in one kitchen.”

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