Prime cooking equipment can offer a bewildering array of options, so Kathy Bowry has gathered a selection of the most energy efficient, technologically advanced options to invest in for your kitchen
Prime cooking equipment is classed as convection ovens, grills and salamanders, griddles and steamers – in short, the accoutrements of a traditional kitchen. However, the move towards more sustainable cooking methods, along with huge improvements in induction technology, has seen the rise of the combi oven and induction hobs, both of which promise to keep running costs down. And the trend for open kitchens means that equipment needs to look good, too.
Helen Applewhite, marketing manager at Lincat, says: “During our recent research, we talked to operators about their requirements and what they looked for in prime cooking equipment. Features such as power, ease of cleaning, ease of use, energy efficiency, durability and reliability ranked high on the list of priorities. Our new Opus 800 series is larger, heavier and more powerful than the Opus 700 series it replaces, as well as offering increased capacity. It can also be configured in a greater number of ways to meet the needs of the busiest commercial kitchen.”
Small can be beautiful
Mark Hogan, marketing and sales manager of Foodservice Equipment Marketing, says induction technology is becoming more affordable and therefore increasingly popular. “Induction offers an energy efficient, easy-to-use way of ‘stove-top’ cooking. Because of their efficiency and rapid heat-up time, induction hobs require less energy than gas or electric hobs, and nearly all the energy goes into cooking the food, so very little is wasted. And energy savings mean lower running costs.”
For kitchens where space is at a premium, he suggests small, portable induction hobs. These single units bring the benefits of induction cooking at a much lower cost and can be used wherever there is a 13 amp socket. If more capacity is required, just create a bank of units, he says.
Shaune Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice, agrees that induction tops are the way forward: “The most energy efficient oven range in my opinion is an oven with an induction hob, such as Falcon’s latest F900 four-zone induction range. The induction range is compatible with Falcon’s Dynamic Link System, which allows different F900 appliances to be linked together.”
Trevor Burke, managing director at Exclusive Ranges, advises chefs to consider menu type, service style, ease of cleaning and throughput when choosing equipment. “Menu System makes a full range of griddles that come with both ribbed and smooth cooking surfaces and in a variety of sizes. The cooking surface has a stylish chrome finish, which is easy to clean and has minimal heat reflection.
“The latest exciting undertaking by Exclusive Ranges is the introduction of the Warmsler modular equipment to its Plug and Play range of products. This new partnership sees a return to the well-established territory of modular equipment, extending the range of products the company is able to offer to its distributor network, while upholding its core values by offering functional, high-quality brands with heritage.”
Charvet’s Rise and Fall salamander is now available with an enamel control panel in virtually any colour you like – a nod towards more open kitchens where the kit is on view. Featuring infrared technology that minimises smoke and odours, the Charvet boasts 3kW power and it can achieve 400°C in nine seconds – 570°C after 15 minutes’ use.
Stuart Flint, regional training and demonstration manager at Electrolux Professional UK, says: “Given the energy-intensive nature of a commercial kitchen, making the switch to a modern prime cooking suite could pave the way for a significant reduction in running costs. Generally, cooking suites are likely to be on all day, so in the busiest kitchens, it may be worth swapping gas hobs for induction as a way to avoid excess energy usage, since these can be more than 90% efficient. Of course, induction hobs also produce less heat, so less energy is used to lower the working temperature in the kitchen – providing a dual benefit to kitchen operators.
Price equals performance
Steve Hobbs, director of Grande Cuisine, which distributes the Capic brand in the UK, says: “We are seeing more and more awareness and interest among our clients in the full-time life cost of equipment, including energy costs, consumption rates and usage. As a result, we have seen developments such as ‘plasma’ technology, for example, to generate the rapid heating of appliances, reducing the need for long heat-up times. Features such as variable controllers for heating elements on items like salamander grills are also gaining popularity because it means that the unit is totally flexible.”
The key consideration is value for money over the investment period. Depending on the operator’s brief, the life expectancy of the product may be two to three, five to seven or 10 years. Every product at every level is built with a life expectancy based on its component materials, its size and performance. The worst situation is where a client does not fully understand these differences and just sees a price tag. It is just not possible to pay little in price and get lots in terms of specification – price and specification go hand in hand.
“The greatest consideration during 2017 will be energy consumption. More and more operators want to see a reduction in energy consumption in the kitchen both for the sake of ‘green credentials’ and for the bottom-line results,” Hobbs says, and adds: “No conversation about equipment would be complete without a mention of the current exchange rate. The weakness of sterling is putting pressure on all businesses, both at home and abroad. Even those companies producing equipment in the UK may be using a large quantity of component parts supplied outside the UK so they will feel the pinch just as much as the manufacturers of the fully imported items.”
The One choice
The Pig restaurant in Windermere has installed the Charvet One series range. The series is an entry level, heavy-duty range designed to offer a high price-to-performance ratio for caterers who need a five- to seven-year return on investment but who still require powerful, reliable equipment.
The range features two separate units with four and two hobs to each, induction modules and griddle, as well as twin and double fryers. An Adande refrigerated drawer sits underneath the module.
The ranges include a choice of 3.5kW and 5kW induction hobs, with the 5kW option providing a powerful 20kW output in a module measuring just 800cm by 800cm.
Charvet has also updated the One range with a 13-litre gas fryer or twin 8-litre fryers, which are capable of cooking 12kg or 16kg of food per hour respectively.