The newest cookware and knives on the market are pairing cutting-edge good looks with everyday practicality. Kathy Bowry hunts out the copper-bottomed quality for discerning chefs
Visitors to the annual Catering Equipment Suppliers Association's Light Equipment Forum couldn't fail to see what the next big thing in cookware was. Every exhibitor at the event, which is designed as a place for buyers and salespeople to get up close and personal with new products, had something made from gleaming copper.
According to Paula Sherlock, managing director of Signature Food Service, copper is one of the best heat conductor materials available, but it can be considered sometimes unsafe when in direct contact with food.
"This is why de Buyer has created the Prima Matera range, which is made of 90% copper and 10% stainless steel, and is suitable for all cooking tops, including induction. The outer copper sides allow first-class heat distribution, while the inner is stainless steel, to allow for easy care and healthy cooking," she says.
The pans are available in a range of sizes, including a 20cm stockpot, a 24cm stewpan and 20cm sauté pan, and they would be perfect for front- of house presentation.
De Buyer Prima Matera
Contacto's copper pans will also cope with induction, as they are constructed from 2.5mm multi-ply material, comprising 18/10 stainless steel, aluminium and copper with riveted stainless steel handles. Contacto sells flambé, sauté and sauteuse pans along with a 3.5-litre casserole. The company also supplies German-made Solingen knives which, says Contacto mananging director Stephen Goodliffe, are "superb quality, well-balanced and comfortable, with a long-lasting cutting edge".
Also at the show were Haus, with its Wüsthof Pro range of entry-level knives, along with Scanpan, sponsor of the Danish National Culinary Team, with its Maitre D' range of induction-compatible copper cookware.
Back in the UK, the Grunwerg Commichef Plus range of pans is made from a blend of stainless steel, including chrome, titanium and copper, which Grunwerg claims to provide superior heat conductivity and tensile strength with strong corrosion resistance. Each item has a body and base plate with a minimum thickness of 0.8mm, and all the handles are securely riveted for safety. The frying pans have a Whitford Xylan non-stick coating.
The company has also developed a range of aluminium casseroles that mimic cast iron but are light and easy to handle. The conductivity of aluminium is 13 times better than stainless steel, meaning you get faster and more even heat diffusion. These pans also come with the Whitford non-stick lining.
Norwich-based ICTC had enamel roasters and casseroles, reminiscent of bygone days, and the Lava range of cast iron pans for serving and presentation.
Mark Hogan, marketing and sales manager of Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM) has his eye on food allergies and the need to segregate equipment, which he says extends to knives: "FEM's San Jamar Allergen Saf-T-Zone 10in stainless-steel chef's knife is part of a range of utensils based on the San Jamar Saf-T-Zone system, to help caterers with allergen compliance. The knife has an eye-catching purple plastic grip, that helps to distinguish it from other knives, so operators can keep a dedicated range of equipment for those with allergies.
San Jamar Allergen Saf-T-Zone
"The system also includes a Saf-T-Knife Station, holding up to eight knives, which is made from break-resistant plastic and protects knives from contamination and damage. Also available is the Sirman UV Knife Steriliser, which allows caterers to sterilise up to 15 knives, with blades of up to 310mm in length, quickly and easily."
Henry Stephenson, managing director at distributor Stephensons, says: "A knife can adapt over time to suit an individual chopping style, and can come to feel like an extension of a chef's arm. The chef's knife is the all-rounder that can cut through anything, from celery to a swede, giving the clean cut expected of a professional kitchen."
He believes the premium range of Sabatier Elephant Four Star knives provides the performance, longevity, and edge retention necessary for years of slicing and dicing.
"Over time, all knives lose their edge. While quality knives will stay sharper for longer, sharpening is essential. A traditional sharpening steel or whetstone will keep blades on-point, but tools such as the Arcos professional pocket knife sharpener can provide a more practical solution to sharpening on the go."
Sabatier Elephant Four Star
Australian-born Tim Brindley heads the kitchen at Tom's Kitchen at St Katharine Docks in East London. He presides over a menu he describes as "good food done well", and sources high-quality local ingredients for up to 100 diners over lunch and 180 for dinner.
"If you find knives you can rely on, nothing else really compares. While there are other brands that are lower in price, I've found you always end up paying more in the long-term. It really is worth investing in a set built to last.''
Meanwhile, chef Adam Byatt at Trinity restaurant has been using MAC knives professionally for over a decade. "I choose to use the MAC Mighty range and always have - the weight just suits me and the small cook's knife and filleting knife in particular are just brilliant for a whole range of tasks.
"I tend to only carry with me a cook's knife, a filleting knife and a small cook's knife, which I will use for most basic butchery. These three really are the backbone of my knife armoury.
"I'm not too precious about my knives, I care for them and treat them with respect, but in the same light, I expect them to perform at the same pace and with the same vigour as I do. I have used other, more refined and highly polished knives that I just felt were never robust enough for my 'practical' application."
Signature is marketing the Clifton Food Range bottle warmer, in eight-, 16- or 24-bottle sizes, and it says it has already had a very 'warm' response from chefs.
The bottle warmer has many purposes, from warming chocolate sauce to preparing fluid gels and purées. The temperature can be easily changed, up to a maximum of 60ËC.
A flexible solution for schools
Since the advent of universal infant free school meals a couple of years ago, Primeware has been working with a number of schools on improving efficiency.
Patcham High School in Brighton is using the company's oven-to-counter Flexepans.
"The Flexepans are a godsend," says catering manager Julie Whelan.
"The staff love using them, because they are lightweight, easy to clean and look great out on the counters, and the children have made comments about how trendy they are."
Flexepans allow caterers to bake, freeze, reheat and serve all in the same dish. The 100% food-grade silicone dishes can be taken directly from the freezer to the oven and then transferred to the table.
Sous vide made easy
The Clifton Food Range immersion circulator is a space-saving, clip-on heater/stirrer unit. It can be fitted in seconds onto a Gastronorm tank of up to 56 litres. It is portable, and comes with a carry case, and its compact design works in limited space kitchens. It creates a precise, temperature-controlled environment, at up to 0.05Â°C intervals.
The circulator includes an integrated timer, audio/visual notifications and will retain its temperature settings even after being turned off.
Sous Vide Tools WiFusion
Sous Vide Tools has also released a WiFusion thermal circulator. This can be used with any vessel for sous vide cooking by simply attaching the circulator with the clamp provided. It is ideal for chefs who only wish to cook sous vide occasionally, or those who want to experiment with it before buying a complete sous vide package. When not in use, it is easily stored away and takes up little space.
The WiFusion thermal circulator has a high-resolution five-inch touchscreen for programming and is Wi-Fi-enabled, meaning it can be controlled remotely. An in-built energy-saving device automatically turns on once the unit reaches the desired temperature.
Clifton Food Range
0121 605 5522
Continental Chef Supplies/MAC Knives
0114 275 6700
Sous Vide Tools
0161 483 6256
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