21 March 2007

CESA, the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association, answers your kitchen equipment queries

We have bought our chef a new set of stainless-steel pans to replace old aluminium ones and non-stick pans that lost their non-stick coating within a month, but she says stainless steel is a nightmare for frying because everything sticks to it. Can the sticking be prevented?

Stainless-steel pans have to be seasoned to prevent food sticking. Put about a centimetre of salt in the pan and place it on a low heat. The salt will start to go brown, which is the point to empty it out. The salt will have filled in all the tiny pores in the base of the pan, making it resistant to food sticking. Rinse the pan and wipe it clean, but don't use soap or the salt coating will be removed and you'll have to season it again.

The three biggest causes of non-stick surfaces breaking down are using cookware not of a professional standard, chefs using metal implements on the surface and raising the temperature of the non-stick surface too high. Never flambé in a non-stick frypan - it will break down the coating.

Can you tell me of a manufacturer that does gas ranges with a fan oven?

If you mean can you have a fan circulating the heat in a gas oven, then the answer is almost certainly that there isn't one available. A gas oven and a high-speed fan can't work together in a conventional six-burner range. What is widely available is a combination of gas for the hobs on top and a fan-assisted electric oven underneath.

The firm that sells us cleaning materials has an offer on some detergents for the dishwasher, much cheaper than we're currently paying. When the dishwasher was installed we were recommended to use a big-name brand, but is this just a cosy deal between manufacturers?

Beware of using cheap generic detergents in dishwashers and glasswashers. You shouldn't do any damage, but the wash performance could be seriously compromised.

Dishwashers work extremely fast, and so that they can deliver the best results the detergents used have to match that high performance. It's a never-ending frustration for manufacturers of dishwashers that many of the complaints they get regarding wash performance turn out to be the result of using poor-quality detergents. That's why some manufacturers offer detergent supply packages - they know from lab testing which one works best in the machine.

Low-quality dishwasher detergents are often the cause of food debris remaining on plates and cutlery, or smearing on glasses put through a glasswasher. It's time-consuming if you have to put tableware through a dishwasher again, or need to do some hand-polishing.

Who makes big chip fryers that plug into a normal wall socket?

A Big fryers need big power in the heating elements to rapidly heat up cooking oil, power that a normal electric wall socket cannot provide. Big electric fryers need the power delivered by three-phase electricity which requires professional wiring. Plug-in 13amp fryers are for light-duty frying of small batches of food.

For more advice

Visit and click on the link "CESA Buying Guides"

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