Caterers now look very hard at energy efficiencies when picking a new range. Kathy Bowry reports on new technology designed to keep running costs in check
Falcon Catering Equipment recently won a Foodservice Consultants Society International award for sustainable catering equipment with its induction range cooker incorporating four 5kW high-performance hotplates and a 1/1 gastronorm-compatible fan-assisted electric oven; while Lincat has now added two heavy-duty induction hobs for suiting with its all-electric Opus 700 range.
Nick McDonald, marketing director at Lincat, says: "Our product-development teams have focused on meeting the growing demand for all-electric models. This has been prompted by the legal requirement for gas models to be positioned beneath powered extraction canopies fitted with an interlock, which can add considerably to the cost of installation. Our newest all-electric oven range is the Opus 700 OE7015 solid-top, launched in spring 2012. It is designed to provide the versatility and flexibility of a gas solid-top for customers who, through choice or necessity, are looking for an electric option."
Peter Hunkemoeller, vice-president sales, northern Europe, at Manitowoc, says: â¨"With induction efficiency levels up by 90% compared with gas burners and no ambient heat loss - resulting in a preferential cooking environment along with vastly improved safety conditions - induction technology is considered by many in the industry as more effective than traditional gas and electric ranges."
Manitowoc's Garland modular island suite can include module line/multi-zone induction tops, suiting ingredients being cooked in a pan, and an induction wok cooker or an induction griddle for direct cooking. New options such as braising pans and induction stockpots are also available.
Trevor Burke, of Exclusive Ranges, explains that, when talking to people about an induction cooking island rather than conventional equipment, the focus is numbers.
"When we do analysis for clients we are regularly showing utility cost savings of up to 40%, giving a much shorter payback time than it did even two years ago. The increasing cost of utilities and the closing of the gap in capital cost is steadily moving the financial argument to induction. Environmental benefit, improved conditions of the workplace and reductions in cleaning time and maintenance are all areas where the argument for induction is being won."
Michael Eyre, product director at Jestic, supplier of the Marrone brand, explains that: "The biggest stumbling block when you talk to chefs about induction is price, as it's a common-place perception that induction is very expensive. However, some are just wary because they have never used it. We try to convince them by listing all the benefits and sometimes even provoke them by telling them that a very good chef can cook on any surface."
Ron Neville, managing director of CHR Catering Equipment, a member of the Catering Equipment Distributors Association (CEDA), has identified the need for a competitively priced British-built bespoke suite, including induction hobs, induction griddle pans and a combi-oven. The company's EcoChef concept has recently been installed at the Appleby Manor Country House Hotel in Cumbria and has a built-in meter so owner Mike Dunbobbin can tell on a day-to-day basis what the unit is costing to run. "By replacing the old gas line-up with CHR's EcoChef concept we are saving more than £300 a month and we are able to cook consistently at a lower operational cost," he says.
Andy Blakemore, training and development chef at Electrolux Professional, comments: "Chefs can consider induction cooking with the Electrolux Professional XP range which can be tailored to meet exact customer needs, ensuring improved effectiveness and efficiency for every type of kitchen, whatever the size and output levels. Chef Glynn Purnell at the Michelin-starred Purnell's in Birmingham, for example, has fitted an XP range."
Paul Godfrey, product manager at Hobart Cooking Solutions, tells of the recently launched Bonnet Advancia 900 and Advancia Plus "with a bespoke dimension that harnesses technological advances to deliver tangible benefits for chefs".
"Designed and built in France, Bonnet Advancia offers total flexibility in a range of configurations or simply stand-alone," Godfrey adds. "Options include a double-sided unit, a wall unit, a central island, and bridging suites. Another option is the iTop model, available with a 4mm-thick top, a one-piece control fascia and chassis."
"The Baron Heavy Duty 900 series has been completely upgraded with heavier-duty, more efficient burners to open and solid-top ranges and a wider range of griddle plates and boiling pans. "A molybdenum top to the electric solid-top allows for direct cooking as well as pans, and there is more oven capacity. We also have a new induction system with better prices," according to Roger Flanagan, managing director of supplier Universal.
As Caterer and Hotelkeeper went to press, Charvet was about to launch its Pro 700 series. It features a choice of 60 gas and electric modules, including burners, solid-top, smooth chrome-coated or steel plancha, ribbed and smooth griddles, fryers, chargrills, pasta cooker, bains-marie and static oven. The Pro 700 offers gas burner ratings up to 6kW. "To put it quite simply, the Pro 700 series is the world's most powerful and durable compact prime cooking equipment," says Charvet Premier Ranges managing director Wayne Cuomo.
It seems that the range, albeit in a new form, will be with us for a long time yet.
Case study Electric developments
Steve Hobbs of Signature FSE, which brings us the Athenor make of range suites, says:
"We are now seeing a much bigger movement to all-electric suites with use of radiant/plaque (plancha)/induction-based technology. Of the nine projects being installed in January and February, the only gas element is for ovens in one or two of the suites, with no use of traditional-style gas solid-tops and open burners.
"Searcys at the Gherkin has a new cooking suite with a mixture of multi-zone induction and plaque/plancha cooking; while at Great Fosters' new fine-dining restaurant a new wall suite has been specified with single multi-zone induction and plaque/plancha cooking.
"At Gee's restaurant in Oxford we have the same concept in a large island format with gas oven and hot holding drawers; and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen in Cornwall now has a new island suite with a mix of plaque/radiant and water-bath cooking."
Nick Oryino, chair of CESA, has this advice to offer:
"Manufacturers have invested heavily in research and development programmes to improve the energy efficiency of their ranges. Features such as induction hobs and fan-assisted ovens have a significant impact on energy consumption.
"However, better staff training and practices can also make a major contribution to reducing energy use.
"The Carbon Trust's Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator for the contract catering sector includes in-depth work on how ranges are used in four sites. It showed that there is significant waste of energy through operator misuse. The information contained in the report will be included in CESA's presentations to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and, ultimately, will be part of the discussions on the Eco Design Directive.
"CESA's established energy-saving campaign, Shut it! Fill it! Turn it off!, is set for a major reboot, with anticipated support from the Catering Equipment Distributors Association, the Foodservice Consultants Society International, the British Hospitality Association and Defra. The first step will be a jointly funded redevelopment of the campaign's carbon management training podcasts for food service operators."
The Catering Equipment Suppliers' Association (CESA) is the authoritative voice of the catering equipment industry, representing more than 160 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment.