LONDON HILTON HOTEL
Ronald van Weezel, executive assistant manager in charge of food and beverage
Best buy: A made-to-measure range for the brasserie kitchen, including ovens, hobs, fryer and grill, made in France by Technyform and installed by Berkeley Food Equipment. "We did a lot of price comparisons and this was very competitive. It looks good, is good for the chefs to work on and seems to be very solid and durable."
Shopping list: "We have refurbished most of the hotel during the past three years, so we won't be a big customer for kitchen designers next year. We will be buying stoves and fridges, but it will be peanuts compared to what we have spent."
Best food: A wide variety of kosher foods, mainly from suppliers in north London, for the new kosher banqueting kitchen.
SELLY OAK HOSPITAL, BIRMINGHAM
Steve Brogan, head chef and Hospital Chef of the Year.
Best buy: A Crypto Peerless K55 food processor. "We desperately needed this for things like mousses, purées and breadcrumbs. It's robust, powerful and in constant use every day. We'd be lost without it now."
Shopping list: Brogan would love a complete kitchen upgrade, but knows it is unlikely with tight NHS budgets. "My aim is to try to uplift health service catering and I can only hope there will be a new kitchen one day." He is particularly keeping his fingers crossed for convection ovens and high-pressure steamers.
Best food: Brogan says food quality has been hugely improved by using fresh meat from Midland Meat rather than frozen, plus stock bases from Major International, which he rates very highly.
EDGBASTON BANQUETING CENTRE, WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY CRICKET GROUND
Simon Tupper, regional manager for Letheby & Christopher
Best buy: A Foster blast chiller, costing more than £5,000. "We use it every day as an integral part of our banqueting operations. It's a lot quicker and cleaner."
Shopping list: The site is soon to build an additional kitchen for a new stand in the ground - cost will be some £90,000. "Refrigeration will be our biggest single expenditure," said Tupper. "We will also be putting in Rational combi ovens and some dishwashers, probably Hobart."
Best food: St Killian, a type of Irish Brie cheese, supplied by Niclaire Fine Foods. "It goes down exceptionally well."
BISHOPSTROW HOUSE, WARMINSTER
Chris Suter, chef
Best buy: A Waring commercial blender from Robot Coupe, costing about £60. "We use it for soups and purées and it never lets us down."
Shopping list: Suter's equipment budget for the year will be approximately £2,500. About £700-£800 will be spent on a smoker to enable him to produce his own smoked salmon. "It will do our food costings a world of good and the quality of the salmon will be excellent."
Best food: Some 12 to 18-inch live baby eels from a local supplier. Suter used them for a salad of jellied eels with a parsley and chilli vinaigrette. "Absolutely beautiful" was the verdict.
NOTTINGHAM HIGH SCHOOL FOR BOYS
Jenny Thorley, catering manager for Russell & Brand
Best buy: A Moorwood Vulcan Chefaire convection oven. "It is fast, efficient and it regulates the temperature very well. Also it browns and crisps food beautifully."
Shopping list: Thorley hopes a new kitchen, costing about £65,000, will be built some time in the next three years and she says steam-convection and microwave combi ovens would be a priority. Meanwhile, the plan is to continue to repair equipment.
Best food: Shaped, breaded meat and fish products from Pullman Foods, such as Padley's Chicken Teddies and Jungle Buddies, plus Bernard Matthews Lamb Boomerangs and Golden Fishes. "I buy them for the prep school - seven-year-olds love them."
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN
Mark Hilton, European supply manager for PepsiCo Food Systems, and Paul Davies, director of purchasing and distribution for KFC
Best buy: As well as buying for Pizza Hut, Hilton has been responsible for KFC equipment purchases since April and has so far made no changes to its range of equipment.
Shopping list: Hilton says he is trying to develop synergies between Pizza Hut and KFC and to find suppliers capable of supplying in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. "There are no sacred cows. We are looking at everything," Hilton explains. Hilton adds that he wishes suppliers were more proactive. "We are inundated with people selling the same old kit, but there are very few coming forward with valid new ideas."
Best food: One of the best introductions this year, says Davies, has been family-sized apple pies, currently supplied by Giles Foods. "They are like the apple pie mum used to make and have a wholesome sort of appeal," says Hilton.
FRIENDS RESTAURANT, PINNER, Greater london
Terry Farr, chef-proprietor
Best buy: An outdoor spit for roasting a whole lamb or pig, bought second-hand from a hire shop for about £200. "We use it in front of the restaurant when they shut the high street for the fair and at other times use it at the back. It would cost £30 a day to hire and we will use it about four times a year, so it will soon repay the cost."
Shopping list: Farr has not yet settled a budget, but would like a better hotplate and some new refrigeration.
Best food: A 6ft Porbeagle Shark offered to the restaurant by Larderfresh and costing about £1 per lb. "I filleted it and served it with a yellow bean sauce. It was hugely successful."
Best buy: A Japanese vegetable slicer from Continental Chef Supplies. "Every chef should have one." Also, an American-made cleaver, supplied by Cutco, which has replaced most of the knives in Capon's kitchen.
Shopping list: Capon does not have a structured budget, but wants to buy new pots and pans - "mine are not quite as smart as they should be for presentations" - plus a new oven that can cope with bread baking, possibly with stone shelves.
Best food: Ready-made pastry cases - puff and short in various shapes - from Larderfresh. "They save a lot of time for banquet and buffet work."
THE OLD PARSONAGE HOTEL, OXFORD
Michael Thompson, general manager
Best buy: An Imperia pasta machine costing less than £30 from Nisbets. Normal policy at the Old Parsonage is to buy in as much as possible, rather than spending time making fiddly things. However, Thompson says this machine has injected a new skill into the kitchen. "It helps chefs to express themselves and stops them getting into a rut."
Shopping list: Following recent fires in two of the Browns Restaurant group properties, there are plans to install fire suppression systems into the trunking of all six establishments, including the Old Parsonage.
Best food: Fresh duck breasts from the Hereford Duck Co. "They are nicely packed in paper, they're delivered frequently and are the best we have had for flavour and quality." n