Primed for action – how prime cooking kit has evolved

27 January 2016
Primed for action – how prime cooking kit has evolved

State-of-the-art technologies have enabled prime cooking equipment to evolve into the epitome of advanced efficiency. Kathy Bowry reports

Not so long ago, basic prime cooking equipment for most commercial kitchens was a convection oven, grill or salamander, griddle and steamer. Now things have moved on and new technologies have pushed prime cooking equipment onto another plane. This phenomenon can be firmly attributed to the drive to find greater fuel and utility efficiencies, and the trend towards smaller kitchens.

Dan Loria, business development manager of Grande Cuisine, says: "Manufacturers have done a huge amount of development work aimed at making prime cooking equipment as small as possible while not compromising on key criteria, such as power and output. This decreasing amount of space inevitably means chefs are asking more and more of their prime cooking equipment. It is my opinion that the continual development of multifunctional appliances, ie equipment that is essentially two appliances in one, will become the norm."

He says certain pieces of equipment are still seen as stalwarts: a combi oven, a high-output/quick-recovery fryer, a blast chiller, a high-power, energy efficient induction hob (to replace high-power gas burners), a plancha plate, technical equipment for tasks such as sous vide (water bath, circulator, vacuum pack machine) and a chargrill/charcoal oven unit.

"The introduction of most of these items can be attributed to a combination of high food and energy prices, which means that chefs need to have equipment that maximises both their yield and energy consumption."

He says Adventys will very soon be offering a smart plate dressing table called Induc'Art, which is aimed at the fine-dining sector and will replace the traditional hot pass. "The concept is that the base and centre of the plate will be heated to temperature while the plate is dressed, without the surrounding surface getting too hot to touch. This will mean better control and no need for waiting staff to say to customers ‘please be careful of the plate!'."

Trevor Burke, director at Exclusive Ranges, says: "We are being asked more and more for ‘total induction solutions' as chefs recognise it as a viable method of cooking as well as offering cost savings.

"For example, John Williams at the Ritz chose a Menu System range from Exclusive Ranges for his kitchen re-fit in the knowledge that it would deliver a much cooler environment and the benefits of lower energy costs. Charlie Parker from distributor Gratte Brothers had been so impressed with the Menu System ranges that, upon being appointed the project at the recently opened Woodspeen, he handed over full access to us so we could work closely with John Campbell to come up with the best possible combination for his workflow."

Falcon, meanwhile, has just launched its new F900 Series. "There's increasing demand for equipment that not only delivers on performance, but is also aesthetically appealing," says Lawrence Hughes, sales director at Falcon. He explains there is a need for quality appliances that also look attractive as well as being cost-efficient for open kitchens.

Helen Applewhite, marketing manager at Lincat, says: "The six-burner range is still the 'must have' piece of catering equipment for the majority of kitchens. There are many formats to choose from, including gas, electricity and dual fuel, and we'll be introducing an induction-top oven range as part of our new Opus 800 range of prime cooking equipment in 2016. And because space in kitchens is at a premium, people are choosing multi-purpose equipment, such as an intelligent combi steamer, rather than traditional, single-purpose items, such as a convection oven or atmospheric steamer."

Hobart, meanwhile, has taken on the limitations of reduced kitchen space with its latest concept: the Bonnet Compact Kitchen, which offers a range of appliances that can be suited together. Developed for the package is the company's brand new multi-function twin Precipan.

Paul Godfrey, product manager at Hobart Cooking Solutions, says: "Bonnet Precipan also offers the greatest production capacity on the market, with eight cooking modes per well and the capacity to ensure a service of over 100 covers. With three temperature zones per well, chefs can cook a multitude of products simultaneously, at different temperatures."

Stuart Flint, regional training and demonstration manager at Electrolux Professional UK, believes choosing just one piece of versatile kit to do the job of many appliances will inevitably save on how much valuable room is taken up. The latest generation of combi ovens is among the most useful equipment caterers can invest in, as they are capable of performing a number of roles, from steaming and roasting through to advanced techniques such as sous-vide cooking.

"A pressure bratt pan is also a great example of how one piece of equipment can cater for a number of different needs, while offering significant savings in energy usage by giving caterers the option to turn the power off and continue cooking for almost an hour. The Electrolux tilting bratt pan can be used for a number of differing processes, including roasting, browning, stewing, sautéing, boiling and braising."

Another example of flexibility is the compact Frima VarioCooking Center Multificiency 112T, which is a tabletop version of the full-size model. It's four times faster than conventional cooking appliances, with the pans heating from 0°C to 200°C in two and a half minutes, according to the company. Measuring just 962mm wide by 800mm deep and 400mm high, it has two 14-litre pans, and can boil, poach, shallow-fry and deep-fry. Replacing kettles, large pots, bratt pans, fryers and griddles, it saves 30% or more space in the kitchen and can be sited anywhere - on a table, a work surface or a central cooking block - says the company.

Lee Norton, managing director of combi manufacturer Rational, says: "The Rational SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses combi oven is the first intelligent commercial cooking appliance that interacts with chefs. And it will quickly pay for itself.

"The SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses cuts energy consumption by up to 20% compared to previous models, and up to 70% compared to a traditional kitchen without a combi-steamer. Instead of using numerous cooking appliances at the same time, chefs can now cook everything in just one square metre of space, replacing up to 50% of standard appliances and reducing the kitchen footprint by at least 30%."

Frima VarioCooking Center Multificiency 112Ta

However, some chefs don't have sufficient room in their kitchen, or need their combi steamers for front-cooking and at serving stations, where every centimetre counts. "With the space-saving SpaceCombi models, MKN offers a professional solution, which is specially geared to these conditions," says Stuart Long, MKN's sales and marketing director.

"The SpaceCombi is only 55cm wide, yet comparably as equipped as our larger models, while the MagicPilot touch-and-slide operating concept with information steps and favourites function, the automatic cleaning system WaveClean and the consumption display GreenInside, are just a few examples of user-oriented features which make the SpaceCombi a high-performance professional appliance." In addition, despite its slim width, it offers a surprisingly large capacity with six 1/1GN in the SpaceCombi Compact and six 2/3 GN in the SpaceCombi Junior.

MKN SpaceCombi's MagicPilot

CESA comment

Simon Frost, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA)

Multifunction cooking appliances that can handle several cooking processes will be a benefit in any kitchen. In terms of kitchen design, the multifunctionality of the combi oven offers considerable benefits. It is a space-saving option that can replace a number of separate conventional cooking appliances.

Manufacturers have now started looking at combining tilting bratt pan technology with that of deep-fat fryers, boilers and pressure cookers to produce a single, multifunctional unit. Relatively new to the market, these units offer versatile cooking opportunities in a single footprint, making them very attractive to the casual-dining sector. They are extremely energy efficient, easy to use, with good temperature control, and easy to clean.

Michel Roux Jr chooses induction

Michel Roux Jr's famous Le Gavroche underwent a total kitchen makeover for the first time in 19 years, which included creating a more open-plan space and embracing new cooking technology. Centre stage of the new kitchen is a bespoke range by Exclusive Ranges, incorporating Menu System induction.

The Menu System range has full induction technology with slide control temperature hotplates and pan recognition. It also incorporates the original Rorgue salamander, which is essential for creating Le Gavroche's signature dish, soufflé Suissesse - a rich and delicious Gruyere cheese soufflé, baked in double cream.


Electrolux Professional

0121 220 2800

Exclusive Ranges 01707 361770

Falcon Foodservice 01786 455200

Frima UK 0845 680 3981

Grande Cuisine

01908 745540


0844 888 7777


01522 875500


07866 883655


0800 389 2944

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