Most catering equipment buyers or kitchen planners will have a good idea of what they want on their shopping list, but it never hurts to be reminded of the key things to bear in mind. Here are kitchen house CDG’s top 10 tips for what operators should look out for when it comes to splashing the cash.
1. Be clear about your menu offer right from the start, as this will impact on kitchen layout, equipment specification and your resource requirements.
2. Designing the space is critical. Buying random bits of equipment just won’t work. The layout and specification of equipment needs to be carefully considered to ensure optimum efficiency of the kitchen (with minimal risk of cross-flows and cross-contamination).
3. What’s your space? A big kitchen will be able to house a wide range of equipment to deliver a varied and changeable menu. A smaller operation with limited space will need to consider the flexibility of equipment to satisfy different functions at different times of the day.
4. Be clear about your priorities — your choice of equipment can vary considerably dependent upon these: Does the equipment need to last for an extended period? Is budget a key driver? Do your choices meet your environmental objectives in terms of energy efficiency? Is speed of service a major concern?
5. Be wary of over- or under-specifying. Does the capacity or performance of the equipment suit your resource and operational needs (e.g. a dishwasher may well be able to process a certain number of racks per hour, but your operation may not be adequately staffed or designed to take advantage of this).
While refurbishment would appear to make complete sense on the surface, there may well be additional associated costs, such as amendments to ventilation to meet current guidelines”
6. Consider ease of use, operation and cleaning. There is little point buying the latest ‘all-singing, all-dancing’, high investment equipment if it’s complicated to use.
7. Ensure you opt for a supplier or manufacturer with adequate UK-based warranty and service back-up (including spare parts availability). Any long-term equipment breakdown can severely impact your ability to deliver a full menu.
8. Consider carefully the benefit of refurbishment versus replacement. While refurbishment would appear to make complete sense on the surface (financially and sustainably), there may well be additional associated costs, such as amendments to ventilation to meet current guidelines.
9. Ensure you get value for money. This doesn’t necessarily mean opting for the cheapest item. Consider trusted and reliable brands — the initial outlay might be more than a less expensive brand, but savings in terms of downtime may far outweigh this difference. Does the supplier offer an extended warranty? Is the supplier backed by the CEDA guarantee?
10. Carefully consider the energy source. Some chefs prefer to cook with gas (particularly hobs) but careful consideration should be given to more modern and energy efficient electrically-powered units, such as induction. This will obviously impact on the overall energy efficiency of the operation.