Expansive pizza chain Franco Manca says the specification of reliable and innovative refrigeration equipment has played a major part in the development of a kitchen operation that it can replicate across multiple sites.
The chain’s ’s managing director Nabil Mankarious said the work it has carried out with refrigeration supplier Precision has been a key element of its back-of-house set-up, particularly given the pressures it has to withstand.
He said: “Our pizza ovens are a feature of the restaurant – they are built by artisans from Naples, get up to 500°C and cook pizza in just one minute. They produce a lot of heat, so sometimes the refrigeration has to work really hard. The Precision equipment is very reliable, very solid. It just keeps on working, whatever the temperature.”
The Franco Manca chefs work at the front of house producing pizzas in full view of the customers so it is important for the equipment to work well while also looking aesthetically pleasing. British manufacturer Precision has produced new refrigeration products to specifically suit the business.
Mankarious explained: “Our pizzas produce a lot of flour. That can cause issues with undercounter fridges, as their fans suck it in through the ventilation grills. So Precision developed a fan that periodically goes into reverse – so it blows out any flour that’s inside the mechanism, keeping everything running smoothly.”
Sustainability is another important factor for Franco Manca according to Mankarious: “Although we’re very much an Italian concept we try to source from the UK. Mozzarella from Somerset, ham and sausages from Gloucestershire. Even our beer is from Kent! When it comes to choosing refrigeration, first and foremost is reliability, to cope whatever the temperature. Precision’s equipment is manufactured in the UK and its energy-saving features are significant factors, too.”
Following issues with pizza dough becoming over-heated, Precision worked with Nabil to develop a special dough retarder cabinet. The new unit is extra deep to accommodate the restaurant’s oversized dough buckets and is capable of holding the dough at a steady 18°C due to a special airflow design that ensures the temperature is even throughout.
Franco Manca also called on Precision to keep its red wine in top condition: “In the summer, when it can get very hot, the characteristics of our organic red wine can change. So we asked Precision to produce something like a wine cooler, an undercounter unit to store red wine at 13°C. They came along, understood what we wanted, and started to produce the coolers for us.”
Mankarious insists the chain is willing to demonstrate loyalty to manufacturers that prove their value to the business. “My business partner David Page and I have been in catering since 1987. We stick with suppliers who give us quality, consistency and reliability and who are prepared to go out of their way when we need them to.”