It is somewhat ironic that Hobart boasts one of the most comprehensive commercial cooking portfolios in the business, yet it doesn’t actually make an item of cooking equipment that carries the ‘Hobart’ brand as such.
Instead, the core brands it owns — including Bonnet, Elro, MBM and Wolf — all form part of the ‘Hobart Cooking Solutions’ family and collectively give it a solution for almost every market sector.
“Our goal is to design and build innovative products,” explains Simon Merrick, director of Hobart Cooking Solutions in the UK. “We therefore need to consistently deliver excellent results, as well as equipment that is efficient, reliable and easy to operate and clean. I think it is really important for end-users to understand which product fits their relevant market sector and we are very lucky that we can offer medium duty to heavy duty products, as well as vertical and bespoke lines.”
The Bonnet Maestro line of cook suites sits firmly at the top of the tree for its customised, high-end capabilities. “Bespoke suites made for top-end chefs in top-end establishments,” is how Merrick describes a range used by some of the most respected talents on the culinary circuit, including Jason Atherton and Marcus Wareing.
The Advancia range of modular cooking suites also forms part of the Bonnet line-up while in the medium duty sector Hobart can offer its established MBM range of suites. It also produces a series of combi ovens under the Bonnet brand, including the popular Equator series, which has gained a strong user base.
In this segment, Hobart finds itself up against Rational, which controls over half of the market. Merrick is unperturbed: “Obviously one company dominates the market here and there are lots of companies that have a similar market share — we are one of those. We have got an opportunity to grow our market share with a fantastic product. Our ‘combi tower’ — which features our high speed steamer on top and combi oven underneath — is unique. Nobody else can do that.”
Other key parts of the HCS portfolio include its iTop suites, which consist of modular equipment capped by a single-piece top to give the impression of a bespoke range, and its array of pressurised bratt pans and tilting kettles that carry the Elro moniker.
Merrick also has high hopes for the Bonnet charbroiler, which is the unit of choice for some well-known casual dining names. “With the trend around meats and chicken and burgers, we see this as a very exciting product for us to be able to approach some of the chains with because casual dining is taking the market place that way.”
Operators keen on getting up close and personal with Hobart’s kit will be able to do so more frequently in future, as the company is planning to introduce a more structured live cooking programme. It currently has access to five external test kitchens around the UK — in Edinburgh, Leeds, Birmingham, Taunton and London — and the intention is that each site will run at least one ‘Cook smart with Bonnet’ session a month.”