With kitchen operating times increasing and utility prices soaring, restaurants that can’t keep their costs under control risk seeing their profits eroded. One way of bringing the bills down is to adopt equipment that is light on usage costs and high on productivity. But with so much ‘greenwash’ out there to wade through, how can operators really make sure they are getting true value for money? In the first part of this special FEJ report, we provide a unique breakdown of what operators need to bear in mind when specifically seeking out energy efficient cooking suites.
Cooking suites are the proverbial workhorses of most kitchens and, outside of refrigeration, they tend to be the pieces of equipment left running for longest. We’ve all heard tales of chefs switching on their ovens when they start their shift and not turning them off again until they leave, but aside from operating more economically there is still a lot more that operators can be doing to keep their energy bills down.
Given that cooking suite appliances are likely to be on all day, the main thing specifiers should look to do is consider the specific cooking processes that will be used day-in, day-out. This will provide an insight into how running costs can be reduced, says Stuart Flint, regional training and demonstration manager at Electrolux UK.
“For example, in the busiest kitchens it may be worth swapping gas hobs for an induction top as a way to avoid excess energy usage, since these can be more than 90% efficient. Of course, induction hobs also produce less heat, so less energy is used to lower the working temperature in the kitchen — providing a dual-benefit to kitchen operators.”
The key thing to consider when specifying an energy efficient cooking suite is the precision with which temperature can be kept”
Likewise, pressure cooking is another way that cooking suites can be customised with efficiency in mind, suggests Flint. “A pressure braising pan is a great example of how one piece of equipment can cater for a number of different needs — from roasting, browning, stewing, sautéing, boiling and braising — while offering significant savings in energy usage by giving operators the chance to literally turn the power off and continue cooking for almost an hour.”
Flint estimates that the newest type of tilting, boiling and braising pans on the market are capable of reducing energy consumption by up to 80% compared to traditional braising pans.
Another factor that can have a huge bearing on energy is temperature accuracy. With today’s kitchens producing an ever-greater number of dishes, any inaccuracy when it comes to temperature control is a problem.
Says Flint: “The key thing to consider when specifying an energy efficient cooking suite is the precision with which this can be kept. Not only does the precise temperature regulation in our Thermaline range give operators the control to ensure the best cooking results, but by allowing them to control the heat in 1°C increments, it ensures that no energy is wasted by heating equipment to a higher level than needed.”
In no more than 50 words, what features of a cooking suite most determine how energy efficient it is actually going to be?
“There are various features that determine how energy efficient a cooking suite is going to be. The level of ventilation, the efficiency of any hobs or cooking tops and the precision of the temperature control can all impact a suite’s efficiency.”
3 key things to take away
- Match specific cooking processes to volume of usage to reduce energy where necessary, such as swapping gas hobs for an induction top.
- Consider flexible equipment that can be customised with efficiency in mind, such as pressure braising pans.
- Any inaccuracy when it comes to temperature control will lead to significant energy wastage over time.