The Oxo Tower Restaurant, set in the iconic Southbank building of the same name on the River Thames, is using the latest multifunctional cooking appliances to quicken the time it takes to produce stocks and improve its yield. FEJ finds out how it has integrated the equipment into its kitchen.
With more than 200 covers a day to serve, life in the kitchens of London’s Oxo Tower restaurant can be pretty hectic to say the least. Like many urban eateries, the challenge is made even greater by the fact that space within its kitchen remains precious.
So when it comes to procuring heavy duty catering equipment, the restaurant has some clear criteria that shapes the decisions it makes. New kit has got to be as efficient as possible while at the same time delivering the best cooking results for the eclectic menu of British and European classics it serves.
One of the newest additions to the kitchen is a Frima VarioCooking Center. It has been so important for the speedy production of the restaurant’s ‘fall off the bone’ oxtail that head chef Jeremy Bloor ordered a second unit to be installed in place of an existing bratt pan and stock boiler. “I first saw the Frima at a catering exhibition,” he says. “Its versatility and ease of use were very impressive.”
The equipment has cut the cooking time of our stocks down by 50%. With veal and chicken stocks, there is no skimming needed at the first stage and the stock stays perfectly clear, without clouding”
Oxo Tower is using Frima’s 211+ model, which boasts a 100-litre cooking pan and can be used to boil, fry, deep fry, confit, slow cook and pressure cook. “We use it for a range of different foods, using different techniques, from blanching asparagus to cooking pork belly under sous vide. Our oxtail cooked under pressure is also great, falling from the bone, super-moist, in half the time it takes to cook conventionally.”
In fact, it was the pressure cooking option that attracted Bloor to the equipment initially. “Making stocks under pressure, in a controlled environment, gives us a yield and consistency we are very happy with,” he says. “The Frima has cut the cooking time of our stocks down by 50%. With veal and chicken stocks, there is no skimming needed at the first stage and the stock stays perfectly clear, without clouding. The yield is excellent — what you put in, you get out. Plus, cooking this way has reduced waste heat throughout the kitchen, with less condensation, and it minimises cleaning. We tend to cook the stock overnight then, when we arrive at 7.30 in the morning, it’s ready to reduce.”
Despite the Frima’s high-tech appearance, Bloor and the kitchen brigade have found the system easy to operate. The team underwent a training session after installation, which armed them with everything they needed to know about getting the best out of the equipment. “The touch-screen control is the same as is on a Rational, so it’s a system most chefs have used,” concludes Bloor.
Name: VarioCooking Center
Dimensions: 1164mm (w) x 914mm (d) x 1100mm (h)
Overview: The VarioCooking Center Multificiency is a high-tech piece of cooking equipment that combines all the functions of a kettle, fryer, griddle, bratt pan and pressure cooker in one unit. Built-in cooking technology eliminates time-consuming chores such as constant checking, stirring and temperature adjustments.
Fast fact: The unit’s VarioBoost system can heat the pan to 200°C in as little as 150 seconds.