Panasonic bids to dispel microwave myths with chef school deal

Panasonic microwave at Westminster Kingsway College 1

Budding chefs at Westminster Kingsway College are set to receive in-depth guidance on how commercial microwaves can be maximised in a professional kitchen environment following a partnership with Panasonic, FEJ can reveal.

Up until now the prestigious London catering college has largely used domestic microwaves within its kitchens, with the only real emphasis on this form of cooking coming during stage one of the Professional Chefs Diploma it teaches, when students learn about food regeneration.

But following dialogue between the two parties this year, Panasonic has now supplied a set of commercial microwaves to the London college and offered to train students on how they can best utilise the technology.

Paul Jervis, programme manager for the Professional Chefs Diploma, told us that there was huge value in giving students the opportunity to see the kind of difference that commercial microwaves can make to a professional kitchen.

“The kind of misnomer within cooking is that if you see a kitchen with a microwave in it, it is a substandard kitchen because it is obviously not cooking fresh and there is an association with reheating,” he said.

“The reality is that it is no different to any other piece of equipment in that if it’s used properly it is absolutely incredible for what it can do in terms of quality and speed. To have students recognising how it can be used to improve efficiency and improve the product is crucial for when it comes to them going out in the industry.”

The college has typically used microwaves for tasks such as melting and warming, but the tie-up with Panasonic — which has already supplied six units to its kitchens — will allow it to explore more ambitious ways of putting the technology to use.

Microwave 2

Iain Phillips, sales and marketing manager at Panasonic, told FEJ: “People of my age are very much bound by what they know; students are bound by what they can imagine. And something that we really hope to gain from our association with the college is exactly that — can it do something we didn’t know it could do? We know we can melt chocolate in it, we know we can regenerate food in it and we know we can dry herbs in it. I really hope that in the coming years we will be getting phone calls saying, ‘guess what we’ve found it can do now’. That is part of the excitement for us.”

Phillips is confident that as students learn more about the intricacies of commercial microwaves, it will also break down perceptions. Even in the industry, the true value that a heavy duty microwave can offer a catering operation gets overlooked.

“People see microwaves as microwaves, but it is not until they use a commercial microwave they realise what a difference it makes. It is like anything else — you wouldn’t get the same performance driving a two-seater smart car to Scotland as you would a Mercedes or a BMW. The fact is commercial microwaves take a pounding. It isn’t just the build, or the components that are used to build them, microwaves are actually very complex things. How you get the microwaves to bounce around the cavity so that you don’t get hotspots or coldspots is highly technical.”

The full story, including more coverage of Westminster Kingsway’s kitchen operations, can be found in the August issue of Foodservice Equipment Journal HERE.

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