Hobart has fired the latest shots in the compact kitchen battle by unveiling a 2.4-metre wide suite of equipment that can easily do 150 covers. FEJ went to the company’s UK headquarters in Peterborough to see the kit in action and assess if it takes the compact kitchen concept to a new level.
Ten years ago, the size of prime cooking equipment was rarely up for discussion. Suites typically spanned either 800mm or 900m, sometimes 1000mm; the consensus being that the beefier it was, the more heavy duty it was.
But times have changed, and with operators opening foodservice concepts in all sorts of premises, the dimensions and flexibility of equipment has come under the spotlight.
Bonnet, the Hobart Cooking Solutions brand, is adamant it has created the ultimate package for aspiring small kitchen owners in the shape of its Compact Kitchen Concept. The suite, which can be procured as four separate standalone items if customers wish, is the result of extensive R&D and, crucially, contains all the functionality of a four-metre traditional range in a footprint of just 2.4 metres.
Comprising a multifunctional cooking system, braising pan, mini combi and 90 litre fridge, the equipment can do everything and more that a traditional range consisting of a solid top, griddle, two burners, fryer, double oven and undercounter cupboards can do, but in a space 40% smaller.
The company believes the package is suited to operators serving up to 150 covers, although it has stressed that the concept doesn’t have to be sold only as an entire suite. It expects customers to pick and choose standalone components to suit their needs.
Paul Godfrey, product manager at Hobart Cooking Solutions, says the R&D process involved in-depth consultations with chefs and end-users to find out what they want from a cookline.
“The Bonnet Compact Kitchen Concept has been five years in the making and sets out to understand the real needs of chefs in a confused market and to clearly define the equipment of tomorrow,” he explains. “After significant customer feedback and engagement, the Compact Kitchen Concept evolved to meet the needs of chefs, restaurateurs and operators deliver a highly efficient, superior cooking experience produced in a fraction of the space previously demanded by a full size professional range and with no compromise on performance.”
The aim was to create something which could put the brakes on rising fuel prices, allow precision cooking
and put more profit on the bottom line”
Godfrey says the Compact Kitchen Concept offers chefs 11 different ways to cook and will lead to them taking 30% fewer steps per day. The range comprises four key pieces of kit: Equapan, Precipan, Minijet and FridgeBloc — the latter of which is an integral refrigeration and prep cabinet that gives chefs immediate access to refrigerated ingredients. Hobart says it is the first time a manufacturer has integrated its own refrigeration into a suite. The units, including the refrigeration, are all built at Bonnet’s factory in France.
“Hobart Cooking Solutions’ aim was to create something which could help future-proof: put the brakes on rising fuel prices, allow precision cooking and flexibility across any menu and, at the same time, help put more profit on the bottom line,” says Godfrey.
Equipment case study: Leicester College
Leicester College was one of the first to trial the Bonnet Equapan, introducing it to its Taste Restaurant, which is a busy environment staffed by students. The college’s programme area manager for hospitality and food, Dave Thomas, says the best thing about the product is the variety of cooking methods it can be used for in such a small space. This makes it a very efficient piece of equipment, he says.
“It has helped us improve a number of our processes. For example, using the Equapan reduces the time it takes to seal off portions of meat prior to service and certainly out-performs our current water bath for sous vide cooking. The water heats up more quickly than when using conventional methods for poaching and maintains a constant temperature, which is obviously key for consistent results.”
We will certainly use it to replace existing equipment in our other kitchens”
Thomas adds that the ergonomics of the Equapan allow for speed and ease-of-use, while the technology reduces time both in the production cycle and in cleaning times, thus saving man hours. “In a nutshell, the Bonnet Equapan enables us to serve customers quicker and therefore increase turnover. We will certainly use the Equapan to replace existing equipment in our other kitchens.”
Compact Kitchen Concept: Rundown of the kit
An 18-litre multifunctional system that can be used to fry, grill, pan work, simmer, sauté, braise, steam and boil, and allows operators to dispense with independent cooking units such as a sous vide and regeneration unit. Onlookers will draw comparisons with the type of systems offered by the likes of Frima and MKN, but Hobart said the fact that its unit is fixed and does not tilt, and does not need to be plumbed into the floor, were differentiating factors.
An ultra-fast twin braising pan that utilises Bonnet’s Intelligent Heating Technology (IHT). Controlled via a new touch-sensitive FastPad II screen for increased production, IHT does away with the preheating phase so that it can be used instantly. The system comes with eight cooking modes and three temperature zones, while the fixed pan ensures safe, easy and fast decanting of product for operators.
The Bonnet Minijet Combi delivers compact cooking without compromising on build quality or performance, ensuring it packs the same punch as a standard combination oven. An automatic cleaning system is incorporated into the design, while the VisoPad intuitive interface offers operators core control, precision cooking and flexibility.
Designed to complement Bonnet cooking equipment, FridgeBloc suites seamlessly and flush with all modules. The unit keeps ingredients within arm’s reach and ensures a more effective service, with the added bonus of its flush top access doubling as prep space. It is 500mm wide and has a 90 litre capacity.