One of the industry’s top cooking equipment experts is predicting that some of the traditional factors shaping buying decisions at the top-end of the market will increasingly be seen lower down the chain as operators strive for longer-lasting kit.
While there is a perception that operators in the lower to mid-end of the market are predominately cost-driven, Trevor Burke, owner of Exclusive Ranges, thinks there are signs of a change in attitudes.
Mr Burke, whose company has supplied cooking suites to restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and The Ritz, said that trends already visible at the top end of the cooking suite market, in terms of higher capital spend and more interest in the lifetime cost of a cooker, will transcend the middle market.
“We have experienced high-end casual dining operators making investments in better quality equipment as they realise the benefits that better build costs and built-in adaptability can bring. Cooking suites will continue to develop with an increase in technology, programmability and energy management. Standards of service management will increase with improved capability to carry out remote diagnostics. This in turn will lead to reduced service costs and a reduction in down-time,” he commented.
Mr Burke added that chefs nowadays want more equipment built into the cooker that will cope with all aspects of the menu and said his company is increasingly being asked to deliver kit that works “smarter”, such as integrated food storage within the cooking space.
Consequently, it is currently selling high-tech cooking suites over traditional gas cookers at a ratio of 5:1.
Market commentators suggest there will be further development in the trend towards a more managed cooking solution and operators will be analysing the lifetime cost of the investment in their cooking suites.
Mr Burke, whose company represents brands such as Rorgue and Menu System, agrees: “We are already seeing chefs that want to manage their cooking processes more closely; temperature and time settings are featuring on prime cooking equipment now, not just combination ovens, and they are giving more consideration to the portioning of food, pan quality and energy management for consistency and repeatable processes.”
He concluded that quality versus value for money will become more significant as many imported products continue to be affected by price increases. “It’s therefore important that the investment the client is making is the right one.”