Restaurant chain Cleaver’s kitchens are reliant on fryers to carry out specific tasks that require absolute precision. So when it came to specifying technology that it could comfortably roll out across the group, it set out on a road to find the kit that gave it the greatest peace of mind. FEJ reports.
It is two years ago this summer that the first Cleaver restaurant launched, with Cobham in Surrey the location for its maiden site. Since then, further outlets have been opened in Leatherhead, Oxford and Wokingham as the chain has expanded its presence in the south of the country.
Describing itself as the place for burgers, chicken and ribs, not all customers that visit its restaurants will be aware that the brand is actually part of casual dining chain Prezzo. Featuring an open kitchen to showcase the food as well as the equipment, Cleaver offers diners a deliberately limited menu of poultry, ribs and burgers in design-led surroundings.
Cleaver has an emphasis on the provenance of the meat and poultry, with chicken sourced from selected Norfolk forms, burgers handmade from prime Scottish beef and ribs produced from fully traceable locally-sourced pork.
“Cleaver restaurants are built around the simple concept of using high quality meat from premium farms to give our customers a first-class dining experience,” explains Mario De Bortolo, executive chef of the group. “Combined with quality products such as skin-on fries, onion rings and sweet potato fries, Cleaver offers its customers a casual dining experience like no other.”
When tasked with equipping the first of the Cleaver outlets, rather than automatically choosing the same equipment that was used across the Prezzo estate, the chain spoke to key equipment suppliers about what they could offer the new concept.
With various fried food items featuring prominently on the day-to-day menu, it was crucial to De Bortolo that they had a fryer which could not only keep up with demand but which gave consistent results time after time, and which was reliable in the extreme. As a result, this required some serious testing, he says. “When it came down to the fryer, it was crucial that we looked at all factors. From the quality of the fry, the simplicity of controls, average oil life, filtration, consistency and, lastly, training. All aspects had to be evaluated in order that we could get the best brand and model for the type of menu we were offering.”
Thanks to the load compensation and the automatic adjustment of the time, we have consistent product time after time”
After evaluating a number of fryers against a range of criteria, De Bortolo and his kitchen team decided to put the Evolution Elite fryer from Henny Penny on test at its Cobham store for the opening celebrations. After a month of trialling the equipment in a live kitchen environment, the chain was convinced of the unit’s performance and ordered a roll-out of the model across all its sites.
This roll-out was supported by product training from Jestic at each site prior to opening, through to small alterations and updates to the programming of the equipment ongoing.
So what was it about the Evolution Elite that stood out for Mario? “Apart from the quality of the skin-on fries, onion rings, and sweet potato fries that were cooked within the fryer, we have noticed significant savings on the quantity of oil that we have been using,” he answers. “In fact, I would even go as far as saying that we have halved our oil consumption since installing the Evolution Elite. In addition, the pre-programmed time means that any one of our chefs can use the fryer and thanks to the load compensation and the automatic adjustment of the time, we have consistent product time after time.”
Cleaver currently cooks its skin-on fries and onion rings for three minutes 30 seconds and its sweet potato fries for three minutes 20 seconds. Oil quality is measured on a daily basis and the chain says the results so far prove that the kit is also saving it on labour.
“Because the fryer automatically tops up the oil when required, we save labour costs on this, and the filtration process means that we do not have what I call, ‘dusty’ product,” says De Bortolo. “We drain and filter the oil after an average of 30 cooks, which eliminates draining and improves the quality of the product long term.”
The brand behind the kit
Henny Penny continues more than 57 years of innovation that began in Eaton, Ohio, US, with the first commercial pressure fryer in 1957. Today the company offers a wide range of foodservice equipment, including pressure and open fryers, combi ovens, rotisseries, holding cabinets and display merchandisers.
Earlier this year the 600-strong outfit became employee-owned through the sale of its stock to a newly-formed employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). The transaction ensures that Henny Penny and sister company Wood Stone, previously owned by the Cobb family, remain privately held. In the UK, Henny Penny is represented by foodservice equipment supplier Jestic.