The ever-broadening tastes of customers and a growing need to keep menus varied means the appetite for operators to adopt a wide range of core cooking equipment is as strong as ever, it has been claimed.
Manufacturers suggest few operators can afford to be without the full repertoire of prime cooking equipment if they want to provide customers with compelling choice and adapt their menus accordingly.
Paul Hickman, culinary development manager at Lincat, whose equipment is used by a wide range of pub, hotel and restaurant chains, says consumers expect to be able to choose from a varied menu of freshly-cooked food when eating out.
“While there are operators, with limited menus, who are able to produce what they need with just a couple pieces of kit — a combi perhaps and a clam griddle — the majority still need a full line of prime cooking equipment,” he said.
“This is likely to be centred on a four or six-burner cooking range and include a griddle or chargrill, fryers and perhaps a salamander. Only this is able to offer the flexibility required to produce a varied, freshly-cooked menu and accommodate future menu changes.”
Commercial kitchens are streamlining to become high performance hubs capable of enhancing productivity and ensuring energy efficiency through the use of equipment that is multifunctional, adaptable and reliable.
And this kind of strategic thinking is evident in the installations and projects that prime cooking equipment suppliers such as Grande Cuisine are now involved in.
Managing director, Steve Hobbs, explained: “One high profile client recently changed the format of his cooksuite from 30% electric to 95% electric, opting for a mixture of Plaque Athanor planchas along with induction, and only retaining one traditional-style gas solid top as part of the overall cooksuite design. Increasingly, we are seeing our clients opt for specialised solutions with fewer components, but greater performance and efficiency.”
Antony Ward, brand manager of Sous Vide Tools, suggests more chefs are inclined to combine prime cooking methods in order to achieve dishes of a consistently high quality.
“A perfect example of this would be cooking sous vide and then finishing on a charcoal, or wood fired oven, for a consistent, authentic texture and flavour. Or, alternatively, reverse searing — in other words achieving caramelisation first and then cooking sous vide in so as to lock in all the flavours generated by the Maillard reaction when searing.
“Chefs appear to be increasing their arsenal of prime cooking equipment in order to keep up with current food trends and as a result chefs are now much more open to new ideas and concepts than they were a few years ago.”