Michael Eyre’s role involves everything from managing Jestic’s culinary team and interacting with customers onsite and at its two development kitchens to testing and trialling new equipment that will open up menu opportunities for operators in future. He discusses taking a flexible approach to equipment training, driving ROI for customers and partnering with brands that are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
What aspect of the job do you most enjoy?
I get a real buzz from seeing the culinary creations that have been developed in the Jestic test kitchens becoming the core focus of restaurant menus up and down the country. This can only happen through collaborating closely with chefs, operators and the development teams to learn and understand the differing needs of their business.
Do you feel that the role of development chefs within the industry is constantly evolving and, if so, in what ways?
The role of the development chef within our customer base is certainly evolving and becoming bigger with many now increasing their focus on the entire operation, rather than purely the food element. This means that their responsibilities now extend beyond the quality and the consistency of the food, to cost savings from the equipment, energy or oil consumption, and ease of use and training. From a personal perspective, my role is constantly evolving as Jestic continues to increase the breadth of equipment we offer. This means developing a greater knowledge and deeper understanding of a wider range of products from shelving units through to combination cooking.
How can customers and operators most benefit from your role and services?
Communication is key. Jestic development kitchens and our culinary team are a complimentary resource that can assist operators with trials and testing of both equipment and food. We believe that time spent at the Jestic kitchens is time well spent and ultimately will save stress and improve efficiency on site. The Jestic culinary team is committed to listening and learning about operational issues and in doing so providing solutions and new ideas to help make life easier on a day-to-day basis.
Which items of foodservice equipment that Jestic supplies do you find yourself working on the most and why?
I wouldn’t say that we work on one brand or piece of equipment more than any others, it is more about what the customer requirement is at the time. Currently the focus appears to be on frying and combination cooking, but that will change and, who knows, next month it could be all systems go with Mibrasa charcoal cooking or rotisserie concepts on Rotisol. The Henny Penny Evolution Elite is the perfect example of how the newest technology can transform a frying operation.
From saving energy and oil consumption, to increasing production and improving the end-product, Henny Penny is pushing the boundaries of what is possible within frying, and it is our responsibility to demonstrate this to the customer. With MKN being one of our latest collaborations, it has been important that we have had time to carry out culinary testing and familiarise ourselves with the multifunctional capabilities of the equipment. This has allowed us to fully appreciate the amazing results it can produce and to now be able to convey our learnings and expertise to operators and chefs in the industry.
What sort of development kitchen facilities do you have and how easy is it for operators to get access to these?
Jestic has two development kitchens: one in Paddock Wood and the other in Manchester. Within our Paddock Wood facility we have several kitchen areas: fast food, restaurant, combi ovens and pizza, so we can be doing two to three demonstrations at any one time. Within Manchester, we have a more flexible approach and can bring in specific kit to fulfil the needs of the customers. Operators can book time in either of our kitchens whether they are customers or not. Simply, speak to your Jestic RSM and get a slot in our diary — we would be delighted to host you. The meeting room at our Manchester site is another popular facility if operators are looking for an off-site venue.
What is the big focus or main message from you at the moment when it comes to helping operators get the best return from their investment in new foodservice investment?
Communication is key — the more we understand about your needs and operations, the more we can ensure that you get the best ROI on your equipment. That can be anything from reducing oil consumption in Henny Penny fryers, to increasing the number of pizzas you can cook in an hour through a Sveba Dahlen pizza oven. We have over 20 brands in our portfolio, so understanding your menu, peak times, etcetera will help us suggest the most appropriate equipment for your individual requirements.
Which item of kitchen equipment that is already launched or in the pipeline are you most excited about?
Charcoal cooking has always been a passion. Since we incorporated Mibrasa into our range 12 months ago, I have been continually impressed with both the build quality and culinary capabilities of the ovens. The new grillware range of accessories which launched recently includes a flambadou and smoke and steam box, and will allow chefs to increase production and the range of foods they can create on the same grill.
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Address: Units 3 & 4 Dana Estate, Transfesa Road, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6UU; 9 Harp Road, Trafford Park, Manchester, M17 1SR
Tel: 01892 831960
Twitter: @jestic_ltd & @chefmichaeleyre