The foodservice equipment market is packed with whizzy innovations and nifty features these days, but sometimes it’s good old-fashioned durability that counts most in the kitchen.
That’s according to Greene King’s main kitchen equipment chief, who says the pub chain still places huge value on kit that can sustain the rigours of a busy pub catering environment.
Craig Brookfield, kitchen design equipment manager at Greene King, said there was a danger that “we can sometimes over-complicate kit”.
He said: “With some of our brands I kind of explain it to manufacturers that it needs to be ‘bomb-proof’ because that’s the kind of kicking it will get in some of the businesses. You’re not always going to walk into a kitchen where there is a proud team who look after what’s in there, and it’s nice and shiny.
”Unfortunately we do have kitchens where equipment does get a lot of abuse so the kit has got be robust, it’s got to stand up to the test and in some instances, it should not be over-complicated. Innovation can be the next new thing that’s coming round the corner or it can be working on a piece of existing kit to lift it to the next level.”
Mr Brookfield, who was speaking during a Commercial Kitchen panel session hosted by FEJ, said there was “no closed door” to any supplier – and if it thinks a piece of equipment is viable it will trial it in its test kitchen first before running live trials on-site to test suitability and robustness.
He added that the company was looking at new developments all the time.
“We have built up a lot of relationships and rapport with a lot of people in the UK, but we also have other people working for us that will challenge further into America and other parts of the world to see what’s out there and they are then tasked with bringing that back to us.”
One of Mr Brookfield’s proudest achievements has been the improvements made to its Chef and Brewer brand, where it has “brought the kitchens into the 21st century” by specifying equipment that is allowing it to deliver its modern menu.
“The kit in those kitchens was dated — it was probably around 20-years-old and served a purpose back in the day, but it was hindering them big time. The other area we have really worked on during the course of the last year is our main cooking platforms and we’ve introduced Synergy into a couple of brands, which has been a massive positive for us.”
He added that food trends and changing customer behaviour were also factors that the come into the equation when planning kitchens.
“People’s expectations of dining out have evolved. You know that if you’ve got an hour for your lunch, you want to be in and out for something to eat. So, it’s about those different bits of kit that we put into the kitchens to aid them to deliver the menu at those times. Some of our businesses are open from half past six in the morning through to eleven at night, so they’re absolute beasts of a business.”