Portable induction hobs allow caterers to set up cooking operations almost wherever they want. But what features and benefits should you think about when adding these highly effective pieces of kit to your kitchen armoury?
For many chefs, part of the appeal of an induction unit is the broad range of cooking methods that it facilitates, from boiling and searing, right through to sautéing, tempering and beyond.
However, if a chef wishes to execute these various cooking methods to a high quality standard, they’ll need units that can guarantee performance.
This is something that Welbilt has prioritised with the development of Garland’s RTCSmp (Real- Temperature Control System), a patented system which ensures precise temperature control.
Steve Hemsil, sales director for the UK and Ireland at Welbilt, says the system’s unique multi-sensory points provide superior protection against hazards such as boil drying and overheating, in addition to providing temperatures to the exact degree.
“No matter if a chef is sautéing a delicate sauce or searing prawns, they can be confident that their Garland Induction unit will help them to cook up consistently perfect results,” he insists.
Paula Sherlock, managing director at Signature FSE, agrees that temperature control is a key factor to consider when choosing a portable induction hob, putting it on a par with power requirements when it comes to level of importance.
It represents Gastros Switzerland in the UK and the InductWarm 130 tabletop hobs that the brand produces benefit from a unique Intelligent Control System that continuously monitors the temperature depending on the container, while adjusting the energy input according to the chosen temperature level.
“To make the life of operators easier in any venue, up to three InductWarm 130 tabletop induction hobs can be linked together and operate from a single 13 amp power supply, which is perfect to create an induction buffet area,” she reasons.
Elsewhere, Rosie Sanders, managing director at Induced Energy, says that hobs should be robust and easy to carry with simple analogue controls, while controllability and reproducibility are also important factors.
“For hotel breakfast service and room service, in fact for any cooking front-of-house, the appearance of the hob may be important, but for all applications reliability, versatility and reproducibility are key,” she adds.
“Depth of magnetic field is useful for theatre cooking as there is no need to maintain full contact between the base of the pan and the glass or stone surface, which means the chef can move the pan for added effect.”
The type of application an induction hob is needed for will generally influence its specification, which is why it is imperative for operators to be aware of the various choices available.
Nathan Jones, director at Gamble Foodservice Solutions, illustrates: “A scenario may be that a hotel service may just require a relatively low output hob specifically for a breakfast offering. One of the key features of our Hatco Rapide Cuisine is the programmable presets, allowing an operator to store settings, for example whether the eggs are boiled, poached or fried. Even with soup for lunchtime service, the ability to store a preset programme to boil the soup and then drop the power and temperature down to hold really is a unique feature offering consistency and simplicity to whoever is operating it.
“Another scenario could be a restaurant wanting a more energy efficient operation and numerous single-zone induction hobs do not suit the design and flow of the kitchen. We offer countertop dual zone hobs in either a front-back or side-by-side configuration offering multiple solutions dependant on the application,” he adds.
Steve Hobbs, director at Grande Cuisine, agrees that with so many different options now available, operators should be able to find induction equipment that has been designed for a particular purpose.
“For example, if the food offer is based around Asian-style wok cooking then invest in an induction wok unit — don’t buy a unit with a flat top as you won’t get the same result. If the unit is being used in an outdoor environment then make sure that it complies with any relevant safety legislation for use outdoors.”
The future of induction
Portable induction hob technology is quite well-established now so it is unlikely that any significant enhancements will take the market by surprise in 2021. But given the growing demand for induction, Welbilt’s Steve Hemsil predicts that an increasing number of equipment suppliers will be looking to explore new avenues for it.
This is most likely to manifest itself in the different ways that induction systems are integrated into more traditional forms of cooking equipment. “For Garland, however, this integration of induction technology into traditional units is something that we have offered for many years having developed our Griddle and Hold Line ranges, which provide caterers with a superior ‘best of both worlds’ solution,” he says.
Alex Shannon, managing director at Sous Vide Tools, believes induction hobs will definitely become smarter thanks to technological advances and apps that enable the operator to precisely measure, monitor and regulate cooking temperatures.
“We expect to see them used far more with external probes, and for a much wider range of processes including slow cooking, sous vide, deep frying, tempering chocolate and even weighing ingredients,” he reveals.
Sherlock at Signature FSE thinks 2021 will see changes in the way that operators use portable induction hobs. “With a greater awareness on hygiene requirements, they can decide to use these products for single-covered dish buffets in dining set-ups or for conference room events. The InductWarm 200 tabletop by Gastros Switzerland allows six individual dishes thanks to its six induction coils and therefore works perfectly within the new safety rules.”
Steve Hobbs at Grande Cuisine concludes by noting that by definition, ‘portable’ really means that the unit will need to operate from a 13 amp plug.
“On that basis, the challenge for manufacturers remains three-fold: extracting the maximum power from the incoming supply; making the coils as efficient as possible; and increasing the working life of the coil. The latter can vary significantly, from 10,000 to 30,000 hours.”