Restaurant operators have never faced so many challenges over the past 12 months, from opening and closing kitchens at short notice, to transitioning to delivery and click and collect, as well as managing social distancing from a back-of-house perspective. How much of a profound impact will it have on the way kitchens are designed this year? In this special series gauging the views of industry leaders, Charvet sales director, Ian Clow, shares his views.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
Now we are at the third lockdown and while it will not be short, there is now light at the end of the tunnel. Charvet UK has been surprised at the surge of enquiries after Christmas, from caterers determined to make the best out of a bad business. We have quoted for everything from new fast food cook lines, wall mounted, peninsular and stand-alone ranges to refurbishments of existing ranges from a simple change of colour, to updating the hobs to induction.
I fully expect the trend to upgrade rather than replace to continue, for Charvet at least. Not only is it less costly and more sustainable than buying new, but there is also less impact to the kitchen itself.
Have you seen customers significantly adapt their kitchen operations in any way over the past 12 months? If so, do you feel those adaptations are here to stay?
The generation of new takeaway and delivery business has put pressure on the working space in the kitchen and refrigerated storage.
Yes, some of the chains will continue their growing delivery and ready meals business and that is generating demand for central food processing kitchens, but with the focus on maintaining consistent food quality as well as volume, which means creating an environment that chefs will be happy to work in and that means quality equipment!
Do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
The days of just pushing together a six burner, fryers, griddles, pasta boiler, grill section and maybe a Plancha and calling that a ‘kitchen’ are hopefully going. The one thing the trade has had plenty of during the last year is time; plenty of time to work on designs and future working concepts. With a lot more thought behind it than before, design is just getting more interesting.
The use of modular equipment and a heavy duty fully welded chassis means Charvet as an equipment maker has been responding by suggesting upgrades to existing Charvet kitchens; replacing our single use modules with more multi-purpose equipment such as our bratt pans, four-zone electric Plancha and multizone induction hob, which together add high volume capability but still allows for delicate pan work and Plancha cooking.
For new projects, the notable difference year to year is that when an investment is being made, the operators are far more serious about where to spend their money. There will be less new kitchens overall, I am sure, but those we do see will be highly practical but also good looking, not to say stunning. Did I just say kitchen range bling was coming back?
Money will be spent but operators want customers to see that investment, so the ranges will have ‘style’ and wherever possible, kitchens are open-plan or if they can, configured to include a chefs table.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
The mantra was always how to design a successful kitchen within an ever-smaller footprint, but one factor which will influence design is where the money is made; it always used to be predominantly front of house.
Now with delivery, take-out and ready-meals business developing via the back door so to speak, operators are asking how they can add more production in-house, which leads to enquiries about CPUs, but also about how to increase production from the same footprint.