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THE LONG VIEW FROM LOCKDOWN: Welbilt’s UK sales director Steve Hemsil

Steve Hemsil, sales director

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, Welbilt’s sales director for the UK and Ireland, Steve Hemsil, shares his views.

Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
Learnings from the last 12 months will be key to kitchen planning in 2021. Operators need kitchens that can adapt to changing conditions and still deliver consistent high-quality food and drink. Our top three trends that we advise operators keep in mind when it comes to designing their kitchens would be space-saving, energy-saving and multi-tasking – a design focus that can be fulfilled with the right appliances.

These three trends are in fact ones that were in full focus when developing our latest Convotherm series – the Convotherm maxx: a range of combi ovens which help operators meet the challenges of kitchens in 2021 such as limited kitchen spaces, tighter budgets and changing menu demands.

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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?

Provision of outdoor dining and takeaway have been two of the key challenges that have impacted on kitchen operations over the past year; add to this the space issues within kitchens, or the complications that arise from setting up an outdoor area and it is clear that operators need cooking equipment that is compact and can multi-task.

At Welbilt, we have seen the Merrychef eikon e1s really pay its way over the last 12 months due to its compact size and hardworking features. This entry-level high-speed oven is able to cook, toast and grill a wide variety of foods in speeds up to 10x faster than a conventional oven. Also featuring a resistive, PPE compatible screen, staff can feel confident that they are cooking foods in the safest, and most hygienic way possible with the Merrychef eikon e1s.

We’ve also found that our Convotherm Mini range has been very popular, again, a small piece of equipment that delivers many benefits to a caterer looking to introduce a combi oven to their kitchen.

The compact 6.06 Mini Mobile model can be used with a conventional 230 V power supply, giving caterers a combi oven that does everything they need via simple connection, and it is well equipped to efficiently roast, steam, convenience fry, regenerate and grill any food item. For outdoor menus, there’s no better time to set your combi oven to grill juicy steaks, crispy chicken, grilled fish, vegetables, kebabs and more.

Even when restrictions are lifted and businesses can open as normal, it is highly likely that we will see the continuation of outdoor dining and takeaway as operators will be keen to keep these revenue streams.

Do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?

 Going forward, it’s likely that kitchens will continue to be designed with flexibility and agility in mind, incorporating equipment models that can multi-task, are energy efficient and maximise space.

What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?

As the size of the commercial kitchen continues to shrink year on year, so does the demand for traditional pieces of equipment which neither utilise space efficiently or offer multiple cooking functions. It is therefore important that operators continue to look at a broader range of compact, flexible options.

At Welbilt, we currently offer an extensive range of space-saving units such as our stacktable Convotherm maxx models, countertop Merrychef high speed ovens, and undercounter Manitowoc ice machines – models which will all fit into a new kitchen design, or refit perfectly.

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Andrew Seymour

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