A top 20 of essential kitchen equipment
Suitable for everything from grilling, roasting, and frying to boiling and simmering, MKN’s FlexiChef is controlled by a sophisticated tablet-style interface that allows chefs to set the steps necessary to create, for example, a stock or stew. Billed as the world’s first fully programmable bratt pan, the operator simply needs to add ingredients when alerted the machine will take care of the rest of the cooking process.
“Any kitchen can turn out great dishes, cooked in a variety of ways, with this one piece of kit,” says Stuart Long, UK sales and marketing director at MKN. “With speed key to getting food out quickly, FlexiChef’s ability to cook food twice as fast as any comparable product makes for a highly efficient kitchen.” The unit is said to be the first automated bratt pan to have a self-clean function-using 28 litres of water and no chemicals in two minutes for an intermediate clean.
MKN says operators can cut energy bills by investing in the FlexiChef, which performs a range of cooking tasks, and boasts a number of other green features. The heat exchanger and triple insulated cooking chamber door significantly reduce energy consumption, while the FlexiChef heating system, Turbo PowerBlock, uses energy only where it is needed.
Chef-patron at Cafe Spice Namaste in Whitechapel, east London, and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at Hilton Heathrow
“For me there is no question that the microwave is a very misunderstood, yet efficient, piece of kit and every kitchen should have one for the right reasons. There are few better ways to re-heat 120+ portions of rice on a busy Saturday night’s service to the correct temperature, confidently. We use Panasonic heavy duty compact NE-1856 microwaves in one of our kitchens because it is a true workhorse.”
Frima VarioCooking Center
With prices starting at 12,650 [pounds sterling], it’s just as well Frima’s VarioCooking Center can take on the work of one brigade member. Manufactured by the German company behind Rational combi ovens, this high-tech piece of cooking kit is an all-in-one fryer, griddle, bratt pan, kettle, titling pan and pressure cooker. The VarioCooking Center Multificiency is fully automatic: just punch in the required results and let the VarioControl take over. However, the unit can still be used in manual mode, if preferred. The programme management function allows chefs to create their own cooking programmes.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] frima-uk.co.uk
“Zummo has designed a variety of juicers of different sizes, so, whether you run a local cafe or large hotel, there is a Zummo perfect for your business needs. With the Zummo you are not restricted to just juicing oranges – due to the different cup sizes available you can juice most citrus fruits, including grapefruit, thereby helping to extend your fresh juice offering,” says a Nisbets spokesperson. “The larger models are capable of juicing up to 11 pieces of fruit per minute, making them ideal for high-turnover establishments, while the GG093 has a self-service option, which allows you to free up staff.”
Glynn Purnell (Chef’s pick)
Chef-patron at Purnell’s and Purnell’s Bistro, both in Birmingham
“I’ve worked with Electrolux Professional products for a number of years and I can say confidently I trust both the company and the products it sells into the industry. The innovation and reliability offered by the equipment has helped me to drop temperatures in the kitchen and enable faster productivity to a higher quality level. We recently installed an Electrolux 700XP cooking suite at Purnell’s.”
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Cuppone Giotto LLKGIOTTO
Weighing in at 720kg, the Cuppone Giotto is an electric pizza oven with a revolving base capable of cooking 200 pizzas an hour. With its space-age looks, the unit is designed to become the focal point of any pizza-led operation and can take up to 14 300mm pizzas at a time with a cooking time of between two and five minutes. The Giotto has been designed with practicality in mind and can be wheeled through any opening 790mm wide and 1,900mm high.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Pizza restaurants will find its programmable display extremely useful, which allows the oven to fire up on its own according to preset timings. The device comes with its own stand and extraction hood and needs to be vented out of the building.
Bonnet High Speed Steamer
With the capability to cook 42 pieces of salmon in one minute, the Bonnet High Speed Steamer is one serious piece of kitchen kit. Launched earlier this year, the unit combines a high-pressure environment with super-heated steam. A steamer is particularly useful for cooking vegetables, but can handle a variety of foods including meat, fish, eggs, casseroles, pasta and rice.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The Bonnet unit’s ultra-fast cooking process reduces shrinkage, improves nutritional value and keeps colours vibrant. Marco Pierre White has heaped praise on the product, declaring it “one of the cleverest pieces of kit ever created for the kitchen”. Two models are available with prices starting at 9,175 [pounds sterling].
Lincat Opus 700 clam griddle
Launched this summer, Lincat’s clam griddle cooks up to three times more quickly than standard griddles by heating both sides of the food simultaneously, making it well suited to high-volume operations. The ‘clam’ plates automatically adjust to the thickness of the meat to provide even heat distribution, which Lincat says reduces shrinkage and seals in flavour. Prices start at 2,850 [pounds sterling].
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Lincat also recently launched two chargrills, one gas and one electric. The Opus 700 chargrill is said to deliver an energy saving of 55%, thanks to the innovative design of its infra-red ceramic plaque burners, which produce intense heat output from a relatively low kW input. There are four sizes to choose from and prices start at 1,309 [pounds sterling].
Other Lincat products available include the Opus 700 Vortech high-efficiency gas fryer.
Burco Plug & Go
Created to tap into the trend for optimising limited space and creating more flexible kitchen set-ups, Burco has launched seven counter-top cooking units with a standard depth of 600mm and a working height of 275mm. All the components of the range are powered by a standard 13-amp plug and are solidly constructed with a stainless steel exterior. The range comprises a wet-pot bain marie (two or four-pot option), dry-pot bain marie, six-litre fryer, induction hob, griddle and boiling top.
“With space at a premium in many kitchens, the Burco counter-top equipment range is ideal,” says brand manager Diane Ho at Glen Dimplex Professional Appliances. “Suitable for small and large establishments alike, the range is simple to clean and powered using a standard 13-amp plug, and effortlessly increases versatility and flexibility for the operator.”
Italian ice-cream specialist Carpigiani has developed a compact soft-serve ice-cream machine for sites with limited space. With a minimal footprint of just 310mm x 580mm x 870mm, (w/d/h) and with lateral air intakes and vertical venting, the Soft&Go fits neatly against a wall on the back counter. An illuminated, multifunction display allows operators to monitor mix temperature and consistency as well as warnings. Fitted as standard with a nozzle for classic cone dispensing, caterers can use two optional nozzles to fill cups, cannoli, tartlets and ice-cream cakes and pastries.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] “With a quality finish, the Soft&Go machine fits perfectly on a counter-top,” says Gary Ingram, sales director at Carpigiani. “Ready in just minutes, the soft, creamy ice cream can be decorated with all kinds of sauces, toppings and fresh fruit to make a real family treat. Alternatively, by utilising one of the optional nozzles available, chefs are able to make delicious, appealing ice-cream cakes and pastries quickly and efficiently, something that can command a premium price on a menu.” carpigiani.com
Alyn Williams (Chef’s pick)
Alyn Williams at The Westbury, London
“Because of the power of Vitamix blenders I can get a better finish on anything I want to chop, puree or liquidise. The machines are in constant use all day for a variety of things. Thanks to the quality of the blades within the Vitamix Vita-Prep 3,1 can liquidise roasted red mullet bones into the butter served with our signature dish of red mullet, miso, smoked eel, cucumber, lemon and Welsh beach vegetables, to intensify the marine flavours still further.”
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Rational self cookingcenter
Like most restaurants in central London, space is at a premium in Alan Bird’s kitchen. His first solo project, Bird of Smithfield, City of London, services as many as 250 covers a day. With the ability to replicate multiple processes, low waste heat output and no need for separate water-softening units, Rational combi ovens were the obvious choice, says Bird.
His main kitchen has two six-grid SelfCookingCenter Whitefficiency models while the private dining kitchen has a 10-grid unit. “The new models have several features I really like,” says Bird, a Rational customer for some 20 years. “HiDensityControl is brilliant for pastry, while the Efficient LevelControl makes it easy to cook different foods on different shelves, with each shelf having its own timer. You can cook fish and meat together, with no transfer of flavours.”
Electrolux Professional Molteni suites
Part of the Electrolux Group since 1993, Molteni stoves are billed as the Rolls Royce of cooking equipment and take pride of place within some of the world’s most vaunted kitchens, including Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV, his iconic three-star in Monte Carlo. Manufactured in Saint Vallier, France, the ultra high-end stoves are made to measure with no two set-ups alike. Each model has a solid steel structure ensuring sturdiness and, according to Electrolux, a nearly endless lifetime.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Each stove represents a close collaboration between Molteni and the chef, who can choose a wide range of functions, accessories, details and colours. In terms of cooking options, there are a wide range of traditional gas functions alongside more contemporary cooking systems, such as induction hobs, electric planchas and cold cupboards. The Molteni Podium-the first free-standing stove ever manufactured with an elliptical shape-won the prestigious Janus de l’Industrie for its mix of aesthetics and advanced technology.
Sat Bains (Chef’s pick)
Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
“We’re big on sustainability, the kitchen rule is: look after the equipment and it will look after you. That’s why we put the emphasis on having a good service contract. It keeps the equipment in good working orderand there’s a I definite yield in terms of business I ultimately, the longer the equipment lasts, the more economic it is. We’ve had the Winterhalter pass-through dishwasher for a while now and we work it really hard, yet it looks like new.”
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Williams Jade slimline gastronorm counter
Williams Refrigeration has launched a slimline version of its popular range of Jade gastronorm counters. The model offers all the features of the established Jade counters, but slimmed down to a depth of just 500mm, making it a good bet for tight spaces. It is available in two and three-door versions, as a refrigerator (+1[degrees]C/+4[degrees]C) or freezer (-18[degrees]C/-22[degrees]C). The two-door has an optimum capacity of 242 litres, the three-door 354 litres.
The Jade Slimline is fitted with Williams’ new energy-efficient compressors. The smaller compressors offer an improved heat exchange, a reduced risk of refrigerant leakage and, the (manufacturer says, will save kitchens up to 100 [pounds sterling] a year on energy bills compared to standard units.
The counters have many more energy-saving features, including CoolSmart controllers. As well as saving energy by only running the refrigeration system when it is required, CoolSmart monitors the fan, defrost, compressor and probe, alerting users to potential problems and ensuring that the critical storage temperature is not compromised. The Jade Slimline is also available with hydrocarbon refrigerant.
Taking pride of place on grab-and-go sushi chain Wasabi’s counters, the Samsung CM1929 is a heavy-duty commercial microwave that can heat large portions of food in mere seconds. The CM1929 has a touch-control pad, seven power levels and a digital display showing status and mode of operation. A facility to pre-programme settings for popular menu items further speeds up cooking procedures and cuts down on mistakes. “We use a lot of other cooking equipment, such as rice cookers and wok burners,” says Wasabi operations manager Su Park. “But every shop has at least two Samsungs, and some have as many as eight.”
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] With a power rating of 1,850W, the CM1929 has an internal capacity of 26 litres-35% more than most comparable microwaves. This means that as well as an increased cooking capacity, it can also accommodate over-sized dinner plates, unusual-shaped serving dishes and 2/3 gastronorm pans. To ensure an even cooking pattern the CM1929 has a dual-magnetron top-feeding microwave source. It’s easy to look after too, with its wipe-clean, stainless steel finish.
Michael Caines (Chef’s pick)
Gidleigh Park in Chagford, Devon, The Bath Priory and ABode Hotels
“The Frima Vario Cooking Center is now an integral part of the kitchen at both Gidleigh Park and The Bath Priory. The thing I like about it most is its versatility: we use it to braise, fry, boil, pressure cook and for overnight slow cooking. It’s great for batches of sauces. As for meats, we use it for everything, from conf it duck to shoulder of lamb.”
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Built to withstand the abuse of the professional environment, the Sirman Blitz is a cost-effective food processor pitched at smaller businesses. Priced at a little over 500 [pounds sterling], the 0.5 horse-power motor unit comes with a robust stainless steel cutting blade, ABS emulsifying knife, spatula and a 3.2-litre bowl.
A number of safety functions protect both the user and the device itself, such as interlock switches, which prevent the processor from starting if the lid and bowl are not locked into place, and a motor brake. The polycarbonate lid also features a feed opening, enabling the operator to easily add ingredients while the processor is running–great for making mayonnaise and other emulsified sauces. Foodservice Equipment Marketing–the key distributor for Sirman products in the UK–supplies the Sirman Blitz food processor with a full 12 months parts and labour warranty.
Valentine Pasta Cooker
Part of Valentine’s ‘multi-cooker’ portfolio, the Valentine Pasta Cooker comes in standard and turbo versions, priced at [pounds sterling]2,620 and [pounds sterling]2,820 respectively. Although billed as pasta cookers, the units can easily stand in for categories of kitchen equipment including steamers, bain maries, poachers and sous-vide machines. Both units are plumbed in, which allows starchy water to exit via an overflow pipe. All the models in the multi-cooker range are compact in design at only 350mm wide and have an internal thermostat for added safety, to protect the element from damage due to overheating.
“Energy efficiency is vital; if a unit is inefficient then energy costs can eat away at profit margins,” says a Valentine spokesperson. “Fluctuating temperature often means the unit has to work harder to sustain the cooking process.
Valentine multi-cookers have a one-piece press pan that is fully insulated, ensuring that heat doesn’t escape.”
DC products PD1300a Passthrough Dishwasher
Those looking for a high-quality, energy-efficient dishwasher should certainly consider DC Products’ new PD1300A pass-through machine. The distributor says the unit delivers outstanding performance while minimising environmental impact and running costs with its insulated boiler, double-skinned hood and reduced volume wash tank.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The PD1300A-which comes with a selectable one, two and three-minute cycle timer and auto-start hood-has a maximum load height of 400mm to accommodate speciality plates, kitchen utensils and equipment, and is capable of washing 18 full-size plates in one minute.
Other features include a quick-release scrap filter for easy cleaning, a simple, intuitive control panel to reduce user error, anti-clog wash arms, boiler and wash tank temperature displays, a chemical auto-dosing feature that prevents over or under-dosing, and an additional wash pump protection filter. Optional extras include detergent and rinse aid dosing pumps, an automatic drain-down facility and an integral water softener.
Dehydrators are becoming a standard piece of kit for ambitious kitchens, allowing chefs to create powders, garnishes and concentrate the flavour of all manner of ingredients. But the dehydrator is not solely for avant-garde posturing ‘normal’ restaurants can make use of it too. Excess herbs and other aromatics can be dried for later use, fruit can be dehydrated for granola or cereal bars and you could even try your hand at beef jerky.
The 26-hour timer allows operators to set it and forget it, as the machine will turn itself off once products are dried. Available from Bonzer, the Excalibur Dehydrator comes in five and nine-tray variants, with each tray measuring 38cm by 38cm.
Tom Aikens (Chef’s pick)
Tom Aikens Restaurant, Tom’s Kitchen, London
“Just as I was recommended Valentine Evo 2525 fryer by others, I would gladly recommend them to my fellow chefs. After having used the equipment, I can safely say this is the best fryer out there for a busy brasserie. All the staff at Tom’s Kitchen have been extremely impressed with the kit and consider it a real asset, enabling us to meet the demands of a busy service.”
Strata by EveryWare
The rapid growth of buffet formats such as Cosmo, Red Hot World Buffet and Jimmy Spices has not gone unnoticed by equipment makers, with many updating or launching ranges pitched at self-service operations. Billed as a pioneering serving system that offers a stylish alternative to chafing dishes, Strata by Every-Ware has been developed with attention paid to usability.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Strata can be personalised to suit any occasion, theme or set-up. The system comprises three main elements: foundation units-the light, yet sturdy building blocks; interchangeable components-easy-to-clean brushed stainless-steel grill tops, warming trays, carving boards, chilling trays/bins that combine and drop on to bases or decks to create a variety of stations and configurations; and a range of accessories including stages, magnetic signage and implement caddies to add height, organisation and enhanced functionality. A stack, store and roll trolley also offers the flexibility to prepare and transport the units safely and easily from location to location.
F Dick 1905 Series
If you’re after a slice of heritage look no further than F Dick’s new 1905 Series, which pays homage to a ground-breaking range of knives first manufactured in—you guessed it–1905. The knives are heavy but well-balanced-their symmetrical steel rings are inseparably connected to the moulded handle, to give greater strength than standard rivets and to ensure high levels of hygiene.
Despite the technological manufacturing process, the final cutting edge is honed by hand to produce a blade that retains its sharpness and enjoys a perfect balance, thanks to the tapering at the tip of the blade, which is made from high carbon, German stainless steel. A half bolster allows the end of the blade to be used and facilitates re-grinding, further adding to the practicality of the design.
“Expertly combining both form and function, the F Dick 1905 series chef’s knife is a serious tool with a serious pedigree for serious professionals,” says a Nisbets spokesperson. “The latest knives feature innovative steel rings to mount the handles, which makes them one of the strongest knives on the market.”
Bryan Street Chip Shop, Blackburn
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] “We’ve used our Lincat fryer five days a week since 1988 and it’s still going strong-I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted another 25 years. The fryer has been used to cook all of our’John Bulls’ [a regional savoury snack] and potato dabs, and brought in around half a million pounds to the business, which is a good return considering I got it when I bought the business in the 1980s.”
Cuisinequip bespoke induction hob
The initial cost of induction stoves may be too high for some, but others take a long-term view by investing in technology to realise savings further down the line. One such unit is Cuisinequip’s high-end four-zone induction Cooker, which has a list price of 16,000 [pounds sterling].
“Cuisinequip induction’s range of hobs is extremely energy-efficient. it is a ‘green’ technology, which uses energy directly to heat the pan and produces no C[O.sub.2],” says Cuisinequip sales manager Steve Elliott. “Our induction cooking ranges are popular with restaurant chefs as they are multi-functional; able to incorporate induction hobs with wok cookers, warming drawers, fryers, deep pan griddles, pasta cookers and so on. Although the initial purchase cost for induction equipment is high, they more than make up for it, saving on energy costs compared to traditional cooking.”
Precision PTC70 thawing cabinet
British refrigeration manufacturer Precision’s latest controlled thaw reach-in cabinet, model PTC70, is designed to safely thaw frozen food, and store it chilled once it is defrosted. The cabinet can defrost up to 70kg of food at a time. “Thawing frozen product is always an issue,” says Nick Williams, managing director of Precision. “it can be placed in a standard refrigerator cabinet to defrost, but timing is unpredictable at best. Leaving it to thaw outside a cabinet is potentially dangerous. Our controlled thaw cabinet provides a totally safe and predictable solution.”