Cook up a storm with the right kit

Operators must choose wisely when replacing a commercial cooker or oven

OF all the equipment in a commercial kitchen, cookers and ovens are arguably amongst the most important.
In constant use during service, cookers and ovens are subject to a high level of wear and tear so it’s imperative that chefs and operators keep an eye on the condition of their kit, properly maintain it and know when to replace it.

• The benefits that come with new cookers or ovens shouldn’t be overlooked, firms told SLTN.

Shaune Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice Equipment, said failure to look after a cooker or oven can be a costly mistake.
“A poorly maintained oven will waste time and energy, and may be a health and safety hazard,” he said.
Taking a similar stance, Mark Banton, managing director at Parry, a design and manufacturing catering equipment firm, said a temperamental or unreliable unit can “create delays in service times, which leads to unhappy customers and a decrease in profits”.
However, replacing any major piece of kitchen equipment comes at a cost, so operators need to ensure that they make a considered, informed choice when replacing or upgrading a cooker or oven unit, said Banton.
Firstly, an outlet’s current and future menu must be taken into account.

If you invest in quality equipment, you’ll have happy customers.

“Operators should consider their equipment needs in line with current and future menu requirements, numbers and times/peaks in service – for example, it may be that two smaller, versatile ovens that can adapt to changing service needs are better than investing in one large unit,” said Kris Brearley, sales director at RH Hall.
Taking a similar view, Hall of Falcon Foodservice Equipment, added that operators “should also keep in mind how many staff they have and their skill levels”.

As well as considering staff and space, operators can take advantage of the greener credentials newer cookers and ovens offer – and the associated reduced running costs.
Mark Hogan of Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM) said energy efficiency is a “key consideration” in any kitchen.
“By choosing energy efficient equipment and taking into consideration not only the capital cost of equipment, but the lifetime running costs too, kitchens can not only reduce their carbon footprint but can save on costs as well,” he said.

The importance of taking a long-term view when upgrading a cooker or oven was underlined by Luke Davies, food strategy and implementation manager of pubco Star Pubs & Bars.
“Cheaper and domestic models are a false economy,” he said.
“They won’t stand up to the rigours of a pub kitchen no matter how well they are treated.”
Instead, Davies advised licensees to invest in “medium or heavy-duty commercial equipment – depending on the volume of food they are producing – from reliable, respected manufacturers and look for long warranties, low breakdown levels and models with easily-available parts”.

David Watts, Buffalo brand manager at Nisbets, agreed and said investment in commercial models “is important no matter what the size of your kitchen”.
“Commercial models are far more robust than domestic alternatives and are designed specifically for a professional catering environment,” said Watts.

While suitability remains a top priority, ensuring equipment is working at its best at all times is “fundamental”, according to Gavin Clelland, director at VentPro, which specialises in deep cleaning of commercial kitchen ventilation.
“A regular maintenance plan is absolutely critical to keeping kitchen equipment operating at optimum levels,” said Clelland.

“A large part of this involves a regular professional deep cleaning regime.
“This will maintain and extend the efficient operational life of your cooker and ovens.
“Not only will this result in better service standards but it will also reduce the likelihood of costly early equipment replacements.”