Fryers still crucial to on-trade food offer

Acquiring and maintaining the right kit is key for commercial kitchens

WITH food becoming an increasingly important aspect of the offer in many licensed outlets, the right equipment is essential. And while healthy food is becoming more popular each year, it’s likely that there will always be a demand for fried foods in licensed premises.

And so the importance of having the right fryer in place shouldn’t be underestimated, especially in busy establishments where speed of service is a factor.

Catering equipment suppliers told SLTN it’s vital that licensees acquire a fryer that is right for their menu, while paying close attention to maintaining the equipment and replacing it when it has reached the end of its recommended lifespan.

Shaune Hall, product development chef for Falcon Foodservice Equipment, said: “Fried food, in particular chips, is a staple offering in quick service restaurants and pub chains, so a fryer is an important part of many kitchen cook lines.

“If used correctly, fryers can definitely add value to the menu and cost savings to the bottom line.

“To improve food quality, operators should source fryers with built-in filtration. This will prolong the life of the oil and keep the food tasting fresh.

“Caterers should also look for fryers with fast heat-up and rapid recovery times.”

Recent developments in technology have helped frying equipment move with the times. And, in line with the growing trend in healthier food, there are now fryers that are able to prepare food using considerably less oil.

“If people want a [healthier] fried food choice, it needs to be of the best quality and cooked so that the ingress of oil into the food is minimised,” said Valentine Equipment’s national account manager, Kenan Koyman.

“A quick heat recovery is the key to this so that food is quickly sealed when it comes in contact with the hot oil.

“The fryer then needs to react quickly to ensure that after the initial heat shock, temperatures rise rapidly back to the optimum to finish the cooking and browning process.

“The finished product will have absorbed less oil, be healthier but still have the taste and texture that many people love about fried foods.”

Fryers can definitely add value to the menu and cost savings to the bottom line.

On a more basic level, many prudent licensees will want equipment which is energy efficient; fryers that use less energy naturally result in lower costs to run, which can result in savings given the fryer is a component of a commercial kitchen that can expect to see plenty of use.

It’s for this reason Tina Carter, marketing manager for Brakes Catering Equipment, recommended buying an electric fryer over a gas alternative.

“With an electric fryer nearly 100% of the power goes into the oil whereas if you put your hand over the exhaust of a gas fryer you will feel that heat is being lost,” said Carter.

“Electric is certainly more efficient. Gas units also tend to use more oil.”

As with most kitchen equipment, proper maintenance is paramount – not just to prolong the lifespan of the fryer but also to ensure perfect results for diners every time.

Draining oil and cleaning a fryer should be done at the end of each service, said Pantheon sales director David Barton.

“Accumulated debris can cause the element to take longer to heat and reduce the machine’s efficiency,” he said.

“Also, flavour contamination will not be an issue if this routine is always adhered to.”

A regular schedule of preventative work can help reduce the number of breakdowns.

Simon Lohse, managing director of Frima parent company Rational UK, agreed, saying thorough maintenance cannot be skipped even by time-pressed kitchen staff.

He said: “Preventative maintenance is key to ensuring equipment lasts longer and works at its most efficient.

“A regular schedule of preventative work can help reduce the number of breakdowns and subsequent down-time.”

However, even the best-maintained fryer will eventually come to the end of its life, and suppliers warned against operating a machine beyond its lifespan.

Consequences include low quality food that could put customers off returning to the outlet.

“If you run a fryer past its effective life you will notice issues like it not reaching optimum frying temperature or not filtering the oil properly,” said Koymen of Valentine.

“This will deliver poorly cooked and poor tasting food that will result in customer dissatisfaction.”