Take the heat off

Advances in commercial kitchen tech are helping to make chefs’ lives easier

Chefs can now monitor various aspects of their kitchen via smartphones and tablets

WHILE some elements of preparing food have remained the same for centuries (think knife, pot, fire), in 2018, various aspects of a chef’s job have been improved by developments in kitchen technology.

And, according to catering equipment suppliers, there are a raft of innovations which have not only helped raise the standard of professional cooking, but can make day-to-day life in the kitchen that bit more straightforward.

For instance, advancements in digital technology are altering the way some kitchens are operated, according to Simon Lohse, managing director of Rational UK.

He told SLTN: “There’s no doubt that digital technology and smart kitchen devices are changing the way operators work and think.”

Lohse pointed to Rational’s Connected Cooking feature as an example, which allows operators to link certain pieces of equipment to a network and monitor their commercial kitchen equipment remotely.

“Caterers can check on overnight cooking processes from home, managers can check on operational efficiency of multiple units, maintenance engineers can check a unit’s status,” he explained.

“Connectivity will make kitchens safer and more efficient – and make managing equipment simpler.

“Whether it’s a load-ready or a service notification, operators will be sent all information in real time to a smartphone or PC.

“Remote access will allow operators to manage all connected units and see exactly what settings are being applied and modify them by simply being able to select which cooking programmes to send to which unit.

“It also makes administrative tasks quick and easy, as all key HACCP data can be captured, documented and exported completely.”

Connectivity will make kitchens safer and make managing equipment simpler.

Lohse added that smartphones and tablets also allow chefs to use training apps in the kitchen while working appliances, which represents “a huge change in terms of job training”.

Tim Strutt, sales manager at Electronic Temperature Instruments (ETI), agreed that technological advancements can make life a bit easier in the kitchen.

“Over recent months, the increase in adoption and demand for automated temperature monitoring has been significant,” said Strutt, who explained that bluetooth thermometers, paired with free smartphone apps, make the recording of temperature data “easier and faster”.

“The digital recording of the data means both the user and manager have confidence that the temperature was recorded at the correct time and with the correct outcome,” he said.

“A corrective action can be created within the app, meaning the user will immediately see whether the temperature recorded is acceptable or whether they need to contact a manager or re-heat, etc.

“More and more chefs and managers are reaping the benefits of more robust data and improvements to processes.”

Beyond connectivity advancements, there have been other developments which can benefit chefs, according to Shaune Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice.

For instance, the firm has expanded its F900 cooking series with the launch of an electric fryer, which is said to offer fast heat-up times.

Hall added that there has been developments in combi oven tech, too. He said: “Although combi ovens have been around for a long time, there have been major advancements in terms of the operating technology, making them easier and more intuitive to operate, [as well as] providing the caterer with a whole host of cooking modes and programmes.

“Many control panels now use similar technology to that found in smartphones or tablets, with touch screen technology and drag and drop icons.”

Ultimately, operators should take the time to consider their exact needs and then decide on the equipment which is most suitable to meet the requirements of their kitchen, explained Hall, who stressed the importance of purchasing from a reputable supplier.

“Purchase equipment from a manufacturer with a strong history of reliability and quality – it will be easier to get equipment serviced and source spare parts,” he said.

“Also, the manufacturer should be able to offer advice and training on how to get the best out of the equipment.”