Is the pre-festive period the best time to consider a commercial microwave?
AS we move into the tail-end of the year operators across Scotland will be looking to finalise their festive food offers ahead of the trade’s busiest season.
It could also be an ideal time to check that the equipment in the kitchen is able to cope with the strain it will be put under in late November and throughout December.
With staff nights out, friends and family meeting up for drinks and a bite to eat and shoppers stopping into premises for a respite from the onslaught of Christmas shopping, being able to prepare dishes quickly and consistently will be essential.
There’s one piece of commercial kit that suppliers say ticks all of those boxes while taking up comparatively little space in the kitchen: the commercial microwave.
“When you want food fast, microwave technology provides a ready solution,” said John Whitehouse, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association (CESA).
“OK, so the traditional microwave oven is no longer the only super-fast, compact cooking appliance in town – but a lot of the new kids on the block use microwave technology to a greater or lesser extent to achieve their speed.
“What most of them add is cooking quality. Microwave ovens are great for reheating and defrosting, and good for some prime cooking processes, such as steaming.
“But we like our food browned and textured – which microwaves don’t do, without help.
Pub menu classics such as burgers, lasagne and curry can all be quickly and easily prepared.
“Hence the combination microwave, which adds, for example, grilling or convection cooking to the appliance, and the range of other hybrids which use various technologies to deliver great quality, hot food, fast.”
And while the microwave has been a part of commercial kitchens for decades at this point, the range of dishes that can be prepared in them still has the capacity to surprise, say suppliers.
Kris Brearley, sales director at RH Hall, said: “Pub menu classics such as burgers, jacket potatoes, lasagne, chilli con carne and curry can all be quickly and easily prepared in a microwave.
“There are many options for operators to purchase pre-prepared meals that can then be reheated in as little as two to three minutes in a 1900W machine.”
Not only do contemporary commercial microwaves pack a punch in terms of their versatility versus their footprint – they have economic advantages too, according to Iain Phillips, sales and marketing manager at Panasonic UK.
“At the end of the day, microwaves will cook quickly from fresh or frozen, save on energy costs and can result in less waste,” said Phillips.
When you want food fast, microwave technology provides a ready solution.
“They come in many formats and as such have several applications that can benefit any catering operation.
“When used for reheating wet foods such as lasagne or chilli, a standard oven will perform very well, and you can even cook items from scratch such as sponge puddings and brownies.”
There are a broad selection of commercial microwaves available to operators, and the best unit for a venue will vary wildly depending on factors such as the types of food to be prepared and the size of the venue.
But regardless of the individual needs of the business, one piece of advice from suppliers was universal: make sure any new piece of equipment is covered by a warranty.
“A good quality commercial machine should come with a minimum of one-year on-site parts and labour warranty – with many of the leading manufacturers now offering up to three years,” advised Brearley at RH Hall.
“Look particularly at the cover offered on the magnetron, which is the heart of any commercial microwave.”