There is a new generation of equipment landing in kitchens around the world. Low input, small footprint, good looking and reliable, they are aimed at the modern cooking environment where green credentials are a given and where time, space and efficiency are at a premium.
Stan Hondroudakis is National Account Manager with commercial kitchen supplier Stoddart. He points to the new, technically advanced combi ovens as an example. “Some are smaller than your household dishwasher but offer a chef great labour and time-saving opportunities,” he says. A combi oven is an oven that can cook conventionally with convection, cook with steam, or a combination of both. The steam produced has generally meant in the past that the combi oven needed to operate under an extraction fan. But recirculating hood technology captures steam and reincorporates it back into the cooking cycle. “There has been so much development in the combi oven space in recent years,” Stan says. “Their water and energy usage has plummeted,” he says. “In days gone by a 6 or 10 tray combi oven may have required up to 6-8 litres of water, just in boiler capacity for steam generation, and draw upwards of 6-8kW of electricity inside the boiler to heat the water before we even consider the actual heating elements inside the cavity,” he says. “Our Giorik Kore uses just 400ml of water and draws with no loss in steam quality or steam saturation!” He also points to the size of the Kore combi ovens – they are just 519mm wide meaning they can be installed in small inner-city venues where real estate inside a restaurant is at a premium. He refers to the push for smaller kitchens giving more floorspace to retail customers. “The Giorik ovens have the latest technology, speed and ease of use, very low outgoings and, most importantly, nutrition retention in the food it cooks.”
“A small combi oven can also streamline mise en place, even in a suburban bistro because so much prep – such as sous vide protein dishes – can be done in a combi oven,” he says.
Stan introduces us to the Synergy Grill. This is a new wave of grills that can dramatically reduce energy costs due to the unique Synergy gas burner system. The grill can save up to 59% on gas usage saving on average between $5000 – $6000 a year and are also available in electric models. During cooking the fat falls onto a heated ceramic plate and is vaporised, eliminating the need for messy drip trays. What is left is carbonised ash that can be vacuumed up at the end of service. This also means less strain on the extraction system. “They can reduce cooking time as they seal food faster locking in the flavour and moisture giving you better yield,” says Stan. “The food even tastes better.” The Synergy grills are modular and come in different sizes.
Technology is also solving some of the problems with refrigeration. One of these problems with cabinet refrigeration is that when the door is opened the heavy, dense, cold air drops out the bottom of the unit. The compressor needs to fire up to cool down the air in the compartment again, using energy and adding to the power bill. Manufacturers such as Adande have developed drawer systems in which the heavy cold air drops, and stays inside the refrigerated drawer tub when it is opened. Power consumption is as low as 0.9kW for the chiller and 2.14kW for the freezer. Even the fans run on next to nothing – they are a similar size to a fan found inside computers. Drawer systems can reduce energy costs, reduce food wastage, can fit under existing bench space and are built on castors so they can roll in and out for ease of cleaning.
“Don’t forget induction,” says Stan. “So many kitchens are moving across to induction,” he says. “They efficiently heat food faster, only use power when in contact with the induction capable pot/pan and do not throw out extraneous heat into the kitchen. You can have all plates working and still have a cool, comfortable workplace.” Stand-alone induction cooktops can be ideal for smaller kitchens with a diverse menu, where heat to boil water or heating a wok very quickly are required.
“The most important thing when it comes to looking at new technology is making sure you get the right fit for your kitchen,” he says. “You need to have a look at your space, your menu, your cooking techniques and make sure you get fit-for-purpose equipment.”
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