After delving into the success of fast food, you realise that part of the battle is won through the chain of process that maintains the experience for a diner anywhere he goes. Of course, it will never be 100% the same each outlet but the differences are marginal and for most, unnoticeable. A successful operating procedure, be it fast food or any other concept, is made up of product understanding, a solid manual and EQUIPMENT to tie everything together and deliver expected standards.
Yet the challenges in labour, cost, and space can put a wrench into your efforts but there is a silver lining. Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands predicted that most fast food kitchens will be automated in 10 years’ time and we daresay, so will every other kitchen. With automation and versatility in machines, business owners have more flexibility in refreshing the menu as the machine is multi-functional. Let’s imagine a kitchen where technology makes the workflow more effective from preparation to the finishing / service stage.
PRE-COOKING TEMPERATURE MATTERS
Much can go wrong when preparing a frozen raw or cooked product, if it isn’t kept at an optimum temperature. The outside is cooked but the inside is still raw and food left in room temperature over time raises safety issues. To mitigate these issues, a thawing cabinet keeps food to be cooked or rethermalised in the safe temperature zone. Electrolux’s Thawing Cabinet brings frozen foods up to the right temperature for cooking by automatically switching into holding mode (+1/+4°C) at the end of the thawing process, eliminating the need to manually probe food for readiness or adjusting the thermostat. A common issue when cooking frozen items is uneven thawing which results in unevenly cooked products. The Hybrid Air Flow system alternates cold and warm air to maintain food at proper storage temperature while air ducts and powerful fans ensure even defrosting. As the thawing duration is not equal for all products, the machine’s 7 thawing cycles with adjustable lengths and temperatures adapt to different foods and loads (full, half or quarter). Only requiring a tiny space footprint at 710 x 820mm, there won’t be much need to overhaul your entire kitchen yet be assured of maximum 66kgs of food on standby, ready to be cooked at the right temperature for an optimum final product.
WHO’S WATCHING THE SOUP OR GRAVY?
Cooking 100 litres of liquid over the conventional stove is time consuming and uncomfortable for the one who has to keep watch lest it boils over or burns. Steam kettles like the Metos Proveno Combi Kettle (150 litres) was invented to speed up the process with vacuum cooking to break down solids while the two-directional mixing tool stirs the product gently without crushing ingredients. Six pre-designated mixing programs are installed according to functions most used by such kitchens such as soups, sautéing meat or vegetables, mashed potatoes, desserts, dough and porridges. The multi-function timer allows the flexibility of looking into other tasks as the desired operating time, whether for cooking, cook & hold, heating or mixing are set. If energy usage of a huge equipment is a concern, be assured with the TempGuard temperature control which measures real-time information from the kettle’s inner jacket to the control system and ensures optimal use of energy in all circumstances. Meanwhile, BurnPrevent Control monitors steam temperature inside the kettle to prevent excessively high surface temperatures that may cause burning. It also has a function to properly chill down food to a temperature suitable for packing and deep freezing that comes in handy for kitchens who wish to reduce the amount of times they cook the same product.
ONE CHAMBER, VARIOUS FOOD ITEMS
Roast chickens, grill vegetables and pan-fry fish all at once? Yes, this is what a combi-steamer was made for. Combining cooking modes of steam, convection or both, kitchens have found this versatile appliance effective in executing different cooking methods. If you think only large kitchens will benefit from a combi-steamer, that you need too much space or the appliance is too complicated, the SelfCookingCenter® XS might change your mind. Its compact size frees up to 30% more kitchen space and replaces up to 50% of conventional cooking appliances. Productivity comes in small sizes too, as the unit is equipped with all intelligent functions that deliver satisfactory results whether food is steamed, grilled, pan-fried, roasted, braised or sous-vide by supplying the exact amount of energy necessary while sensitive measuring and central control functions ensure an uniform cooking cabinet climate matched specifically to the food. One of its unique proposition is the fresh steam generator which maintains the intensive colours, flavour and preserves vitamins of steamed vegetables that are notorious for going limp and pale after a normal steaming process. The cooking cabinet is designed to optimise air flow so that items are cooked evenly, crusts become crisp and breading coatings are crunchy. With some training, you will find using the combi-steamer effortless with its simple and informative display for accurate settings.
PERFECTING A CRUNCH
A good fried product is a balance of batter consistency, products that are completely dry, ideal oil temperature, timing and calculated times of flipping. No wonder it is not easy to get right with the naked eye and guesstimates! Hence, the automated Frymaster allows users to set the desired frying temperature and time for the specific product. Load them in, press the button and just wait for it to beep. The GF40 model comes with a 25 litre oil capacity which enables frying in bulk for quicker delivery of fresh and hot food to customers. Even frying requires even heat distribution in the cooking vessel and the Master Jet burner system’s durable metal targets create a large heattransfer area to achieve that while a durable temperature probe senses any fluctuation in temperature and activates the burner response to maintain a consistent temperature. Easing the typically difficult cleaning process lies in smart design of the large cold zone with a forward sloping bottom that helps in collecting sediment, thus safeguarding oil quality while the large heat-transfer area of the open frypot enables every inch to be cleaned and wiped down by hand.
All it takes to fail a pastry is a wrong measurement, a mix up in the procedure, kneading mistakes, the wrong oven temperature, uneven air circulation and such. To reduce the possibilities of disasters in the baking process, Unox’s Bakertop MindMaps has an Adaptive Cooking technology that regulates the real time combined action of 3 patented technologies – Dry Maxi, Steam Maxi and Air Maxi (temperature, humidity and speed). By adapting your initial settings to the changed conditions such as increase in load size or opening of the oven door, you will still get the same quality in products despite the differences in conditions. The Dry.Maxi technology rapidly extracts humidity from the baking chamber and creates ideal conditions so that pastries come out crisp while Steam.Maxi produces steam 3 times higher than traditional direct-injection ovens to carry out every level of steaming required. The Air.Maxi technology ensures even air distribution with 4 air speeds and 4 semistatic modes that consistently bakes products well – from the most delicate to those that require high temperatures or a high rate of heat transfer. Automatic programming comes via MASTER.Touch ONE allowing saving of processes and starting them up with just a touch on the screen.
This is only a glimpse of the potential of technology to improve the processes of various kitchen settings. When the demand for outside food continues to increase in tandem with discerning palates and busy lifestyles, business owners will find that automation is the only way forward.
If you could automate and even perfect a single process to help your operations, why not? Here’s a quick look on two single-function equipment.
SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY EGGS
One minute too soon or too late can change the half boiled egg. That’s how precise you need to be. While we do have automated egg cookers, it cannot cope at the level of a commercial kitchen. This led John Chong to develop the Tamago Egg Machine that cooks the perfect half-boiled egg in less than five minutes, at the touch of a button. One to start and one to re-set the process with software to record the programme for future use. While preference of half-boiled eggs vary, John decides on middle ground where the white of the egg is not transparent, and the yolk is a bright yellow. The machine has gained approval around Malaysia especially in coffee houses and kopitiam chains and the Tamago range has expanded to include machines to cook ideal poached eggs, onsen eggs, lava eggs and pan mee eggs.
WASTE NOT THE SPIRITS
When it is easy to waste as much as 20% in required ingredients when a bartender mixes a cocktail in an uncontrolled manner, the cost will eventually creep up on a bar owner. Enter the CocktailMachine’s GiG 15 Pro which minimises the need for a professional bartender and reduces the cost of each beverage. The automated cocktail mixer can handle 72 different recipes with an output of 450 cocktails per hour, just by selecting the desired menu that is already programmed into the GiG Pro’s control board. Using this Cocktail Machine potentially reduces daily waste from 20% or almost zero and cost of labour by 30%, at the same time increasing sales as drinks are served with a consistent quality.