Cooking fast food

As restaurant covers soar, chefs are looking for ovens that reduce cooking time, save space and make baking easy, leaving them with more time to be creative, and extend their culinary expertise

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  April 6, 2006

|~|Electrolux-lead-picL.jpg|~|Electrolux Professional|~|It may be five-star a la carte, but it is still fast food as far as chefs are concerned. Time is money in any area of hotel operations, but in the kitchen, time management steps up a gear, as food is prepared a la minute and presented to the guest looking good, tasting great, and, hopefully, piping hot. When it comes to cooking at speed, TurboChef specialises in providing ovens for fast food. The US-based company has introduced two products to its speed cook portfolio over the past year. TurboChef’s most recent development is the High h Batch. Rather than using a combination of heating technologies, the High h Batch uses high-forced air impingement technology that cooks up to twice as fast as conveyor ovens. This oven is ideal for baking applications and has the ability to cook a 16” pizza from raw dough in four minutes and 30 seconds, compared to the usual twenty minutes. The High h Batch is ideal for pizzerias, bakeries, coffee shops, delis, hotel restaurants, room service and lounges. Meanwhile, TurboChef also introduced the Tornado in January 2005. The Tornado cooks, toasts, roasts, broils and browns foods up to 12 times faster than a conventional oven. Subway has purchased a Tornado oven for each of its 25,239 locations worldwide, toasting subs in less than 30 seconds. “The Tornado oven is quickly becoming one of our most popular products. With Subway expanding worldwide into twenty five thousand locations and 83 countries, the Tornado must be able to adapt internationally. Because of its simple, push button programming as well as being UL certified ventless, The Tornado eliminates the need for expensive exhaust and fire suppression equipment. This, along with the small footprint, allows for installation virtually anywhere, which makes it our most popular product on the market today,” says Steve Beshara, chief branding officer, TurboChef. Speed cooking itself is quickly becoming a trend. The ability to cook quality food at faster cook times is increasingly becoming a demand for many markets. Restaurants, bars, hotels and convenience stores are demanding that ovens cook faster to satisfy customer’s needs. Operators are looking for pieces of equipment that can be integrated into their kitchen with limited remodelling and limited training. The equipment must be easy-to-use, low maintenance and provide customer service on demand from the supplier if something were to happen. “Hotels are demanding ovens that can deliver quality food fast for quick room service, bars and lounges, and restaurants for customers at all hours during every day of the week. The hotel needs a kitchen with equipment that runs effectively and efficiently. If customers are paying for a five-star hotel, they expect five-star service for not only the lodging but also everything that goes with it, including the food and beverage, and they don’t want to wait an hour for it. An oven like TurboChef’s Tornado or High h Batch provides a low cost alternative for high profit. It is an opportunity for expansion and increased revenue. Hotels will begin to demand top of the line equipment, with quality training and quality customer service,” Beshara comments. TurboChef supplies Subway Middle East, and has partnered with a number of regional distributors to present its products, including Al-Mohtaseb in Saudi Arabia, Al-Hamad Trading in Qatar, Habtoor International for the UAE, Dynamics in Kuwait, and Vresso for Lebanon. TurboChef focuses on being speedy and small. Similar market dynamics can be found with other oven manufacturers, including Germany’s Rational. The Rational SelfCooking Centre is up to 28% smaller than the average combi oven. In addition, the centre enables chefs to replace a host of conventional appliances, such as ovens, ranges, tilt-pans, boiling pans and steamers, as the one-stop-shop cooking unit does all this and more. The latest addition to the SelfCooking Centre is the new overnight roasting process, which is proving a valuable function for many butchers, delicatessen and other meat producers and retailers offering cooked meats. Using the overnight roasting setting, the SelfCooking Centre cooks any type of meat without supervision at low temperature and controls all phases of the cooking process. After the core temperature has been reached, it will hold the meat in perfect condition for up to 24 hours in a ‘maturing and holding’ phase until the chefs are ready for it. This is a particularly gentle cooking method that results in greatly reduced shrinkage. Rational claims it can give up to 22% more yield. When it comes to offering a complete all-in-one fully integrated kitchen service, Electrolux Professional appears to tick all the right boxes with its Air-O-System Air-O-System by Electrolux is a unique solution for a completely integrated cook and chill process. The integrated Air-O-System solution includes: Air-O-Steam combi ovens, Air-O-Chill chillers and freezers, and common handling for all uses. The Air-O-Steam lengthwise gas or electric ovens — available with 6, 10 and 20 grids (GN 1/1 or 2/1) — offer three cooking modules: convection, steam and combined. “Combi ovens have more sophisticated interfaces, which provide the general benefits of lower weight loss and shorter cooking times than convection ovens,” says Elena Gollino, marketing executive, Electrolux Professional “Recently, we have added new accessories to enhance the flexibility of ovens, such as U-pans that make a 10 grid oven comparable to 10 stacked fry tops, oven grills, and an odourless hood for low impact installations, such as front cooking applications and supermarkets.” Electrolux has made further improvements to its Air-O-System, its integrated Cook&Chill solutions. Both Air-O-Steam combi-ovens (on the low temperature cooking cycle) and Air-O-Chill chillers and freezers now feature an algorithm for residual time estimation, which anticipates how long remains before the end of the cycle, thus allowing for better activity planning. This new development was made in reaction to demands from the market, according to Gollino. “Chefs are looking for a one-to-one compatibility between ovens and chillers to reduce waste and inefficiency, as well as more flexibility in use,” she says. Alto-Shaam in the US also offers an integrated cook and chill system, as well as a combi smoker, a unique solution for chefs wanting to provide smoked and non-smoked products from the same unit. “Because the combi has become such an important cooking element in the kitchen, manufactures are dedicated to the advancement of the combitherm oven. Whether it’s improving current technology or offering additional features, manufactures will continue to make advancements with this technology. For example, Alto-Shaam is the only manufacturer that now offers chefs the ability to hot and cold smoke utilising real smoke. Chefs love having this option and they may not be smoking today but perhaps will be tomorrow. Also, chefs are still learning the real advantages of the combi technology. After all, whatever we do in life, learning is an ongoing process,” says William Groleau, director of sales & marketing, Middle East, Africa, Asia, Alto-Shaam. Smoking or not, chefs also appear to appreciate the Alto-Shaam integrated system. “Our most popular product includes all three major components of our systems approach. Our rack management, or system approach, offers realistic solutions to meet the ever-changing demands of the food service industry. With the ability to utilise the same trolley in our combi, blast chiller and holding unit, chefs are able to streamline their kitchen operations. Chefs also have the ability to add additional components to the system at any time,” Groleau explains. From fast food outlets looking for Ferrari-paced ovens that inject food with heat to combination units that take care of cooking, holding, and are integrated to a chilling system, ovens remain the backbone of any kitchen. ||**||

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