Combination & Hybrid Ovens
In recent years, the hospitality industry has gone through somewhat of a change. Very few publicans can now make a serious living without a food offering of some sorts, while cafés and leisure outlets need to supplement a quality drinks offering to draw customers in from the high street. In short, food has become the holy grail of the hospitality industry; without it, outlets will struggle to match customers’ expectations. Steve Loughton, Managing Director of Jestic Foodservice Equipment, explains how venues can develop a food offering without the need for a fully equipped kitchen
Accepting that, today, the bottom line is invariably that food has to feature in any foodservice establishment, the question that keeps cropping up is: “How can I be taken seriously for food and offer a varied menu that will excite potential customers when all I have is minimal space the size of a cupboard in which to prepare it?”
Fortunately, for those with such a dilemma, catering equipment manufacturers have a raft of cooking appliances that have a very small footprint, yet are capable of producing a variety of food to tempt the most discerning of customers. Equally important is the fact that this equipment does not require a fully trained or highly skilled chef, with many appliances and models being as simple to use as an iPad.
Technology here to help
The rise of combinationstyle cooking has been the catalyst for much of this equipment, with the mix of hot air impingement and microwave heating technology enabling baking, frying and cooking up to 10 times faster than conventional ovens. This speed element is crucial for smaller outlets with most wanting to cook to order. Moreover, with time being of the essence in today’s frenetic world, research shows that many customers will only wait as long for food as they would for their hot drink to be prepared. Importantly, many of these ‘cookers’ have the ability to be preprogrammed; some will feature icons or even images of what the final dish should look like. This means that not only can unskilled workers operate the equipment with minimal training, but also staff for whom English may not be their first language.
Small but powerful
So, what capabilities does this type of equipment have and how varied a menu can it cook? Michael Eyre, Product Director at Jestic explains: “The variety of food that can be cooked by a hybrid or combination oven is immense. Yes, it can cook toasted sandwiches from frozen in just 70 seconds. Yes, it can bake paninis from refrigerated in just 45 seconds and yes, it can bake a pizza straight from the fridge in just 55 seconds, but that is only the beginning. “Uncooked salmon fillets can be steamed from chilled in just 95 seconds, pre-fried breaded chicken can be crisp and hot in just 45 seconds, while pork medallions will be succulent in just 90 seconds. But it doesn’t stop there. A full cooked breakfast, a fantastic sirloin steak and even chips are not beyond the capability of many new products. You really can develop and offer a full blown menu from just one small piece of kit, measuring not much more than a standard microwave.”
Simple to install
The good news is that some of the latest combination/ hybrid ovens are designed to operate from a single phase electrical supply meaning that they are, quite simply, ‘plug and produce.’ Furthermore, you can quite easily have much of this equipment front of house as there is virtually no residual heat generated from the appliance and the operating volume is minimal.
Specifically designed to cater for this market is the new Atollspeed AS300T from Jestic Foodservice Equipment, designed to operate on single phase power. Described as an advanced hybrid oven, it features a touchscreen that is not only quick and easy to use but can also store up to 100 programmes for a wide variety of products. The oven includes a USB port for transferring simple data and is compact enough to sit on a counter at just 570mm (depth) deep x 700mm (width) x 435mm (height). “The Atollspeed features a hygienic baking chamber for quick and simple cleaning, a cool down mode for rapid changes of cooking temperatures and excellent insulation,” comments Eyre. “Its combination of efficient heating and high performance, using minimal electricity, makes it a great value piece of equipment. “