The following article is brought to you by McCain.Because chips feature in most meals, the way you handle them could have a massive impact on your reputation - and your profits. Delivering quality, every time, is key to success. And there are no short cuts. Attention to detail at every stage of storage, preparation and cooking makes all the difference to the chips you serve and your food costs. It all starts with quality ingredients. That's why McCain chips are made with the best quality potatoes just washed, peeled, sliced and part-fried, exactly as you make them from scratch. The rest is up to you.Always get the best from your chipsThe McCain guide to frying ensures that every chip you serve is of the best possible quality. It means customers get the chips they expect and caterers enjoy extra profitability from reduced waste, better yield and improved portion control.STAGE ONE: TAKING DELIVERY Problems in transit are rare and spotting the signs can reduce costs down the line. Here's what to look for:
- Chips that are not stored at the correct temperature are more susceptible to breakages so always check the delivery temperature (-18oC frozen and 0-3oC chilled chips).
- Damaged cases are more than likely to contain squashed or broken chips, which equals reduced plate coverage and visual appeal. Because you have to put more on a plate to make up the difference, your profitability decreases.
- Transfer chips immediately to the freezer or fridge and store as instructed.
TIP: Handle product with care - a dropped case can result in up to 18% fewer portions.*STAGE TWO: STORAGEEfficient storage helps you manage stock and keep chips in good condition.
- Always use clean shelving or pallets, keeping boxes off the ground and away from the walls for ventilation.
- Never stack more than five high, or boxes could topple over resulting in damaged chips - and people!
- Follow the FIFO rule - first in, first out. Out of date stock leaves you out of pocket.
STAGE THREE: PREPARATIONThe temperature and quality of your cooking oil makes all the difference to your chips.
- To get the perfectly cooked chip, check the oil is set consistently to the manufacturer's guidelines.
- Crunch point: If the oil is too hot, chips cook too quickly and tend to be dark on the outside but raw in the middle. On the other hand, if it's too cold, too much oil is absorbed which means really soggy chips and increases your oil usage.
- Keep the oil clean, topped up and free from debris. This way you get the best flavour and an appetising appearance.
TIP: Clear any surface crumb with a sieve to avoid unattractive black specks on your chips.STAGE FOUR: FRYINGTo guarantee lovely, hot chips, you should always fry to order:
- Pour your chips straight from the bag into the fry basket. Never allow frozen chips to defrost. If you do, you'll find timings harder to get right, which leads to inconsistent quality.
- Only ever half fill the basket. This allows the oil to circulate around the chips, cooking them evenly.
- Crunch point: If you overfill, there's no room for the chips to move freely in the oil, so they tend to clump together. This results in raw chips with unappetising white patches. Plus, if they're clumped together, you'll find it difficult to portion.
- Set your timer for frying and gently lower the fries into the oil.
- Remember to shake the basket frequently during frying to ensure even cooking.
- Crunch point: Double frying means double trouble, leading to burnt tasting, empty, crispy shells and excessive oiliness.
STAGE FIVE: SERVINGYour serving routine can make or break your finished product and profitability. Follow the five minute rule and take care to avoid a bitter ending.
- Shake off any excess oil over the fryer. For best results, serve immediately. Alternatively, hold chips under heat lamps for five minutes max.
- Avoid holding chips for longer than five minutes. If you do, they'll end up limp and soggy, so you'll have to put more on a plate - or you may even end up throwing them away. Either way, chips held for longer than five minutes will eat into your profits. For maximum profits always cook the amount you need.
- Having cooked the perfect chips, don't undo your good work with inefficient portion control. Over-portioning can undermine your bottom line; small measures will leave customers feeling short changed. So always use a chip scoop for consistent servings and ensure everyone gets their money's worth.
Customers love their chips and if you get it right they'll love you too! Consistent frying practice equals consistently high quality, improved yield, better satisfied customers and a stack of extra profit. * Based on McCain internal research on McCain products"Using the best ingredients does not alone guarantee perfect chips. Caterers also need to manage their own profit potential, by storing and looking after their chips from receipt of delivery through to serving."Anne Sonley, McCain Foodservice Technical Support ManagerMcCain TestsBreakage: McCain tests show that if you drop a case from chest height, you could break up to 45 per cent of the chips:
Chip Cut size
%Breakage per case
Portions lost*: McCain tests show that if you drop a case from chest height, you could lose up to 18 per cent of portions:
Chip Cut size
%Portions lost per case
Holding chips*: McCain tests show that if you hold chips for more than five minutes you could lose up to 22 per cent of portions:
Chip Cut size
%Portions lost per case
"If chips are broken, you have to put more on a plate which reduces our profitability and the customer is disappointed because they're not getting a good product.""Quality leads to a good portion yield and ultimately that makes us profit."Martyn Smith, Catering Development Manager, Barracuda GroupReaders' research: If you've an effective tip to share, email: email@example.com