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Assessing your needs carefully before you decide on the equipment for your pub kitchen is vital if you are to make the correct choices. Our experts...

Assessing your needs carefully before you decide on the equipment for your pub kitchen is vital if you are to make the correct choices.

Our experts guide you down the right path

Steve Loughton

If a pub chooses to do cold food, you need no particular equipment other than some sort of refrigeration. A chilled display cabinet out front is a great idea as you can really sell the sandwiches to your customers - they can see that you do some nicely-made and well-presented baguettes.

When it comes to hot food, the first thing you have to do is look at your menu. You'll likely need some sort of fryer and also a griddle plate for things like sausages, steaks and cutlets. The plate can be flat topped or grooved for a branding mark. There are also machines out there that are half and half, so if you are doing a breakfast offer, you can do your bacon on the grooves and your eggs on the flat.

When selecting any equipment it's a good idea to get something that will give you versatility.

A contact grill is great for paninis and the equipment today allows you to do all sorts of exciting fillings - there's no need to stick to ham and cheese.

One really important thing to get right is the ventilation equipment to make sure the fumes, the smells and the grease are extracted from the kitchen properly.

If you've got a small operation there's no need to bring in the consultants, just ask as many people for advice as you can. Many licensees have got mates in the trade. If they're doing a similar offer to you, go and ask. They'll tell you what equipment works for them and what mistakes they have made. And go to your local distributors. They will be able to give you good advice too.

Steve's tips

l Know what you will be putting on the menu

l Don't fall into the trap of buying domestic equipment and thinking it will do a great job

l Buy the equipment that will give you as much versatility as possible

Paul Harper

For pubs that have the space and the option of investing in equipment there's a whole range on offer.

An open fryer would be a good investment - it's the standard equipment for doing chips.

A combi oven is a common piece of equipment in pubs as it can offer a chef the versatility to make a range of different food. It offers roasting and steaming options. It's good for regenerating food or using as a normal oven, although it's a little faster.

A holding system, such as Henni Penny Smart Hold, is a great way to prepare food in advance. If you want to run a curry club, for example, it can really take the heat off the chef. The curries can be prepared in advance and then put in the holding system at say 6pm. If you've got a good holding system, then at 9pm the curry will be just as good as when it went in and ready to serve at the right temperature.

For pubs that maybe don't have the space and don't want to invest immediately in loads of equipment, Serve Equip has the Turbo Chef. It's ideal for a pub getting into food at entry level for the first time.

The Turbo Chef is a completely ventless oven that can do a multiple of different food offers. We've worked with Rookway Foods to provide a varied menu that's all pre-programmed into the Turbo Chef so all the food operator needs to do is press a button.

Paul's tips

l Decide on what food you are going to serve and think about what equipment is needed

l Look at the skill level you have in the kitchen - what level of food can you serve well and what type of equipment do you need for the job

l Take the size constraints of your pub into consideration

Keith Warren

Producing good pub food can be done with a relatively modest outlay of investment using a small number of key items of equipment. The trick is to buy professional equipment, not domestic. There are three key items of equipment:

Fryers - The main issue surrounding fried food is the oil content when the food goes out on the plate. When frozen food is plunged into a professional fryer it has a powerful heating element that can recover the oil to its optimum frying temperature of 170°C and the outside of food items such as a chip is sealed by the heat, preventing excess oil seeping into the food.

Refrigeration - There is a big difference between domestic refrigeration and professional refrigeration. The power of the motor in a domestic fridge is just strong enough to cope with the average number of times in a day that a fridge or freezer door in the home is likely to be opened. In a pub kitchen, the door is going to be opened constantly, allowing cold air to fall out and warm air to enter. That is a serious food safety risk.

Microwaves - Domestic microwave ovens look similar to professional ones, but work very differently. Professional microwave ovens often ensure there are no cool spots in food by having two magnetrons to ensure even heat. Commercial microwaves will also have a much higher heat output - up to 1800 watts - so producing faster food.

There is a wealth of buying information on every aspect of professional cooking equipment on the CESA website Keith's' target='_Blank'> Keith's​ tips

l Never be tempted to buy domestic appliances for a

commercial environment

l Buy equipment to meet peak-time demands

l Don't guess what equipment you need - talk to an equipment supplier

Bring it on Top tips on equipping your pub kitchen

Ben Bartlett

catering development manager at the Union Food Company

If your food offering is relatively underdeveloped and you want a low-cost start to doing food, you may wish to have a cold back-bar food operation.

Essentially for this you would need a set of sharp knives, a chopping board, a display unit, matching cutlery and plates, napkins and a fridge.

For hot back-bar food, such as pies, soups, potatoes, toasted sandwiches and pizzas, the equipment is basic and easy to use. You don't need a separate kitchen, but you do need adequate storage.

The kind of equipment you would need for a full, but simple, menu would include a dishwasher, fridges and freezer, fryer, oven, combi oven, microwave, griddle and preparation table.

The Food Standards Agency

Once you have bought the right equipment, it is vital to keep it clean to meet food-safety regulations.

The FSA's Safer Food Better Business says effective cleaning is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria and stop it spreading.

It gives the following tips:

l Follow manufacturer's cleaning instructions for each piece of equipment.

l Wash equipment thoroughly between tasks

l Wash and disinfect fridges regularly at a time when they do not contain much food, so that the contents can be transferred to another fridge or cool area.

l Pay special attention to how often you clean pieces of equipment that have moving parts.

Bob Gledhill

equipment journalist

l Once you have bought the right equipment, it is vital to keep it clean to meet food safety regulations.

l Work out the menu before working out what kitchen equipment will be needed to cook it.

l Equip for a busier future, not current food sales.

l Be realistic on your potential customer base and food expectation for food sales.

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