SIX WEEKS into the trial of rapid-cook oven TurboChef i5, the North Pole was getting seriously festive when The Publican visited in December. "This has been the busiest Christmas the pub has ever seen," says Andy Evans.
The pub has been able to serve large parties with hot food in less time than before. "We can roast vegetables to order and serve them straight away without having to re-heat them all the time."
Away from the festive rush, the TurboChef is also having an impact on regular trade - an important consideration as the pub was staring the reality of January trade in the face.
"The 'dine & dash' idea, which I introduced when I first received the oven, has taken off amazingly," says Andy. While the menu states that certain dishes, such as shepherd's pie and fish can be ready within 12 minutes of ordering, the pub is achieving an even quicker turn around.
"No-one waits longer than 10 minutes, which has allowed us to increase our lunchtime turnover dramatically. The best bit is that we keep seeing the same faces return which must mean we're doing something right."
Building on that success, Andy has been able to add a range of dishes to share to the menu, all of which can be produced quickly using the oven. Options such as smoked chicken and spinach lasagne, and Lancashire hotpot, are proving popular with tables of four and six.
"We now take orders for people to take large dishes home. I had three different people order large shepherd's pies to have at home on Boxing Day - I didn't mind, as it's simple, easy revenue."
This year Andy is looking to further refine the offer, with a major focus on Sunday lunches.
"We already do a great Sunday roast, which is very popular, but I'm looking to make the other items which go with the roast even better. Yorkshire puddings usually take 30 or so minutes to cook, so you have to do them before service, which means they either go cold or go stale - either way, they're not great.
"In the i5 I can cook eight Yorkshires in just six minutes, so I cook less, more often, giving the customer a better-tasting product. It's the small things that make the biggest impression."
- The list price of the TurboChef i5 is £8,350 + VAT. Lease rental terms are also available. For further information call Taylor UK on 0800 838 896 or visit www.taylor-company.co.uk