Pub grub has come a long way since the days of scampi and chips, and chicken in a basket. Today, punters want to be wowed with fresh ingredients, exotic flavours and healthier alternatives.
And, as expectations rise, so too does pressure on pub operators to get their culinary offerings right.
Getting the right kit in the kitchen can make the difference between culinary sensation and dietary disaster, glowing reviews and outright panning, profit and loss. But with pub operators often squeezed for space and short on trained chefs, choosing the right equipment can be a minefield.
Trends come and go, and regulations change, so how can you get the most bang for your buck when kitting out your kitchen? How are the evolving expectations of pubgoers influencing the equipment on offer? And what will be the hottest bits of kit in the kitchens of tomorrow?
“Technologically advanced equipment that reduces labour and improves the overall efficiency of the day-to-day running of the kitchen is a must-have,” says Jonathan White, marketing manager at catering equipment supplier Mitchell & Cooper.
“We continue to see a rise in innovative, multifunctional pieces of kit that offer a wide range of cooking functions and, as a result, often create more consistent and accurate dishes. Multifunctional equipment is the best way to get the most out of your kitchen space, as well as your budget.”
White points to the HotmixPro Gastro thermal blender (see p68) as an example of kit that ticks the boxes he lists. Another is the Convotherm smoker accessory, available as an option with the Convotherm 4 EasyTouch combi oven.
“This popular accessory allows chefs to diversify their ingredients and create smoked flavours with ease,” says Steve Hemsil, sales director at manufacturer Welbilt. “The trend for smoked foods is making a mighty comeback and with it comes a push for innovation that falls outside of tradition.”
Punters also want more from pudding. “The key to enticing customers to partake in dessert is to offer a variety of options,” says Scott Duncan, sales director at Carpigiani UK. Therein lies a problem: the wider the variety, the more space you need and the greater the risk of wastage.
“The profit opportunities from producing gelato and other desserts in house can be substantial compared to buying in ready-made alternatives,” continues Duncan, pointing to the Freeze&Go system, which allows operators to get creative.
“Blending dessert and coffee together with a gelato espresso or finishing a meal with gelato, gin and Prosecco cocktails can work well.”
It’s not just space that can be thin on the ground in busy pub kitchens. Competent staff who can tell a cheesecake from cheesy chips can be surprisingly hard to come by too. Hence the rise in smart equipment that can automate much of the cooking process.
“Although relatively alien to the commercial catering sector, we predict that artificial intelligence (AI) will play a pivotal role in the future of kitchens and equipment,” says Welbilt’s Hemsil.
“We’re proud to be early adopters, having recently unveiled the industry’s only artificially intelligent range of combi-ovens, powered by ConvoSense.”
Yes, you read that right: AI ovens. The robots are coming. And they’re cooking dinner.
The awesome eight: the latest and greatest in catering kitCarpigiani Freeze&Go
Offer more ice cream flavours than a Milanese gelatieria and keep hold of your precious freezer space. Freeze&Go is a compact system that whips up gelato to order. It can produce five portions in just four minutes, or a kilo in an hour. Offering greater choice, from kids cornets to gelato blended with espresso or gin and Prosecco cocktails, can send profits soaring, says Carpigiani. www.carpigiani.co.ukEcoPure Waters
Serve five litres of bottled water or more a week? Then you (and the planet) can save big, says EcoPure Waters. The firm supplies a range of systems allowing pubs to tap an endless supply of chilled, filtered and sparkling water, direct from the mains. Reusable, ownbrand glass bottles, wash trays, crates and servicing are included. It’s not just the bottom line that benefits; mains water filtration means no plastic, fewer food miles and a daintier CO2 footprint. www.ecopurewaters.comConvoSense AI
The age of automated cooking is here. ConvoSense is the world’s first artificial intelligence cooking system, used with Welbilt’s ConvoTherm range of combi-ovens. Highly sensitive optical sensors scan trays inserted into the oven and identify their contents by referring to customer specific databases before automatically selecting the right cooking programme. All the operator need do is fi ll trays, insert them and wait for ConvoSense’s algorithms to work their magic. www.welbilt.ukFiltaVent
Kitting out your kitchen isn’t just about flashy new ovens, fridges and storage. It’s also about keeping up with ever stricter regulations. Grease management systems specialist Filta has unveiled a new automated ductwork cleaning system to help operators meet fi re risk management standards for commercial kitchens. FiltaVent works round the clock, spraying biological enzymes in extract ducts to dissolve particles, taking the elbow grease out of cleaning. www.filta.co.ukFuri knives
Cutting edge style. Furi knives are made with high-grade Japanese stainless steel for superior durability and ease of sharpening, while featuring a reverse wedge handle design for style and functionality. The latest launch from the Australian brand is the Pro East/West Santoku Set with Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpener, featuring 13cm and 17cm blades. www.furiglobal.comHoshizaki GA 950
More pub diners want fresh bread. Such luxuries take time, which many chefs just don’t have. Enter, the Hoshizaki GA 950 a fridge that boasts technology and individual programme settings allowing operators to get the perfect dough overnight, without the need for staff to return in the early hours to check progress. The GA 950 features an intuitive display, eight pre-set programmes, customisable settings and full control over temperature, humidity and duration. www.hoshizaki-europe.comVenix Squero
The Italian-made Venix Squero range of combi-ovens is a game-changer. Models connect to the web via Wi-Fi, allowing chains to share menus and guarantee quality across their estates via the Venix Cloud. Ovens feature three phase motors, bi-directional fans, digital water injection regulation, probes and 200 cooking programmes and 150 recipes accessed via touchscreen. Technicians from UK supplier Jestic Food Service can also access appliances remotely. www.jestic.co.ukHotmixPRO Gastro
This high-tech thermal blender can be used to create doughs, sauces, reductions, creams, jams and more. Many recipes can be made simply by filling a bowl with the ingredients, selecting a pre-stored recipe and pressing ‘start’. The 1,500w motor can reach speeds of 12,500rpm and temperatures can reach 190°C. The HotmixPRO Gastro can be left for up to four hours to work its magic, freeing up kitchen staff’s valuable time and cutting the risk of human error. www.mitchellcooper.co.uk