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The Top Five Foodservice Equipment Innovations To Maximize Kitchen Efficiency

The Top Five Foodservice Equipment Innovations To Maximize Kitchen Efficiency


Chefs like to offer little pearls of wisdom to cooks with sayings around the kitchen. They can be obvious, yet effective reminders for personal safety like, “Hot stuff’s hot.” They can rhyme too, such as the classic admonishment, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.” Sometimes these sayings can hit on an instructive level that borders on the philosophical: “Don’t work hard, work smart.”

The lesson here is empirical to all culinary endeavors – don’t waste time, product or energy. In short, an operation should always strive for greater efficiency. Before you run out to find a sage, old chef to impart innovative ideas on your organization, consider your equipment first. Hatco has kitchen solutions to help you streamline operations and boost efficiency.

1. Convert existing equipment to offer to-go convenience

An entirely new revenue stream could be waiting right under your nose. Once the province of buffets, ganged heated wells can enjoy a second, profitable life. Convert drop-in modular/ganged heated wells to a to-go shelf for hot food, and you don’t need to change the footprint of your store. With those heated wells in position, you can add specially designed modular/ganged heated well covers to create a heated space to hold pre-packaged, pre-heated foods at safe serving temperatures for self-serve purposes.

Customers need convenience to keep pace with their ever-quickening lives. Driven by these changes, businesses can remain relevant and earn a zealous following by adapting existing equipment for a to-go model. Items that were historically hand-served on buffets are now being rolled up in a tortilla or sandwiched between two pieces of bread for easier transportation. Breakfast buffets and build-your-own sandwich shops become labor-saving, premade breakfast burritos and brisket sandwiches. Heated well covers are low maintenance, easy to clean and easy to service.

2. Introduce induction

Induction cooktops are a marvel of versatility and efficiency. They are the rare piece of kitchen equipment that is durable enough for back-of-the-house kitchen use, yet sleekly designed for buffet lines and other front-of-the-house display cooking applications.

The versatility extends to their design, as induction cooktops can be drop-in or portable. Induction cooktops can be programmed for holding food at safe temperatures or utilized for cooking at the turn of a dial. On top of that, induction cooktops are energy saving phenomena. They deliver up to 95% of the energy they consume directly to the food. In comparison, a gas range delivers 35% to 40% of the energy used to the food, and an electric range delivers 45% to 50%. There’s a potential for direct energy savings of 60%. Furthermore, there’s an indirect savings in air conditioning. Since induction cooktops run cool, they don’t expel excess heat into the kitchen. This, in turn, means less ambient heat is working against your AC bill.

3. Help hot stuff stay hot, cold stuff stay cold

It is vital for an operation to be able to hold food at optimal temperatures in order to ensure food safety. When food achieves proper temperature – whether it be cold or hot – it should stay there. Having the ability to store food at a correct temperature saves labor by eliminating redundant tasks like reheating food over and over again, or worse, having to remake it entirely if it dips into the danger zone.

Since its invention in 1952, warming drawers have delivered tried-and-true efficiency. Manufacturers like Hatco (that’s us!) have improved on thermostatic controls, insulation and internal construction quality. Freestanding warming drawers come in under-the-counter and countertop styles for maximum space-saving flexibility. Built-in warming drawers can integrate smoothly into any setting. Warming drawers can be used for to-go operations, prep stations, made-to-order experiences and rough-and-tough locations in the back of the house. Combining the convenience of a handy drawer plus a powerful warmer, drawer warmers have been a favorite among operators for nearly 75 years.

The warming drawer’s cousin, the frost top, keeps cold food chilled with irresistible visible appeal. Frost tops are a game changer for buffets and to-go convenience. They provide operators with an effective, access-friendly way to put cold menu items on display. The frost that forms on their surfaces has two benefits. One, it keeps food cold for longer. Secondly, the icy look of the frost promotes the cool, refreshing qualities of whatever menu item is on display.

4. Embrace order ahead pickup

The order-ahead pickup model is not going anywhere. During the pandemic, customers got a taste for restaurant quality food served in their own living rooms. Operations poised to take advantage of this will enjoy labor efficiencies, increased customer satisfaction and additional revenue streams.

Technological improvements of the pickup shelf in recent years have led to the next level of heated pickup convenience, the heated locker. The Flav-R 2-Go® Locker Systems and Flav-R 2-Go® Pizza Locker Systems are capable of holding multiple orders in either hot or ambient lockers with quick and secure access. Customers experience a frictionless path to meal pickup, while your team can focus on other functions without disruptions.

The Pass-Through Pickup Pod™, propelled by Minnow™ takes the efficiencies of the heated lockers one step further. The Pod is a self-service, touchless pickup solution that is available in models that are heated (with an ambient mode) or ambient only. It helps reduce pickup errors, eliminate customer congestion, reduce labor costs and streamline point of sale (POS) systems by integrating with Toast or Square. Customers and delivery drivers simply access their reserved cubbies by scanning the QR code or using the embedded link sent via text (SMS) message.

5. Replace outdated equipment

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, especially when that old dog takes up space and zaps resources. Inefficient, older equipment can take longer to cook items and can drain the bottom line with costly repairs. Every kitchen team knows the pieces of equipment that act up or are unreliable. If there’s a piece of equipment that is consistently getting sidestepped by the team, then it might be time to evaluate a replacement. And, sometimes that replacement can come in a mighty, compact form.

The salamander is a shining example of a piece of equipment that can do the job of an outdated or outmoded cooking apparatus. To begin with, the salamander oven can achieve broiling temperatures much higher than a typical oven. It is a stand-alone piece of equipment that can live on a countertop or above a range to help with a variety of food preparation, cooking and finishing tasks. Additionally, the salamander has utility as menu trends come and go; it’s always up for the challenge. This salamander runs on electricity so it doesn’t require substantial installation costs.

Stay out of the weeds.

“In the weeds” is a phrase you’ll hear in kitchens when the action gets extremely busy. If a chef accuses a cook of being “in the weeds,” it means that individual has fallen behind. That cook is not keeping up with orders and is not in sync with the rest of the team.

Like most sayings a chef has, the state of being “in the weeds” is an assessment of efficiency. A cook who is prepared and knows how to get the most out of kitchen equipment will operate optimally. A kitchen full of efficient staff and equipment will succeed.

Contact a Hatco rep to improve your kitchen systems so that resources, space and time ensures your operation stays out of the weeds.

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