Operators, especially larger sites, will always need appliances to cut and mix food in large batches. Therefore Catering Insight asked several prominent suppliers in the food preparation sector to advise dealers on what to look out for during the specification process.
According to Jestic Foodservice Equipment’s sales director Steve Morris: “The most important factors when it comes to choosing an equipment supplier are the portfolio of equipment they stock and the pre- and post-sales support that they’re able to offer to both the dealer and the end user customer.”
The supplier has recently taken on the new range of Bear Varimixer planetary mixers, adding to its exclusive Vitamix UK supply. The Bear brand launched the Kodiak mixer, which features a wide 30litre mixing bowl sitting atop an ergonomically designed trolley set to 91.5cm. While the latest innovation to the Vitamix range is the ‘Aeration Container’. Designed to create emulsions, foams, whipped cream, meringue and more, the disc blade is said to rapidly create dense and pourable culinary foam. The container is suitable for use with lines including The Quiet One and Vita-Prep 3.
Morris detailed: “There are many elements to emphasise when it comes to both the Vitamix and Bear Varimixer range. In particular the excellent warranty available on both brands, and in turn the longevity and quality that these have been associated with. As with all the products in the Jestic portfolio, the other aspect to emphasise is the build quality that comes from the extensive research and development over many years.”
Furthermore, Jestic has also invested in a state-of-the-art test kitchen at its head office in Paddock Wood, enabling dealers and operators to see the latest equipment and advances before making a purchase.
Elsewhere, Electrolux Professional’s dynamic preparation manager Bradley Creese commented: “The main thing dealers should look in a supplier is a portfolio of good quality, tried and tested products. However, it’s also vital that the supplier has a depth of knowledge not only on the equipment itself, but more importantly how and what the equipment is used for in a commercial environment.
“The majority of our sales managers have worked as chefs or within the commercial catering industry, so they have first-hand experience of how food preparation equipment is used in a busy working environment.”
He urged: “When dealers are promoting our appliances, they emphasise the quality of the equipment first and foremost. There are also a number of practical features and benefits dealers can point to in our products that will make their customers’ lives easier – whether that’s the versatility of our three-in-one TRK cutter and slicer, to the fact that all parts in our mixers which come into contact with food can be removed without tools and are dishwasher safe. It’s also important to make the link between that quality end product and its impact on the bottom line; not only will the right food prep kit help a kitchen to work more efficiently, but it can also save on labour costs or the cost of buying in pre-prepared food.”
Over at Cuisinequip, sales director Steve Elliott emphasised that well-designed and well-engineered equipment should be a priority for dealers. “This is embodied in the range of Omas Food Machinery slicers that Cuisinequip offers in the UK. The range offers design features that promote ease-of-use, safety and simple cleaning. The Platinum Edition Macelleria 350 is a good example with full aluminium construction, ergonomic shape for easy cleaning, superglide on-gauge plate and tilting sharpener.”
The Omas brand has combined technology a retro look in the shape of the Levolano Heritage slicer. It features a rotating sharpener where the blade is said to be sharpened in total safety because it remains constantly covered thanks to the positioning of the sharpener and honing grinding stone.
Two ring stops should guarantee the correct positioning of the sharpener, with rotation through 180 degrees to achieve the best angle for sharpening. The single movement and double action of the two grinding stones is claimed to ensure easy sharpening operations.
Elliott added: “Attention has gone into designing and testing features for operator safety and protections, and this is the only flywheel slicer on the market with a 360 degree closed ring for total safety. Omas slicers are engineered and manufactured by a family business in Italy that supplies them all over the world to leading restaurants and foodservice operations.”
For Metcalfe Catering Equipment MD Neil Richards, dealers should look for “a supplier that understands the requirements of the customer and the harsh foodservice environments that the preparation equipment is used in”.
He continued: “Dealers need to trust the experience of suppliers that have been in the food preparation equipment market for decades with proven understanding of the market and the high levels of equipment quality combined with service and backup required by the end user/operator.”
Stating that Metcalfe now has the largest range of food slicers in the UK, with over 21 different models to choose from, Richards detailed that the latest additions are a range of vertical slicers which are suited to accurate slicing of cured meats and large blocks of cheese. All Metcalfe slicers come with a full 2-year warranty.
He explained: “Strength, longevity, quality and market experience are all qualities that we put into our preparation equipment – we know the demands placed and it is essential that the dealers tell their customers how important it is to work with a manufacturer or supplier that knows which piece of prep equipment will be correct for the job.”
Richards reported that Metcalfe is currently investing a lot in R&D, with a couple of projects in the pipeline. The firm plans to have some new products introduced to the market in 2018.
At Uropa Distribution (formerly RB Distributors), it supplies two main food preparation equipment brands: Waring and Dynamic. Waring brand manager Paul Siouville advised: “Dealers should ensure they choose a food preparation equipment supplier that understands the needs of a commercial kitchen, and who will help their customers to invest in models which are versatile, whilst being robust, easy to use and requiring very little maintenance.
“A great example of this is the Waring MX Blender (CM078), which has a straightforward yet high powered design including a powerful stainless steel blade, ensuring consistent blending of liquids and solids is achieved. Its robust commercial design features a 30 second countdown timer that uses automatic shutdown to stop unnecessary blending and cut down on electricity costs. Its high output of over 75 drinks a day, combined with a low maintenance, time saving design, and dishwasher safe jug, ensure it is an ideal feature in a busy commercial kitchen.”
The Dynamic brand has added four new models to its range of stick blenders, specifically designed to blend, mix, puree or crush when using a bratt pan or other high height, large capacity containers. This is because they have a shorter shaft length (300mm) to facilitate blending within bratt pans. “The shorter shaft length allows the operator to view the control panel and ensures a more comfortable operating position,” commented Dynamic brand manager Mark Veale.
Supplier Cater-Bake UK feels dealers should consider a number of factors. Sales director Steven Lilley said: “Product quality, service back up, stock availability and spares back up are highly important, as if these needs are not catered for, there’s always a competitor waiting to pick up the order. At Cater-Bake we have a dedicated team of professionals that support our loyal dealer network to not only offer all the key elements of customer service, but the industry knowledge and experience to supply them the right products that fit the customers’ needs and buying factors.”
The firm is now the official UK agent for Fimar and will soon be releasing a dedicated catalogue for the brand, including its vegetable preparation machines, immersion stick blenders, mozzarella cutters, meat grinders and bar blenders.
“We’re representing a very large name in catering equipment,” Lilley said of the agreement. “This means that the customer can take peace of mind in knowing the quality of the product and the customer service provided is one of a proven brand. It’s also worth noting that our dealers are more than welcome to visit our head office and show their clients our products before making a purchasing decision. Our showroom and testing facility is here for our partners to use and we urge them to get in touch to arrange a demonstration day across all our product ranges.”
Elsewhere, Signature FSE’s MD Paula Sherlock believes: “Dealers should consider food preparation equipment that offers consistent results in the food served to customers, is safe to use and made of strong material to resist daily mechanical shocks. Dealers also need to bear in mind how this equipment will be used in a busy kitchen environment, i.e. often the young, less experienced chefs will be asked to prepare the food in a short amount of time so the equipment needs to be easy to use and help give efficient results so the service can
Part of the supplier’s portfolio, French manufacturer de Buyer has developed a range of mandolines and slicers including the Revolution mandoline, which features a double-sided blade. One serrated side creates waffle cuts and another micro-serrated side cuts fruits and vegetables.
“Because of its versatility, this product facilitates the consistent and fast slicing of food needed to prepare dishes. Its ease of use will save precious time, which is a prime advantage for chefs and their team when preparing food,” feels Sherlock.
Furthermore, this year de Buyer upgraded its Swing mandoline, launching a Swing Plus version with the same double-sided blade as the Revolution models and a new thickness adjustment system.
Over at Pantheon Catering Equipment, sales director David Barton cautioned: “Dealers need to be in touch with what their customers need and can afford. Identifying the right kit for each application is what makes a good dealer. From the manufacturer’s perspective, this means taking time to make sure dealers have all the information, training and support they need so they can specify confidently.
“Food preparation equipment is selling well these days, especially to customers that might have previously bought in pre-prepared foods. Budgetary pressures together with an increased focus on preparing food on site have undoubtedly increased sales – especially mixers and vegetable preparation machines.”
He concluded: “Dealers should pay attention to ease of use of this type of equipment. In many cases, the end user may not be a qualified chef and may not be comfortable operating equipment with complex controls. Pantheon’s equipment has primarily manual controls meaning that no special training is needed to operate it.”
The supplier recently introduced industry-specific blade packs for it vegetable preparation machines to simplify the process of choosing and to ensure that customers don’t waste money on unnecessary blades.
Barton reported: “We’re currently working closely with three key distributors who, between them, have direct access to all our key markets. From this information we will make some decisions on possible modifications to our food preparation equipment range and maybe consider some new additions.”