Distributors and end users of catering equipment might be forgiven for thinking they have been transported into ‘Alice in Wonderland’, the way things are going in kitchen design right now.
Chefs have not in fact gobbled up the ‘Eat Me’ cakes to become giants; instead it is the kitchens which have shrunk around them. As operators want to minimise overheads and maximise revenue, space is at a premium and kitchen areas have been sliced and diced.
Storage space is particularly at the mercy of this march towards compactness, so it is left to manufacturers and fabricators to find ingenious solutions to this problem.
One fabricator facing this challenge on a daily basis is Derby-based Parry. Its product portfolio includes wall shelves, microwave shelves, gastronorm tray trolleys, stainless steel drawer units, wall cupboards and storage racks.
Samantha Starling, group marketing co-ordinator detailed: “As a UK manufacturer with our own design team we are in the enviable position of being able to fabricate tabling, shelving and storage cupboards to whatever size or shape a dealer or end user may require. Furthermore we are able to produce such items in as little as 10 working days. As kitchens continue to get smaller and smaller we are getting more and more requests for this type of work to the point where we are now producing them on an almost daily basis.”
Furthermore she feels that the shrinking kitchen phenomenon means that demand for made to measure products is increasing. “One of the other side effects of this is that dealers are being forced to make use of every square inch of available space in a building. This often means installing storage or shelving in areas which they might previously have deemed as unworkable.
“In many cases this can mean siting storage in rooms that have walls that are neither square, nor indeed flat, and floors that are uneven, making a bespoke solution the only viable option.”
Starling believes that closely linked to the trend for bespoke shelving and storage is a demand for versatile, multi-purpose products. “Again, driven by the shrinking kitchen space many dealers are looking for mobile storage solutions that are able to fulfil a variety of functions in the kitchen. The mobility of these units generally makes them easier to clean too, which is another important advantage.” [[page-break]]
Brian Lavelle, Cambro’s UK and Ireland accounts manager, agrees with the ‘shrinking kitchen’ view: “Restaurateurs and foodservice providers are increasingly dedicating more space to the profit-generating front of house and reducing space out back. Combined with the trend for pop-up restaurants and stylish food trucks, the foodservice industry can expect to see commercial equipment getting smaller and smarter in order to meet this challenge.”
He cited the firm’s Camshelving system as an available solution. This is ergonomically designed with adjustable shelf heights and mobile units which can increase storage capacity by up to 40%. “By installing a floor track system, we can eliminate the need for aisles whilst effectively utilising the available space and providing safe and easy access to stored products,” he said.
This year the manufacturer added a wider range of lengths to its Camshelving Basics range, which is supplied in the UK through Foodservice Equipment Marketing. The new additions are intended to increase flexibility and maximise the use of available space through create bespoke storage options. Spacing between shelves can also be adjusted, allowing for stock to be stored as required.
The Basics range comes in two width options, 460mm and 610mm. With the introduction of the new units, each now has five different available length options: 910, 1,070, 1,220, 1,380, and 1,530mm. The shelves are also vented, which helps to maximise the lifespan of perishable goods by providing a constant air flow around them.
Food safety is also at the forefront of Cambro’s technological developments. The Camshelving contains Camguard antimicrobial shelf plates – a silver-ion technology that is infused into the shelf plate material to inhibit the growth of mould, fungus and bacteria. As it is embedded, it should never wash off, scrape off or wear out.
There is also no welding or exposed metal in this shelving and it is designed to be resistant to scratching, peeling, warping, rust and corrosion. The firm even offers customers a lifetime warranty against rust and corrosion.
The firm has also introduced an assortment of Allergen Free Camwear polycarbonate food storage containers and seal lids. These are said to be virtually unbreakable and will not crack or dent, in addition to withstanding temperatures between -40°C to 70°C. They facilitate a HACCP friendly and allergen awareness storage system which is claimed to reduce the need for over handling, and allow easy access and content identification with secure-fit lids to ensure freshness.
Cambro has recently been working with several leading high-street restaurant chains to improve their shelving and storage facilities in the UK. Lavelle commented: “By providing a free on-site consultation, I was able to assess their current storage space, identify areas for improvement and recommend the right solutions for their business. We were able to make a huge difference throughout the kitchen, improving their health and safety practices whilst utilising space and improving efficiency.”
Another current offering is Pland Stainless’ Murray, a nylon coated or stainless steel finish four-tiered wired shelving unit. It comes in sizes including 600, 800, 900, 1,000, 1,100, 1,200, 1,300, 1,500 and 1,800mm wide and 300, 400, 500 and 600mm deep.
The shelves are designed to be adjusted to any height and allow for the use of shelf hooks. They can be removed for additional space and washed through most standard catering dishwashers.
Pland also offers Santenay, a two and three tiered wheeled catering trolley and Hermitage single or double clearing trollies