It is advantageous for dealers to be able to offer operators a full range of food preparation equipment, so that they can have the widest choice possible and their needs are catered for, no matter the size of the foodservice site. So are suppliers producing scalable series capable of slicing and dicing to appropriate duty requirements across the board?
One manufacturer which believes it has a vast range is Sammic. Operations manager Adam Krause said: “From mixers, blenders, veg prep and processors to salad spinners, mincers and slicers, Sammic is truly a one stop shop for kitchen preparation requirements. We have over 50 different accessories to fit our CA-CK range of prep units, plus more combinations available when achieving the perfect chip or dice. We are also conscious of a customer’s budget and we create lines to suit accordingly.”
The firm has seen a growth in demand for combination machines, in light of the fact that end users are asking for more from their equipment and are conscious of space in busy kitchens. Krause detailed: “Sammic has listened to the market needs and adapted and added models in our combi-range, and will continue to develop with more additions due in the coming years.
“We have recently upgraded our CK/KE ranges of prep/processors to include brushless motors. This includes many benefits, not least it will improve their performance as it avoids friction, hugely improving its torque. Other benefits will include the unit’s weight, which is now lighter to improve portability and, in some cases, smaller for space saving.
“Sammic has continued its policy of offering a 2-year manufacturing warranty on our prep to back up our confidence in the whole preparation range’s reliability.”
Krause reported that clients are becoming more demanding, and so the manufacturer’s team has developed products with many accessory permutations. “We have not just concentrated on the product itself, we have also recognised the needs to show a unit’s capabilities. We have hundreds of high quality videos to support our ranges, showing the importance they have in a busy professional kitchen,” he said. These are available on both the firm’s YouTube channel and its own website.
Plus its team provides demonstrations in end users’ kitchens as well as being in the process of updating its own showroom with a live test kitchen, which will be ready early this year.
At supplier, Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM), it offers a range of multi-purpose cutters with interchangeable blade sets for increased flexibility, such as the Prince Castle Saber King Mini Chassis. The multi-purpose chassis allows caterers to slice tomatoes, lettuce and onions on the same slicer and as it can cut multiple pieces at the same time, it is said to save the caterers time and labour.
Commercial director Mark Hogan commented: “Multi-purpose equipment is in high demand as kitchens are constantly squeezed for space. Multi-purpose kitchen equipment that can scale, helps caterers save space by enabling them to prep different types of vegetables using one piece of equipment.
“The Saber King Mini slices, dices and wedges making it easy to get perfectly sized and consistently cut produce. It is smaller, lighter, and more compact than larger models of its kind, and ensures caterers can not only improve kitchen safety but prep food faster, increase versatility and maximise space.”
Over at Metcalfe Catering Equipment, MD Neil Richards feels: “When it comes to slicers, Metcalfe has the largest range in the UK. This means that we can supply a slicer for every level of the foodservice market, from a small café up to a full supermarket deli counter or high-volume CPU.
“The same applies when it comes to vegetable preparation machines thanks to the Hallde range, for which Metcalfe has sole UK supply rights. From the RG-50S, which can process 360kg per day, up to the RG-400i which can handle a massive 7.2 tonnes per day, Hallde has the answer.”
Richards revealed that the food prep market is currently seeing a surge in demand for traditional machines such as veg prep machines, slicers, peelers and mixers thanks to the current trend for cooking using fresh ingredients and the growth in vegan and vegetarian cuisine. “With kitchens returning to the basics of preparing fresh food on site it stands to reason that many operators need to invest in new food prep equipment,” he commented.
Multi-functional machines are also proving popular, such as the Hallde CC-34 Combi Cutter, which is both a vegetable preparation machine and vertical cutter. Designed to be compact, the unit slices, dices, shreds, grates, cuts, juliennes, waffles, chops, grinds and blends.
Richards advised: “Dealers need to trust the experience of suppliers who have been in the food prep equipment market for decades, have a proven understanding of the market and offer high levels of equipment quality as well as the service and backup required by the end user/operator. One of the primary roles of our sales executives is to act as a surrogate salesperson for the distributor, essentially acting as a product demonstrator, technical adviser and solution seller.
“As the representative of the manufacturer, our sales team will frequently visit the end user/ operator and engage them in setting specification, building credibility and trust, before introducing the customer back to the distributor.”
Middleby Group company IMC provides what it deems is a wide range of multi-functional food preparation equipment, including chippers and peelers, in different sizes and power options, to meet the requirements of any kitchen.
For example, its VQ3.5 (3.5kg capacity) table-top potato peeler is designed for smaller establishments where throughput or demand is relatively low. At the other end of the scale, it offers the SP25 potato peeler for busy fish and chip restaurants.
Head of sales UK and Ireland, Martin Venus, analysed: “We offer a small and simple, but comprehensive range of food preparation products. We offer two chippers, four peelers (of varying sizes) and a multi-functional peeler, which can be used for a broad range of tasks such as spinning salads and peeling onions, right through to slicing vegetables and washing mussels.”
He further disclosed: “Dealers are demanding the higher capacity equipment that can offer speed and efficiency to help operators save time and money. These would typically be used in busy restaurants where manual peeling and chipping simply isn’t enough to keep up with demand without hours of pre-preparation. Using high-capacity equipment means valuable time and resource can be utilised elsewhere in the kitchen and, in turn, saves on operational costs.
“It is important to understand what each site will be doing during their busiest times and then match the product accordingly. We know that if equipment will cope during peak periods there won’t be any issues during quieter times.”
Supplier, Signature FSE, offers a range of slicers and mandolines made and designed by French manufacturer de Buyer, including the simple vegetable slicer ‘Komi’ to the all-in-one mandoline ‘Revolution’. MD Paula Sherlock detailed: “Each of these food preparation products serves a different purpose based on the user’s requirements.”
She added: “Some dealers are looking for food preparation equipment that is as comprehensive as possible to suit a broader range of customers; in this case, the Access mandoline by de Buyer is the go-to as it is mid-range, versatile (various cuts and slices) and offers good value for money.”
Sherlock advised: “It is important for dealers to understand the context they would recommend a mandoline to their customers. We advise using a mandoline in situations when there is too much cutting or slicing for a knife but there is not enough to justify investing in a slicing machine.
“Once it is determined that their customers do require a mandoline, the next important step is to identify what types of food needs slicing and in what cut. If there is only one item to slice (eg, cucumber), the ‘Komi’ slicer is ideal due to its simplicity while still offering a protective food guard for safety. For slicing tomatoes only (to serve with burgers, for example), de Buyer has developed a tomato slicer, cutting 10 tomato slices at a time in the same regular thickness.”
She further analysed: “However, if the customer wants equipment to slice and cut various types of food (fruit, vegetables with hard or soft skins), a more advanced model is the Access mandoline that allows many cuts from julienne, crinkle, waffle and standard slices. And if the customer needs diamond cuts as well for their menu, the dealer can upgrade to the top of the range ‘Revolution’ mandoline, also nicknamed the ‘all in one’ mandoline because it can slice and cuts in many shapes and sizes.
“To guide dealers, we often share with them a table of the de Buyer equipment showing all the slicing products and the type of cuts they offer to help their customers choosing the right equipment for their kitchen.”
Electrolux Professional is responding to the rise in demand for vacuum packaging in light of the popularity of sous vide cooking. The firm offers a range of vacuum packaging machines, from table-top 8m3/h models through to larger 60m3/h versions. They are all microprocessor controlled with what is said to be an easy-to-use digital display, which allows the user to precisely control the amount of air removed.
Dynamic preparation category manager Bradley Creese emphasised: “The advantage of offering a wide range of food preparation appliances is that customers are assured of continuity, even across different sizes. For products which are tailored to meet a specific need, this can prove invaluable, and the ability to scale up equipment to coincide with increasing levels of trade is something that customers value highly.
“Crucially, Electrolux Professional’s vacuum packers have rounded corners in the pressure chamber, which makes cleaning easy and ensures to supreme levels of hygiene.”
On liaising with dealers, he revealed: “Advising on the correct size of vacuum packaging machine is invariably challenging, because it depends on a number of different factors, including quantity, product, and frequency of use.
“The size of a kitchen can provide a rough guide, but the best way to ensure that the optimum size is specified is to speak with dealers and manufacturers. Electrolux Professional regularly hosts live demonstrations at our Center of Excellence in Luton, inviting existing and potential customers to get hands on with our products. Small units can even be taken to the customer if required, which helps to ensure that the perfect size is chosen for specific applications.”
For dealers who kit out pizza restaurants, LLK’s Economy Dough Mixer could appeal across the sizing range. This mixer is available in four capacities, 20L, 33L, 40L and the 50L – said to be the only one of its kind on the market to run off a 13A plug.
Sales executive Kyle Freeman commented: “Many of our dealers have customers who want to make big batches of dough but do not possess the power in their kitchens required by most heavy duty mixers. Our team worked together with our manufacturers to create the 50L LLK Economy Dough Mixer; a hefty mixer that can amalgamate masses of dough on just a 13A plug. This mixer has successfully met our dealers’ demand for a powerful mixer which end users can simply plug in and go.”
He reported that LLK helps dealers to devise which size of food preparation equipment is the best suited for a project by ascertaining vital information such as the end user’s concept, the number of potential covers, the desired finished product of the dish, the manpower in the kitchen etc.
According to Freeman: “Once we have assimilated this information, we can advise accordingly the size and duty of equipment that best matches the operation’s requirements. For example, if a dealer is working on a project at a large seated restaurant that does not have a lot of power in their kitchen but wants to make traditional pizza dough, we would advise their customer purchase a 40/50L LLK Economy Mixer with a 13A plug.
“Having said this, we always recommend that our dealers bring their customers to our onsite demo kitchen at our offices in Manchester to experience with the own senses why the suggested equipment is right for them.” He concluded: “At LLK, we prefer to offer a wide range of a food preparation appliance types rather than a specialised product series. This is because we want to be able to meet a wider variety of our customers’ needs and a help a more diverse set of audiences, from takeaways to restaurants and everything in between.”