No major kitchen would be complete without a cooking suite to its name, so the decision as to which range to specify is possibly the most important in the design and installation process. But with energy efficiency and operating costs rising up operators’ agendas, are catering equipment dealers aware of the sustainable options for cooking suites, and how can manufacturers and suppliers help them in this regard?
At supplier Jestic Foodservice Equipment, the importer of Ali Group brand Rosinox, national sales manager Richard Norman detailed: “Recognising the continued demand for gas powered cooking, Rosinox has introduced a number of innovative options to help deliver a more sustainable, energy efficient solution for businesses.
“Take the company’s Induct’Flam technology as an example – a pioneering electrical system that is designed to detect a pan or other cooking vessel on an open gas burner. Using a low voltage current, a sensor detects a pan, regardless of its size, and ignites the burner. Once the pan is removed, the sensor initiates a timer which will cut the flame if the pan is not replaced, significantly reducing energy consumption over the life of the suite.”
Rosinox also produces energy efficient induction cookers, with Jestic aiming to steer more specification decisions in this direction. However, Norman noted that a barrier is often the higher purchase price.
He added: “Dealers frequently have a good understanding of horizontal cooking technology, but can lack the specific figures and calculation to generate total life costs and therefore demonstrate savings that can be achieved. As such, eco-friendly technology is regularly one of the first things to be value engineered out of a plan when the client looks to reduce purchasing costs.
“At Jestic, we are aware of the need for more clarity when it comes to average running costs and the way in which we provide this information to the dealer. As such, we are working closely with Rosinox and our other manufacturers to create easy to interpret costings that take into account the purchase price and the expected running costs.”
Looking ahead, he revealed that Rosinox is working on further efficiency technologies such as fast heating, multi-zone plancha griddles. Designed to be incorporated into a bespoke cooking suite, the plancha will heat to 250°C in 3 minutes, while the multi-zone design allows the operator to just use individual zones, either at different temperatures or independently.
Supplier Grande Cuisine provides another Ali Group brand to the UK market: Mareno. According to Grande Cuisine’s director, Steve Hobbs: “Mareno are constantly innovating and improving when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, the ICHEF fully touch-controlled range has no mechanical buttons or knobs. ICHEF appliances come with Mareno’s exclusive Control Cooking System that allows the chef to control all connected appliances from any single unit, making their job easier whilst saving energy.”
The supplier represents French brand Athanor too, with Hobbs revealing: “The ‘Plaque’ system in our Athanor bespoke ranges results in fewer appliances being required overall. Where a traditional bespoke range would have a plancha or griddle, a solid top, and maybe some gas burners; our philosophy is that one multifunctional plaque and either a radiant or induction hob can easily accommodate the same level of demand. And fewer appliances means less energy being used overall.”
In terms of whether eco-friendliness is taken into account enough in the specification process, Hobbs reported: “I can’t see operators demanding eco-friendly products until we reach a point where they are taxed/penalised based on the amount of energy they use per site. I’m sure that at some point in the future the government will insist that operators are only allowed a certain level of power usage based on the number of guests they serve. If they go over this level they will be taxed and if they come in under they will be given tax breaks.
“But promoting eco-friendly and energy efficient products should not be the sole responsibility of the dealer. With product prices being more competitive than ever we find it’s all about the education we can give to the dealers about our products, the ‘whole-life’ cost of the equipment and the operational advantages that we can offer.”
Manufacturer, Charvet, states it has a clear focus on energy efficiency. UK sales director Ian Clow commented: “Whether it is induction, gas or electric ranges, we give our users the raw power they need to get their job done.
“Whilst induction offers some great energy savings, gas is sometimes the only viable option for certain operators and this is where Charvet has the history of using build quality and components which give the maximum efficiency.”
Clow underlined: “Potential buyers can be misled if they use high kW ratings to judge the power of a gas cooking suite. A high-power output ie, 9kW for a burner, does not necessarily equate to ‘high heat’ output. From the selling points used to promote induction, some of the heat from gas cooking escapes outwards on solid tops, or up and over the saucepan on gas hobs and is wasted.
“Unlike many of the other manufacturers, Charvet uses refractory cement shielding to insulate and focus the flame, concentrating the heat where it is needed. Some of the cooking power is still wasted, but much less than burners without refractory cement. The cement can withstand high temperatures and prevents the escape of heat, ‘focusing’ or directing the burner output onto the hotplate above and thus minimising energy leakage.”
He continued: “Distributors like to use Charvet induction suites, but sometimes do not have enough three-phase power on site to operate them. Charvet’s open burner pan detector uses the same principle as induction by switching on and off automatically when a pan is put on or off the burner.
“Buyers need to understand that creating energy efficiency involves good design and extra cost in terms of materials. This does mean higher capital cost in the short-term, but more economy – or sustainability – over the longer term.”
Over at supplier Exclusive Ranges, founder Trevor Burke feels: “Performance, efficiency and value across whole life remain the most important factors when choosing cooking suites. One of the biggest investments in the kitchen, operators are looking for reliable equipment that is built to last, efficient to run, and easy to clean and maintain.
“Induction technology is increasingly adopted in operations of all size, partly for its energy efficiency. The move away from traditional fuels will also benefit operators as it can reduce running costs and lessen environmental impact.”
Reporting that specialist performance equipment is increasingly being incorporated into suites, such as Robata grills, he said: “As well as maximising space in the kitchen, it allows operators to optimise the kitchen flow and, in the case of display and demonstration kitchens, keep clean lines and an uncluttered design.”
“While traditionally operators have been price-driven, there is a shift towards investing in higher quality equipment that lasts, achieving greater value across the product’s life. For example, induction hobs by Menu System, a brand exclusively supplied by Exclusive Ranges, use 95% of the total energy input to directly cook the food, minimising energy waste.”
One of the latest developments in Menu System induction cookers is multi-mode controller technology. This is designed to measure the temperature of food to +/- 1ºC, ensuring food is kept warm efficiently at a chosen temperature to deliver consistently cooked dishes that can be served at the optimum temperature when required.
Elsewhere, Falcon Foodservice Equipment development chef Shaune Hall advised: “The selection process of equipment must be based on getting the best and most versatile performance out of each unit. Most devices installed should be used to perform a vast range of cookery methods.
“Using a brand from a reputable manufacturer, imploring the latest technology, will allow access to a more energy efficiency rated unit of equipment. The consideration of moving to energy on demand units, such as electric induction and sensor activated units, plays a vital role in the drive to save operational costs and aspiration of a more greener and energy efficient operation.”
Hall believes that key sustainability drivers in designing suites are obtaining optimal and efficient usage, robust quality, and serviceability and maintenance of the units within the suite or modular design. “Bespoke units should also be installed always bearing in mind the kitchen flow of operation, service and kitchen hygiene, health and safety. A factor often overlooked is the need for plumbing, which can definitely add benefit to the suite, but add to further requirements.”
While he acknowledges that dealers do take eco-friendliness into consideration when specifying cooking suites, he added: “However, there is a perception that more can be done. Globally, there is a big drive towards using renewable energy.
“Although at this stage there are still debates between whether gas or electricity is the best, most energy efficient and cost effective way forward, reality dictates. It is important that all the options and costs are explained to the client and end user alike.”
Tunbridge Wells-based rexmartins says energy efficiency is a strong focus for the company, with commercial director Nick McDonald revealing: “We offer dealers the opportunity to put together energy efficient cooking suites with all components powered by induction.
“The company’s portfolio includes 95 induction appliances. These are of a uniform modular design and so can be formed into complete cooking suites. As well as the customary induction hobs, rexmartins supplies induction-powered fryers, griddles, bratt pans, tilting kettles, pasta cookers and steamers.
“In addition to the energy efficiency of the cooking modules themselves, an all-induction suite reduces the load on ventilation and extraction systems and so delivers further energy benefits to the customer – and a more comfortable working environment in the kitchen.”
Furthermore, the company can create bespoke cooking suites for customers, with all cooking modules powered by induction.
McDonald concluded: “Energy efficiency is certainly becoming a more important driver and dealers are now specifying induction hobs more frequently. The availability of other induction-powered cooking equipment, such as fryers and griddles, is less well known, although this is beginning to change.
“Until now, an energy-efficient kitchen might include induction hobs and combination ovens. This meant that the combi needed to replicate other cooking methods such as frying and griddling. This involved a level of compromise in that the final result, whist quite good, was never quite the same as delivered by the traditional cooking method. With induction fryers and griddles, the chef has the best of both worlds: authentic cooking methods from energy efficient equipment.”
At Electrolux, training and demonstration manager Stuart Flint described: “Energy efficiency is deep-rooted within our cooking suites range – even the factory in which our thermaline range is manufactured utilises an innovative geothermal heat exchange system to ensure no fossil fuels are used to heat or cool the site.
“Given that a suite can incorporate any number of differing applications, from cooking ranges and ovens, through to warming drawers and refrigerated cabinets, as well as fryers and bain maries, they can be incredibly energy-intensive.
“Across both Electrolux Professional’s thermaline and XP range of bespoke and modular cooking suites, we ensure every efficiency touch point is given due care and attention. Moreover, many of the Electrolux Professional appliances that can be integrated into our cooking suites feature a stand-by mode. This ensures the application does not consume excess energy by being ‘always-on’, but also that it can quickly return to temperature when needed so as not to impact the speed of a service.”
Flint advised dealers: “When it comes to creating a sustainable bespoke or modular cooking suite, you should aim to work backwards from the end-product: the menu. Not only is it important to have a clear understanding of what type of food the suite will be used to cook, but also the number of services a day it will be in operation for, along with the kitchen’s method of power supply.
“If the kitchen will be powered by electricity, the use of an induction hob can reduce energy consumption by up to 90% in some cases, as the power cuts off as soon as the pan breaks contact with the cooking surface. Induction also has the added bonus of improving working conditions due to the reduced volume of heat created.”
He concluded: “Given the cost-competitive nature of the foodservice equipment industry, it is hard to escape the fact that price is more often than not the key decision-maker for end users. However, it is important to view cost as a lifetime figure, as focusing too much on the initial purchase price can prove to be a false economy.”
Synergy Grill recently announced a partnership with prime cooking manufacturer, Lincat, the first time the British company has allowed its grill technology to be used by another firm.
Chris Jones, MD of Lincat explained: “Synergy Grills bring massive benefits to the operator with significant gas savings, higher flavour and moisture retention that delivers more succulent food, and one of the easiest cleaning regimes in the industry. The grill has become, for many, an essential part of quality food delivery and therefore Lincat is delighted to be able to offer Synergy Grill technology within our Opus 800 Series. We look forward to working with the Synergy team on numerous projects in the coming years, especially those which demand precise menu formatting to optimise the customer experience.”
In terms of energy efficiency, Synergy Grill’s commercial and marketing director Richard Ebbs said: “The Synergy Grill technology is built around energy efficiency and customers who aspire to a suited look and feel within the kitchen, can now upgrade to patented burner technology that uses 59% less gas (as per BSI testing), than comparable gas grills. In addition, the heat capturing ceramics ensure that the gas that is used is directed in the most effective way possible.”
For specification, he added: “If the customer is specific about looking at ways to maximise energy efficiency and reduce energy costs, then the dealer will absolutely take this into consideration when specifying the cooking suite. However, if the customer is more focused on purchase costs, then ultimately it can be difficult for the dealer to specify a more energy efficient solution, even if the medium or long term costs will be significantly reduced if the customer had opted for a more energy efficient piece of equipment.”