Catering Insight is celebrating its 100th issue with a run-down of 100 UK catering equipment industry greats, comprising people, projects, equipment and business developments.
Today we take an in-depth look at the third tranche of equipment: Panasonic’s inverter microwave, Rational VarioCookingCenter, Hobart Two-Level Washer, Clifton’s water baths and Regale’s Microsave cavity liner.
Panasonic NE-1878 microwave inverter technology
Panasonic UK first introduced the inverter to professional microwaves in 2018 in its NE-1878 model. Traditional microwaves send out a single level of power in small bursts to cook food at different speeds, whereas a microwave using inverter technology will deliver an accurate power level for the entire duration of the cooking time chosen. This enables faster, more even, gentler cooking, is also better for defrosting, and uses less energy, with a 6% decrease in power consumption.
The NE-1878 was also the world’s first microwave with full metal door. This is particularly useful for being more aesthetically pleasing in open kitchens, and simplifies the cleaning regime. Other cutting edge features are the inclusion of a second ceiling plate so that the microwave can still be operational through its cleaning cycle, plus the switch that will not enable the oven to be used when the ceiling plate isn’t in position.
Frima/Rational VarioCookingCenter multifunctional cooker
The VarioCookingCenter was developed in the early 2000s by Frima which then merged with Rational, who has continued to invest in its revolutionary potential. The hi-tech cooking appliance can do the jobs of a griddle, bratt pan, sous vide bath, pressure cooker, tilting pan, large pan, confit cooker, plancha, boiling kettle, solid top and deep fat fryer – invaluable as kitchens get smaller.
The multifunctional cooking platform offers a highly energy efficient system that makes huge savings compared to those traditional appliances. Its precision, in terms of its temperature control, helps deliver outstanding cooking results. And, as the skills shortage bites ever deeper, its intelligent, automated controls are easy to use and allow even unskilled staff to deliver perfect cooking results.
The faster cooking times and savings in running costs came via a feature called VarioBoost. This can cook food 50% faster than conventional cooking.
Hobart Two-Level warewasher
Hobart’s recently-launched Two-Level Washer stands alone in a completely new category. With space at a premium in modern kitchens, the innovative machine builds up not out, by way of two stacked wash chambers. At peak times a utensil wash programme can take care of heavily soiled pots, pans and cutlery in the lower compartment, while up to three racks of dishes can be washed on a separate programme in the upper level.
Some 4 years in research and development, the Two-Level Washer demonstrates Hobart’s innovation prowess in action. The warewasher doubles the capacity and productivity of a conventional hood-type machine without also doubling its footprint.
The utensil wash programme also eliminates the requirement for manual pre-treatment of heavily soiled ware in a separate sink. The machine’s Genius-X Fine Filter System cleans soiled water in three steps, reducing detergent consumption.
Clifton Food Range sous vide water baths
Although sous vide cooking had been used by forward-thinking chefs since the 1970s, the idea of vacuum packed submerged heating didn’t really take hold in the UK hospitality industry until relatively recently.
Bristol-based Nickel Electro had manufactured its precision range heated water baths for scientific applications. However, when the company realised that Michelin-starred chefs were starting to use its Clifton Science products for sous vide cooking, in 2005 the Clifton Food Range water bath was born.
This far more robust range was designed specifically for continuous use in the professional kitchen with such features as timers, side lifting handles and wide bore drain taps to clear down quickly after service. Since then, the manufacturer has developed its technology to continue to offer specific temperature accuracy in order to produce consistent results and improve food yield.
Regale Microsave cavity liner
The early 2000s saw microwave engineer specialists Pat Bray and Barry Clark invent a solution to prevent microwave breakdowns due to the lack of correct cleaning procedures at foodservice sites. The pair felt that the resulting specially engineered rigid re-useable microwave liner represented a quick and easy method of maintaining hygiene standards.
Microwave-, food- and warewasher-safe, the Microsave cavity liner provides total protection for the cavity, the roof, sides, back and base of a commercial microwave oven, saving not only hundreds of pounds in repair costs, but also valuable time in keeping the oven clean.
Constructed of TPX polymethylpentene transparent polymer, the patented liner has a unique base design, which enhances the airflow circulation under the product being cooked or reheated. Less than 50% of the bottom of the cooking dish is on the base of the liner at any time.