There has been no shortage of cooking suite launches from catering equipment manufacturers over the past year, but Ali Group brand Ambach is confident that its new CHEF 850 series brings something significantly different to the table.
The manufacturer, which employs 80 people and has a turnover of €15m (£12m), builds a mixture of bespoke and modular systems at its factory in Kaltern, northern Italy, and both methods of production have been drawn upon to develop the CHEF 850 series.
Ambach’s managing director, Maurizio Vianello, says a mixture of craftsmanship and industrial design is at the core of what the company is all about. “The new 850 series allows us to go and cover a fragment of the market that wasn’t covered before,” he explains. “Like everything in life, kitchen equipment evolves according to the needs of the chefs, the owners and the operators. Our aim is to provide the answers to that feedback.”
In a nutshell, the feedback that Vianello refers to has inspired the company to develop a range that contains all the hallmarks of its flagship 900 series, but with a level of flexibility and quality that bridges both the modular and bespoke worlds. And while details weren’t available at the time of going to press, it claims the range will be priced in a way that will make it accessible to more sales partners than Ambach systems have perhaps been in the past.
One of the most significant features of the 850 series, certainly in terms of illustrating its adaptability, is a unique patent-pending joining system that allows individual appliances to be moved in and out of the range in a matter of seconds. When in place, the units lock together in such a way that they form what the company claims is a perfect field joint.
Not only does this mechanism give operators the flexibility to change items of equipment around, particularly if a new chef comes into the operation, it solves some of the issues that arise from separate appliances being placed next to one another in a cook line, such as the build-up of dirt between gaps and the possibility of jagged edges.
“It kills two birds with one stone,” insists Vianello. “The perfect alignment means it is like having a one piece top and the hygienic characteristics that go with that, but at the same time having a modular cooking suite which is flexible and can accommodate any change in needs. There is no possibility of water going into a fryer or dirt penetrating the inside of the technology, yet it meets all the needs of modularity and accessibility. The system is effective and sturdy, and gives you the flexibility that a normal hygienic top doesn’t offer.”
The use of precision-drilled sections to strengthen the structure and facilitate airflow is another notable design feature, while thermoblocks are individually screwed to the pan’s bottom for easy replacement. More to the point, if one block malfunctions it won‘t affect the others.
Additionally, Ambach has designed the electrical and service points into the front of the appliances, so that they can be easily accessed by engineers.
“The whole concept was to bring the best solutions that we have been developing over the last decade from working with consultants on top projects into an 850 design,” says Vianello. “850 will be our entry-level product, but we wanted it to have the best features.”
As well as reinvigorating the company’s product offering, Ambach expects the 850 series to help it beat a path to the door of more distributors. Traditionally, a significant portion of Ambach’s business has come from consultant specification and while the 850 will help augment the relationship with that particular community, it should also expose it to a broader audience of dealers.
“This has been specifically designed, built and tailored towards the dealers’ needs,” says John Braithwaite, Ali Group’s director of business and brand development director, who is running Ambach UK at the moment.
“In terms of its construction, it still holds a lot of the key values of the System 900, which has been a default product in the UK and around the world for many years. But it has some specific specialised manufacture that helps bring it into more of a dealer sector in terms of its pricing.”
Indeed, while the official launch takes place this month, the first ever 850 series is already being put in place at a UK site. Ambach has been working with partner HK to install the maiden unit at the new Park Inn hotel in Glasgow.
Given the investment that has gone into developing the range, Ambach will be hoping the installation is the first of many during the coming months.
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Key design features of CHEF850 range
The CHEF 850’s patented joining system enables units to form a perfect alignment, guaranteeing seamless co-ordination throughout the cook line.
The joining system also means the cook line can be easily altered, ensuring space optimisation and facilitating any changes to kitchen production.
Sections are precision-drilled to both lighten and strengthen the structure.
Unique block design
Thermoblock elements are individually attached to the aluminium block
for ease of replacement.
Electric plate option
The CHEF 850’s large electric plate has been designed to provide a spacious working surface with clean, seamless lines.
The overall design of the range is characterised by its profile that features a round-edged and full-sealed ‘drip nose’.
Sealed burners prevent any water or food residue entering the cavity, guaranteeing operational safety, total hygiene and easy cleaning.
Visible throughout the unit, including the splashback back panel, the rounded edges provide the highest levels of cleanliness.
Ambach reiterates UK position
Having experienced a number of changes to its personnel and operations in recent times, Ambach found itself at the centre of speculation over the future of its UK operation last year. The company, however, stresses that it remains “100% committed” to the UK market, pointing out that the launch of the new CHEF 850 series caps an industrious 12-month period in which it has also strengthened its local service and support network.
First Choice was appointed as Ambach’s official spare parts supplier for the UK market last year, while a trio of services firms are now in place to provide after-sales support.
“We have three service partners in the UK now,” says John Braithwaite, director of business and brand development at Ali Group. “McFarlane Telfer looks after postcodes in the south, there is Newco for the Midlands and across, and Bio-Force for postal codes in the north. We didn’t just want to jump in and sign up anybody. We wanted to analyse and look at the service partners in the market and see what would be best for us and best for our customers.”
The one thing that Ambach doesn’t have at the moment is a permanent general manager. Braithwaite has been the gatekeeper for Ambach in the UK since Martin Allen left the company after a short spell in charge last year.
Braithwaite acknowledges that the company needs a figurehead but says that he will remain in charge for the foreseeable future. “If the appropriate candidate comes along then we will try and secure that candidate. But Ambach [GM position] is a very intense role because the UK market is a very key market, not only for its UK sales but its broader range of sales. A huge amount of specification comes out of the UK from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, so it is a very important market for us.”
Despite the personnel situation, Braithwaite says the strength and longevity of the brand remains the most important factor, noting that the technical, administration and quotation support that comes from Ambach’s HQ remains the same as ever.
“What we haven’t lost is any momentum,” insists Braithwaite. “It hasn’t stopped the process of the 850, it hasn’t stopped the prices and the selling tools, it hasn’t stopped the thought process of how we are going to bring it into the UK market. The only thing that has changed is that I am the person that is driving it now. And if tomorrow the appropriate person comes along, the baton will be handed over.”