Paula Sherlock, MD of Signature FSE, advocates that food theatre can be moveable and available throughout a hospitality venue as a complete set-up:
Businesses change because of external conditions and the recent pandemic has demonstrated this in new social, technological and economic ways that our hospitality customers have had to rapidly react to. Technology that was already being developed sped up to offer new solutions for delivery, payment, and communications to immediately meet behavioural changes, and some of these will stick for the long-term.
As we enter the hospitality reopening phase, dealers can assist with flexible equipment which can either be multifunctional, moveable or indeed invisible. Whilst there is nothing new about induction technology, it is now widely used in kitchens for its power efficiency and flexibility. The same can be true for front-of-house live cooking and buffet, where induction technology now brings the same benefits.
In areas like the Middle East and Far East, live cooking has long been included as standard in foodservice designs and in a comprehensive way to include different cooking methods. Surely now is the time to offer operators even more flexibility whilst barriers to change are reduced, because they know they need to adapt or die? Why should live cooking be confined to an open/theatre kitchen or servery, when equipment now allows for this to be moveable and used throughout a venue as a complete set-up including extraction?
Hotels must meet varying customers’ demands and change room settings in a short timeframe; contract caterers must keep their offer fresh to keep customers dining in, and events venues need the flexibility to quickly scale up or down based upon numbers. All those settings would benefit from offering their guests a live cooking offer, for which they can generate a return on investment, in-part because of the enhanced guest-to-chef interactive experience. What better way to satisfy people’s increased hygiene concerns than for them to see the cooking process for themselves? We often hear the phrase that ‘people eat with their eyes’ but live cooking goes further to engage all the senses.
Similarly, whilst buffets have always provided a flexible way of catering for large guest numbers, the use of induction technology for keeping food warm not only provides a more precise temperature control, but it can also now be used as a decentralised solution for flexibility and comfort as it helps to avoid queues at a central counter. Smaller mobile self-service stations can be used in other areas of a venue or on terraces, bringing the food to guests rather than the other way around reduces customer traffic. Invisible undercounter induction provides an aesthetically pleasing foodservice solution and means the same area can be used throughout the day, saving valuable space.
In our experience of working with the export teams from our European brands and in the UK foodservice equipment sector, operators require this level of flexible equipment especially where they want to offer a variety of cuisines. We would urge dealers not to shy away from specifying it to give their customers new solutions.