Static hot holding units are still very much the choice for many hospitality venues, enabling faster service to diners. One appliance recently causing a stir was Unox’s Evereo ‘hot refrigerator’ cabinet. This uses patented technology designed to maintain food safely at the temperature at which it is served and eaten, and above the danger zone for bacterial growth for days or weeks.
Unox UK MD Gary Nunn explained: “Food can be cooked and held without the traditional, energy-intensive process of blast chilling, cold storage and regeneration, which not only saves energy, but also removes the guesswork to help reduce food waste.”
Available in five different sizes, each model is mounted on wheels and requires a 13A, three-pin plug supply. This should mean that they can be used to transport and hold food items for extended periods.
Nunn further teased: “We’re building on the pre-Covid success of Evereo to provide end users with the answer to some of their challenges, pushing the boundaries of how far hot holding can extend and therefore what benefits it can deliver.
“We are even extending the Exever Service Temperature Food Preserving patented technology developed for Evereo into other new products too. Unox, through our sister company, has developed a new hot/cold drop box system, which enables caterers to offer a ‘click and collect’ service for hot and cold food. This is something that we believe will become increasingly important as caterers get to grips with the ‘new normal’.”
Another recent launch is Alto-Shaam’s Drawer Warmer with individual controls. These are compact units that can be built into cabinets or mounted on castors to allow kitchens with limited space to make use of hot holding. With variants of one, two or three drawer models, it is also available in standard and narrow widths, which could offer more possibilities for smaller locations.
The brand is imported to the UK by Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM), which has also lately seen an uptick in orders of the Cambro range of insulated food delivery bags and boxes, due to the shift towards delivery and takeaway during the coronavirus pandemic.
Elsewhere, the freshest launch of all is the Flexeserve Hub cabinet, which is just entering the market this month. Warwick Wakefield, customer experience director of Nuttall’s brand, Flexeserve, revealed: “Flexeserve Hub uses our patented technology, creating a consistent air temperature throughout the unit. It’s designed specifically to hot-hold packaged food products in large batches, either front of house – for consumer self-service, or back of house as a bulk holding or click and collect unit.”
Available in both Model 600 single-door and Model 1000 double-door, Flexeserve Hub can be stocked with products ready for delivery or collection. Wakefield further detailed: “For example, it’s ideal for pizzas – stack with the most popular lines, ready-to-go for express service – minimising labour costs. It also delivers excellent flexibility, with a dedicated range of accessories that allow you to stock it to high capacity – mains, sides or hot desserts.”
The cabinet has been designed to be flexible in its location, and is said to be able to be sited back of house within a traditional kitchen environment, front of house within a dedicated food-to-go destination – or within ghost kitchens, supporting the growing demand for click and collect or food delivery.
Wakefield analysed: “We absolutely believe that the hunger for takeaway and delivery services will continue to grow. That doesn’t mean to say that dining out will disappear, but the convenience of takeaway and delivery will probably change some people’s eating habits.
“We can see the future opportunities that hot-holding will create, for example, leading to unmanned Micro Markets – where people can self-serve and pay for food-to-go. These already exist to a certain extent, but they can now evolve to include hot food via the Flexeserve Hub.”
Over at Retigo, it has launched the new Holdomat 311, featuring a clear OLED display. Chefs can put food in the Holdomat and keep it there until they need to serve, maintaining food temperature and quality, as well as saving time. As the unit is small, it is designed to be able to be relocated when required.
Export manager Aneta Halamickova reported: “We have experienced a demand for this equipment due to the increasing trend of takeaway and food deliveries during the past few months. Of course, Covid-19 has influenced this heavily because restaurants have had to react as fast as possible to stay afloat. Many restaurants switched from normal service to takeaway to keep their employees and keep some profit.
“As we speak with end users, we know of many restaurants that did not offer any takeaway service before Covid-19. They had to transform very quickly and started asking for Holdomats to keep up with this demand. Many restaurants would normally close during an event such as Covid-19, but because they reacted to the situation, bought a Holdomat product and transformed from normal serving to takeaway, they survived and kept their staff.”