Category Archives: Culinary

OIL’S SWEET SPOT: How to Get There and Maintain It

Like many in the world of foodservice, you may assume that cooking oil performance is at its peak when you first start using it — but did you know there is actually a “sweet spot” closer to the middle of oil life?

It’s during this time that food taste is at its best. While customers may not know oil is to blame, they do notice when food tastes undercooked or burnt — despite consistent cooking temperatures and timing.

The good news for operators is that, with the right tools and processes, it’s relatively easy to extend this sweet spot, resulting in prolonged oil life that delivers consistently better food quality while significantly lowering oil costs.

Understanding the enemies of oil

The sweet spot itself is somewhat a moving target. Rather than being defined as a specific number of hours or days, it all depends on how well you counteract some of the most common enemies of oil life and performance.

There are five main enemies that endanger oil life on a regular basis: Heat, Air, Moisture, Salt, and Soap (easy to remember with the acronym HAMSS). Check out this blog to learn all about the five enemies of oil and how to avoid them.

Maintaining Oil Quality

Now that we’ve identified the main culprits behind oil breakdown, it’s time to focus on the best way to prolong oil life — namely, maintaining proper oil quality.

Tip #1: Frequent Filtration

It’s hard to overstate the importance of frequent filtration — and not just to remove large, visible chunks of food debris. Even down at the microscopic level, leftover food particles can react with oil and break it down. How often should you be filtering? It’s different for everyone. With the Filter Frequency Interactive Worksheet, you can calculate the ideal filtration frequency for your operation in minutes.

Tip #2: Oil Top-Off

Oil top-off is also critical, ensuring your fryer is operating at the proper oil level while infusing fresh oil into the cooking mix. This continuous mixing also allows the oil to be “broken in” much faster than with complete refills, further extending the coveted sweet spot. With Oil Guardian™ automatic oil top-off, our Evolution Elite open fryer helps high-volume operators maintain the right balance and get the most out of their oil.

Tip #3: A Well-Trained Staff

Even with a lineup of powerful, innovative features at your disposal, it’s important to make sure your kitchen staff understands the proper procedures for monitoring and controlling oil performance. A knowledgeable team is one of the best ways to ensure your cooking oil is properly used and maintained. And with the Evolution Elite’s iControl™ oil management system, it’s easy for operators to track proper filtrations and help keep staff on top of necessary actions.

Knowing When You’ve Hit the Oil Sweet Spot

You’re likely wondering how to know if you’re cooking in the sweet spot and if you’re successful in extending it.

From sight/smell observations to test strips and more scientific methods, there are various options for measuring oil quality, each with its own set of pros and cons due to reliability, consistency and the ability to operationalize.

Your choice of measurement will guide you in the oil quality results to look for, but what’s most important in hitting and prolonging the sweet spot is properly maintaining your oil through frequent filtration and consistent oil top off. At the end of the day, if you take care of your oil, you are virtually guaranteed to produce better-tasting food as well as save money.

 

Want to take your oil management game to the next level? We’ve got some fantastic oil savings resources available to download for free, including the Ultimate Guide to Extending Oil Life E-book.

 

The Low Oil Volume Frying FAQ You’ve Been Looking For

Hanging on to that old fryer may seem like the frugal decision for your business, but is it? Have you really considered the impact that an aging, inefficient high oil volume fryer has on your bottom line? For operators still on the fence about making the switch to a low oil volume fryer, there’s plenty to consider regarding the ROI that can be realized by updating your equipment.

Here are some frequently asked questions from operators considering low oil volume fryers:

  • How much money could I be saving on oil?
    The standard fryer holds anywhere between 50-65 pounds of oil. Low oil volume fryers are designed to have a 40 percent lower oil capacity (just 30lbs), yet still manage to cook the same amount of food. The higher the volume, the better the savings.  This adds up to an annual savings of $3000-$5000 on oil costs. We’ve got a free spreadsheet template you can download to calculate oil savings for your business.
  • How long could my oil last?
    Using less oil is great. Making your oil last longer is even better. This means less dumps per year, which means less maintenance for your kitchen staff and more time frying. The efficiency of a low oil volume fryer can result in oil life of up to 21 days — three times longer than the industry average.
  • Could the consistency and quality of my food be affected?
    As we’ve mentioned, making the switch to a low oil volume fryer translates to longer oil life due to maintained oil quality. Beyond cost savings, longer-lasting quality oil also means better tasting food and more consistent quality. If you’ve noticed flavor shifts or texture inconsistencies in your fried products, it might be time to consider the advantages of a low oil volume fryer.
  • How much time is my current system wasting?
    Standard fryers with higher oil volumes can require long, cumbersome filtering processes. Lengthy filtering practices can threaten production — especially if a filtering need arises at an inopportune time, such as rush hour. Low oil volume fryers can require as little as three minutes to filter. Add in automatic top-off features to replenish oil and you have a piece of equipment that improves your staff’s workload and helps them be more efficient than ever.

Want to learn more about effective oil management? Low oil volume fryer or not, Henny Penny can help. Click here to access our free download package, including everything you’ll need to become an oil savings expert and analyze your own operation.

 

SIX FIGURES, ONE STEP: How Effective Oil Management Can Have a Major Impact on Profits

You need to stay profitable. But there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do so. With rising food and edible oil costs, higher wages, and evolving trends and demands, virtually any move you make can have an unintended consequence.

If you decide to decrease labor, for example, it could have a negative impact on the quality of service you provide to your customers. If you increase prices to stay even with the market, it could scare customers away as discretionary income levels haven’t kept pace with the cost of activities like eating out.

The steps left for operators to take include those that will optimize their facility, equipment, and processes. One particularly easy-to-control cost is frying oil (you can’t control what you pay for it, but you can control how it’s taken care of and used). After food, it’s likely that oil ranks near the top of most operators’ lists of costs surrounding their frying operations.

If you want to take your oil management game to the next level, we’ve got some fantastic oil savings resources available to download for free, including the Ultimate Guide to Extending Oil Life E-book.

Practicing proper oil management is a great start to realizing oil-related savings, but the biggest savings come with reduced oil volume fryers like our Evolution Elite with Smart Touch Filtration™, which uses 40% less oil in the frying vat. Here’s how:

  1. Oil Savings

A drop in 20 lbs. of oil capacity means 40% less oil is needed to cook the same amount of product. Less oil, more frequent filtration, and auto top-off combine to create maximum oil extension. For the average operation, that’s about $5,000 in annual oil costs saved. If your profit margin is 5%, that $5,000 savings has the same profit impact as increasing sales by $100,000, without the extra work! We’ve got a free spreadsheet template you can download to calculate oil savings for your business.

  1. Better and More Consistent Product Quality

With frequent filtration and automatic top-off, the oil’s “sweet spot” will last longer, creating a more ideal environment for frying food and creating a higher quality product, consistently. By maintaining a constant level of oil (which is managed by vat sensors) operators will also achieve a higher quality of fried coverage around the product and a more consistent product coming out of the fryer.

Extended oil life can also have positive health ramifications for customers. Often with a 50-lb. fryer, operators will try to push their oil life beyond its natural expiration time. In extreme cases, if extended too long, oil can even produce carcinogens and increase food’s cholesterol levels. With a 30-lb. fryer, oil savings will drive proactive oil management.  Having a team that watches oil quality and reacts to it will translate into better tasting and safer oil.

  1. Ease of Use

With a 30-lb fryer, gone are the days of manually opening and closing multiple drain valves and turning on/off pump motors just to filter the fryer’s oil. Instead, with the push of a button, oil is filtered automatically in just four minutes. Plus, you can even continue frying in other vats while one is filtering. This eases processes, meaning simpler training for your team and less interruptions for regular cooking operations.

 

Many operators may feel uncomfortable making a capital investment for such equipment, but it’s important to consider the ROI. For many establishments, the Evolution Elite will pay for itself in less than three years, then continue to deliver savings every year for the life of the fryer.

By investing in smart, oil-saving technology like the Evolution Elite low oil volume fryer, operators can realize greater profits for years to come — and it all starts with a few drops of oil.

Low oil volume fryer or not, Henny Penny can help with effective oil management. Click here to access our free download package, including everything you’ll need to become an oil savings expert and analyze your own operation.

 

Know Your Fryer’s Features: 3 Benefits of Idle Mode

Aside from managing utility and operational expenses, restaurant operators also face the added challenges of keeping food fresh and avoiding waste — including cooking oil – all while maintaining an efficient operation.

Driving efficiency means finding equipment that can save you time and money. Henny Penny fryers are built with Idle mode, a feature that automatically lowers oil temperature gradually between periods of active use.

What can Idle mode do for you? Here are the top 3 benefits:

  1. Saves $$$ on Energy and Oil

Idle mode is the perfect feature if your restaurant experiences slow periods in between peak times. When you have a break in the action, it costs too much in energy and oil to run your fryer during off hours. Turning the fryer off isn’t practical either since it can take 20 minutes to bring the oil back up to temperature, depending on the fryer.

  1. Extends Oil Life

Idle mode keeps the fryer on but allows the temperature of the oil to drop within a range of 250 degrees and 280 degrees Fahrenheit. This range keeps the oil warm while dramatically cutting down on the energy required to heat it. Though you can still fry at 280 degrees Fahrenheit, a drop of just 18 degrees Fahrenheit can cut the chemical reactions that break down oil in half. Heat is one of the five major enemies of oil, and the faster you break down oil, the quicker you spend money replacing it.

  1. Easy to Activate & Convenient

Idle mode is simple to use and can be set with the push of a button. When it’s time to get cooking again, Idle mode allows the oil to be brought back up to temp within minutes. You can even set it to automatically activate for certain times of the day. For 24-hour operations, the savings produced with Idle mode during off hours can add up to thousands of dollars in oil and utility costs.

 

Taking advantage of Idle mode is just one way to save money on oil and make it last longer. Want to take your oil management game to the next level? We’ve got some fantastic oil savings resources available to download for free, including the Ultimate Guide to Extending Oil Life E-book.

 

Top 5 Benefits of Pressure Frying

For years, pressure frying has been utilized by many food chains across the globe. Global chains love using pressure frying because it creates a delicious, healthy product attractive to today’s consumers, while at the same time saving on oil and labor costs.

Henny Penny first introduced the commercial pressure fryer to the foodservice industry over 50 years ago. Since the introduction of the pressure fryer, Henny Penny has been helping globally renowned chains earn billions of dollars in profits.

So, you might be wondering, how does pressure frying work? Pressure frying and open frying are quite similar methods of cooking, but pressure frying utilizes a fry pot lid to create a sealed, pressurized cooking environment. This cooking method provides consistently great flavors and can cook in high volumes at a faster pace. Click here to see what our Corporate Executive Chef, Chef Gregg, has to say about the difference between open frying and pressure frying.

Now, let’s look at the top five benefits of pressure frying!

  1. Faster Cook Times.

One of the top benefits of switching to pressure frying is how much shorter the cook times are. Frying in a pressurized environment leads to faster cooking times at a lower oil temperature than traditional open frying. This allows our customers to increase their overall production more than a conventional fryer, so they can serve even more people in the same amount of time.

  1. More menu items.

While poultry remains one of the most popular products made in a Henny Penny pressure fryer, it is a highly versatile method of cooking. This versatility gives our customers the ability to all types of options on their menu, including meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, and so much more! With a wide variety of menu items, restaurants will have the opportunity to market to consumers with all sorts of tastes and preferences.

  1. Less food shrinkage.

With this method of cooking more moisture and juices are retained in the food, meaning less shrinkage. Pressure frying gives customers a tender, delicious product that’ll keep them coming back for more!

  1. Cleaner method of cooking.

With pressure frying, all that oil-burdened steam is captured and exhausted into a hood above. This reduces greasy film and odors from building up in the surrounding area. With less grease and odor build-up, fewer labor hours can be spent on cleaning and more time can be spent on making profits.

  1. Consistently great taste.

Henny Penny pressure fryers utilize advanced foodservice technology that enables quick cook times and a consistently great flavor since the food’s natural flavors and nutrients are sealed in while any extra frying oil is sealed out. Our customers are consistently raving about how great their product is with our equipment, but don’t just take our word for it. Check out some of our customer testimonials.

Henny Penny offers three different variations of pressure fryers, the first being our flagship PFE 500/PFG 600 series (4-Head) pressure fryer. The PFE 500/PFG 600 Pressure Fryer provides a healthier, great-tasting product while only taking up 20 inches of wall space. The second variation we offer is the High-Volume Pressure Fryer. Our High-Volume Pressure Fryers provide our operators the ability to cook reliably and at high output. Our third and final option is our Velocity Series Pressure Fryer. The Velocity Series Pressure fryer is a newly designed fryer that allows our operators the ability to cook in large volumes at a lower cost.

One of the key features that our customers love about Henny Penny pressure fryers is the built-oil filtration systems. This automatic system helps extend oil life and reduces the maintenance required to keep your pressure fryer functioning. At Henny Penny, we believe in making the most effective system possible, so this built-in oil filtration system comes standard on all our pressure fryers.

Want to learn more about Henny Penny Pressure Fryers? Click here!

OPEN VS. PRESSURE FRYING: CHEF GREGG KEEPS IT REAL

A COMMON DEBATE: OPEN VS. PRESSURE FRYING

There is almost nothing more rewarding than taking a restaurant concept from ideation to fruition. As a chef, helping operators navigate this journey is one of the highlights of my job. As an operator, investing in equipment for a new kitchen can be overwhelming with so much to consider.

Some of the earliest decisions to be made include ‘What’s on the menu?’, ‘How are we preparing the food?’, and probably most important – ‘Which equipment will produce consistent, quality product that makes us the first choice for customers?’.

Shopping for the right equipment can be GREAT (so many choices!!) and HARD (…so many choices…). The fryer is a critical piece of equipment that often throws operators for a loop and raises the subsequent question: ‘Open fryer or pressure fryer?’.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT?

Pressure frying raises the boiling point of water.

First, let’s talk pressure frying 101. Frying revolves around ‘water’ (aka the moisture inside of fresh or frozen product). The typical frying process, without pressure, can only cook to the boiling point of water which is 212 degrees. Pressure frying allows that moisture to boil at an even higher temperature, closer to 240 degrees.

By increasing the boiling point of water, less of the product’s moisture is lost while cooking. On top of that, frying under pressure – around 12 psi – enables lower oil temperatures than conventional open frying.

Pressure fryers produce a tastier, healthier product.

When it comes to frying proteins, be it bone-in chicken breasts, filet mignon or even salmon, there’s no substitute to the pressure fryer. Since less moisture is lost during the cooking process, the finished protein is extra juicy and superior in terms of flavor and tenderness.

And since pressure frying seals in natural flavors while sealing out excess oil, the product not only tastes better, but it’s healthier too!

Pressure frying shortens cook times.

The phrase ‘time is money’ holds especially true in commercial kitchens. Due to the increased boiling point of water, pressure fryers offer quicker cook times than their open counterparts.

Lower cooking temperatures, less moisture releasing from the product, and reduced exposure to air also create the perfect conditions for cleaner oil that lasts longer.

Open fryers produce a crispier, appetizing product.

I don’t want to come off as too partial to pressure fryers because open fryers are every bit as useful; even more so for cooking non-proteins.

Open fryers can be found in any kitchen used to cook fries, mozzarella sticks or onion rings — and for good reason. They’re efficient, versatile and turn out a tasty product.

Open fryers are easily configured to fit a kitchen’s unique needs.

Open fryers, particularly with more than one vat, allow more freedom for customization.

Split vats offer the flexibility to cook smaller batches of different items at once, with independent controls and completely separate cooking environments. In multi-well fryers, full and split vats can be mixed-and-matched depending on what the kitchen needs.

Open fryers are the Energizer Bunny of foodservice equipment. 

Today’s open fryers can recover temperature in a matter of seconds, load after load. When combined with the ability to filter one vat while actively frying in the others, mealtime rush is a breeze.

WHAT’S SIMILAR?

Some menu items could go either way.

Menu items like fried chicken or potato wedges are commonly prepared in both types of fryers. One of the first things to consider when choosing between open and pressure frying is the desired end-result. Crispy? Juicy? Crunchy? Tender?

Some kitchens employ both fryers and offer two versions of the same product. For example, a pressure-fried chicken sandwich vs. a crispy chicken sandwich. The first is (obviously) pressure-fried and the second is open-fried to achieve a crispier, crunchier sandwich.

Don’t tell anyone, but you can open fry in a pressure fryer simply by keeping the lid open. This isn’t a best practice for high-volume kitchens of course, but it can be done.

Associated costs are comparable.

With both fryers, the actual cost of ownership is about the same. From sustainability to maintenance and labor, there isn’t much difference in cost from open fryers to pressure fryers. Even without an official Energy Star rating, pressure fryers save energy with quicker cook cycles and lower oil temperatures. However, Energy Star rated fryers offer the added bonus of rebate dollars depending on location.

Like any valuable asset, fryers must be taken care of to maximize their useful life. Be sure to ask about product warranties when shopping around. Aside from updating equipment to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, there’s no reason a fryer can’t last 10 or 15 years with proper care and maintenance.

 

Curious about frying options from Henny Penny? Click here to learn more.

 

Basic Food Safety and How to Instill it in the Company Culture

An issue related to food safety – or lack thereof – is every operator’s worst nightmare. It seems every few months we read about a new (or renewed) food safety issue at one major chain or another. According to a study done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the cost for a restaurant that experiences a foodborne illness outbreak can run up to 101 percent of their annual revenue. This, and the general desire to keep patrons safe, makes preventing illness the foremost goal of any chef and organization.

Fortunately, if attention is paid to food safety, you can ensure you have happy, healthy customers, and a happy, healthy business. The good news is that establishing safety protocols or safe workspace doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. Be sure to stick to the most basic food safety rules and objectives and you’ll lay the foundation for a safe restaurant environment.

Washing hands: Beyond being a requirement by the FDA, this is the most effective practice for eliminating the spread of bacteria. While the sight of gloves may create a sense of safety, nothing is more effective than hand washing.

Correct use of gloves: Just because the gloves are on does not make it a free-for-all in the kitchen. There are still rules to abide by, such as changing your gloves every time you touch a new order. When it comes to ready-to-eat food — which cannot be touched with bare hands — be sure your staff is following proper glove protocol and changing them as often as necessary.

Proper storage: An audit of any storage equipment should reveal that items with the most potential for carrying bacteria and pathogens are stored at the bottom. Items with the least potential should be stored at the top. If your chicken is above anything, gather the troops — it’s time for a staff food safety meeting.

Accountable purchasing: If, as an operator, you don’t have the time or resources to ensure the quality and safety of the food you’re purchasing, the best way to cover your bases is to make your purchases through a reputable company, such as one of the many qualified broadlines.

Washing produce: Despite coming from a reputable source, produce still needs to be washed. It’s a simple task that can help operators avoid major headaches.

Clean and sanitize work areas/equipment: Prioritizing this activity can help ensure the necessary cleaning tasks are accomplished. Though it may seem extremely rudimentary, proper cleaning tasks can easily fall by the way-side if they are not regularly scheduled.

While it is typical for operators to have a strong understanding of these best practices, the difficulties seem to arise in the next steps — adopting them into the culture of the business to the point where the staff can police itself. According to our own corporate chef, Ben Leingang, there are several ways to drive these priorities home.

  • Develop practices that constantly promote food safety. For example, post signage of proper storage and sanitation requirements around the kitchen in easily visible or often visited locations.
  • Appoint or hire managers that can lead by example. For instance, front-of-house managers should follow proper hand washing protocol every time they visit the kitchen.
  • Get ServSafe certified and have a manager that is certified for every shift.
  • Perform safety audits on a regular, but unpredictable, schedule. For best results, run these daily.
  • If you’re opening a new restaurant, go through the local health department to file the appropriate paperwork and understand every requirement with them immediately, even before you’ve opened. Submit your operational plans and figure out how you should be initiating anything that requires an element of food safety. Don’t wait for the health department to come to you.

With all that is required to run a business, it’s understandable that focus on some of the very basic items (in this case food safety) can be lost. However, not losing sight of this area of the business is extremely important for operators. If a priority is put on the basics and establishing a culture of safety-focused team members, then more difficult practices (as we’ve written about before, such as maintaining a gluten-free menu) become much easier.

For more blogs on kitchen safety and operational best practices, be sure to subscribe to Our Take, in the column just to the right.

How to Hold Your Fried Items with Confidence

Whether it’s chicken, fish, shrimp or mozzarella sticks, consumers universally expect the same out of fried items. We fry foods specifically to retain their moist or juicy insides and (most importantly) to add that crunchy, golden delicious outside.

Perfecting the right “crunch” for every item can sometimes take constant experimentation, so it’s understandable that operators might be hesitant to use a holding cabinet if they think it will diminish the quality of their prized fried concoctions. But will it?

Yes, holding fried items can be a bit trickier, but they can be successfully held. In fact, a holding program may be more crucial than some operators realize, especially for fried items. By establishing a proper holding program, operators can eliminate consistency issues and improve flow of service. Once the ideal holding time and humidity levels have been established for a product, it can all but be assured that every customer will receive the same quality item, always.

To help find that holding sweet spot for fried foods, we wanted to offer a few tips to operators that should inspire confidence in maintaining the perfect crunch even after some time in the holding cabinet.

Tip 1: Hold High
We find that too many operators, in fear of drying out their food, err on the side of lower holding temperatures when in fact, the opposite should be practiced. A higher temperature hold creates more available moisture, also known as the juices in meat products. Following the initial cooking of the meat, at rest, those juices will settle out. Worse yet, if the temperature drops too low then the taste and appearance become more of the day-old variety, rather than warm, crisp and juicy.  It won’t be dry, but it will lose palatability.

For those that are holding fried chicken at 145°F, try holding instead somewhere in the range of 165-185°F.

By holding at a higher temperature, operators can increase the overall holding time of that item. For those that are holding fried chicken at 145oF, try holding instead somewhere in the range of 165-185oF.  This will work for a variety of other proteins, such as large roasts of pork and beef, BBQ and roasted poultry like chicken or turkey.

Tip 2: Know Your Hold
Know which items hold easier than others and which can sustain longer holds while maintaining quality. For instance:

-Breaded items hold better than battered items
-Bone-in items produce a better hold than boneless items
-Large items hold easier and better than smaller items
-Softer fried items hold longer than hard, crispy fried items

Tip 3: Think Ahead
Holding shouldn’t come as an after-thought. In fact, operators that utilize holding best, factor it into the overall recipe. The quality and flavor of the item should be considered final only after it has been through its allotted hold. This may mean trying different types of flours to understand what holds and tastes best when it is eventually served. For instance, operators may find that alternatives like rice flour or potato starch, in certain applications, may yield a crispier and tastier product than wheat flour after a designated hold period.

Tip 4: Yes, Equipment Matters
There are several levels of holding cabinet options available to operators, and in most cases, you get what you pay for:

Option 1: The most basic cabinets provide one heat source and will keep your food warm but that’s about it. With no way to increase or decrease the available humidity, these are not a viable option for fried foods.

Option 2: These units are a basic cabinet with the addition of a passive water pan. These will offer a heat and a water source, giving you the ability to create steam. This is definitely a step up, but operators are given little in the way of environmental control.

Option 3: Humidified cabinets come with a dedicated heat source for the cabinet and a water pan with its own dedicated heat source, giving operators the ability to individually fine-tune heat and humidity levels. However, this will rely on constant operator observation and adjustments.

Option 4: Fully automatic cabinets are based on a closed loop system that automatically checks and adjusts moisture and temperature levels to turn out the exact same product time and time again. Once the best hold specifications for each item have been determined, all that’s left to do is set it and forget it.

Holding fried items may feel like a recipe for disaster to some, and done without the right knowledge or tools, it may be. However, if holding is instilled in an operation as a standard procedure, where temperature and humidity levels are always programmed and accurate — made possible by design and technology — the holding cabinet may become the unlikely hero of your frying program.

To learn more about the holding cabinet options that Henny Penny has available, visit our holding line-up or contact your local distributor.

Maximizing kitchen space: what can U.S. operators learn from their Asian counterparts

Asian food culture dictates a different approach to restaurant operations than what is seen stateside; however, understanding the practices abroad may help provide U.S operators with some new inspiration.

We asked our Asian distribution partners to share the challenges and needs required to overcome them in the typical Asian kitchen. We’ve broken down the responses into three regional categories: Chinese, South Asian (Indonesian and Malaysian) and Japanese. These kitchen types are all slightly different, but each provides an idea or two on how to create an efficient kitchen in a limited space — insights that could be beneficial for American operations to consider.

Chinese Kitchens
On average, Chinese kitchens are going to be smaller than your typical American kitchen, which places an emphasis on efficiency. Because of this need, and because of the type of cuisine, there are generally just four major pieces of equipment that are needed in most Chinese kitchens:

  • A wok range is not only a must in nearly every kitchen but is prized for its versatility. It can be used to stir fry as well as deep fry since wok casseroles can contain enough oil to submerge foods.
  • Steamers, whether it is a steamer cabinet or dim sum steamer, can be used as a stock or soup burner or to prepare just about any wet or humid food. Moist foods allow for better flavor transfer from food to the taste receptors, which places significant demand for foods with higher moisture levels. Steaming using a steaming cabinet for both proteins and vegetables is typical, although in some cases a combi oven can provide a suitable replacement.
  • Rice cookers may be the most prevalent piece of equipment in Chinese kitchens. Steamer cabinets can also be used for rice since they can provide more volume, although this comes as the expense of quality. Combi ovens are also sometimes utilized for rice but result in less volume and less quality.
  • A generic cooker or stove can support Chinese-style cooking, so they too are often present in the back-of-house. Though a versatile piece of equipment, the production output for these is typically small compared to the previously mentioned pieces of equipment.

South Asian (Indonesian and Malaysian) Kitchens
Kitchens here are faced with similar size constraint challenges to those in China and operate with very basic and minimal food and beverage technology. Therefore, kitchens in the South Asian region not only operate with minimal equipment but also use more traditional methods. A major difference from their Chinese counterparts is the lack of a steamer or steamer cabinet based on typical menu needs.

  • Generic cookers, such as stoves, are the main piece of equipment in these kitchens, yet some employ griddles and/or deep fryers on occasion. South Asian kitchens, which are modernizing at the fastest rate of these three regions, are slowly beginning to introduce combi ovens. It’s anticipated that speed and space saving will soon become important factors, especially in Indonesian restaurants. As this piece of equipment becomes more widely adopted, deep fryer presence will rise as well because menus are heavily reliant on deep fried foods, but the consistency cannot be created in a combi.
  • Wok ranges for stir frying or deep frying are very popular in South Asian kitchens due to the demand for fried foods. However, even these are sometimes not present as a simple stove or griddle can easily replace the wok range.

Japanese Kitchens
Again, with limited size and space, Japanese kitchens use as little equipment as possible, making efficiency and versatility major points of emphasis. With high average salaries for labor, equipment is also relied on heavily to maintain low overhead. Coupling the wage issue with the employment of highly educated chefs creates a culture of chefs utilizing high end, premium equipment.

  • Combi ovens execute on the need for versatility and operate on the idea of simplicity. These ovens allow operators to cut back on operations and enables them to invest heavily in just one piece of equipment that can accomplish quite a lot in Japanese cuisine.
  • Rice cookers are a must here as well. Again, in order to meet the demand for quality rice, there is little that can substitute for this piece of equipment.
  • Other specialty equipment for Japanese kitchens such as a yakitori grill, ramen/noodle maker, boiler or tempura fryer can all be found throughout Japanese restaurants depending on a restaurant’s niche. Because of the advancement and development of the food and beverage industry in Japan, one operational tool that can be found here and not in other Asian regions is a cook-chill system.

It’s no surprise that cuisines, tastes and cooking methods are regional, but what is consistent is how different Asian kitchens can do so much with so little — seen with their use of combi ovens and other highly versatile pieces of equipment. As U.S. operators are continuously tasked with doing more with less, the answers to efficiency may just be an ocean away.

Looking for equipment that can help you with efficiency? Check out our complete line of combi ovens or contact your local Henny Penny distributor who can explain the versatility advantages of a combi oven today.

Thriving on the Unexpected: How Holding Cabinets Can Prepare Operators for Increased Traffic

Its 12:30 p.m., you’re in the middle of rush hour, and sure enough, here it comes — a bus full of hungry customers. This should be an awesome sight, right? More business is always welcome, however, it can cause some heartburn if your team isn’t able to easily shift gears and scale quality production.  What the savvy operation needs is the right tools and a little bit of preparation.

There’s no such thing as being over prepared

It’s tough to prepare for the truly unexpected, but you may be surprised to find that what you already know may be all you need to excel.

Throughout a day, week or year there are peaks and valleys in a restaurant’s business. This historical data you’ve collected over the years only serves to strengthen your forecasting. Understanding standard business volumes brought on by factors such as weather or local events, gives operators an even closer prediction of what the business volume should look like for any given day and time. With this information at hand, you’ll stand a far greater chance of exceeding your customer’s expectations when you may have been surprised with a volume opportunity.

Henny Penny’s SmartHold holding cabinets allow restaurants to cook in larger batches and maintain temperatures and moisture levels for extended periods of time before serving.

Hold and hold well

Eventually, the unexpected rush does come, pushing your throughput to its limits. While delays are often unavoidable in these situations, food consistency should never be compromised. Fortunately, there is a piece of equipment that allows operators to maintain a production cycle that can absorb a certain percentage of traffic increase and mitigate delays on most products, while helping maintain a consistent product: the holding cabinet.

For a quality hold, humidity control is vital. Equipment that can create an appropriately humid or arid environment, day-in and day-out, will allow operators to serve the same high-quality foods on a consistent basis, accommodating spikes in traffic. This humidity-controlled environment — unlike a cabinet that provides dry heat only — provides for longer holding times without sacrificing food quality.

No matter what food it is, roasted meats, bone-in fried chicken or the starches and vegetables that accompany them, a quality hold can be designed specifically for each. At peak performance, an item can be held for hours, which makes the turn around on that particular item much less of a problem in the crowded bus scenario. In short, a quality hold gives operators a better chance to get out ahead of any impending increase in traffic without losing quality that is often associated with unexpected increases in business.

Looking to increase your hold times and prepare your operation for that next unexpected rush? Check out our SmartHold Holding Cabinets, as well as this video which illustrates some of the many features that make them an ideal option in any kitchen.