All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” William Shakespeare wrote those words as part of his classic comedy “As You Like It.” In many respects, that same idea applies to commercial kitchens and equipment packages, particularly in this era, where transparency rules the day.

It’s easy for members of the foodservice industry to become awestruck by equipment with the greatest sex appeal. Hearth ovens add warmth to an open kitchen, while live fuel charbroilers and grills often add some welcome drama.

For those pieces of equipment to shine, however, commercial kitchens also require a strong battery of supporting actors. For example, food choppers help operators effectively prepare ingredients with a level of precision that facilitates consistent cooking and presentation of menu items. And countertop condiment dispensers can help customers customize their orders in operations ranging from burger concepts to frozen yogurt shops. Carbonated-beverage dispensers represent another emerging star on the customization stage, allowing customers to create their own unique flavor profiles.

Behind the scenes, oil-filtration systems can help operators quickly and safely execute one of the least desirable yet very important tasks where fried foods remain a part of the menu. For their part, roll-in refrigerators give operators the opportunity to hold larger quantities of menu items or ingredients at food-safe temperatures while often keeping these items close to staff, thus enhancing productivity.

And there will always be a place for tried-and-true foodservice technologies like ranges and power sinks, given their abilities to facilitate essential cooking and sanitation roles.

So while it becomes easy to celebrate new technologies and wonder about the impact automation will have on the industry, today’s foodservice professionals also need to keep their knowledge base current about some of these less-heralded but essential pieces of foodservice equipment.

Coincidentally, we cover all of these equipment categories in this issue of The Quarterly. In addition to providing a foundational overview of each product, each section features an experience-based look at these equipment items from some of the brightest foodservice consultants and service agents in the industry.

Indeed, developing and maintaining your product knowledge base does not happen by accident. Hopefully, this supplement helps keep your product knowledge current so you can make informed specifications or decisions when the need arises.