Commercial kitchens keep getting smaller. Increasingly, restaurateurs want to dedicate more space to the revenue-generating front of house and reduce space in the back of house. And the rapid increase of pop-up restaurants and food trucks further drives this small kitchen trend to new heights.
In 2015 and beyond, the foodservice industry can expect to see commercial equipment get smaller and more complex to meet this challenge. Here are four recent product introductions that save space and increase operational efficiency in a smaller commercial kitchen setting.
Loved by chefs for its ability to cook, steam and hold food, now the combi oven is smaller than ever before. New miniature-size combi ovens hold three half-size sheet pans and some even have optional shelves, allowing operators to stack two units.
Many new combi ovens fit in any space, making them the workhorse of cafés and bars, convenience stores, and kiosks. The latest models of combi ovens feature easy-to-clean glass and stainless steel surfaces, plus long service life and low energy consumption.
Professional chefs use a salamander broiler for a number of purposes, including broiling fish, melting cheese and caramelizing sugar.
This is a necessary piece of equipment in most commercial kitchens, yet increasingly chefs require compact countertop salamander broiler units for use in smaller spaces. Typically positioned above the oven mounted to a wall, we've recently seen smaller salamander broilers introduced that can still generate 32,000 BTUs, making it possible to cook quickly and efficiently with minimum shrinkage.
For many restaurants that serve meat, grinding meat in-house is imperative to achieve better texture, and to produce a safer, less contaminated, food product. But traditional meat grinders are massive, self-standing units that utilize a considerable amount of energy.
Many commercial kitchens are ditching the self-standing units in favor of mixer attachments. This saves space as well as energy. New meat grinder attachments connect to any number 12 power take-off hub, and often come complete with the stainless steel feed pan, 1/4-inch plate, meat stomper, and a durable cast iron cylinder, ring and worm.
Commercial kitchens producing pizza know that the style of oven uniquely impacts the baking of the pizza crust, cooking of the toppings, and melting of the cheese. Increasingly, chefs turn to the space-saving pizza cart oven. This equipment tends to be small, easy to transport and can run on gas or electricity. Cart ovens were originally developed in Italy, where they are typically seen at festivals and street fairs, and have been perfected for brick-and-mortar kitchens in recent years.
Indeed, as kitchens shrink, operators' expectations for equipment with smaller footprints and high capacity continue to rise.