Consultant Q&A: Justin Silverthorn, principal, Advanced Foodservice Solutions, Mountville, Pa.
FE&S: What are the utility considerations operators should weigh when purchasing a fryer?
JS: The type of utilities used will impact the unit’s recovery rate times and how food is batched out. Electric fryers run slower than gas. Smaller electric countertop fryers are for lower volume use. The type of utility is especially crucial for operations with high-volume fried chicken programs.
FE&S: How does the fryer’s design impact its operation?
JS: The configuration of the fryer is definitely a factor that needs to be considered, as some designs work better with certain foods than others. There are models that have deep wells with a flat bottom, where sediment needs to be scraped out. Others have a grooved bottom to better catch sediment.
FE&S: Does oil usage come into play when specifying fryers?
JS: With costs on the rise, one big factor now is the type of oil that’s used. Vegetable oil is the industry standard and typically used for frying chicken, while peanut oil is more common for French fries. Operations that have both a French fry and fried chicken program may want to consider purchasing separate fryers or double vat units to accommodate the different types of oil.
FE&S: Are there energy efficient fryers available?
JS: High efficiency models are constructed with a series of labyrinths, so when the fryer exhausts combustion, it recaptures as much heat as possible before it is exhausted. This type is popular with many chains. Typically, independent operators don’t buy these fryers due to the higher cost.
FE&S: What should operators know about fryer filtration?
JS: Filtration is an aspect of fryers that often gets lost in specifying. We’ve seen more fryers with auto filtration than without. This method is safer and produces better products in terms of quality. These fryers are typically self-contained units.
FE&S: What are the control options with fryers?
JS: Fryers offer either analog or digital controls. With analog, the fryer is either on or off, with no timer. Higher volume operations and large chains typically specify fryers with digital controls for added speed and consistency. With newer technology, there are buttons with menu items highlighted that fry for a predetermined amount of time.
FE&S: Are there specific fryers designated for certain production needs?
JS: Unlike open vat fryers, pressure models fry under pressure by pushing grease into products under high heat. This type is commonly used in chicken restaurants or with larger proteins that require large amounts of heat quickly.