Consultant AJ Barker, group chef of Belltown Hospitality Group in Seattle, shares a few thoughts on what to consider when purchasing a chopper.
FE&S: Has chopper popularity increased in recent years?
AB: Chopper use has changed, with more restaurants looking at this equipment to better deal with labor shortages and provide consistent results. Only a few years ago, cooking schools and trained chefs were focusing on knife skills, but with the lack of training time and focus on speed of service in many operations, choppers have become more common.
FE&S: What is important to keep in mind when using choppers versus knives?
AB: These units are used to work the ingredients but also engineered to not over torque. Today’s versions are more versatile than in the past, with more finishing cuts, sizes, etc. With the use of fresh ingredients and healthier fare, this equipment has become the backbone of many operations.
FE&S: What is the top consideration when purchasing a chopper?
AB: Operators need to consider the volume and goal with these units. It may just be needed for one ingredient, but full-service restaurants need diversity and flexibility. Also, because turnover is high in the industry, equipment is abused more than ever. For this reason, durability also is key.
FE&S: Is space a factor with these units?
AB: Choppers take up the space of a 1/6 hotel pan or less, so the small footprint is easily accommodated.
FE&S: How does care and maintenance come into play?
AB: It’s very critical to consider how the chopper is cared for. The body and unit should be easy to disassemble for cleaning.