DIRECT HEAT: Latest induction cooking innovations for operators

2023-01-13 01:08:42 By : Mr. Gerry Li

As operators across the country focus on future-proofing their kitchens and reducing their carbon footprint, introducing induction cooking equipment can help to boost efficiency, while also significantly reducing operating costs. FEJ talks to suppliers about their latest induction innovations and how their products can help businesses achieve their sustainability goals.

While commercial kitchens across the country face a barrage of ongoing challenges, ranging from rising costs to staff shortages and supply chain pressures, suppliers have been updating their induction ranges to offer operators a helping hand. Multi Burner Hot Plate

DIRECT HEAT: Latest induction cooking innovations for operators

Gareth Newton, managing director at BGL Rieber, said one of the key benefits of its Rieber Varithek induction option is that it is mobile, and comes in wok format and as flat hobs 1/1 GN. This feature helps efficiency and sustainability in several ways. As a fixed cooking station, Rieber induction has the option of self-ventilation, which removes the need for overhead ventilation. As a mobile cooking station, the Rieber Varithek induction modules work within a mobile front cooking station which has the option of self-ventilation and fire suppression.

He said: “Mobile equipment improves sustainability because it provides multiple forms of cooking, in a hygienic modern format. Varithek hobs include wok, flat hobs, pasta cooker, fryer, griddle, and also hot holding. These can be used independently, for example, within a fixed servery counter under overhead ventilation, for lunch service.

“With the current energy crisis, induction is an outstanding winner over gas in terms of cost in use. The efficiency differential between gas and induction always meant induction proved more economic in the long term and this has now been accelerated by recent price increases. With operators looking to cut bills long term, demand has never been stronger in the UK.”

Wayne Bennett, VP for sales and marketing in UK and Ireland for MKN, said: “The decision for operators has always been whether to cook on a real gas flame, or use electric cooktops. Often this has been a matter of choice for the chef, but chefs invariably move on before the average lifetime of a kitchen investment. Now, with the added pressure of running costs, it is becoming a wider business decision and we are definitely selling more electric appliances than we were two, three or five years ago.

“This is reflected in the development and availability of modular appliances such as induction hobs, with greater choice on electric products than ever before. Electric options comprise the majority of appliances in our Counter SL modular range, which is new to the UK market, reflecting current trends for lower running costs.”

Mr Bennett said that induction cooking in modular ranges such as Counter SL and Hotline can reduce boiling time by 55% compared to hot plates, with additional energy saving helping to ensure 2.5 tons of CO2 reduction per year. He said when these savings are multiplied over a large chain estate, it becomes easy to see the potential for significant cost savings and carbon reductions across the board.

“In terms of their energy efficiency and sustainability, the benefits of induction units remain unchanged in as much as that they only use energy when a pan is in contact with them and are a much more efficient medium for transferring heat when compared to gas,” noted Steve Hobbs, director at Grande Cuisine.

Mr Hobbs added: “The primary difference when comparing open gas burners to induction is that power is only used once the pan is in place above the induction coil, whereas gas burners tend to be left on all the time thereby consuming energy constantly. The secondary aspect to induction is the reduction in residual heat in the kitchen because only the pan is heated, unlike an open gas burner where, on average, only 50 per cent of the energy goes into the heating of the pan and the rest escapes into the kitchen environment.”

Changing attitudes towards energy usage and the types of equipment used in professional kitchens are leading chefs to ask new questions around the use of induction cooking systems and technology.

Trevor Burke, managing director at Exclusive Ranges, said: “With ever-increasing energy costs and the nearing of the net zero target in 2050 we are seeing a new attitude among chefs in wanting to use more energy-efficient induction in their cookers due to increased functionality, better design, enhanced control and their cost-effectiveness to run.

“In advising our customers, we focus on three keys areas: economical, environmental and operational. The economical argument is indisputable; for operators of multiple sites, or owner-operators, there is no question that induction cooking appliances are more cost-effective, even when comparing the return on investment of the cost of purchase over time.”

He added that from an operational perspective, many establishments will not be able to afford a full refurbishment and in this situation, the company has a cost-effective alternative to introducing induction to a kitchen, providing free-standing, table-top and built-in appliances as part of a complete solution.

Shaune Hall, product development chef at Falcon Foodservice Equipment, noted: “Induction products are the most energy-efficient appliances you can have in a commercial kitchen. Automatic pan-sensing technology ensures no wasted energy as energy is only generated when a pan is placed on the heat zone. This means there’s no kitchen staff turning everything on before service in preparation, sending heat into the kitchen environment and money down the drain. As a result, extraction systems don’t have to work so hard and savings will be made on energy.”

Mr Hall said that in his experience, chefs are “definitely becoming more and more pro-induction”, due to “speed, instant heat, absolute controllability, less chance of burns with pot handles staying cool and minimal heat emissions”.

He added: “It’s so easy to clean – no scrubbing spillages at the end of service, just wipe clean as you go. Most people want to be able to use the latest and best technology in their workplace, and chefs are no different. Gas and electric hobs have been around for decades, but induction feels new and modern. That can help to inspire creativity and make the kitchen a more enjoyable place to work. Falcon’s new induction solid top is a good example of this, providing operators with the useability, power and versatility of a gas solid top combined with all the benefits just mentioned of induction.”

Mark Hogan, commercial director at Foodservice Equipment Marketing (FEM), which distributes the Vollrath range of induction cooking equipment in the UK, said: “Modern, advanced induction products, such as our Vollrath range, offer valuable, reliable solutions, with smart features and cutting-edge technology, helping operators run their kitchens more efficiently. Whether you need a powerful wok, a fast fajita heater, or a versatile, compact unit, our Vollrath range includes single, countertop and drop-in models with various power specifications available.”

He also noted that there are many ways in which induction cooking offers both sustainable and practical benefits for chains and larger operators. He commented: “Because induction only works when a pan is on the hob, it only uses energy when you need it, which can make a huge difference in a commercial kitchen, leading to significant savings across a chain’s portfolio of sites.”

David Chesshire, national accounts manager at Blue Seal, said the feature benefits of induction far outweigh the initial outlay, which is currently still relatively high for commercial heavy-duty products.

He added: “Induction for prime cooking is still relatively fresh to be accepted into the general commercial kitchen environment, however the big energy savings and high efficiency far outweighs the cost of changing the cookware and initial higher cost outlay for the product. This cost will no doubt reduce and become more competitive as the trend and demand for induction manufacturing inevitably increases.

“Induction equipment also avoids the additional very costly legislation requirement involved with gas canopy extraction and make up air, and interlock systems.”

Weighing up the cost efficiencies offered by gas and induction cooking systems is a vital step for operators that are considering switching to induction appliances.

Mr Chesshire commented: “When you compare the efficiency of using induction over gas, the induction is approximately 85% efficient compared to approximately 45% efficiency for gas. This is achieved by the magnetic fields heating up the entire surface of the cookware with virtually all of the energy transferred into the pan. Where gas disperses the heat, licking around the sides of the cookware more so, losing energy into the ambient air around the pan.

“Using induction massively reduces heat transfer into the air flow, lowers the overall temperature in the kitchen, promoting a more comfortable working environment, as well as the practicality of a simple wipe down of the glass cooking area at the end of a shift, which is very appealing to an operator.”

As long-term strategies become key for operators looking to achieve their sustainability targets and optimise kitchens to become more efficient, the after-sale value that can be offered by suppliers remains paramount to the end-user when making a decision about which product to purchase.

Mr Bennett concluded: “Kitchen appliances will always be one of the biggest areas of energy use for restaurant chains and groups, which means there are inevitably key decisions to be made.

“Too many operators are still buying appliances based on the initial capital investment, not the ongoing running costs.”

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DIRECT HEAT: Latest induction cooking innovations for operators

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