With nothing “bog standard” about today’s frying ranges, we speak to some of the leading manufacturers to see what features they are increasingly incorporating into their equipment to make it easier for friers to run their businesses
You’ve made the decision to buy a new range, it might be an upgrade on your current model, a switch to a different manufacturer or your first purchase altogether. Your initial thoughts will be what style to go for - island, counter or wall range - after which you’ll be thinking about how many pans you might need, followed by any additional features.
In the past, these extras have included items such as snack pans, a scrap box, heated cabinets, worktops, griddles and bain maries. However, as the industry moves on and menus evolve, eating habits vary and trading patterns change, so too are the set up of ranges, and manufacturers are keeping up with these demands by creating ever-new solutions.
Peterborough-based manufacturer KFE, for example, has seen a clear movement towards shops offering gluten free menus and has responded by offering the option of an isolated pan featuring a divide between it and the adjacent pan to prevent any cross-contamination. The hot box above has also been reengineered so that oil can drain back into the gluten free pan, while the filtration for this particular pan can be set to drain only, meaning staff can’t return contaminated oil back to the pan. It’s a real move forward in catering safely for customers with dietary requirements - not just for shops wanting to offer gluten free but for those wishing to fry in vegetable oil and beef dripping. It’s a feature The Real Food Cafe in Tyndrum, Perthshire, had built into its new range. With gluten free accounting for about £40,000 of its annual sales and the business accredited by Coeliac UK, it takes its responsibility for serving safe gluten free food very seriously.
General manager Colin McGeogh comments: “We used to do gluten free on a small countertop fryer but could only do two portions at a time max. The new isolated pan means we can do much more while the separate filtration and the steel divide are musts as these help minimise the risk of cross-contamination.”
Cooking to order
With more shops cooking to order, range manufacturers are increasingly offering friers alternative ways to use their hot boxes. After all, rows of empty cabinets with no product in can look poor to the customer. Instead, they can be built with a stainless steel panel on the customer-facing side and specified without heat to store tools, plates and packaging, or with heat to hold hot food for deliveries.
In a recent install at Somerset County Cricket Club, where the Twenty20 tournaments are played, range manufacturer Hopkins did exactly this and utilised one of the heated cabinets on the new four pan counter range for basket storage. MD Matthew Hopkins comments: “Somerset County Cricket Club literally have to serve hundreds of people in a 20-minute window so they have a lot of chips to get out. To help them do this, we replaced one of the fish cabinets with a stainless steel front and they are using it as a rack either for empty baskets or for baskets of blanched chips. For shops with big production requirements in a short space of time, it’s ideal as they can blanch their chips early on and have them all lined up ready to go. When the customer places their order, they can have them ready in just 1.5-2 minutes.”
For Dutch range manufacturer Florigo, the two big developments it’s made are halo lighting above the pans and mirrored hot box doors. The former has involved redesigning the hot box and ensuring the LED lighting is both greaseproof and heatproof. MD Robert Furey comments: “I know they both seem quite simple ideas but they offer people something different. The halo lighting, for example, lights the pan up so you’ve got a clear view of the food. To have clear light above a pan without it being hindered is a game-changer.
“The other one is mirrored doors, which reflect the food in the hot box and enhances the presentation of what you’re trying to sell.”
Above pan lighting is a feature Sheffield-based manufacturer Henry Nuttall is increasingly building into its ranges too. Although office manager Jack Price admits it is slightly gimmicky, he believes it’s a valuable feature to help monitor products in the pan. Something else he believes in and recommends that all friers consider is having everything to hand, for example, a scrap box near to the fish pans for convenience. He adds: “If you’re considering a flat top style range I would also recommend a storage area for baskets. With every range, we provide batter boxes which clip on the tray and also storage areas for utensils. These small little additions can make life much easier when busy. Especially to avoid knocking utensils in the pans!”
Every frying range will have a chip box, some may even have two, and it’s here where Hewigo has focussed its efforts. Managing director Phillip Purkiss explains: “Almost all chip box heating is controlled by Simmerstat. This works on electrical resistance which may result in constant control by the operator and an uneven temperature.
“We have introduced a thermostatically controlled heat box which detects temperature and controls automatically to a pre-set value. We have combined this with a fan heater to provide more even distribution of heat within the chip box. The result is a better product.”
Whether it’s a heated chip box, storage for your tools or hooks to hang plastic bags, Phillip says it’s important to remember that one operator’s gimmick will always be another operator’s essential.
One feature that most friers and manufacturers alike will agree isn’t a gimmick is integral filtration. A great addition to a range, it makes cleaning oil quick and convenient. Plus, with many ranges now incorporating three-stage filtration, it helps keep oil in pristine condition, which means no more discarding of oil.
It’s a feature Ian Whyte of Skippers in Turriff, Aberdeenshire, specified when he purchased a four pan Kiremko range. Ian comments: “With the triple filtration we have not had to dump any fat from either of our chip pans and we can still see the bottom of both pans, which is a very clear indication that it’s doing its job properly and making us a huge saving on vegetable fat. We’re getting twice the life span out of our fish pans, making it a very good return indeed.”
When planning a new range, it’s always best to start the process early as it can take a few different designs to get the right one. And as Henry Nuttall’s Jack Price concludes: “It’s also a costly investment that lasts many years, so you want to try your best to ensure that it’s perfect for now and also future plans.”
Florigo 01527 592 000 www.florigo.co.uk
Henry Nuttall 01909 560 808 www.henrynuttall.co.uk
Hewigo 0121 544 9120 www.hewigo.com/UK
Hopkins 0113 257 793 www.hopkins.biz
KFE 01778 380448 www.kfeltd.co.uk
Mallinson’s of Oldham 01706 299000 www.mallinsonsofoldham.co.uk
Middleton Ranges 01543 899419 www.middletonrange.co.uk
Preston & Thomas 01732 757636 www.prestonandthomas.co.uk
Scotrange 01592 775269 www.scotrange.co.uk