Suppliers Roundtable: The essential kitchen

The Middle East's kitchen specialists share their expertise regarding what is essential in today's professional-grade industry kitchens

Rya kitchen interior, developed by TSSC.
Rya kitchen interior, developed by TSSC.
VarioCooking Center by Rational.
VarioCooking Center by Rational.
Merrychef e2S by Welbilt.
Merrychef e2S by Welbilt.

What are the latest developments in the field of kitchen supplies and equipment and how do these developments benefit mid-market hotels?

Rashid Bahar: Many of the big brands are now offering a second line of equipment. This is great for mid-market hoteliers because they can now buy branded equipment at a reasonable price. Usually the main components, e.g. burners, pilot asssembly, etc., of the second line are the same as the ‘big brother’ but the material encasing it is usually down-spec’d somewhat. This means the equipment is actually just as powerful as those in the branded line.

Simon Parke-Davis: Developments in kitchen supplies and equipment have come from manufacturers listening to customers, understanding their needs and taking the environment into consideration. From a working perspective, we need to look at quality of life for employees including less stress and handling, better working conditions with less heat in the kitchen and ease of use. Their customers in turn expect great results with food and drinks, and want to consume consistently high quality products. From an environmental perspective, we need to look at the CSR aspects of the supply chain and production phases, to deliver products that consume less water and power but deliver higher performance in a smaller footprint. All of this must be remotely accessible from anywhere on the planet using today’s existing platforms and interfaces, checking on HACCP and lifecycle management as examples. At Rational, we have enveloped these aspects into the SelfCookingCenter, CombiMaster Plus and VarioCooking Center models. 

Leonard Parot: We focus on reducing the footprint of equipment while maximising flexibility and throughput. Thanks to this, a kitchen in the mid-market segment needs very few pieces of equipment to deliver a broad food and beverage offer. Meanwhile, innovations such as touchscreen control eases operations and training and helps to reduce staffing and save costs, while ensuring consistent cooking results. This is praised by mid-market operators.

What is your bestselling offering for the hospitality industry?

Bahar: We use our own fabricator for custom counters and cabinets, do not overcharge our customers and limit variations to an absolute minimum where possible, i.e. we do not ‘nickel and dime’ our customers and offer hands-down the best after-sales service in the region. 

Parke-Davis: Our bestselling offerings are our SelfCookingCenter and the SelfCookingCenter XS models. The new SelfCookingCenter is the result of 40 years of research into cooking by Rational.  With more intelligent cooking processes, greater conservation of resources and ease of operation, it meets the needs of international cuisine in the most optimal way. 

Parot: Convotherm and Merrychef are our bestselling solutions. On the cold side, Manitowoc is the easiest to clean and the most operator-friendly ice machine on the market.

What offering has your company launched recently?

Bahar: Our latest offerings include Berkel slicers (Italy), Brullen soft serve ice cream machines (Australia), Granuldisk pot washers (Sweden), JPack tray packaging machines (Italy) and Style Global custom built grills (Australia).

Parke-Davis: We introduced the first professional compact appliance with a fresh steam generator in the form of the SelfCookingCenter XS and the CombiMaster Plus XS. Despite extremely small dimensions, these deliver full performance and possess the same cooking intelligence and manual functions that chefs are used to from Rational products. Both units come with fully automatic cleaning. Another  innovation  is  the  VarioCooking  Center 112L, which fills a gap in the existing range and meets our customers’ wish for a powerful, space-saving multifunctional model, with 50-litre capacity  which can be installed without the need for conversion work. Our appliances are able to deal with practically all cooking processes. They can grill, steam, gratinate, bake, proof, roast, braise, simmer, stew, poach, blanch, deep-fry, cook at low temperatures and much more. 

Parot: The Merrychef e2S is the latest launch; it’s the smallest oven with the biggest performance. Hoteliers love the ability to cook chilled or frozen snacks, such as pizzas and sandwiches, for room service in an instant, and items such as eggs or salmon for breakfast and lunch, for instance.

What are the challenges facing mid-market hoteliers with kitchen supplies and equipment – how does your company help to overcome these challenges? 

Bahar: The main challenge is to supply and install efficient foodservice equipment that meets the budget of a mid-market hotelier and provides flexibility on the type of cuisines they can offer their guests.For example, for efficiency, we would offer induction units from a reputable OEM supplier from China in place of jelly-based solid fuel for buffet chafing dishes. For flexibility, we can supply multi-functional equipment allowing the chef to do different types of food. If we do not meet the investor’s budget, the operator will most likely end up leasing space to independent restaurant operators. The problem here is loss of revenue and control.

Parke-Davis: Competition is high to deliver quality prodcuts to their customers; ROI is also very important as well as ease of use, consistency and reliability. We have all solutions available with regards to vertical or horizontal cooking and space limitations, as well as power or material savings at a reasonable price. Our ServicePlus Package includes a two-year warranty, free training online recipes and a network with other chefs in an online forum with Club Rational and the ConnectedCooking platform.

Parot: Having equipment that is versatile enough to offer a wide and constantly evolving menu while reducing the size of the kitchen is an ongoing challenge for mid-market hoteliers. With Convotherm and Merrychef, we have a range of equipment sizes and specifications that suits every hotelier’s needs and answers these constraints. With lean staffing, time spent on cleaning is a hot topic in the mid-market so we offer equipment that is easy to clean or offers fully automated cleaning systems, depending on the product. This ensures optimum food safety and lower operating and maintenance costs.

What other news would your company like to share?

Bahar: We have recently expanded our operations facilities to a 22,000 square foot warehouse in Dubai Investment Park. Our commitment to the horeca industry is second to none.

Parke-Davis: We are moving our 13-man team, based in Dubai, to our new purpose-built offices, with our own test centre for live demonstrations and tips from experts on how best to generate savngs from your investment and, more importantly, to generate more revenue. This will be available Sunday through to Thursday 52 weeks a year. We are very excited and look forward to seeing Hotelier Express readers there.

Parot: Welbilt is expanding in the Middle East, with the addition of a regional development chef, Nick Bates, to the team, and a demo kitchen opening less than a year ago in Dubai. We are bringing innovation to the table to help solve operational challenges and boost the bottom line of hoteliers. 

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