Imagine walking into a space, plugging in your equipment and serving a meal within minutes—with modern counter top equipment it is possible. By Dominique Antarakis
These days, you can put together a virtually free-standing commercial kitchen without tearing down ceilings, installing exhaust hoods and waiting for the builders to finish before you even begin to think about actually cooking.
Best of all, if you decide to relocate, you can pack up and take everything with you to larger—or smaller—premises without having to rip the walls out again.
Equipment manufactured locally by Goldstein & Co. Pty Ltd and Woodson Professional Food Service Equipment has all the functionality of traditional ovens and fryers without the attendant renovation hassles (and associated costs). And some equipment, including the Italian-designed and manufactured Zanussi Professional cooking range, which is distributed in Australia by Global Food Equipment, has features including a modular design and seamless integration that make it easy to clean.
“Counter top equipment really refers to anything you can put on a counter, and plug in and go, and covers anything from a small toaster or griddle to a refrigerated front counter food display,” says Keri Thomas, general manager, Food Service Equipment, Woodson.
“A commercial toaster can cost as little as $300-$400 for the cheaper products, but while you might be able to get something very inexpensive, there’s generally no warranty, and when it falls apart you’ll need to replace it. They are not really designed for constant use, unlike the domestic product which will do the job in a commercial application.”
In other words, he counsels, a larger investment up-front—around $500 with a one-year warranty—will result in a commercial appliance made from stainless steel that is designed and manufactured to withstand 24-hour use.
“The elements are more robust, the plates thicker, and the wiring designed for heavy-duty applications.”
Woodson offers a comprehensive range of products, including bain maries, contact toasters, ductless exhaust hoods, fryers, grillers, heat lamps, hot food displays, milkshake makers, salamanders, toasters and urns—pretty much everything you need to set up a café or restaurant with minimal fuss. Most products are designed for 10-amp use, which means you can plug them in to any standard power point.
“Our products are used in coffee shops and full commercial kitchens, and counter top equipment is a growing market,” Thomas says.
Goldstein & Co. has a similar product range, including its bain marie with warming drawers, hot food caddy and mobile carvery. The Hotpress unit can easily be integrated with a wet Hot Food Bain Marie WDB-series. All exteriors are made from stainless steel for durability and easy cleaning, and can be fitted with either stainless steel legs or castors for ease of movement.
Goldstein also have free-standing convection ovens—gas or electric—with standard features, including an oven vent to regulate humidity, solid stainless steel doors, and optional core temperature probe and steam injection.
Clients include up-market establishments such as Catalina restaurant in Rose Bay, hotel chains, including Accor and the Hilton Group, and fast food operations Shakespeare’s Pies and Oporto Pty Ltd.
Zanussi cooktops and ovens are made from stainless steel, which, according to Tony Browne, national consultant chef, Operations & Training, Global Food Equipment, is important to ensure durability and an even cooking temperature for ovens.
All of the modular tops within the Zanussi Professional N700 range are single-piece units with rounded corners and no visible joins. Browne maintains this makes the units much easier to clean, saving time in busy commercial kitchens.
Other features include flame failure devices; deep drawn tops, which allow any boiled-over liquids to be captured; electric infrared hobs with warning light to quickly indicate hot surfaces; and no sharp edges.
The N900 series, which is larger and features a thicker worktop, is also modular and boasts maximum power in its category. It has 2 mm thick worktops and an IPx5 degree of water resistance.
Global offers free commissioning to make sure the equipment is working properly on start-up. Browne says he has assisted clients with all different types of installation, including a nightclub that wanted the appearance of a “floating” kitchen.
“The units can be cantilevered or installed in different ways depending on the set up of the kitchen and how the restaurateur wants it to look,” Browne says.
Chris Kotsofski, owner of Chicko’s Chickens, has a six-burner Zanussi that he purchased from Global two and a half years ago. He had a stand custom-made for the freestanding unit. “We use it all day, every day, and in two and a half years I’ve never had to call to get it fixed.”