search
Loading
login |  home | feedback | help          
StarChefs
header

Tools of the Trade 2011: Kitchen Equipment Worth Wishing For

by Emily Bell
December 2011

Last-minute bookings, rushed catering jobs, custom cocktail menus, and, oh yes, a never ending array of seasonal sweets in all shapes and sizes. It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but for a culinary professional, it’s also the sweatiest. Which is why we like to indulge our audience with an array of seasonal treats of your own—a power-packed professional wish list of the hottest kitchen equipment of 2011 to get any kitchen ready for the year to come. Whether you’re looking for the next culinary workhorse to drive productivity, or you’re in the market to be inspired by odd-job specialty equipment, Tools of the Trade 2011 has got you covered. And wish big. After all, this is the season of unrealistic expectations.

Jade Range Custom Island Suites

Jade Range Custom Island Suites

Here’s a present for the culinary pro who’s been really, really good this year. Jade Custom Islands are exactly what they sound like—multi-purpose kitchen islands custom-designed by the good people at Jade in close coordination with the chef. The workspace is completely customizable to fit your space and production needs. Want two sous vide stations? Fryers? Round it out with a char broiler? Done. Custom colors and a generally attractive design (okay, you’re gonna want to show it off) give it as much fashion as function. A four-year warranty (compared to the standard one or two) lowers cost of ownership and maintenance, and a decade-long (at least) shelf life means once you’ve designed your custom island, you can sit back and relax. Or, more likely, get to work.
The Quiet One by Vitamix

Baxter Hybrid Convection Oven

If you want the multi-purpose convenience of both steam and heat in an oven this year, move Baxter’s Hybrid Convection to the top of your holiday wish list. Baxter has taken the hard core power of their original convection oven and added an advanced airflow system (guaranteeing even cooking) and a patent pending steam system (for balanced moisture), creating a powerful, versatile tool primed to stand up to the toughest of tasks. The steam system cuts out the pain of system-flushing—giving interns a break from cleaning and freeing them up for some garlic peeling, perhaps—while the “Quick Set” control offers four baking settings and conveniently holds up to 90 recipes, letting you fine-tune every step of the cooking process. And its sleek 34-inch tall design makes it an oven that can fit into the smallest of kitchens, guaranteeing success even when you’re short on space.

Minipack XP-Series

Minipack XP-Series

Minipack America’s been sucking the air out of food storage bags for years. And with their XP Series, they’ve put together one of the most “all-bases-covered” tabletop vacuum chambers out there. Customizable chamber and lid height anticipate the inevitable variety of products coming through your kitchen (hot, cold, and liquid), which it vacuums—courtesy of a Busch or DVP vacuum pump—at a pace of 2 to 3 cycles per minute. An electronic millibar sensor measures the precise vacuum level, 100 customizable programs work with your kitchen, and a built-in labeling system means you won’t ever forget what you’ve vacuumed in the rush of prep. Controls are simple—and the digital display is water resistant—so you can focus your attention on the important part: transforming your perfectly vacuumed, safely sealed, properly labeled product into great cuisine.
Steelite’s Crucial Detail

Steelite’s Crucial Detail

Blacksmith, conceptual artist, jewelry-maker, sculptor: Martin Kastner is obviously a man of multi-disciplinary talent, a fact Grant Achatz tapped into when he coupled up with Kastner to design for Alinea. To date, Czech-born, Chicago native Kastner has produced over 40 designs for the restaurant, ranging from the website to the wine list to the service ware, creating a pervasive aesthetic that goes to the very heart of Alinea’s inimitable brand. And now Steelite International has partnered with Kastner to bring the uniquely designed plates and glasses ware to the market. Designs are inspired by a combination of nature (think rolling hills, wide open pastures, and the subtle nuance of grooves and shadows) and an attentive, playful nod to functionality and the unique requirements of modern cuisine.

Unified Brands Sous Vide Table with Polyscience Products

Unified Brands Sous Vide Table with Polyscience Products

Their Protein Processing System might have taken away the gold—or one of the golds—at the ICC 2011 Innovator Awards, but that doesn’t mean chefs shouldn’t get giddy over the Unified Brands Sous Vide Table. It’s basically a mobile-command sous vide station for chefs going to battle (a.k.a. service). A refrigerated tabletop has room for several packets at a time, and a built in vacuum chamber makes for quick and easy processing. Dual Polyscience circulation baths allow for simultaneous temperature-controlled chilling and cooking (or cooking and cooking, depending on demand). And in the (inevitable) event you need to cook a lot at once, sub-heaters will act as temperature back-up, preventing any influx of chilled product from swaying the bath temperature. A built in four-in-one FX Series refrigerator allows for rapid chilling, rapid thawing, refrigeration, and freezing—all of it oh-so-conveniently ice-free.

SPINFRESH Centrifugal Fryer

SPINFRESH Centrifugal Fryer

The Centrifugal Fryer from SPIN FRESH is the self-professed MP3 player in a world of CDs. They may not be far off. Sure, traditional deep-frying may never go the way of the dinosaur. But with this collision of centrifuge technology and the golden-brown goodness of deep frying (or boiling, if you prefer), the problem of over-fried, oil-saturated product may very well be a thing of the past. The beauty of the SPIN FRESH technology is that it’s simple and adjustable to all variety of products. After giving your product a conventional deep fry or boil, the basket raises it out of the liquid and spins according to your programmed speed and time, removing all excess liquid. The result is a consistent product that completely sidesteps the oily, burnt, and otherwise devastating mishaps of the conventional deep fry station.

Food2Water Waste Liquefier

Food2Water Waste Liquefier

Waste management systems might not be the sexiest items on the professional kitchen wish list, but they’re easily among the most important. Not to mention the most costly, to your budget and the environment. Which is why the folks at Food2Water came up with a system that replaces conventional organic waste disposal, all through a pretty ingenious imitation of nature itself. A workhorse batch of government-approved, safe-to-handle microorganisms does most of the work (except installation and maintenance, of course), breaking down your kitchen’s organic waste into city-compliant water that’s simply washed down the drain. The whole process takes 24 hours max, essentially hands-free after load-in. That’s less employee time spent on waste management and anywhere between 40 and 70 percent savings in hauling costs—not to mention the warm and fuzzies of environmental responsibility.
FusionChef Immersion Circulator by Julabo

FusionChef Immersion Circulator by Julabo

With temperature stability guaranteed within hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit and pre-programmable settings for meat, fish, and poultry, the FusionChef Immersion Circulator by Julabo is like a marriage of accuracy and accessibility—exactly the kind of tool you’ll want to have in a busy professional kitchen. Three timers can be started separately from each other, so if and when things inevitably become hectic, you’ll still have control over what’s been cooking, and for how long. And a core temperature sensor and alarm pays attention to your product even when you can’t. Combine that with an HACCP-compliant data storage system, a high-capacity pump, and a simultaneous display of target, actual, and core temperatures (in °C and °F no less) and you’ve got an immersion circulator worth more than a little St. Nick brown nosing.
Waring’s Combination Food Processor with Liquilock Seal System

Waring’s Combination Food Processor with Liquilock Seal System

Waring Commercial’s new WFP14SC Combination Food Processor is the culinary equivalent of a fish flopping its fins out on land—and not just in the liquid-meets-dry sense. It’s a step in the evolution of kitchen equipment, largely thanks to the LiquiLock™ Sealed System—a fully sealed batch bowl and blade that allow for processing large amounts of liquids while you (separately, and simultaneously) process dry ingredients. Double the work in half the time—not a bad deal. A locked blade (for safer pouring) and three cutting-edge patented accessory discs—a sealed whipping disc to create homemade whipped creams and butters in seconds, an adjustable slicing disc with 16 thicknesses that can be switched on the fly, and a reversible shredding disc with two shredding sizes in one—make this a utilitarian dream.
Goslyn Grease Recovery Device

Goslyn Grease Recovery Device

Even the mere words “sewer blockage” could scare your diners (and employees) away for months. And yet both high and low-volume restaurants produce enough oil, grease, and particulate waste to do some serious damage to their drainage systems. Fortunately, the team at Goslyn created a grease management system that not only has no moving parts (i.e. easy maintenance) but also eliminates the need for grease trap pumping, the scourge of the busy kitchen. The process centers around an immiscible liquid separator operating under hydro-static pressure that removes both the grease and oil as well as any solid debris that gets past drain baskets.  And with Goslyn constantly improving (and patenting) their technology, it’s a good bet your kitchen’s excess oil and grease won’t ever wreak havoc on those drain pipes again. Reason enough to be merry.

Berkel 330M Heritage Prosciutto Slicer

Berkel 330M Heritage Prosciutto Slicer

There are a lot of benefits to installing a Berkel 330M Heritage Prosciutto Slicer, but we’re fans of one of the less obvious ones—it’s like vintage and top-of-the-line, all in one. A 120-year-later recreation of Wilhelm Van Berkel’s original efficiency-slicing revelation, the Italian-made Heritage Prosciutto Slicer brings Berkel’s fundamental commitment to quality front and center. NSF-certified and equipped with Berkel’s patented friction-reducing, chromium-plated concave knife edge and low-resistance flywheel, the slicer allows for quick and easy production of consistently thin slices. Its efficiency might make it seem like it belongs in the back of the house, but a deep red finish makes the slicer ideal for front of house installation. Who wouldn’t enjoy the theater of perfectly sliced, buttery prosciutto?

The BarBoss Advance by Vitamix

The BarBoss Advance by Vitamix

From the reigning kings of professional restaurant blending comes BarBoss Advance, which, as per its name, is a combination of Vitamix’s macho blending technology and the all the requirements of the of the savvy mixologist. Designed specifically with high-end bars in mind, (though just as practical for any busy bar) BarBoss Advance features an automatic shut-off, letting you face the happy hour rush while your purée purées, pulse control to bring back the life to (previously mixed) drinks, and a lighted start/stop button, so you’ll be able to keep mixing long into the night. Six program buttons make it easier to ensure consistent, efficient blending, and a powerful ≈2 peak HP output motor can tackle the thickest of concoctions, without worry of overheating.

 

Blodgett BCP Series Combi Oven

Blodgett BCP Series Combi Oven

If you’re going for the multi-purpose impact of a combi oven this year, Blodgett’s BCP series could easily win your holiday heart. They’ve taken the steam and convection power of the original and added two rack configurations, a nine-speed auto-reversing fan, a programmable control (that can hold up to 200 product programs), and an 85° to 480°F temperature range, creating a powerful, customizable ally in the battle for product-precise cooking. Customize it even further with 15 recipes catalogues (not to mention a USB connection to back up them up) that can be organized into categories. The bow on top of the whole thing is a self-cleaning system that uses a minimal amount of water and chemicals, and an accurate semi-automatic de-liming system (it pumps in the precise amount of solution necessary), keeping your maintenance costs nice and low.

Honorable Mentions

Our dream kitchen would have all of the tools we’ve highlighted and more—but tight budgets and close quarters make it tough for even the luckiest on Santa’s list to fill up their kitchens with the best goods. Along with these hot tools, we’d also add in Electrolux’s air-o-chill, whose speedy blast chiller cools down food from 90°C to 3°C in less than 90 minutes. And for the more stocking-stuffer sized budget, we also have our eye on the newest flexible and easy-to-clean Silform molds from Demarle and the upscale single-use MYdrap placemats and napkins, which remove the hassle of washing duties. Rounding out our list is the artfully designed Arcobaleno Pasta Extruder AEX18, whose brass dies make for the perfect rustic pasta bite.