Feature Article - April 2004
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Concession Obsession

Learn to maximize your menu, save money and make even more

By Elisa Kronish

Equipping Your Kitchen

Besides cutting costs, you can save money and time by getting more out of your equipment. Outfit your kitchen according to your needs and menu.

A greaseless fryer, for example, can create a variety of food items without using expensive and messy grease.

"[You] could put together a menu of grilled and 'fried' items as well as bakeable items like pretzels," says Paul Artt, president of a Dallas-based food-equipment manufacturer. "It's ideal for anybody who wants to do food service but doesn't want to become a restaurant."

Angie Delaney uses her greaseless fryer unit for cooking chicken nuggets, cheese sticks and corn dogs.

"It's economical and saves a lot of space," she says, adding that it's also simple to use. "Another selling point is that it takes, at the most, six minutes to cook something."

Keeping track of her high-volume hours, Delaney is able to space out the cooking times, so food isn't sitting for long periods, and keep food warm in the oven or under a heat lamp when necessary.

At Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont, Ill., General Manager Nick Mokelke does a substantial food business. He recently upgraded his kitchen with a new layout and new equipment.

"The basic layout of our kitchen was 75 years old," Mokelke explains. "It took us from being a Volkswagen to a Jaguar."

After reworking the space for better flow, his staff can work faster and clean up easier. A useful addition to the kitchen included a built-in cleaner for a fryer.

"You can just push a button and renew the grease," he explains. While it still requires new oil at least once a week, the internal filter rejuvenates the oil for improved re-use before a full replacement.

Another thing Mokelke added was a combi-oven, which combines three modes of cooking in one: steam, circulated hot air or a combination of both. It can be used to reheat foods and to roast, bake and oven-fry.

"It's great for veggies and for reheating items without drying them out," he says. He also uses it to cook chicken that's then marked on the outdoor grill for effect.

"It's the illusion of barbecue," Mokelke says. "But people eating it don't care, because they mainly want the show. Plus, it's a better product."

Having the right equipment can make a difference.

"When you redo your kitchen, it sends a message to your staff that you're willing to put money into it," Mokelke says. "We're demanding a lot of the kitchen staff, so it's only fair that we give them the right tools to do their job."