In its heyday, the pestle and mortar combination must have been a revelation. However, chefs worldwide will be rather glad that times have moved on and the advent of high-powered mixers and blenders has dawned. Whether you consider them to be time-saving or life changing, the equipment is a must-have in any modern commercial kitchen.
With an abundance of models on the market, some clear advice from Nisbets product/brand manager Heather Beattie should help: “Look for good-quality, robust equipment with a capacity designed to suit the size of operation you run,” she says.
For example, the four-litre Waring commercial blender would suit a high-volume dining operation, while a gastropub would get on better with the Waring one or two-litre model.
Turning to the subject of mixers, Beattie recommends the KitchenAid Heavy Duty Mixer.
“Both mixers and blenders are the ultimate time and energy-saver in a busy pub kitchen,” she continues. “They have a wide range of uses–the Waring Blender is ideally suited to making delicious soups, pasta sauces, pesto, dips and dressings.
“The KitchenAid mixer is unbeatable when it comes to processing large amounts of bread or pizza dough, cake mixes, crumble toppings, mashed potato, whipped cream or beaten eggs. Just make sure you keep your equipment thoroughly clean and well-maintained to ensure optimum performance.”
There is a checklist when it comes to the style of mixer too. Metcalfe managing director Neil Richards says: “Items of a more liquid consistency are best controlled by an immersion blender as it gives you the most control over frequency. For occasional light to medium-duty mixing, a counter-top mixer will be fine. For large amounts of dough, hooks work best, as they control and mix it properly in the least amount of time. For lighter loads, such as whipped toppings for desserts, or sensitive egg-based dishes such as souffles, a beater attachment is best.”
Stick blenders certainly have their place in the commercial kitchen and Mitchell & Cooper’s Kisag range comprises three sizes to suit all operations. They are among the most powerful on the market with a versatile multi-purpose blade to make soups, curries, sauces and purees in minutes.
Catering equipment heavyweight Hobart supplies a 20-strong collection in its Planetary Gear Mixer range for all types of establishment.
“Blenders and bowl-chopper preparation machines such as Vitamix will cover most chefs’ needs,” says Steven Kitchen, chef consultant for Vitamix in the UK.
Case study: Mall Tavern, Notting hill, west London
The kitchens at the Mall Tavern and its sister pub, the Parlour at Kensal Rise, north-west London, have an impressive count of mixers and blenders between them. Chef owner Jesse Dunford Wood credits a few of the contraptions with having changed his life.
“Every restaurant that was ever built has a Robot Coupe,” he claims. “It is great for making mousses and other things, but I was quite sceptical of the slicing and grating attachments at first –I have come to love them. I thought it would be better to do it by hand, but when you make as much coleslaw or slice as much potato for our chicken Kiev dish as we do they are brilliant and save so much time. Who seriously wants to grate anything by hand? Sometimes the attachments break and then you realise how lucky you are.
“We buy new blades every month at 8 [pounds sterling], so it is not expensive. It changes your life.”
The kitchens also each have a Vitamix Vita-Prep upright blender for 500 [pounds sterling], which Dunford Wood praises as “amazing”. He has recently purchased an 800 [pounds sterling] Thermomix, which can do virtually any kitchen task from heating mixtures to blending food and making dough. The kitchen team uses it for tasks such as making and heating custard for Sunday lunch and keeping it warm throughout the service.
“You don’t really need both,” he says. “Personally, I would take the Vita-Prep over the Thermomix.” He also uses a Robot Coupe stick blender for tasks such as making mayonnaise and blending soup, as well as a KitchenAid mixer and a Hobart mixer for making bread and pastry. Although mincing attachments can be bought for much of the equipment, he prefers to use a stand-alone mincer as it is more powerful and the sites make a lot of pork pies, pates, stuffing and meatballs.
“If I had to pick the best equipment, it would have to be the KitchenAid mixer and Vita-Prep blender.”
Case study: Hermitage road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
This Anglian Country Inns pub has been phenomenally busy since opening in October 2011.With an open kitchen and capacity of 150, head chef Kumour Uddin and his team are kept on their toes. The kitchen uses a KitchenAid mixer, industrial Robot Coupe, Waring and Robot Coupe hand blenders, another Waring blender and a Thermomix.
Everyone has a Thermomix,” Says Uddn. “We use it for Everything from making bread crumbs to pureeing, making bread doughs and soups–pretty much anything that you mix and blend! The Robot Coupe is always good for reliability. Our blender cost 1,200 [pounds sterling] and attachments cost up to 120 [pounds sterling], so it can be dear. The other equipment ranges from 100 [pounds sterling] to 400 [pounds sterling] depending on size and we have a 300 [pounds sterling] liquidiser from Waring.”
The Hermitage Road kitchen team makes a lot of soups, Yorkshire pudding batter, pastry, bread mixes, whipped cream, biscuit base and sauces.
“The benefits of mixers and blenders are massive in terms of saving time, as well as achieving a smoother product, for example when making soup. You want all the veg in, but need a good liquidiser to emulsify it for a deeper flavour and not have to throw half of it away,” adds Uddin.
“It ensures all products are incorporated properly. The skill level necessary is low, so commis chefs can run the station. We would be doing 20 more hours a week without them.”
Case study: Palmer Arms, Dorney, Berkshire
The food offer at the pub, which has two AA rosettes, is headed up by ex-MasterChef: The Professionals contestant Justin Brown.
The kitchen uses several pieces of equipment from catering supplier Nisbets.
“Heading up a busy kitchen with limited space makes it vital we choose kit that allows us to create quality food, saves space, offers value for money and is easy to use,” Brown says.
The Mycook food blender and Rowzer frozen-food processor from Spanish manufacturer Taurus are featured among his kitchen equipment.
The Taurus Mycook 1.8kW heated food blender is a professional and versatile unit that cooks, blends, fries, boils, grates, chops and mashes.
It has been developed to include the use of induction cooking technology, allowing chefs to prepare food with or without heat. It gives consistency and requires little skill, so dishes can be replicated by any member of staff. The Palmer Arms uses it for soups, purees and powders, such as the sweetcorn and black olive powder used to decorate its breast of wood pigeon dish.
When it comes to desserts, the Taurus Rowzer micropureeing processor creates smooth sorbets by emulsifying the frozen product into an ultra-smooth mousse without any waste.
Mixers and blenders on the market
Smooth and simple
FEM’s Hamilton Beach Tempest blender mixes up drinks in seconds. It uses a patented wave action to continually force the mixture on to the blades, breaking down ice from a granita texture to a smooth drink. It has two speed settings, a jump cycle and pulse button to offer precise control. It uses a 1.9-litre jug with measuring marks and has a 3hp motor.
Better than the original
ChefTools has launched the Pacojet 2, which boasts a host of new features. It has a more efficient and quieter motor with upgraded software to detect and prevent overfilling and blade damage. The model has an optional air-pressure mode with automatic depressurisation and offers more precise decimal portion control. It has a colour graphic display, an automatic cleaning cycle and comes with a complimentary Pacojet recipe book put together with help from top chefs.