High speed cooking is a race to the finish. It is a contest to deliver quality food at the quickest and highest consistency. The bar has been raised higher and higher with pizzas, hot and fresh in 5 minutes or less, and subs that are Mmm Mmm toasty and made to order. Consumers have come to expect this level of service and taste in all food service environments.
This has been the struggle of a major corporate chain in the United States. Their goal was to provide a quick service café that served fresh sandwiches and wraps to order. Their struggle? To execute consistently across multiple stores.
One specific problem the chain was experiencing was the ability to replicate the gold standard across all stores. There were issues with recipes and timing that made it hard on both the labor, and the store, to deliver food that maintained the promised quality. Finally, in 2017, they knew they needed a change. At a loss of where to begin, they brought in Chef Dave Ash. Chef Ash has extensive experience with high speed menus and was able to understand the pain points and the changes that needed to be made.
First, and most important element in a high speed kitchen, is the oven. Chef Ash brought in a Merrychef model E2S to be the workhorse behind this menu revamp. The Merrychef works by using a combination of microwave, impingement and convection air technology. With a full color touch screen, its easy-to-use, programmable user interface makes it the perfect match for cafes, bars, convenience stores, and any other small format locations. The E2S has a large 12”x12” cavity. This allows for flexibility and versatility, and in one of the smallest footprints on the market today.
Pitted against another high-speed unit, the Merrychef underwent extensive testing, first in Columbus Ohio, and finally an in-store evaluation in New York City. Merrychef outclassed the other brand in every category, cementing the change in spec within a month of testing in-store. They were matched recipe for recipe on time, taste and consistency.
28 total recipes were head to head, with the following results:
• Average of 14.3 seconds saved, as high as 50 seconds per product, 400 seconds saved (based on cooking time) overall
• Average of 10.54% less microwave used, as high as 30% less used per product, 295% less microwave used total
• All products on a single stage program for Merrychef, multi stage for Oven “B”
The support from Chef Ash was a large factor in the decision to officially make the change. He traveled to the test store location and trained the location on how to use the oven, ensuring the transition would be smooth, and still assists if there are any large concerns.
“High speed cooking isn’t always a drag race. For me- it is about optimizing the oven settings to insure the integrity of the food is still intact, and we meet or exceed our customers expectations”
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