What’s for Breakfast

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With a good selection of equipment, restaurants can offer customers a broader selection of breakfast item quicker and at lower cost.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, according to nutritionists. And with the pace of modern life increasing, more people are getting their breakfasts outside of the home.

Both upscale restaurants located inside hotels and resorts, and sit-down neighbor foodservice operations can benefit by offering breakfast service. Depending on the location, breakfast service can be full table service, a self-serve buffet, or a combination of the two. In hotels patronized by business travelers, breakfast service can even leave the premises on carts set up near the checkout counter offering early morning travelers a hot breakfast sandwich and coffee as they head out.

And breakfast is no longer limited to the morning hours. At some restaurants, breakfast evolves into brunch, especially on Sundays. And some now offer breakfast all day if requested.

To better serve breakfast customers, manufacturers offer a broad variety of equipment that not only enables restaurants to broaden their breakfast menu, but also cook these items quicker and at lower cost. The following are some of the newest and/or interesting equipment to accomplish those goals:

Having a good griddle is integral in providing breakfast service as it can be used to cook many morning items like fried or scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, ham steaks and pork sausage.

To fill the needs of restaurants offering not only breakfast service but throughout the day, Hestan Commercial offers a line of premium thermostatic griddles.

“Based on input we received from chefs nationwide, Hestan designed a griddle that contains the features they most requested,” said Frank Calamia, national sales manager. Features include a heavy-duty 1-inch thick Blanchard ground steel griddle plate, stainless steel tubular burners (each rate 25,000 Btu/hour per 12-inch griddle section) controlled by a thermostatic safety valve, a 1.25-inch front gas manifold, and Zamak knobs and bezels. A stainless-steel front grease trough directs grease into a spill-proof drawer for easy disposal. Chrome/mirror-finish or grooved griddle plates are optional.

Diners today demand freshness, according to Edward Nunn, business development manager at Hatco. And the best way to assure them is for them to see the omelet or other breakfast dish prepared before their very eyes in a display cooking area in either sit-down or buffet service.

The Hatco Rapide Cuisine countertop induction range, with its low-profile design and Magnetic Power System that delivers up 1,800 watts of cooking power, is ideal for breakfast display cooking, Nunn said. Features include programmable modes that create preset programs for consistent cooking cycles and quality product, an energy-saving automatic shut-off to prevent overheating, and Pan Sense Technology that activates the unit only when a suitable pan is placed on top. A high-resolution display instantly advises of precise power, temperature and time control. A fully sealed top with conformal-coated boards protects against grease or moisture for continued reliable operation.

But what if a customer doesn’t want his eggs fried, scrambled or turned into an omelet? Equipex offers the C06 Egg Cooker that enables breakfast buffet customers to hard boil eggs to their preferred doneness. The unit of a water reservoir with six baskets to lower an egg into the water. Boiling temperature is thermostatically controlled. All the customer has to do once eggs are in place is to press to start.

A broad selection of breakfast items can be cooked or baked in a trio of countertop Mini-Combi ovens marketed by Convotherm, according to Deb Friar, senior product sales manager.

“In bake mode the Mini-Combi can bake biscuits, croissants and bagels. In other modes it can cook eggs into omelets or eggs benedict as well as hard boil eggs. It can cook breakfast meats like Canadian bacon and cook cereal dishes like oatmeal and grits. It also can cook hash browns and then hold it at serving temperature for a long time,” Friar said.

Because each section of the Mini-Combi is a closed system, you can bake pastry and cook meats at the same time without flavor transfer, she added. The easyTouch 6.10 models has computerized controls that enable the oven to be programmed for the cooking modes of commonly cooked recipes that can then be recalled by touching a single pad on the control panel.

Tastes in what toast to serve for breakfast has changed as much as it has diverged. As a result, restaurant toasters need to be able to brown a wide variety of bread products.

An example is the Model TPT Pop-Up Toaster from Hatco that has adjustable slots that can handle not only white bread, but also bagels, Texas toast, English Muffins and toaster waffles. Features include the ability to progressively control the browning process and a selector switch between single- and double-sided toasting.

For higher-volume breakfast service Hatco offers the Toast-Qwik Conveyor Toaster with dual entry slots from which two different types of bread product can be toasted simultaneously. Spot-On Technology enables the toaster to sense when product placed on the conveyor belt, thus activating the unit. When no product is being added the toaster automatically goes into Power Saver mode. The patented ColorGuard Sensing System adjusts conveyor speed during peak periods to ensure toast color uniformity. And the unit’s touchpad can be programmed to hold up to 20 product settings.

Waffles have long been part of the American breakfast cuisine, so manufacturers have been creating models that make waffle baking quicker and easier. They also have created the question: Traditional waffle or Belgian.

“We see the Belgian waffle taking the lead in customer preference in recent years, primarily because diners are demanding more and Belgian waffles are thicker,” said Joe Carcione, director of sales at Nemco. “Likewise, restaurants are seeing increasing uses for Belgian waffles after breakfast with the current Chicken and Waffle craze and the European ice cream sandwich in which a slice off a brick of ice cream is placed between two Belgian waffles.”

Nemco currently offers countertop bakers of both types of waffles that include digital controls that monitor the baking process for precise cooking and browning. Both feature top-mounted controls that stay cleaner by being away from batter and grease. Temperature sensors ensure uniform baking. Each with produce up to twenty 7-inch waffles per hour. The traditional waffle bakers come in single and double grid models. Belgian waffle bakers now feature an Auto Start feature that begins cooking when the batter is added and the grids are rotated 180 degrees. Nemco offers customizable waffle grids so restaurants can personalize their waffles, Carcione noted.

Crepes for breakfast? Equipex has the device for making crepes quickly and easily.

The Crepe Machine consists of an enamel coated cast iron plate (13.75 inches diameter for model 350FE; 15-75 inches diameter for model 400FE) designed for uniform heat distribution. A thermostatic control enables cooking heat up to 570-degrees-F. The units come with a batter spreader. Optional equipment includes a chilled batter holder and a topping dispenser.

Some people prefer that bowl of corn flakes to be central to their breakfast. To serve those customers at the breakfast buffet, restaurants have a choice of several types of cold cereal dispensers.

Vollrath offers a selection of single- and dual body dispensers with clear plastic canisters that enables diners to view the type of cereal inside. Cereal is added from the top with product on the bottom dropping into bowls when a wheel is rotated below.

“While we’ve never done a formal survey, I’ve found that it depends on the location what type of cereal is offered. At restaurants that cater to business people, they dispense ‘adult’ cereals like corn flakes, raisin bran and granola. But at restaurants that attract families you will see more of the colored sugary ‘kid’s’ cereals,” said Becky Scrieber-Pethan, category manager of countertop equipment at Vollrath.

Spring USA, which for several years offers one- and two-hopper cereal dispensers recently added a Triple Snack/Cereal Dispenser with a rotating chassis so diners can easily access their favorite type. The three polycarbonate cylinders each hold 10.5 quarts of cereal, which are dispensed by turning a bottom-mounted wheel. This countertop dispenser measures 19.5-in. wide, 22.75-in. deep and 27-in. high.

Rosseto Serving Solutions offers even larger cereal dispensers. Model EZ522 has five 4.9-liter clear acrylic canisters for greater choice and a patented portion wheel that dispenses 1-ounce of cereal per turn. Another model puts six canisters of a rotating base so customers can dial up the ready-to-eat cereal they desire.

But some like their cereal hot.

A compact device from Grindmaster/Cecilware enables restaurants to satisfy the growing demand for oatmeal in only 11 inches of counter space. The model GB3 LPO Oatmeal Dispenser has three 4-lb. hoppers that can be filled with three different flavors of oatmeal, a 2.75-gallon water tank that refills automatically from a water line, and a heater. Press a button and a direct drive auger mixes the oatmeal product with heated water for dispensing into a bowl below. Temperature settings are easily changed and drip tray height adjusts to accommodate various cup or bowl sizes. The dispenser disassembles for easy cleaning.

For truly fresh breakfast coffee, Grindmaster/Cecilware offers a broad selection of Grind’n Brew coffeemakers that pulverize the coffee beans immediately prior to brewing the java, according to William Dehman, business manager. In all four models, digital controls enable kitchen staffers to selection full or half batch operation and to program the brew cycle for preferred taste and brewing frequency. Pulse brewing technology results in the extraction of 20% more dissolved solids per batch of coffee. Brew cycles begin only after the water is heated to optimum brewing temperature. Brewed coffee is maintained to within 1-degree-F of serving temperature. Models include two single bean and two dual bean (regular and de-caf beans in separate hoppers), each with a carafe or airpot.

Where coffee demand is great, Grindmaster/Cecilware offers two choices of high-volume coffee brewing systems: Pump urns and Heat-exchanger urns.

In the AMW Midland Pump Urns, water is heated in a large storage compartment before it is pumped over the coffee grounds through a specially-designed solid cone spray nozzle, providing the most uniform extraction possible from the coffee bed. The water compartment automatically refills and reheats as needed. A low water cutoff system protects heating elements from burn out, at start-up or in operation. These stainless steel constructed brewers come in single and double urn models that can brew 3 to 20 gallons of coffee simultaneously.

In AMW Midland Heat-Exchange Urns, fresh water pumped directly into the unit is passed through a heat exchanger coil that warms it to optimal brew temperature. An automatic coffee agitation system thoroughly mixes brewed coffee immediately after spray over is completed. The spray arm is coated with a non-stick material to prevent liming for continuous smooth operation. The water compartment automatically refills and reheats as needed. These models also come in single and double urn models for brewing 3 to 20 gallons at a time.

No breakfast is complete without juice to get that morning helping of Vitamin C. To fill that need in buffet service, Spring USA offers a line of self-serve beverage dispensers, the latest of which is the 2511-6/7 Beverage Dispenser with ice tube. With a stainless-steel base and faucet, the dispenser has a clear 2-gallon polycarbonate 6.5-inch diameter vessel with a dedicated ice tube that keep beverages cold. The faucet incorporates a pulp-cleaning valve, explained Katie Konopka, marketing manager at Spring USA.

Restaurants can serve fresh juice for breakfast in any quantity using the J80 Ultra (6.5-quart) and J100 Ultra (7.5-quart) automatic juicers marketed by Robot Coupe USA. Features include a heavy-duty vibration-free direct-drive motor that operates at a speed of 3,450 rpm that results in less oxidation of the resulting juice for a smoother and more flavorful beverage, said Kevin Keith, national project manager at Robot Coupe. Fruits and vegetables are automatically pulled into the feed tube without a pusher, and pulp is directed into a separate container. Juice (orange, grapefruit, tomato, carrot, etc.) pours into glasses from a no-splash spout.

“Juice is made at the rate of one 6-ounce glass every seven seconds; much faster than the old hand squeezing method,” Keith added.

A Milk Dispenser shaped like an old-fashion milk can also is offered by Spring USA. The 5.25-quart capacity dispenser also includes the ice tube, stainless steel faucet and a drain base with replaceable cup. Placed between the cereals and the beverages, it can serve both those demanding milk on their corn flakes as well as children and others seeking a quaff of moo juice to top off their breakfast.

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