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Use of smart equipment in Culinary Institutes

By Virender S Datta, Chairman, International Institute of Culinary Arts (IICA), Delhi

Thursday, November 16, 2017, 15:34 Hrs  [IST]

At culinary institutes, we train chefs for future and fact of the matter is FUTURE IS NOW. The future of kitchens and chefs is directly linked to innovations in Kitchen equipment and converting traditional kitchens into a Smart Commercial Kitchen, by linking key equipment to data base, internet and energy management.

The concept of smart kitchen is not new as over the decades, we have been innovating and introducing new kitchen equipment that not only brought efficiency in manpower productivity but also improved energy cost and food quality.

However, the challenge is to understand, how much should a new culinary student be exposed to these smart kitchens in the initial stages of their career.

At culinary Institutes, we are all training future chefs; but we must remember, before you become a chef, you must be a good cook.

And to be a good cook, one must learn the basic skills of knife handling, basic cuts and frying pan management when cooking the dish. The course curriculum focuses on training students on culinary term, cooking processes, how to be an effective team member, task ownership approach, ethics-based work culture, and positive attitude to work. And, in continuation of this learning process, a student is required to get hands-on experience in the actual process of cooking and not a machine-led activity that electronically controls the end product.



However, this learning process cannot undermine the student’s learning needs and understanding of latest in technology that goes into the making of smart kitchens. A culinary student may not start using these smart kitchen equipment during his Institute days, but must be familiarised with choices of equipment available in the market and understand their utility and contributions in making an efficient and profitable kitchen.

This is one and most important reason that a culinary Institute must maintain a close link with the Industry and the students, when they go for their industrial training to these hotels, shall get first-hand experience of working of SMART KITCHEN equipment.

It is in this context, we get considerable Industry assignments to research and develop new products, that necessitate the use of smart kitchen equipment. Recently, IICA had an assignment to develop a complete project of India’s first Non- Vegetarian QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) where fresh non- vegetarian food is cooked and served with in 6 minutes of receiving the order. Unlike current fast food outlets, the QSR food is neither deep fried nor reheated before service.

In the development of this project, our faculty and students got an opportunity to understand the use and benefits of Combi Ovens that works on the principals of computerised memory and Micro steam cooking.

Few examples of smart Kitchen equipment are listed below:

Smart Frying Pan
An iphone-linked gadget that monitors what you are cooking and lets the chef check the inside temperature of the food being cooked, without having to fork it.

Drop Connected Kitchen Scale
Connected through Bluetooth with an ipad, the scale points out when you put exact quantity of the ingredients for a dish and you can then follow up with the next ingredient, the same way.

Asous vide precision cooker
It works by raising the water temperature to fixed point and maintains it for a fixed period of time while you place plastic vacuum packed sealed food items that need to be cooked at a fixed time.

Asmart meat thermometer
A bluetooth connected thermometer tells you when the food being cooked by you has reached the excact inner temperature desired by you. No need to check if the steak is medium or rare.

Egg Minder
The gadget (using LED light technology) lets you know which egg is fresh and which one is going to be bad.

Digital Volumetric Spoon Scale
A simple gadget to tell you the volumetric weight with ease while measuring ingredients for low-calorie or regular dish.

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

 
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