Professional kitchen equipment is often very different from what you use at home. There are similarities (everyone needs spoons), but there are also key differences. Industrial equipment is designed and purchased with several important factors in mind. This post is all about analyzing the equipment in your kitchen and using the result to save money and streamline your work space.
Chefs take certain considerations into account when purchasing equipment, and not all of them are as important to home cooks. But it never hurts to understand what those considerations are and how they can be used to maximize efficiency in your kitchen at home.
Let's take a look at some factors that determine the overall value of a piece of equipment:
Equipment EfficiencyHow much time and energy does it save?
If the answer is "a little bit" or "maybe 5 minutes," then you don't need it and it's just taking up space. Developing the skills needed to use simple tools more effectively will save you much more time and energy in the long run, and the resulting food product will almost always be superior. Before purchasing a tool or piece of equipment, think about whether or not you really need it. The most valuable tools are not always the ones that replace work that can be done by hand. It really all comes down to expectations; if all you care about is minimizing time and effort, there are millions of poorly manufactured kitchen gadgets that will provide you with consistently average results. Superior quality and overall efficiency comes from learning to do it efficiently by hand, with basic tools. This saves you from having to find a place to store a bunch of bulky appliances that really only have one use, e.g.(salad shooter).
CompatibilityHow well does it fit with your other equipment and how much extra space does it occupy?
DurabilityHow long till you need to buy another one and how easy will it be to replace it?
In many cases, it's more practical and even preferable (from a professional mindset) to purchase a lower quality tool that performs just as well as the big fancy expensive one. In other words, don't swing for the fences when all you need is a bunt. Compare the frequency with which you replace or repair tools with the amount of money you spend on each replacement or repair. Consider the availability of the tool; is there an affordable and reliable source of functional replacements? Since most small appliances are cheaper to replace than they are to repair, your best bet is to learn to use the basic tools in your kitchen arsenal more effectively. Most basic kitchen tools are easy and inexpensive to replace, and (with a little bit of skill) are far more versatile than expensive and bulky machines.
There are exceptions:
a) unique tools produced in foreign countries e.g.(Italian pasta chitarra)
b) equipment containing complex moving parts e.g.(stand mixer, blender, food processor)
c) any piece of equipment that will directly impact the quality of the food e.g.(knives, pots and pans)
In the cases listed above, the quality of the equipment you use can have a direct impact on the quality of the food you produce, so a little extra cash for a superior tool may be necessary. Think of them as an extra special ingredient; like using a fresh sprig of Thyme instead of the freeze dried stuff.
UtilityHow well does it perform the task it was designed for?
In a professional setting, a little extra effort to achieve a superior result is preferable to tossing everything into a blender to save time. In the home, the exact opposite may be true; again, it comes down to individual expectations. In professional kitchens, the big questions are "What tool achieves the best result?" and "How can I get the best result with the least amount of effort?" The result is weighted heavily in favor of achieving the best result rather than minimizing effort. To answer these questions we compare the effort exerted with and without the tool with the quality of the resulting product. If a piece of equipment takes too long to set up or spits out an inferior product, it's useless.
UTILITY = (QUALITY OF PRODUCT) : (QUALITY OF PRODUCT)
(Time & Effort WITH Tool) : (Time & Effort WITHOUT Tool)
Which brings us to: