Forum Café Bars is an eclectic chain of contemporary bars and pubs based in and around Sheffield, but if there is one common factor that unites the group’s individual sites it is the need to produce consistent, good quality food on a daily basis. The chain has been re-equipping its kitchens over the past year in an effort to improve its offering and, for group executive chef Andy Burns the outcome of that has been incredibly rewarding.
The group’s eight sites encompass café bars, gastro pubs and American-style diners and smokehouses, but all require appliances that can cope with a busy kitchen environment. One supplier that Andy has worked closely with over the past year is Lincat after taking the decision to introduce the manufacturer’s Opus 700 single and double clam griddles to its operations. With its kitchens churning out around 2,000 burgers a week, the promise of kit that not only works fast but can handle high volumes was too good to ignore.
“Depending on size, we can have a burger ready in one-and-a-half minutes — a 6oz in two minutes,” explains Andy. “On a chargrill, it would have taken eight to 10 minutes. Chicken and steaks are also cooked a lot quicker. This speed gives the meat that crucial resting time, which makes it tender and brings it to perfect serving temperature.”
Not surprisingly, the chain is now considering whether it even needs traditional chargrills, especially as the clam griddles provide complete flexibility. The units are used for flatbreads and gourmet toasted sandwiches, while Andy’s colleagues in the kitchen have been using silicone mats with the clam griddles to cook fish. What’s more, the changes it has made to its equipment estate have allowed it to expand its menu and introduce a Korean-based offering. “Some of the dishes we cook on the clam griddle include kimchi pork belly and bulgogi beef,” reveals Andy. “The most popular are our vegetable and chicken gochujang skewers.”
“We can have a burger ready in one-and-a-half minutes — a 6oz in two minutes. On a chargrill, it would have taken eight to 10 minutes”