Manitowoc’s Culinary Team brings equipment and culinary expertise to the table
Culinary R&D begins with the food but doesn’t end until every aspect of bringing a product to market — including the equipment in which it is prepared — is fully vetted. That equipment as much as any key ingredient can impact quality, speed of service, safety, yield, presentation and even flavor. Manitowoc Foodservice’s culinary team brings both equipment and culinary expertise to the table for clients, helping to refine and test ideas, matching products to cooking platforms and cooking platforms to actual kitchen footprints.
“We work with companies looking for multi-brand solutions,” says Alison Cullin-Woodcock, Manitowoc Foodservice corporate executive chef. “Our goal is to help clients make sure that they’ve got the best equipment choice for their desired application. And it’s not just about what they want to do today. Much of what we do is focused on helping them ‘future proof’ their menus — thinking ahead to where they want to be three to five years down the road.”
Working in customer kitchens and in the Manitowoc Foodservice R&D kitchen in Tampa, the team takes a holistic approach to culinary consulting that starts with analysis of current menus and processes. From there, the group works hand-in-hand with clients on projects that might include:
Testing menu items in multiple cooking platforms to find best-fit solutions.
Providing expertise and products to meet specific goals, such as reducing labor, increasing speed of service, or shrinking kitchen footprints.
Introducing new technologies and assessing their impact on process and workflow.
Training staff on proper use of new technologies.
Maximizing the multi-functionality of “smart” equipment.
“Our kitchen includes more than 150 pieces of equipment and is entirely modular. We can configure it to replicate any kitchen, whether c-store or four-star restaurant,” Cullin-Woodcock says. “Our chefs are cross-trained on every Manitowoc Foodservice brand so we can test an item in many different cooking platforms to find the one that hits the gold standard.”
Manufacturer Alliances: A Hole in One
Beyond operator projects, the culinary team partners with manufacturers to deliver solutions that bundle food, packaging and equipment. “When we can jointly go to end-users not only with exciting trend-based ideas, but with the products, the packaging and the equipment, that’s a hole in one for the operator,” Cullin-Woodcock says. “We’ve taken all the stress away.”
To that end, Manitowoc collaborates with leading food manufacturers on product development and determining optimum cooking platforms for their products. Typically, multiple platforms are assessed to meet the needs of operators in different segments and with different capabilities. Recipes are often tweaked to ensure that the products work equally well across multiple platforms. Recent examples include working with Rich’s Food Service culinary specialists to help select the best cooking technologies for new and best-selling products; working with McCain Food to expand its portfolio of ovenable potato and appetizer products; and developing a partnership with Nestle Professional on a variety of multi-segment food and beverage solutions.
Alliances with packaging manufacturers factor in, as well. They’re increasingly important as operators look to offer more pre-packaged, on-the-go foodservice options as well as more sustainably packaged foods. “For operations like c-stores to take full advantage of foodservice opportunities takes both smart equipment and smart packaging,” Cullin-Woodcock says. “We collaborate with suppliers including Bridge-Gate Alliance, which specializes in sustainable packaging, and Cryovac®, the leader in air-sealed packaging technology, to ensure that their products perform well in our ovens. The result is that a company like Nestle can market single-serve lasagna to a c-store operator because it can quickly go from refrigerator to oven to consumer with no employee having touched the food. The fact that you can get a perfectly food-safe, high-quality, fast meal to go is a total solution combining food, packaging and equipment. It’s great for the operator and, ultimately, it’s a win for the consumer.”