What kind of refrigeration does your commercial kitchen need? A fridge or blast chiller?

Supplier: Butler Equipment By: Tracey Freinberger
18 June, 2021

Choosing the right kind of refrigeration for your hospitality business is a huge decision. A commercial fridge is specifically designed for frequent use, in busy professional kitchens.

Whether you are running a small cafe or restaurant, food must be kept chilled at the right temperature and displayed in a visually pleasing and organised manner. But the right refrigeration equipment can add more than just the right level of cooling to raw and cooked food!

In commercial kitchens, there is often a need to cool down cooked food quickly, in order to safely store it for use at a later date. It used to be thought that chilling it down to room temperature, followed by storage in a fridge, was sufficient for most food applications.

However, we know that the temperature of food needs to be reduced in a much more controlled manner. The safest way to comply with the food safety regulations governing the chilling and freezing of cooked food is to use a blast chiller, or blast freezer.

Why can’t you use a standard fridge for this? The benefits of having a blast chiller for food safety, food quality, labor savings, and decreased food waste make the investment a no-brainer. But, what do you really need to know to make a smart investment and reap the benefits that come with this game-changing addition to your line-up?

Does your Commercial Fridge cool food quick enough?

When fridge doors are continually being opened, the unit requires a faster chill recovery rate and has to work far harder to maintain its storage temperature. As a result, commercial fridges are made with powerful compressors, far sturdier construction. They are often fan-assisted and this makes them louder than domestic fridges. Depending on your menu and your food demand, your kitchen may need to prep food in bulk. Your refrigerator needs to be up to the task of chilling the food quick enough, without dropping the overall temperature inside the fridge.

Do you need a Blast Chiller?

One of the main features of this kind of unit is that it rapidly cools down your food, until it’s at a safe point to store in a refrigerator. This happens by blasting the food with cooled air for an extended period of time. A standard blast chiller will chill from 70°C to 3°C in less than 90 minutes. A blast freezer will chill from 70°C to - 18°C in less than 240 minutes.

Blast Chillers are your best choice for rapidly freezing food products for longer term storage. It also means you're able to purchase bulk products in season/at a lower price. Blast freezing allows chefs to prepare menu items and rapidly freeze for later use. Food products prepared in this way will maintain their cellular structure, taste and appearance as if they were just prepared for the first time. It will also simplify your overall commercial kitchen ordering process - you can plan more effectively and minimise disruptions to your menu caused by a lack of availability.

Will it really help me operate more effectively and sustainably?

A blast chiller system can streamline production processes, enabling staff to work faster and more effectively. This gives you the flexibility to adjust your staffing levels to meet demand, as well as manage your overall operating costs. Blast Chillers will also help you meet food safety requirements by reducing the potential growth of micro-organisms, which result in your food deteriorating more quickly.

In many traditional kitchens, it is common practice to place warm food into a fridge or freezer to bring the food down to 3°C or - 18°C respectively; this practice results in the fridge or freezer having to operate outside of its designed capabilities. This equipment misuse can result in increased power and service costs, as well as a shortening of the equipment’s expected life cycle.

Remember a cool room or fridge is designed to keep cold food cold and a freezer room is designed to keep frozen food frozen.

What is the best one for your operation?

Your restaurant concept and its size will be the biggest factors in what you buy for restaurant refrigeration. There is a wide range of sizes of Blast Chillers to fit various work spaces, volumes and budgets. It is wise to seek advice on your menu and kitchen set up before starting your search.

Low profile versions, for example, are designed to fit under a combi oven for convenient transfer of food pans from oven to chiller. We love the Olis Blast Chiller - Shock Freezer 5 x 1/1 GN which is perfect for under counter convenience.

Other popular models in the Olis range include:

8 tray x 1/1 GN Olis Blast Chiller - Shock Freezer
Olis 12 tray x 1/1 GN Olis Blast Chiller - Shock Freezer 

Butler Equipment are the exclusive distributors of Olis in Australia. To suit all budgets, there's a comprehensive selection of quality Industry Brands of both Commercial Refrigeration and Blast Chillers/Shock Freezers including Skope, Bromic, Thermaster, Williams, Austune, Skipio & Anvil from convenient under counter units to custom walk in units.

In case your inner voice is saying 'high quality generally comes at a higher price tag', think first about what your kitchen really needs. The price, if the equipment is the right match for you, will sometimes actually save you money.

However, if cash flow is a hiccup, many companies offer finance. We love Mahatmacane Hospitality Finance for their fast and flexible service and Silver Chef is another favourite. Mahatmacane is especially affordable, giving you more options and helping you overcome the biggest pitfall any new catering operator can make: being under-equipped, under-financed and unprepared for maximising your business.

Financing your equipment, the smart way, you can deliver the very best for your customers and show your true professionalism when working with top quality equipment.