The professional and domestic world are getting closer and closer thanks to appliances that provide consumers with high performance and techniques for storing and cooking typical of restaurants
Ovens equipped with a probe to measure the meat temperature at the heart, hobs able of regulating cooking levels with extreme precision, new appliances for cooking with typical restaurant techniques: these are just some of the innovations that distinguish appliances inspired by the professional world, born to satisfy the demand of consumers who have discovered (or rediscovered) the pleasure of cooking at home. Appliance manufacturers respond to these end users with products designed to set up a “chef’s kitchen” even at home. We have asked some operators in the sector what are the peculiarities of these appliances and what trends are emerging.
First of all, it is significant to underline that several brands have chosen to offer some “Professional” series, already expressing in the name the desire to make products with performances close to the professional world available to the domestic channel. «We took inspiration from the professional world to create a collection of products defined precisely Falmec Professional – explains Lorenzo Poser, Commercial and Marketing Director of Falmec -. These are appliances conceived for domestic use, but realized with design logics and components used in the professional sector such as cross-blade Baffle filters that, unlike traditional grids with metal mesh, eliminate the cooking vapors and the condensation. These liquids are then gathered in a collector located in the rear part of the hood. These filters, combined with very powerful motors, guarantee suction performance able to satisfy every need in the kitchen, even the most ambitious ones. We have also integrated different cooking technologies in a single product with Modula M3, a solution in which fume extraction and professional cooking meet in a multipurpose system with high performance. The 4-zones induction hob allows a precise and flexible cooking management with the possibility of setting different levels for each individual zone, as in professional kitchens. The Teppan plate, instead, allows a uniform and healthy grilling, ideal for all types of grilled meat or vegetables.»
Often it is precisely the experience developed in the professional sector that allows to create highly performing household products characterized by high quality materials and high strength. This is the case of R.G.V.: «given the nature of our company – underlines the CEO Marco Di Leo – our philosophy starts right from the professional, therefore most of our domestic products are placed between the two sectors. An obvious example is the slicer, which has all the prerogatives to be a professional product, both in terms of quality and reliability and, above all, of durability (the data tells us that in the home these appliances are also used for twenty years or even more). The key element of these products is the way they are made, linked to the Italian tradition. In addition, another appliance that I can cite as an example is the vacuum machine, in particular the SV300 and SV400 models, which are made of steel, with double welding for vacuum and are fully automatic. In general, what distinguishes our products is the way they are designed and the materials they are made of: slicers are 100% Made-in-Italy, while small appliances are imported from China but manufactured according to our criteria.»
Some companies, then, collaborate with professional chefs, drawing valuable ideas for the development of appliances inspired by the professional world. Among these company, we find Fulgor Milano, whose range of products for the home kitchen also includes the blast chiller and the vacuum drawer. «For some years – says Paolo Mainardi, Brand Manager and Marketing Director of Fulgor Milano – we have started collaborations with some Italian chefs to know, understand and therefore design kitchen appliances that derive from the professional world some fundamental characteristics to be transferred into the home life. The peculiarities that we have derived from these experiences have been fundamental for the development of our Professional line, divided into: kitchens (e.g. FSRC 4807 2P MK 2F X), ovens (FSO 300 P TC 2F X), hobs (FSRT 3606 GX), suction and refrigeration with functional contents different from the standard appliances that are part of our Fulgor Milano range. In particular, we use materials with durability and strength superior compared to the domestic standard such as thicker steel, cast iron grids with professional robustness, manual and electronic controls that integrate the functions of the two worlds, higher power gas burners (Crescendo) and that give user information through the backlighting of the knobs. To allow different activities, to these kitchen machines we have added appliances such as: blast chillers (FBC 4500 TF X) with TFT technology, vacuum machines (FVSD 2900 TC and FVSD 150 TC) and suction with large power up to 1,500 m3/h, present in the FPRHD 362 (90 cm) and 482 (120 cm) TC XX models, with electronic and remote controls. Finally, refrigeration appliances are also available combining the aesthetics, functionality and materials of professional refrigeration (FCFS 500 TNF ED XX ).»
Collaboration with chefs is not only precious for the company for the development of new products but is also an important channel for explaining the operation and characteristics of the appliances to consumers. Getting the end user to understand the value and potential of an appliance is strategic, especially when we speak of new and innovative products such as the suction hob.
«From the rich Faber catalog, Galileo hobs with integrated hood can undoubtedly be defined as consumer products comparable to professional ones – says Dino Giubbilei, Faber Marketing Director -. It is no a coincidence that this line has as ambassador the chef Andrea Mainardi, who has also helped us develop this type of hob by amplifying the many advantages of a solution that combines two products in one. The innovation and performance of an induction hob and an integrated hood with high suction efficiency, combined with the practicality of a completely free and easy to clean space, certainly make this new segment interesting even for a chef. Furthermore, we involved Mainardi in the creation of a series of video recipes on our youtube channel to better illustrate the practically professional performance of Galileo hobs. To this product line, we also dedicate a show cooking calendar, which always guarantees excellent feedback both from the professionals who organize them and from the public who participate and who want to cook as a real chef at home. In general, as Faber, we are very interested in capturing the main trends of the professional world and in interpreting them; for this purpose we always participate to the Host fair together with our colleagues of Franke group who have considerable and consolidated experience in this market. Together with them and our innovation team working at the Polyhub of the Polytechnic University of Milan we are developing interesting concepts aimed precisely at bringing professional solutions and performance to the Home and Consumer world.»
Today an increasing number of fans of good food and people careful to healthy eating are interested in practicing the techniques of preservation and preparation of foods used in restaurants in their home life, such as sous-vide, also available for the consumer channel. «In our offer – explains Maurizio Re, Reber Sales Manager – we have vacuum packaging and vacuum cooking appliances, a technique that is now widespread in the restaurant industry and that is also emerging in the domestic channel thanks to an ever-growing number of enthusiasts. In addition to respecting the raw materials, flavors and characteristics of products, users appreciate the possibility to prepare food in advance and to program the appliance for cooking with a delayed start to find dishes ready, for example when returning from work».
In general, “chef” appliances offered to consumers are often characterized not only by functions inspired by the professional but also by sizes and aesthetics that recall the professional sector.
For example, appliances with large dimensions that become the protagonists of the kitchen environment, as Baraldi points out: «in the last period – declares Evelyn Passanante, Head of Retail Italy of Baraldi company – interest has grown for important products in terms of size, that become distinctive in the kitchen. Our Elea hood, available from 120, 150 up to 180 cm, is an example. Where it is installed it becomes a useful structure as a shelf above the kitchen worktop, where users can store tools or ingredients used for preparing food. From this year, this and other models will also be equipped with the Dry Drop function with a dedicated button, which prevents the formation of condensation and dripping of water especially when using the hood with induction hobs.»
«Our premium free-standing Forza and Magnifica lines, but also the next novelty of this year, Specialista, with a semi-professional look – adds Marco Guerzoni, Marketing Director of Glem Gas – fully respond to the concept of chef cooker. As “Specialisti in cottura®” (cooking specialists) we have always aimed at different solutions to meet the primary needs of our customers: to cook at the best of their ability. Among the main characteristics of the lines that I mentioned earlier, I would like to list: the power of burners, their efficiency and their layout to maximize the versatility and the use of space, in addition to the capacity of the oven both in terms of litres and above all of width (size which, in our opinion, better expresses the effective useful space of the oven). And then the speed of rise in temperature, the uniformity and stability of the same, essential factors for excellent cooking. Finally, design, primarily functional, beautiful, current and characterized by a strong brand identity. All with the primary focus of maximizing the experience of using the appliance: it is our promise, the guide of all our development and thought, it is the style that distinguishes us, the style of how we do things in Glem Gas».
The concept of experience is strongly linked to that of chef’s kitchen and translates into different applications and variations also based on the trends existing in the different markets. «Being part of a multinational group with factories operating in specific product sectors – explains Marco Zappulla, Sales Manager of Zepa-Teka Group – we develop ranges with specific objectives and benefits to offer to our customers. For us, a chef’s kitchen is synonymous with practicality, flexibility and accuracy of use: a “place” where these characteristics find the best combination, giving the user an experience. Obviously, markets differ strongly in terms of product trends and this aspect stimulates us to develop specific applications that better interpret and enhance these peculiarities. For example, we strongly believe in the new StepFlame taps, recently introduced in several of our products. In fact, these ensure extreme precision in adjusting the flame, guaranteeing total control, thanks to the possibility of calibrating the cooking level in relation to its duration. At the same time, we are significantly expanding the Indugas range: new sizes and applications are in fact being studied. Being able to combine gas and induction in the same hob has proved essential for some markets and has allowed us to offer high levels of efficiency and economy of use.»
Two worlds getting closer
There are more and more points of contact between home and professional, so much so that today we can see a certain approach between these two worlds. «There are more and more proposals in this sense – says Evelyn Passanante of Baraldi – with products that support the request of passionate consumers or innovative professionals. For example, it happened we set up cooking schools with hoods that also had high aesthetic standards (Comet model) or we supplied private users with hoods with high-performance motors up to 1,300 m3/h. The contact points between domestic and professional products increase, giving rise to hybrids dedicated to the final consumer but already defined as semi-professional.»
«I wouldn’t be able to say for other sectors – declares Marco Di Leo of R.G.V. in turn – but as far as we are concerned, I can say that 70% of our products are already in fact straddling the domestic and professional world.»
The interest of a part of consumers who want to test themselves with elaborate preparations and new cooking techniques that need innovative and performing appliances supports the creation of appliances designed for the home but with higher characteristics than the standards.
«The progressive approach between household and professional products responds to an increasingly qualified demand for equipment capable of carrying out integrated and complex activities – explains Paolo Mainardi of Fulgor Milano -. For the realization of dishes of great refinement, quality and taste, it is necessary to turn to an integration between the two culinary worlds which, starting from sometimes different methodologies, find a synthesis in “prosumer” appliances where the professional base is integrated by the knowledge of the domestic needs.»
Zepa also agrees in recognizing an effective interest of a certain part of the public for superior performance appliances.
«Certainly we are witnessing the expansion of a sector in which this trend is taking place – Marco Zappulla says -. Being able to test yourself in your own home with features once reserved for the professional is certainly of interest to a part of the public. An example of this phenomenon is vacuum storage/cooking: certainly both very interesting but still limited. However, we can certainly say that our Group follows the current trend with interest.»
For Glem Gas we can speak of “approach” only partially, underlining that domestic and professional have different needs anyway. «Let us think of the level of performance required by commercial appliances, as well as the fact that restaurants often require advanced cooking techniques – explains Marco Guerzoni -.Given this, over time steam, which made its appearance already in the late 80s, has been strongly pushed and begins to have a good grip on the domestic market thanks above all to its health perception. We are talking about electric multifunction ovens that adopt this method of cooking in assisted mode, guaranteeing in a more or less sophisticated way a certain percentage of humidity inside the cavity. It is certainly an interesting trend, not to be overlooked, but in my opinion not so innovative. Vacuum and temperature reduction are other technologies that have made their entrance among appliances for domestic use, and typically of commercial origin, but in terms of volumes, in the built-in area, they are within the reach of a lucky few. As Glem Gas, our approach is to provide a product that is simple to use, accessible to many and with which the user can get the most out of it by interacting.
With regard to cooking, having first talked about steam, we as “Specialisti in cottura” confirm our interest in gas, not only because of its affinity with steam, but with the conviction that more traditional cooking does not necessarily have to be understood as out of fashion. Gas, in addition to be the type of cooking loved by chefs, in fact allows excellent results as it maintains a certain humidity in the cavity in favor of the softness of food and allowing it remaining succulent. It will be a bit old fashion but we still believe in it a lot and, if the key is humidity, we are not so far away. Obviously we are not precluding other ways, but our focus remains the user experience and the real usability and maximization of it.»
Even Dino Giubbilei of Faber agrees that the needs of the domestic market are different from those of the professional, however the latter area can provide interesting insights for products addressed to consumers: «I think that needs still remain quite different – he comments – but this does not mean that the professional world does not represent a stimulus to improve performance and home solutions.»
A key theme is certainly to make products equipped with technologies and tools close to the professional world as simple as possible so that the home user can use them without too many complications. «The technological transfer between the professional and domestic world is certainly underway – Lorenzo Poser of Falmec says -. The important thing will be to make this technology as intuitive as possible, so that it is easily understood and then used, otherwise there is a risk that it will remain on the instruction manual.»
«Obviously the stumbling block of the final price remains – Maurizio Re of Reber adds – but there are several characteristics of the professional products that are imposing themselves also in domestic use. As it has happened in many sectors, I believe the tendency to shift a simplified form of professional devices to daily use is clear.»
Consumer interest in quality cuisine is growing
Certainly the attention towards the world of chefs, confirmed by the success of some television programs, contributes to increase the interest of consumers in more performing appliances able to make people experiment new ways of cooking. The number of people who want to “dress” the clothes of the house chef and who are careful to the quality of what is cooked and to health is growing.
«Certainly – Evelyn Passanante of Baraldi affirms – the interest in quality cuisine promoted by the various television chefs brings users closer to higher-level appliances that are able to support the preparation of refined dishes. For example, our Diamond Flexi suction induction hob offers the possibility of regulating 3 types of automatic temperature for cooking, with the intermediate one at 70°, ideal for slow cooking, generally used by professionals or advanced consumers who can prepare “healthy dishes” able to maintain the organoleptic and nutritional properties of foods.»
«There is an increasing research and attention for the kitchen – Lorenzo Poser of Falmec confirms -.Technology, then, with its evolutions, helps us improve our skills and is highly appreciated by an ever wider public of all ages.»
There is in fact a part of consumers who want to try elaborate recipes, which can now be made easier thanks to appliances that allow to accurately manage the heat and cooking times and that allow to take advantage of numerous automatic functions. Because not only kitchen experts can cook as chefs with these appliances. «Public – Paolo Mainardi of Fulgor Milano explains – is becoming increasingly interested in sophisticated applications, presented by the different cooking programs that fill television shows or monothematic channels. The greater knowledge of these areas means that an articulated demand for equipment is generated that only a few companies are able to satisfy adequately.»
The appliances that are often seen in the kitchen programs are in fact products that integrate advanced technologies and components capable of enabling high-level performances and functions, as Zepa points out: «undoubtedly the “trend” proposed also by the media requires high skills and standards in preparation of food, something that often only the expert hands of a chef can actually achieve – Marco Zappulla says -. The appliances that accompany these TV shows attract the end user very much: in fact we find multi-crown burners with high powers, timers for setting the cooking and electronic programming for some product features. These peculiarities push users to search for these performances in everyday cooking and in fact, even if they normally have little time for preparing food, the awareness of being able to have them at the first opportunity is often a good reason to buy ».
The offer of high-performance appliances, but also capable of guiding the user step by step, makes the possibility of experimenting in the kitchen and trying to do it yourself more affordable for everyone. «The “chef’s trend” – comments Marco Guerzoni of Glem Gas – in our opinion, brings first of all the desire to experience personally, rediscovering the passion of cooking, of doing at home and entertaining the others or/and oneself by cooking … a very current theme which is also the basis of our communication claim “La Buona Cucina Italiana” (The Good Italian Cuisine). This is the basic requirement that allows the appliance to be used at its full potential, which in the past perhaps had lost some interest. This trend perfectly aligns with our idea of home appliance, which must never replace the user but must support him in creating his own recipes at best. In few words, it must be easy to use, versatile, fast and effective.»
Maurizio Re of Reber underlines, in turn, that the cooking enthusiasts market, despite being a niche one, is nevertheless interesting because it is composed by an audience capable of appreciating quality products: «Surely – he explains – there is a great curiosity towards products of professional origin, generated by the spread of a culture of food preparation that has a large media resonance, thanks to the numerous television programs dedicated to cooking. We also have the curiosity of the customer who wants to recreate at home the dishes he tasted in the restaurants and therefore looks for the products used by the chefs. We are talking about a niche market, because not everyone has space and time to dedicate to cooking, but that is becoming interesting because it appreciates quality products and Made-in-Italy.»
The high quality level is the distinctive feature of semi-professional products, which are aimed at demanding customers. «In our case – Marco Di Leo of R.G.V. says – I can say that the fact that we have never lowered the quality level and made a semi-professional product has rewarded us over time, because where a need arises in the kitchen sooner or later people get to buy a performant product as ours.»
Finally, as already mentioned, so that the passion aroused by kitchen television programs does not go out and the products with professional performances are truly accessible to a domestic audience, it is essential that the appliances are truly user-friendly. Dino Giubbilei of Faber reiterates this: «it has been for a long time – the manager says – that the various television contests have increased the passion of consumers for cooking, stimulating interest in models with greater performance or towards products that were previously almost exclusive of the professional world. However, the task of a company like Faber is also to make the characteristics of these solutions available to the consumer, first of all by simplifying their use.»