Winning a Michelin Star is a huge coup. Maintaining it is a major commitment, so significant equipment changes in the kitchen are something of a risk. Yet Michael Caines MBE has been so impressed by the FRIMA VarioCooking Center he installed in his Michelin-star restaurant at the Bath Priory that he’s now installed another in his two-star Gidleigh Park venue.
“It’s made a big impact,” he says. “The FRIMA is now an integral part of our production. It’s brilliant for functions, too. The thing I like about it most is its versatility: we use it to braise, fry, boil, pressure cook and for overnight slow cooking. It’s great for batches of sauces. As for meats, we use it for everything, from confit to shoulder of lamb. It’s working every day – day in, day out.”
The VarioCooking Center Multificiency at Gidleigh Park combines all the functions of a kettle, fryer, griddle, bratt pan, tilting pan and pressure cooker in one unit. “The multi-functionality delivers maximum versatility in limited space. It’s what makes the FRIMA ideal for every kitchen, from a Michelin star restaurant to a central production unit.”
The FRIMA’s temperature control is another important benefit, says Michael. “There’s no ‘one-to-ten’ dial – you set a specific temperature and that’s what you get. We can seal meat, in batches, to an exact temperature and colour.
“It’s precision cooking: this technology helps us do stuff well.”
While cooking quality has to top any chef’s criteria list for new equipment, environmental considerations are an increasingly close second. “Obviously, we consider sustainability from an ethical point of view, but it’s also simple good sense: investing in energy-saving equipment saves money.”
In fact, while FRIMA’s latest VarioCooking Center Multificiency allows chefs to use their traditional cooking skills, it also cooks up to four times as fast and uses 40% less energy than conventional cooking equipment. “The FRIMA’s eco credentials are excellent. Precision cooking doesn’t just deliver perfect results – it also means you don’t waste energy: you use exactly the amount required to give the perfect result.
“This is a very intelligent piece of equipment.”
Andy Wood of CCE Group, the company that installed the FRIMA unit at Gidleigh Park, says: “The FRIMA reminds me of the combi steamer, in that it’s regarded as new now, but in a few years it will be seen as standard. It allows so much in a single unit – it’s a superb piece of kit.”
FRIMA VarioCooking Center Multificiency at Gidleigh Park
Michael Caines’ FRIMA VarioCooking Center Multificiency at Gidleigh Park is a VCC211+. It has a 100 litre pan and three manual cooking modes – pan-frying, boiling and deep-frying – as well as pressure cooking. The automatic VarioCooking Control mode has seven process groups: meat, fish, vegetables/side dishes, egg dishes, soups/sauces, milk/desserts, finishing/service.
Its VarioBoost heating system heats the pan to 200°C in two and a half minutes. The special FrimaTherm contact layer means heat is transferred quickly and uniformly all over the base of the pan, without heating the sides, so there is no scorching or sticking. The fast searing action reduces seepage, cutting the use of raw ingredients by up to 10%, and water consumption is cut by 70%. The Varioboost system makes the FRIMA up to 96% efficient at heat transfer, reducing direct energy needs and also reducing the amount of kitchen ventilation required.
Because food never sticks, the VarioCooking Center doesn’t need a self-cleaning system. Manual cleaning is easy, effortless and fast, allowing operators to clean the unit and have it ready for the next cooking process in just two minutes.