A day out with Paul Hickman

As full combi training is included when you purchase a new Opus SelfCooking Center from Lincat, I recently had the opportunity of accompanying our development chef Paul Hickman on an end user Opus SelfCooking Center training day at Martin Mere Wetland Centre, in Burscough, Lancashire.

The Wetland Centre is currently creating a new kitchen and dining area for visitors to the centre. Their kitchen comprises an OSC61 Opus SelfCooking Center and from our Opus 700 series, 2 x OG7002 six burner range ovens, an OE7113/F catering fryer and an OG7301 salamander grill. They also have 2 x IC3 insect control units.

Prior to the day out, Paul was in constant liaison with Windsors Catering (the distributor in this chain) to confirm that everything was running smoothly, from the delivery and installation of the items, to making sure that the kitchen staff would be available for training and what time we should arrive. Paul also found out what the kitchen staff were hoping to get from the day, and if they had any specific food that they wanted to test in the SelfCooking Center.

The evening before the visit, Paul mentioned that he would pick me up at 6:00am (this is not a time I am familiar with). I thought he was joking, but it turned out he wasn’t! We set off at 6.00am, as scheduled, and after a quick pit stop on the M62, we set off again and arrived at the end user site at about 9.30 am. We introduced ourselves at Reception, and were shown the way to the kitchen, where we met the catering manager and Bev O’Malley (of Windsors). We then met the kitchen staff who were to be trained by Paul.

The training began and Paul went through the ins and outs of the different functions of the OSC61, showing the ability to cook with steam, dry heat or a combination of both. He also demonstrated in great detail, the Level Control function, which allows you to cook on various different shelves at one time, setting each shelf its own time limit. Paul also showed everyone how easy the control panel is to use, and after only a few minutes of training, each member of the kitchen staff was able to navigate themselves around the unit control panel with ease.

We then made a start on the cooking and grilled some breakfast items, such as bacon and sausages. The staff were very impressed that the combi was able to reduce the cooking time of their sausages by over 75% from their previous cooking method, down to well under 10 minutes. The workers on site were also impressed, as they received some delicious breakfast rolls! Paul also demonstrated how easy it would be to cook other food items, such as boiling an egg, steaming rice or cooking a joint.

We then decided to cook some scones. Paul and the chef discussed the usual cooking methods and came to an agreement as to the best way forward. Needless to say, that having listened to Paul’s expert training, the chef programmed the unit and out came a full tray of perfectly cooked scones!

Whilst Paul was advising on the best practices and how to use the combi, each time something was cooked, he would create a program and save it in the combi’s memory, providing easy access for the kitchen staff. You can store up to 350 programs, with each having 12 steps if necessary.

After a quick break, it was time to get down to the cleaning of the SelfCooking Center. This was the part which I could tell the kitchen staff were not looking forward to. Paul demonstrated that this clever unit does most of the work for you. The unit detects just how grubby it is inside the cooking chamber and internal parts, and tells the user how dirty it is, along with when it will need cleaning and just how much of a clean is needed (light, medium, heavy). After seeing this, and realising that the only thing the user needs to do, is place the tablets in the correct places, they were more than happy.

After the cleaning of the unit, it was time to pack up and make the 133-mile journey home; a surprisingly easy journey with little traffic until we were back in Lincoln, just around the corner from my house.

It was great to see Paul in training mode with some end users, and it was fantastic to see the kitchen staff all take the training on board and understand it so well. I can tell that Paul is very passionate about what he does, and that he understands the Lincat product range inside out.

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