Consultant Q&A: AJ Barker, group chef, Belltown Hospitality Group, Seattle

FE&S: What is the main factor or feature to consider when purchasing a roll-in refrigerator?

AB: The whole program and workflow process comes into play. Operators think this equipment is great but have to keep in mind that they’re changing the flow of a restaurant when adding roll-in refrigeration. It changes how prepping and holding are accomplished.

FE&S: What do operators fail to keep in mind when adding these units?

AB: To move into a cook-chill program, you not only need enough refrigeration and freezer space but also the right containers, whether bagging or storing in pans. It’s not just an investment in refrigeration but also storage accessories. Labor also needs to be considered as staff will need to keep to a schedule as far as production and moving things forward. It’s all about remarrying the workflow process to follow the food and ingredients through the organization.

FE&S: How much space does this equipment require?

AB: Operators will need to make the room for it or build it into the facility. There are undercounter and pass-thru models. Walk-in roll-ins also are available but mainly used in resorts, casinos and other high-volume operations. Roll-ins used to refer to an entire workstation or speed rack, and now we can get them for smaller undercounter dollies or work carts. Not every facility needs this much output since these units hold a lot of food.

FE&S: How can this type of refrigeration enhance efficiency in the back of house?

AB: With these units, operators can create a staging area with carts or trays. With smaller footprints available, 
roll-ins can be an asset that allow restaurants to do more with less. It also can help slow down the stages of production to provide extra time when needed by providing additional cold storage, which is important.