There is no fairy tale, you have to clean the kitchens
by Greenstic on Jul 20, 2022
For 25 years, he has been building Coninvest with amazing perseverance and enthusiasm. Business dynamism and uncompromising dedication are combined with impeccable expertise, but at the same time she does not forget to remain a woman. Kind, charming, committed, who goes to negotiations in pink bow sneakers if he feels like it.
"Those who don't develop are left behind." - you said it 8 years ago when we first met. I can safely say that I fell in love with the HORECA sector because of you. I remember that after our first meeting, I kept my notes in a dictionary for a week, because afterwards I tried to put them together and find an answer to how it is possible to be so enthusiastic about 200 kg steel structures and rolling counters?! Now why is a combi steamer really cool? Or why one function of the dishwasher is revolutionary and changes everything we previously thought about washing dishes? Did we even think anything about washing up before?! But I already understood everything and got infected! The current question arises: with the onset of global warming, climate change, and pandemics, what new innovative green solutions will become necessary?
The enthusiasm doesn't stop, you see. This is a never-ending love for me, because I think that investing in innovation is never a gamble, but a conscious, good, responsible decision, the results of which we will see. And I have already built so many kitchens with my colleagues that I can see that the work makes sense. But returning to the basic question, the three most important things in my opinion are: hygiene, hygiene and hygiene again. It was important until now, but now it is really essential.
There is no need to clean the kitchens, today, in addition to energy-saving and ergonomic solutions, hygiene aspects have become paramount! Professional washing of consumer and kitchen utensils requires professional solutions. But this is also understandable, because there is no hand that reaches into the water warmer than 50 degrees during hand washing, while machines rinse at 82-85 degrees, killing all bacteria and pathogens.
A lot of progress has been made in the last 1-2 years in this area. Although the professional dishwashers have been among our most sought-after products, only until now because of the labor shortage, now I hope they will be because of the sense of responsibility.
I think what is also very important is how well a kitchen can be cleaned at all. Because it doesn't matter how we design industrial kitchens, with what surface finish, with what edges, edge closures and folds. The main question is whether a few minutes are enough to wipe and disinfect the surfaces, or is it simply impossible to do this at the end of a shift, as degreasing and cleaning would require too much extra energy due to the many gaps and openings and gaps that have flowed and spilled food residue. After all, where there is not enough space, it is difficult to reach in and clean with hands, rags, and mops decently. There is no question that these gaps must be closed without gaps. Think about how hard it is for the soul to get us to clean under the kitchen furniture in our own home, for example. Well, if you have to do this not for yourself but at your workplace every single day, how motivated are you? Less. That's why they don't do it very often. Recognizing this, we always try to create well and easy-to-clean bottom furniture or completely closed concrete plinths. Contiguous, joint-free worktops with scalloped folds, water-repellent edges, rounded corners, easily removable, washable grids, and drawer inserts. All of these make daily cleaning and maintenance easier, and besides, these kitchens are also beautiful.
You constantly follow the emergence of innovative solutions, you also visit international exhibitions, and you have many foreign partners. What do you see we can expect in the coming years? To what extent are kitchens changing both in households and in the service industry?
I really hope that soon we will finally forget about single-use PET bottles and disposable cups. What does that mean? We will reuse reusable containers and containers, which must be able to be washed properly, because it will not only be enough to throw it in the trash when it is empty. Dishwasher manufacturers already connect their communications to this line, and so do we.
One of our success stories is a team of Dutch entrepreneurs who, instead of a Food Truck, set up a large truck with two sink tunnels. With this truck, they stop by festivals and wash and disinfect thousands of glasses every hour.
What is this if not trendsetting and environmental protection?!
What is considered a green solution in your area?
Mostly energy recycling. The heated energy is used, for example, to preheat fresh water, saving the kitchen environment from unnecessary steam and moisture and the customer's wallet from a huge electricity bill. These are called heat recovery units, for example on top of dishwashers.
To what extent does a green attitude require a new mindset on the part of designers, contractors, and chefs?
There are still many entrenched old bad habits, especially in the field of cooking. Many times, it has to be discussed again and again that it is no longer economical to operate a kitchen equipped with open gas burners due to the multiple air changes, the scalding, the energy that consumes fresh air or the high heat loss. But I feel that we are on the right track, and the increased energy prices have also made the operators more sensitive, not just the environmentally conscious attitude.
How did you prepare for this transition? What steps have you taken and what challenges are ahead of you? Do you see your responsibilities in the process?
It is very interesting to see that even technologies that seemed alien and sci-fi can spread in 8-10 years.
This is good feedback for us, that we really should never give up, if something is innovative and good and we are convinced of it, then we have to tell it again and again, we have to educate the audience even if it takes years and they smile at us at the beginning.
You know, you remember, this was how induction was introduced in industrial kitchens. Or that's how it was for you at Kitchy Design 2015. Now nobody asks any of us why we need to be environmentally conscious, but 5 years ago this was not the case at all.
Yes, "educating", reshaping, and steering the market in a new direction is never a thankless task, we have already learned this. What do you think life will be like after the experiences of Covid?
In Italy, the second phase of the emergency, the partial reopening, is now being introduced. Well, it's very interesting, because they set the minimum distance between guests at 2 meters. This is almost impossible in practice. I saw a cute video with an Italian restaurateur who rearranged his 40-seat terrace overlooking the sea with a distance of 2 meters. He had to push nine tables together in order to have a minimum of 2 meters and now he can only seat 10 people instead of 40. But what about the waiter, who has to approach the guest and enter the 2-meter protective distance, then go to the next table?! Kering also has a Dutch video about this, many of you must have already seen it: a pretty blonde waitress comes out onto the terrace with a tray of food, stops in the 1.5 meter protective distance painted on the ground and throws the coffee, plates and cutlery onto the empty tables and of course everything breaks. I really hope that catering can go back to the old way, it might be necessary to thin out the tables a bit, but it would be very sad if we had to use self-service with counters, masks, and protective Plexiglas everywhere.
What would you say to a green gastro guide, what are the three most important steps that actors in the HORECA sector must take in order to be greener and operate sustainably?
The first and easiest to implement is selective waste collection. Sometimes it saddens me what we are trying to do in our own small households when one restaurant or another has still not introduced paper and plastic bins consistently in the entire area of the production area. Unfortunately, if the selective bin is not conveniently at hand while working, most people prefer to throw everything into a container out of weakness and convenience.
We introduced selective waste collection in our own office more than 15 years ago, but after a while, for example, we had to remove the wastebaskets from under the tables and create a selective collection point on each level in order to convince ourselves to really throw everything away separately. This is how it should be done, not only in the showy guest rooms, but also in the back of the kitchen, where most of the waste is actually generated.
Second, I think, is professional washing. We have carried out several case studies on why it is more environmentally friendly to wash dishes with professional machines than by hand. It has been proven that 70-80% less water is consumed in this way than in the case of manual washing under running water. As a result, less energy, less water needs to be heated and chemical consumption is also controlled. So the carbon footprint is much smaller.
Third is a current thing. Home delivery will definitely pick up for a while now. I see that among those who did not want to introduce it in the first round, they are now trying it anyway, because this restriction is taking much longer than they first thought. They can't stand idleness, they don't want to lose customers and colleagues. Cold or hot delivery? From a logistical point of view, it is much easier to deliver shocked cold food than hot food. What do we pack in, degradable environmentally friendly materials or do we throw out the plastic from the shops? I don't think there's any question that here, too, we have to rethink the habits that have already become established.
Interview: Kriszta Buza
Photos: Ágota Csissér, Coninvest, Marrone
Source: Kitchy Design blog