Kitchen Must-Haves

Rutter’s foodservice director dishes on the equipment he can’t live without

Building a foodservice program from the ground up is a major investment in both time and money. Having the right lineup of equipment to get the job done is a crucial part of that investment.

Roller grills and microwaves are a good starting point. But what are some additional must-have pieces of kitchen equipment? The kitchen stocking equation gets even more complex for those retailers looking to offer conventional c-store fare, but also expanded menus that include made-to-order pizza and sandwiches, specialty burgers, seafood, barbecued beef short ribs and Asian bowl meals. What do you need to produce those items?

That was the question posed to Ryan Krebs, director of foodservice for York, Pa.-based Rutter’s Farm Stores. Krebs talked about the company’s current equipment and how it all works together to consistently maintain food integrity in all Rutter’s stores.

Krebs acknowledges that the basic tools of the trade—roller grills, microwaves and toasters—all lay the foundation for heat-and-serve preparations that make up the bulk of the menu. But he also identified Rutter’s “can’t-live-without-it” equipment that has allowed the brand to elevate its menu positioning, both in terms of food quality and sheer number of items.

Q: Can you describe the equipment fleet at Rutter’s? And what is the one piece you absolutely need?

A: The single most important core, key kitchen component is the high-speed oven. That really gets you into the foodservice game. Also, our fryers, closed fryers, have taken the quality of our fried foods to a whole different level.

Another important piece of equipment [is] our “make” tables for the made-to-order foods, with fresh veggies, cheeses and other toppings laid out all in a row. It’s the primary piece of equipment that helps to streamline customization to get customers their food faster.

Q: What other exciting tools do you use at Rutter’s?

A: One other piece of equipment or technology that, in our industry, is unique to Rutter’s is the induction woks. We use the woks for our Asian bowls with ramen noodles, but they’re also great for a lot of other foods, such as scrambled eggs or sauteed veggies and meats. The woks heat up quickly yet remain relatively cool to the touch for workers. Cooking with these woks adds a bit of theater since it’s all done in an open area right in front of our guests. As equipment, it’s not necessary, but it’s a fun technology for our customers.