What To Look For When Shopping For A Blast Chiller
Shopping for a blast chiller is a chore. They are one of the most expensive additions to your restaurant’s kitchen and getting something that is too big or too small makes it almost useless. I’ve seen my share of chillers that end up becoming an extra shelf in the BOH! For this post I want to share what I’ve learned about blast chillers over the years, which will hopefully help you get the right one for your restaurant.
Size Does Matter
The biggest thing that determines a blast chiller’s price is its size, and you’re looking at a huge difference between different sizes! Obviously, every restaurant is different, and so are your prep practices, so some of this might not apply to you.
Most chillers are designed to hold shallow hotel pans (cool pans), so if you prep into anything else you won’t be able to fit stuff into it very well. At the last restaurant I managed, we prepped sauces into rectangular cambros, so they just didn’t fit, which led to the chiller not getting as much use as it should.
One of the most common metrics in the chiller’s size is how many hotel/cool pans it holds. If you can dial your recipes down to how long they take to prep, you may be able to get away with a smaller chiller. On average, these will take about 90 minutes to get from 200° to below 40°, so if you’re able to space out the time that different items are complete you can be pulling one out and putting the next one in.
Get ready for a shock when you get your first utility bill after using a blast chiller! These things are energy hogs!
Things like unplugging it when it’s not in use and keeping the coils as clean as they can possibly be will reduce its energy usage. Running the chiller only when it’s full will also make it more efficient. From my experience, chillers are very reliable appliances, so they tend to stay in good shape without becoming less efficient over time. Just make sure that you get it serviced quickly if it needs it to prevent major problems, parts for these are very expensive.
But Are Blast Chillers Really Necessary?
Only you can answer that question, but there are definitely some alternatives! Adding a chiller is cheaper than a new walk in freezer, but if you have some extra freezer space I would say to test that out first. What we used to do was use an ice wand (also called ice paddle) that was frozen overnight, dropped it into the cambro filled with sauce that needed to be cooled, then stuck it in the freezer. It wasn’t quite as fast as the blast chiller, it took about two hours to cool, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper!