Cook-Chill Food Production
Cook/chill is a simple, controlled system of food preparation designed to provide more flexibility in food service.
The technique involves the full cooking of food, followed by rapid chilling and storage at controlled temperatures (for up to five days).
When required, the food must be reheated thoroughly before service. The production system itself is simple to operate if well managed, and completely safe provided the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) Guidelines on temperature control are followed.
Who uses cook/chill?
Thousands of establishments of all types and sizes currently use cook/chill systems. Anyone who has eaten at a top restaurant or hotel, at a banquet or reception, or on an airplane or ship is likely to have eaten a cook/chill meal.
While cook/chill is commonly associated with larger institutional foodservice operations, new compact quick chill equipment designs have put quick chill systems within the realm of all types and sizes of foodservice operations.
· Fast Food Restaurants
· Hospitals/Nursing Homes
· Contract Caterers
· Corporate Cafeterias
· Institutional Caterers
· Travel Caterers
· Meals on Wheels
· In-Flight Catering
For large and small establishments the principles and advantages of the system are the same. The only difference is that small to medium sized operations do not have to invest in equipment designed to deal with volume.
For the simplest cook/chill system all that is required in addition to the existing cooking equipment is a blast chiller, adequate cold storage and an understanding of the recommended safety procedures.
The principle feature of blast chillers and blast freezers is that they are capable of rapidly reducing the temperature of hot foods to low, safe temperatures. Therefore, they make it easier for foodservice establishments to comply with Food Safety and Temperature Control legislation. In fact, many establishments are using them solely for that purpose, and in doing so are actually performing a very basic cook/chill operation.
Using a blast chiller solely to cool cooked food rapidly for immediate or same day service is not utilizing all the benefits that a blast chiller can potentially offer. By utilising cook/chill technology, meals can be prepared, cooked, chilled and regeneration with little or no nutritional loss and without altering its appearance, or taste.
If you are already serving hot food, the only additional equipment you will require for a small to medium sized cook/chill operation is an appropriately sized blast chiller and suitable reach-in or walk-in refrigeration for the storage of finished product.
As with any cooking operation, a cook/chill system requires care to ensure that food does not become exposed to harmful bacteria. It is easiest to view a cook/chill system as a series of stages. Each of these should be regarded as equally important to guarantee food safety, and good quality dishes.
Stages – Cook Chill Food production system
1. Selection of raw materials
2. Storage of raw materials
5. Portioning if needed
6. Blast Chilling
7. Storage of chilled foods
8. Distribution of chilled foods (if applicable)
9. Reheating of food