When a national chain wants to roll out a new menu or update its cooking procedures, the logistics of getting the information to every individual restaurant can be daunting. But new technologies, like Alto-Shaam’s ChefLinc, are making that kind of widespread changeover nearly instantaneous.
ChefLinc is not a specific piece of equipment, rather it’s a technology feature that addresses connectivity and enables greater automation within a foodservice operation. It is a cloud-based remote oven management system that generates diagnostics and data on how the oven is operating, and it allows operators to seamlessly push and pull recipes from a central location.
Alto-Shaam originally introduced ChefLinc with the deluxe control for its Vector Multi-Cook Ovens about a year-and-a-half ago and then expanded the technology into its cook and hold ovens last November. Operators using the system can remotely manage all connected ovens, making it an ideal solution for multi-unit organizations, such as school districts. However, notes Ryan Norman, director of consultant services for Alto-Shaam, ChefLinc can be tailored to work in any foodservice environment – from fine dining to national convenience store chains.
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The data generated by ChefLinc is one of the reasons why the system is proving popular with such a wide range of operators. Diagnostic information can help prevent maintenance issues, and when a problem does occur, service technicians can access that information to know exactly what went wrong; they can fix the equipment on the first visit, reducing oven downtime and increasing profitability. Further, ChefLinc’s data can be shared with third-party systems to enable valuable data analysis and help operators make more informed decisions on their menus. “It’s really a way for us to bring the foodservice equipment we build into the 21st century,” says Norman, a former chef himself.
Equally important is the labor savings that ChefLinc creates. The system eliminates the logistics challenges of introducing new menu items since it can remotely update Alto-Shaam’s ovens with programmed recipes with the correct temperatures and cooking procedures for every individual dish. Plus, the controls are designed with simplicity in mind, allowing anyone to follow a recipe with just a few button presses. This helps not only improve the consistency from dish to dish but also enables the back-of-the-house to function with less-experienced cooks.
The technology promises to get even better with time. The ability to include WiFi in equipment will allow for expanded controls and additional features through software updates, without requiring costly changes to the hardware. Increased connections could also be possible as Alto-Shaam expands ChefLinc’s presence. “I think the next thing for us is adapting it to more product lines so we can offer the end-user a fully connected system within the Alto-Shaam family,” Norman says.