All things fryers… more than just oil

By Paul Rifkin, Club Catering Consultant

The old catchcry “Oils ain’t oils” from that 80s and 90s ad campaign is more relevant to the club kitchens of today, rather than the cars of yesteryear.

I say all fryers were created equal – well mostly – but the end result after a chef has been involved, can be anything but equal!

I have completed many of my popular Kitchen Audits and worked with the teams of numerous club kitchens over the last three years as a consultant, bringing in my brand of CPR to their catering operations. During this time, I have seen excellent fryer practices and well, let me just say, some not so much.

When I started cooking in the 1970s, most fryers had solidified fats or super expensive peanut oil … both now a no-no. Today’s oils range from imported and full of palm oil with additives, to locally-grown produce creating very fresh oils with no hint of rancidness.  

Paul Rifkin

Storage methods range from drums to boxes to tubs to fresh bagged-and-sealed to small, medium and very large tanks that are filled by a truck.  

What’s the big deal anyway? Oils is oils, right? Fill the fryer, heat it up and cook frozen products! Surely anyone can do that?

For a start, environmental ethics are kicking in, therefore signalling the demise of palm oil-based products with many QSRs already deserted this oil. Though some palm oil suppliers have ethical and sustainable farming practices, most rely on forest and farmland clearing to plant the palms, often taking habitat from endangered species, or using land which once grew local food supplies. Either way, it’s on the nose.

Drums are a no-no and and are being replaced by bag in a box, new players are doing big bags in big mobile boxes on wheels with a fresh oil product at every delivery. Or there are those who regularly fill up your mobile or fixed oil tank with fresh oil, mostly putting fresh product on top of the old oil. Your choice.

My gripe is about what happens next. The worst I see is those who never ever filter and often just replace the oil when they deem it finished, in some places this is daily.  

In my next column I’ll make sense of the dollars wasted if you don’t keep an eye on your fries.

Club Catering Consultant Paul Rifkin has more than 40 years’ experience in large-venue kitchens as a chef and mentor, including 17 years at Campbelltown Catholic Club as Executive Chef.


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