The buffet is a key area of hotels, directly responsible for a good (or bad) experience in the establishment. As well as having to comply rigorously with health and hygiene standards and ensure the displayed food is kept at the right temperature, these new state-of-the-art buffets stand out for their original designs, versatility and strength as well as their energy efficiency and sustainability. Many of them are also mobile and include a front cooking section, a burgeoning trend.
‘As well as offering the maximum hygiene, hoteliers want their buffets to be attractive, personalised and match the general aesthetics of the restaurant,’ explains Sara Criado, the sales and marketing manager of Kings Buffets. But the type of hotel and its size also come into play when making this choice. ‘Big hotels put a premium on the quality of the materials; they have to be tough and hard-wearing, while smaller hotels, city establishments or those with breakfast-only services are mainly looking for lightweight, mobile, versatile buffets that can also be used for other events, brunches and coffee breaks.’
An example of this latter trend is this set of buffets from the Modular Series, one of the latest innovations being presented by the firm. It has been installed in the recently-opened 5* Gran Hotel Miramar in Malaga:
‘This model is a brand new concept of high quality manufacturing and standard production, resulting in an affordable price,’ points out the marketing manager of Kings Buffets. Mobile, very lightweight and with hot and cold sections in a single unit, provided by contact, there are no joints, unions or nooks and crannies where dirt can build up. It is also completely multipurpose.
Meanwhile, a buffet with more futuristic lines is the Design State series by King’s Buffets which combines both design and technology. This is a mobile model measuring up to 5 metres long with a frosted cold surface and heat by contact, supported by a single leg so that it seems to offer dishes suspended in the air:
Various models of this buffet have been installed in different places around the world, an example being the luxurious Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella (see photo), which uses it for breakfast alongside a show cooking station for offering freshly-cooked dishes.
The appeal of front cooking
Watching dishes being cooked to order in front of the customer, known as front cooking, is one of the big attractions of the new hotel buffets and can make a subtle difference in terms of the display factor and the perception of transparency, freshness and variety of the different dishes. This is why German firm Blanco is proving so successful with its Blanco Cook proposition for hotels. This innovation will be on show at Hostelco 2018 and represents a great advance in terms of restaurant services. It consists of a mobile cooking station that is ideal for improving the customer experience at buffets and events, whether interior or exterior.
The product stands out for its high quality air filtering and extraction technology which eliminates smoke and unpleasant smells in the room and leaves the extractor fans to work completely independently. The Modular system lets you choose from a wide variety of cooking appliances that can be flexibly combined, so with the Blanco Cook you can roast, cook, griddle, fry and keep food warm… and all the while saving energy. ‘These front cooking stations represent the future and are currently the most sought-after product in our catalogue,’ says Antonio Mesa, the manager of Blanco in Spain.
Customised design and the latest technologies
The station at the Hotel Montemar Marítim, which opened last March, is the perfect example of an innovative buffet with an updated design and the latest technology and equipment. This buffet’s avant-garde lines show off a modern stainless steel structure, with the worktop and front in white Krion and a well thought-out LED lighting system underneath the structure that really makes its personality stand out.
Serhs Projects was responsible for the complete fitting-out and installation project of the buffet area of this hotel in the resort of Santa Susanna in Barcelona province, using bespoke materials tailored to the client’s requirements. ‘This is a brand new concept that complies with all current legislation in which a particular emphasis was put on sustainability,’ says Sara Perez Toledano, Marketing Manager of Serhs Serveis.
And what about the buffet? New ideas for displaying food
To ‘dress’ these modern buffets, tableware manufacturers are very much aware that they need to contribute to the ‘wow’ reaction that establishments want to spark in their guests.
The latest trends in buffet ware include attractive collections with Asian, vintage or American looks; the powerful influence of street foodwith ‘street-eating’ formats in disposable and/or recyclable pieces; designs inspired by nature, and asymmetric tableware.
In this image, from the left, tableware by Hepp (Álvarez Mallorca); to the right, up and down, pieces from the Asia+ collection by APS (Guerrero Claude).
Also hugely popular are the ‘mini’ or single-serve formats for serving individual tapa-type portions.When it comes to materials, porcelain shares space with glass, melamine, cardboard, wood and stainless steel. These pieces are multipurpose, combinable and for multiple uses, and the versatile supports mean you can play with different heights and create horizontal or vertical food displays.
In the image, from the left, the Appetizer Porcelana collection by Arcoroc; at the top right, the Nature Fusión collection by Revol (Caterideas) and below, miniatures by Klimer.
And all geared towards a single purpose: to excite and attract the customer and – why not? – invite them to share in the experience.