Choosing the Right Commercial Food Processor
A commercial food processor is one of the most versatile tools you can have in the kitchen, giving you the ability to slice, chop, grind, shred, purée, grate, and dice – all in one piece of equipment. The food processor is a relatively new kitchen innovation, first appearing in commercial kitchens in Sweden in the 1940s and France in the 1950s before being introduced in the United States.
Types of Food Processors
Unlike blenders, which have narrow containers best suited for liquids and soft ingredients, food processors have wide bowls that allow them to work with dry ingredients or with a specialized blade disc that helps chop, shred, or dice food. There are three main types of food processors to consider:
- Bowl-type food processors can use a blade near the bottom of the bowl to grind, chop, or purée ingredients. This blade is mounted on a vertical shaft, which can also rotate discs. While this type can be used for low-volume slicing, grating, and shredding, it is ideal for mincing, whipping, and puréeing.
- Continuous-feed food processors use discs with blades that allow you to slice, julienne, grate, shred, crimp, and dice. Because these processors expel the processed food immediately into a food pan of the user's choosing, they are ideal for high-volume usage.
- Buffalo choppers, so named for the town in which they were first manufactured, are also known as bowl cutters or food cutters. These units generally have one setting, so the fineness of the chop and how well-mixed the ingredients are is determined by how many times the bowl is allowed to rotate under the revolving knives.
The most important rating to take into consideration when purchasing a food processor is its horsepower. Equipment with higher horsepower has a motor capable of powering through more food and thicker mixes, and can work for longer periods of time without overheating, allowing you to produce higher volumes of processed food. The RPM, or rotations per minute, measures how many times the blade rotates around the shaft in one minute. While a higher RPM may mean the unit can work faster, if it has a low horsepower rating, it may have trouble maintaining that RPM rate for hard ingredients or thick mixes.
Attachments and Accessories
While there are many models available that are specifically bowl-type or continuous-feed, many commercial food processor models are combination models. This means that most companies sell the batch bowls, continuous feed assemblies, and pushers as accessories. Most processors that come with a bowl also include an s-shaped blade that allows you to purée. These and continuous-feed processers often come with one or more discs, which may include those for slicing, grating, shredding, waffle cuts, crimping, or whipping. Dicing kits are also available in multiple sizes, and require both a disc and a grid to dice ingredients properly. These discs and kits can be purchased separately if the model you choose does not come with what you need, and some brands have more disc and blade options than others.
Commercial Food Processor Manufacturers
It is not clear who invented the first food processor, but it is known that Electrolux produced an early iteration with its Assistent model that debuted in 1940.1 The company now offers two commercial food processor lines.
The Multi Green Vegetable Cutter series can function with a bowl or a continuous feed attachment. Depending on the model, the bowl is made of either durable stainless steel or polycarbonate. The controls make the unit easy to operate, with red and green on/off buttons, but this also limits the flexibility of the processor, as it only has one speed. The hoppers on these models are dual-sized, with one small round hopper for long, thin vegetables like carrots and cucumbers, and one larger oval hopper for ingredients like tomatoes and potatoes. These hoppers are both vertical. Each processer in the Multi Green line comes with four cutter discs: two slicing discs, one grater, and one shredder.
Electrolux's Heavy Duty Vegetable Cutters are able to process 400 meals for table service or 800 meals for catering per day. Each part of the equipment that comes in contact with food is removable without tools for cleaning. Like the Multi Green series, these feature easy operation but have two speeds to allow for a little more flexibility in food prep. These feature round and oval hoppers that are angled toward the user and a waterproof control panel to ensure reliability.
Hobart has been serving commercial kitchens for more than a hundred years. The company produced its first food processor in 19892 and currently makes bowl, continuous feed, and combination models. Bowl models, which have a gasket to prevent leaking, feature see-through covers to allow chefs to see their ingredients. The triple-interlock safety features protect operators, and the controls for on, off, and pulse functions are easy to operate while providing close control over the contents of the bowl. One of the biggest benefits of a Hobart bowl food processor is the company's patented COOLCUTTER knives. The COOLCUTTER system consists of two turning knives that push ingredients into the path of the two serrated cutting knives, to reduce how much time is required to process each batch.
Hobart's continuous feed industrial food processors are available with either half-size or full-size hoppers, which are tilted toward the user to make operation comfortable and convenient. These units have double safety interlocks that prevent them from operating if the pusher plate has been swung away or if the hopper is open. These models are easy to operate, with red and green on/off buttons.
Robot Coupe is one of several brands that lay claim to producing one of the first food processors, having developed their first commercial model in the 1960s.3 Robot Coupe does not produce any bowl-only models; instead, they are all made to be continuous feed, but many are also compatible with bowls, which are sold separately for most models. The hoppers on each model are completely vertical, using gravity in addition to the pusher plate to lead the ingredients into the blade.
Countertop and floor models with one or two speeds are available. These powerful pieces of equipment have motors with as much as 3 horsepower to enable them to grind or knead heavy loads or thick ingredients. A big benefit of choosing a Robot Coupe food processor is the flexibility you get with it: the company offers more than 50 cutting discs, so you can achieve the exact cut you need.
Waring has been making reliable kitchen equipment for more than 75 years, with the company's claim to fame being the invention of the blender.4 All Waring food processor bowls are made of polycarbonate, which is less durable than stainless steel but allows chefs to keep an eye on the ingredients. The hoppers on these units are vertical, minimizing the unit's footprint and using gravity to its maximum effect to pull ingredients down into the blades. All models except the largest one have the patented LiquiLock system to prevent leaks, and operation is made easy with paddle buttons or touchpad controls.
Waring offers two light- to medium-duty food processors, one of which is a sealed batch bowl. The other model, like every other food processor Waring produces, is a combination batch bowl and continuous feed. The 2.5-quart WFP11S is run on 3⁄4-horsepower, and the 3.5-quart WFP14SC food processor is 1-horsepower.
There are three combination batch/bowl food processors in Waring's medium-heavy duty category. These have 1 to 2 horsepower, and each comes with an S-blade and several discs. The FP25C and FP1000 hold 2.5 quarts, and the FP40C holds 4 quarts.
The FP2200 is Waring's heavy-duty commercial food processor. This model is a combination batch bowl/continuous feed and runs on 3⁄4-horsepower. The bowl can hold 6 quarts, and the unit comes with an S-blade and five slicing, dicing, and shredding discs.