Pitco Fry Guy Focus: Introducing Antonio Leon

In his younger years, Middleby Mexicos culinary and project director, Antonio Leon, was exposed to a wide range of ingredients and culinary influences. These expanding horizons — and taste buds — led him to foodservice, where he is featured as the latest Pitco Fry Guy. Take a look, and you’ll quickly see how valuable his insights are for commercial foodservice operators, especially when it comes to frying.

How did you land in foodservice? Give us some background and fun facts about yourself.

Since I was a child, food has been a central theme for my family. Eating, trying new ingredients, experimenting with dishes, and even discussing places that offer good food have always been the focal points of our conversations and the main excuse to gather.

My maternal grandparents have Italian ancestry. So I grew up surrounded by mixtures of ingredients very different from what most of my friends knew. This diversity always made me feel important and empowered.

At the age of 16, I started working at a local restaurant with the main goal of earning tips. Over time, I realized that gastronomy was what I wanted to dedicate my entire life to.

I’ve worked in various industries, including hotels and catering. However, working at Middleby has given me the opportunity to grow professionally and continue learning. Additionally, I receive a salary. What more could I ask for?

What is the most common question you get about fryers?

In the regions under my responsibility (Latin America and the Caribbean), there is generally not a strong culture or widespread knowledge about fryers. However, there is a growing interest among customers in understanding the applications and determining which fryer would work best for their operations. Customers often inquire about the type of fryer that will provide cost savings according to their specific operation.

Let’s talk oil. Why do you think operators think oil filtration is a waste?

I believe that operators who may not fully appreciate the advantages of oil filtration and reuse are accustomed to operating without filtering their oil, disposing of it, and contributing to environmental pollution. At times, they may not even recognize the improvement in food quality that comes with using filtered oil, and they may prefer to fry with burnt and dirty oil. Undoubtedly, this lack of awareness could be attributed to not directly seeing the advantages reflected in their financial bottom line. In our implementations, we consistently advise owners and investors to pay attention to these aspects, as they can have a significant impact on both food quality and financial performance.

What’s the best advice you’d give to someone who wants to add fried food to a menu?

It is essential to pay attention to the quality of the product to be fried, choose an appropriate oil, define the suitable frying process for that product, and, undoubtedly, select a fryer that fits the specific operational needs.

If your market is suitable for fried products, go for it, but do it right. Design a specific module for frying that includes a fryer, support tables, holders, etc. This way, your operation will be efficient, and your product will be exceptional.

As a Pitco Fry Guy, what do you think is the most important accessory to have for fryers?

It depends on the operation you are focused on. But in the case of frying in a considerable volume, the internal or external filter can undoubtedly be a very good choice. It’s important to also consider a holding unit if you need to serve fast.

What are common frying mistakes that you see?

Many people think that frying or operating a fryer is an easy issue. However, the problem is that even though it may be easy, basic points to achieve perfect frying are often not respected. The most common mistakes are:

    • Frying at the wrong temperature
    • Not shaking at the right time
    • Not adhering to the frying time
    • Not filtering or changing the oil at the right time
    • Using the same fryer for different types of products (fish, chicken, meat, etc.)

How would you recommend fixing those mistakes?

Simply with training. It’s important to seek guidance from an expert advisor who can raise awareness and provide training for the operational staff.

What is the best fried food you’ve ever had?

Fried chicken, marinated in buttermilk, perfectly fried, and finished with butter. It’s one of the specialties at Maximo Bistro under the guidance of top chef Eduardo García.

What are your three best pieces of advice for a restaurant trying to make more money with fried food?

    1. Choose a high-efficiency fryer with the necessary accessories for your operation, particularly with automatic filtering, timers, etc.
    2. Select quality products that maintain the cold chain and, if frozen, ensure they always have a consistent temperature.
    3. Decide on the type of oil to use: corn, palm, sunflower, hydrogenated, etc.

Ready to try those Pitco Fry Guy tips but aren’t sure which Pitco fryer would work best? Use our product selector tool to find out:

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Topics: Fryers, Oil