Pitco Fry Guy Focus: Introducing David Ford

We continue our ongoing series where we sit down with Fry Guys and Fry Gals around the country to find out how to get the most out of their fryers. This month we talk with David Ford, corporate chef for Heartland Reps in Missouri. David has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry but loves working in Kansas City to help businesses find the perfect foodservice equipment. 

How did you land in foodservice?

My first restaurant job was when I was 14. I worked for a local Mexican fast-food restaurant. From there, I started cooking at country clubs before moving to Chicago. In Chicago, I was fortunate enough to work at some outstanding restaurants in the One Off Hospitality group, including Avec, Blackbird, and the Violet Hour. I also worked for Chef Marcus Samuelsson and Webster’s Wine Bar. My wife and I then moved to Kansas City where I worked at a few restaurants before transitioning into B&I. I was thrilled to become a part of the Heartland Reps team a little over a year ago.

What is the most common question you get about fryers?

Fryer oil . . . how often to clean, what type of oil, and how to extend the life of the oil.

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

I think that is a common belief due to the fact that a lot of us weren’t trained that way when we were coming up. They think that it’s an extra step that uses extra equipment when they can just strain and reuse. Just because the oil is darker, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to switch it out.

What is the best piece of advice you would give someone who wants to add fried food to a menu?

Get the right fryer for your needs. Make sure it’s powerful enough to maintain its temperature throughout service. Fryers need time to recover, don’t overcrowd your baskets.

What are the most important accessories to have for fryers?

Filtration. Once you learn to use it quickly and properly, it only takes a few moments and the results show in the finished product.

In 20+ years in restaurants, I can honestly say I had never used a filtration system. Once I got to Heartland Reps and was able to work with one, it’s amazing to think of the thousands of dollars that are wasted when not using filtration.

What are common frying mistakes that you see?

Overcrowding and not giving time to recover. We’ve all done the move where you tear open a bag of fries and dump the whole bag in the 2 fryer baskets. It’s a classic! All the ice crystals fall into the oil and it’s spitting everywhere.

How would you recommend fixing those mistakes?

You need to be more thoughtful in your actions during service. Plan ahead so there are no desperation drops.

What is the best fried food you ever had?

At Blackbird in Chicago, Chef Mike made a Scotch Quail Egg. He’d debone a quail, wrap it around a frozen quail egg, and deep fry it. It was so good and such an amazing idea.

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

1. Filtration: Oil is expensive, use if for as long as you can.

2. Be Creative: Have 1 or 2 out of the box ideas.

3. Be Consistent: Teach your staff on how to get the final product how you want it and do it over and over and over and over . . .

We know what to fry. Schedule a culinary consultation with us to get some ideas for your operation!

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Topics: Fryers, Oil