Pitco Fry Guy Focus: Introducing James Pate

For this round of Pitco’s Fry Guy Focus, we’re chatting with James Pate. The Southern Nevada Business Development Rep and Chef for Preferred Marketing Group, James grew up in a military family, which exposed him to many different cultures and cuisines. Here’s how he got into the culinary industry and his thoughts on a NOLA po’boy.

How did you land in foodservice?

I am originally from Chicago and moved to Las Vegas in 1986 at the age of 11. After growing up a military kid, I knew joining the military was not for me. I attended Southern Nevada Vocational Technical Center and was unsure about which direction I wanted to head in life. So, at the age of 16, I knew it was time to look into a career that I would excel at. I had always enjoyed different types of cuisine growing up in different countries. So foodservice made sense.

I was lured into the foodservice and hospitality industry by two chefs who both became lifelong mentors for me and helped me develop my own style and flair while guiding me down the path to becoming a chef. After high school graduation, I decided to continue my education by earning an Associates Arts Degree in Culinary Arts and Hospitality from CSN/UNLV. After finishing my education, I was able to enter the workforce and work in some of the best hotels and companies in Las Vegas including as an Executive Chef of a major hotel chain.

What is the most common question you get about fryers?

“How can I clean my fryer and filter the oil?”

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

In my opinion, it’s because they’re thinking about the time and trouble they imagine it takes to clean, filter, or change and dispose of the oil in many fryers. It’s common for some end-users to find that new oil must be “broken in” before it starts to perform properly, making it even easier for them to justify putting off changing the oil change. But doing so can in fact end up costing them more. Old fryer oil means longer cooking times and more fat absorption by the food, along with the potential for unsavory flavors.

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

Understand what it is that you are cooking because size does matter! If you are cooking in abundance with larger quantities, keep in mind you will need a larger fry cavity to hold larger quantities.

What are the most important accessories to have for fryers?

Having fryer accessories like deep fryer filter systems and a fry dump station can improve your kitchen’s output, product quality, and help increase customer satisfaction.

What are common frying mistakes that you see?

Deep frying requires patience. If your oil temperature is too low, it will turn the dish soggy. In my opinion, to make a perfect crispy dish, you need to keep a thermometer handy. Also, people trying to fry big pieces of food.  The size of the food matters a lot and can affect the process of frying. Trying to fry big pieces can have you with raw food at the innermost layer.

How would you recommend fixing those mistakes?

Always check the temperature of your oil before you start frying. It’s easy using to test the oil with a cube of bread. The bread should brown within 30 to 40 seconds when oil is at moderate heat.

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

Some of the best fried foods that I have had was in New Orleans where I had a thinly fried catfish po’boy served with hand-cut French fries fried in duck fat oil. OMG!

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

    1. Remember that your oil is life. Do a clarity every 4 hours filter every day and change it twice a week.
    2. Pre-portion all products before you start frying.
    3. Build your menu around your fryers. There’s no need to overcomplicate it. And if you have seafood, use one of your fryers just for that purpose only.

Are you using the correct fryer for your needs? Take our fryer quiz and find out:

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Topics: Fryers, Oil