Looking Sharp: How to Find the Right Chopper

With smaller models and more offerings, manual food choppers have gotten a fresh makeover.    

VFS 912 CE ManualFoodProcessors PaidMedia AssetPackage Ease Photo
Precise and efficient, manual food choppers can alleviate labor and be used by staff of all skill levels and ages. Courtesy of Vollrath.

Whether it’s a slice of tomato on a burger, pico de gallo on tacos or strawberries on a salad, every operator wants to put the best-looking ingredients in front of their customers.

To prep fresh produce, there are three common tools: knives, manual food choppers and automatic food choppers. How do you know which is right for you? Knowing your volume, menu items and labor needs can help you decide not only whether a manual food chopper is right for your operation, but also which type to choose.

Speed and Quality. First, look at how much produce is being prepped in your kitchen and how many hours a day staff spend on this task to decide on the purchase of a manual food chopper. One manufacturer estimates its food chopper cuts prep time up to 50%, leaving more time for kitchen staff to focus on other tasks, while reducing time spent on mundane chores. Also consider how important quality and consistency are in your operation. In the past few years prepackaged produce has become a popular way to save time in the kitchen, but some operators prefer the look of fresh produce, which is sometimes sacrificed after two or three days of sitting in a refrigerator already processed. Manual food choppers provide good-looking produce without sacrificing the speed of prepackaged produce, while at the same time bringing consistency from one mealservice or location to the next.

Labor and Productivity. Think about the makeup of your kitchen staff, including age and level of expertise. “Labor challenges are still one of the top three pain points for many foodservice operators,” says one manufacturers’ rep. “Manual food choppers help alleviate some of the labor stress because you don’t need to rely on a trained chef’s knife skills for prep work.” The equipment also opens up a wider labor pool, because unlike automatic food processors, you don’t have to be 18 to operate a manual food chopper.

On some models, color-coded blades and push blocks make training and use easy, particularly in multilingual kitchens. Just a quick glance ensures not only that the correct block is paired with the right blade, but that employees are using the right blade for the food being prepped. Manual choppers also ensure produce is prepped without excess waste.

edlund Tomato Laser

Courtesy of Edlund.

Versatility aplenty. Foodservice operations with a varied menu might choose an all-in-one food chopper for its versatility. From onions and potatoes to kiwifruit and tomatoes, this equipment can tackle ingredients of assorted densities and sizes. The ability to switch blades gives operators flexibility in the width of the blade, the space between blades, as well as the type of cutting. Depending on the block, you can slice, dice, chop, or even shred lettuce and core apples.

Compact footprints. At least two manufacturers of food choppers have introduced smaller versions of their popular all-in-one choppers, about two to three inches slimmer and shorter, to meet the needs of kitchens where space is at a premium. Food trucks and sandwich shops without the luxury of a large kitchen might choose this option as a way to speed up meal prep.

StrawberryDicer 2

Courtesy of Nemco.

Specialty options. One of the newest items in the food chopper market is the strawberry dicer (pictured at left), which has a specially designed cutter on the side to remove the stem before pushing the strawberry through a wire grid to quarter it. This joins a range of specialty slicers and dicers labeled specifically for onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and more. The advantages of equipment designed with a specific purpose in mind include the ability to create special shapes for menu items and blades that are exactly the right width and length to cut one food in high volumes over a long period of time. Specific food choppers are ideal for operations with limited menu items or a high volume of a particular item.

If you’re looking to take some of the workload off your employees and speed up prep, manual food choppers provide a good solution.



Courtesy of Saber King.


Companies offering manual food choppers include the following:





Prince Castle





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