He gave up his career as a chef to support his father in developing a ‘revolutionary’ product that reduces carcinogens and calories in cooking oil. Now, the MD of Hull-based company, FriPura believes the industry can confront ‘naysayers’ with its own ‘gold standard’ in frying.
Following the launch of a major public awareness campaign to help people reduce ‘cancer-causing’ acrylamide in over-cooked food, a government crackdown will soon see pubs and restaurants face hefty fines, imposed by the FSA, if they don’t drastically alter their cooking practices.
Now, FriPura, producers of a ‘revolutionary’ filter, which has been shown to reduce calories by nearly 25% and carcinogens by over 10%, is looking to attract the support of leading individuals, businesses, regulatory bodies and non-profit organisations to promote a ‘gold standard’ in frying.
Sam Wilbraham, FriPura’s Exec Chef and Marketing Director, says:
“This is a simple product that can help commercial kitchens double the life of their oil and improve the health and quality of their food, without any need to change their cooking practices. There is a chance here to work with organisations like the FSA and Public Health England to make necessary improvements and to really shout about the positive advances that are being made.
“Although deep-fat frying is one of the less healthy cooking methods, it also plays an integral part of menu-planning. Deep-fried food is enjoyed by customers due to its crispy texture, golden colour and unique taste. Establishments recognise the need for this option and kitchen design reflects that. We are now at the forefront of educating businesses that they are able to improve the health of customers, even if choosing deep-fried foods!”
The filter was brought to Sam’s attention when he was working as a chef. He explains:
“My father, who has extensive knowledge of the food business, was working on a new product that claimed to double the life of cooking oil in deep fat fryers. As this product was of professional and personal interest to me, I asked to trial the product. The team at FriPura were happy to have a chef close to the project look at the product and offer a different viewpoint.”
Since 2012, FriPura has invested over £1m in developing a product that can double the life of cooking oil, offering cost, health, and environmental benefits to commercial catering. In its first year of launch, the filter has been adopted by a number of restaurant and bar chains, including, The Lovely Pub Company, The IHG, and The Metropolitan Pub Company.
FriPura is now aiming to grow to £100m turnover in the next five years, but it hasn’t always been an easy ride for Sam and the team. He comments: “We have spent many years painstakingly perfecting a product that we know seems too good to be true. It’s easy to use, quick, healthier, tastier … and the economic benefits are there from day one.
“The reactions we get from chefs can be broad, from those who immediately love the product, to those who are highly skeptical that it will work. Funnily enough, the chefs that are cynical tend to become our biggest advocates.”
“So far, we have been very focused on the UK commercial dining market with pubs, restaurants, and hotels. The scope for the product in the UK is huge when taking into consideration the size to the service industry. Irrespective of all the other benefits, we have something that will save every customer half their costs on oil.”
Almost inevitably the size and scope of this product has led to a broader ambition, and Sam hopes The Gold Standard will provide some industry-wide direction on environmental issues, health, quality and cost.
“Our industry has been aware for a long time of the need to front-up to these issues. Our product not only falls in line with other brands’ corporate and social responsibility to customers, the environment and themselves, but actually improves on their expectations. Quite rightly, there has been a general shift towards issues surrounding consumer health. It’s just that we can make that shift seismic in a relatively simple way, and we want to take the whole industry and governing bodies with us.”
Rather than railing against government directives, Sam believes further intervention may actually be useful: “New York State has a piece of visionary legislation that if a product is of reasonable cost and improves the health of the consumer, it must be implemented. Our product goes beyond that: it saves money, improves health and changes people’s lives in a positive way.”
“It really is a no-brainer.”