December 26, 2006
By: Anthony Caputo
Source: The Patriot Ledger
Filtering cooking oil from fryers may not sound like the most glamorous job, but is can help restaurants save money and cut down on employee injuries.
In September, Walter Fonseca became a franchisee with FiltaFry, a British company that specializes in micro-filtration of cooking oil and the cleaning of deep fryers at restaurants, hotels and schools.
One of Fonseca’s friends owned the Norfolk County franchise for two years and provided services part-time. Fonseca bought the business after his friend decided to become a police officer.
A 42-year-old Plymouth resident who previously worked in construction, Fonseca is modest about his new business venture.
“Let’s face it: It’s not a job that people want to do,” he said.
By filtering out the impurities that linger in the oil and vacuuming and scrubbing the deep fryers, Fonseca can increase the life of cooking oil used in fryers.
Upon arrival in the kitchen, Fonseca checks the temperature of the oil, sucks it into a filtrations machine, cleans the fryer and then returns the oil. For an average fryer, which holds 50 to 75 pounds of oil, the process takes about 20 minutes.
“I scrub all the sludge, all the residue,” Fonseca said. “You find all kinds of stuff in there, (like) leftover fries.”
To protect himself from the hot cooking oil, he wears Kevlar gloves and sleeves and safety boots.
Many kitchens have their own filtration systems, but Fonseca said they simply filter the oil through a gravity pressure system. The FiltaFry system filters the oil through 90 pounds of pressure, he said.
FiltaFry uses a biodegradable paper cartridge that can be disposed of in a dumpster.
Fonseca has 21 contracts with companies and schools, including Wellesley College, Newbury College, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care I Quincy, F1 Boston in Braintree and the Bugaboo Creek restaurants in Braintree and Plymouth.
Scott Bonnyman, executive chef at F1 Boston, said he employs Fonseca’s services once a week. Cooking oil will normally last for six to eight days, but with the FiltaFry system it can last up to 14, Bonnyman said.
“The money I save on cooking oil, I put toward him,” he said.
Bonnyman has been able to reduce F1 Boston’s purchases of soybean oil in half. Since employees don’t have to change the oil as often as they used to, they’re less likely to get burned, he said.
Fonseca said he filters about 3,200 pounds of oil each week.
He currently works alone with a van to store and transport his equipment. With the amount of work he has had in the first few months, he hopes to hire an employee or two soon.
“I’m looking to expand my business to two or three vans, or as many as it takes,” Fonseca said. “I haven’t said no to a job yet, and I don’t plan to.”