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Contents At A Glance

FE&SEditorial Archives2002September — Feature

Charbroilers & Broilers

Types: Charbroilers come in both floor and countertop models. Specialty broilers include salamanders, woodburning units and cheesemelters.

Capacities/Footprints: This equipment's volume varies greatly. A 150 3 220 charbroiler grid can cook 24 hamburgers per load or 340 per hour. A 160 3 200 grid can produce 380 an hour. A 200 3 320 model can turn out as many as 760 burgers in 60 minutes.

Some charbroilers have been sized for use in smaller kitchens. For example, drop-in models range in width from 150 to 420, with a standard depth of 240. Grates on gas-powered units generally measure from 240 to 720. Gas broilers are also typically taller (60 to 120) than electric models. Burners are positioned one for every 60 to 120 of grate area. A countertop model can fit snugly into a space 29 square.

Energy Source(s): Heat can come from any of four sources: charcoal, wood, gas or electricity. Conducted heat is transmitted through the top grate. Convected heat is carried by circulated air. Infrared rays emanate from the heat source.

Manufacturing Method: Most charbroilers are built with a fixed distance between heat source and grate. Others, such as woodburning and charcoal (and some gas) units, feature adjustable grates.

Standard Features: The basic unit is little more than a firebox with a steel or cast-iron top grate on which foods cook. Some gas charbroilers transfer heat via metal radiants made of stainless-steel alloy or cast iron.

New Features/Technology/Options: Many manufacturers offer grates that can be angled to direct grease away from the hearth. The grease is instead sent down into a trough or tray where it is held until emptied. Most models cook best between 550°F. and 625°F.

Prime Functions: This equipment broils a wide variety of meats, fish and shellfish, offering fresh-cooked flavor, appearance and evocative "backyard BBQ" aroma.

Key Kitchen Applications: The primary function of a charbroiler is to provide consistent temperatures and high production levels with as short a recovery time as possible.

Maintenance Requirements: Exhaust requirements are highly important. For drop-in models, for example, exhaust requirements range from 900- to 1,200-cu.-ft. per minute (CFM). In addition, such units must be installed 19 from any side wall, at least 50 from a back wall and about 40 from any other piece of countertop equipment. Proper ventilation and frequent cleaning are equally important.

Food Safety Functions: Preparing raw foods quickly and thoroughly minimizing chances of pathogen contamination during cooking. However, special attention is required when operators cook products over crushed lava rock or ceramic briquettes rather than coal or wood embers. These materials can leave considerable accumulations of carbon and grease. Makers recommend replacing elements and even the cast-iron grates that hold briquettes as frequently as twice annually.


Types: Traditional fryers are gas- or electrically powered and cook with hot oil or shortening. Other models can use infrared or induction heating. A pressure fryer cooks food with a combination of hot oil and steam.

Capacities/Footprints: Fry tanks come in a variety of widths, from 110 to 340, and depths of up to 340. The smallest fryers, drop-ins, have capacities ranging from 15 to 30 lbs. Fryers are commonly identified by the number of pounds of oil they hold. Manufacturers also rate their units based on the number of pounds of french fries they can cook in one hour. Generally, fryers produce a volume equal to one and a half to two times the weight of the oil they will hold. Thus, a countertop model with an oil capacity of 15 lbs. can produce about 25 lbs of french fries per hour.

Energy Source(s): Gas or electricity can power fryers.

Manufacturing Method: Fry tanks should be constructed of heavy-gauge (often 16-gauge) stainless steel. They come equipped with a full-port ball drain or similarly designed valve to enable draining and prevent clogging. Heating elements are often ribbon-style units.

Standard Features: These include solid-state controls, adjustable steel legs, baskets and lockable casters. Several manufacturers have introduced electric induction fryers, where heat is generated inside the tubes by induction coils. The metal tubes create a magnetic field that emanates heat even though the tube is not connected to a power source. Efficient heating is reached at 600°F., well below the nearly 800°F. required from conventional fryers.

New features/Technology/ Options: Automatic controls can help minimize operating costs. Computerized models can improve production consistency. Some infrared fryers are said to be from 20% to 70% more efficient than some traditional fryer models. Induction machines' cooler cold zones help oil last longer. They also tend to have cooler flue temperatures that may not increase kitchens' ambient temperature.

Prime Functions: Fry-cooking means using electrical or gas elements to heat oil or shortening in a cooking cavity, into which baskets of products are inserted until contents are done.

Key Kitchen Applications: Fryers cook breaded and unbreaded foods ranging from french fries to donuts, poultry nuggets, seafood and shellfish in deep fat.

Maintenance Requirements: Equipment life can be maximized by regular and thorough cleaning. Water should be kept away from frying units, so no pre-washing of product should be done nearby. Temperature shock caused by dumping frozen product into fully heated oil scorches the frying medium and stresses heating elements and, so, should be avoided.

Food Safety Functions: Many models feature easy-to-clean, stainless-steel cabinet fronts, tops and sides. One recently introduced model features a convenient two-step filtering process that is designed to make operations safer, with less chance of burns and oil spills. With this model, smaller particulates are caught by a screen, eliminating the need for filter papers.

Griddles & Grills

Types: Griddles cook on a smooth, solid surface with a heat source below. A grill is not a cooking appliance per se. Instead, it is a grid of metal bars that holds food over a heat source. Floor and countertop models are available.

Capacities/Footprints: Standard griddles range in width from 240 to 720. Tops can range in length from 180 countertop models to 720 floor units, with 200 to 320 of depth. Additional depth can be added in half-foot increments, space permitting. A 70-wide workboard can also be added.

Energy Source(s): Griddles can run on electricity, gas or propane. Many operators laud gas models for their more even heat distribution. Electric countertop models' energy requirements range from 8 to nearly 33 kwph. Gas models generally have a rating of 20,000 Btu per hour per burner.

Manufacturing Method: Griddle surfaces should be chosen based on the foods that will be prepared on them. Choices include cast iron, polished steel, cold-rolled steel and chrome finished. Some griddles feature grooved plates to provide the seared look customers appreciate on steaks and hamburgers.

Standard Features: Griddles can stand alone or mount on refrigerated bases or other pieces of equipment. Accessories include cutting boards, plate shelves, belly bars and stainless-steel cabinets.

New Features/Technology/Options: Many manufacturers offer so-called "snap action" controls that provide precise temperature settings. Some griddle makers provide food-specific platens for products like hot dogs, as well as sauté, or steak, and infrared griddles. Solid-state controls with electronic ignition can render griddles easier to use. Clam-shell add-ons can cut cooking time of items such as hamburgers by as much as 50%. Other specialty griddles include a heavy-duty, floor-model variation with an oven below (sometimes referred to as a fry-top range); a Teppan-yaki griddle, designed for exhibition cooking; and a contact grill, an electrical version of the clamshell.

Prime Functions: Griddles prepare items ranging from breakfast eggs, omelets and pancakes to grilled sandwiches and hamburgers. Temperature ranges are typically from 150°F. to 450°F.

Maintenance Requirements: Griddles should be cleaned at about 150°F. to 175°F. Grease troughs must be emptied at least once a day. Connecting cables and controls must also be wiped down frequently. Cleaners work best when they are spread and left on plates for up to 10 minutes before scraping or wiping. All cleanser residue must be wiped off afterward; some chefs use vinegar or lemon juice for this. Electric grills can be cleaned with a griddle stone, alternately known as a brick or pumice. The stone should be pulled in the same direction as the metal grain. Steel wool will scratch a grill's surface and should be avoided. Using ice for faster cooling can warp the metal plate, as can placing pans and kettles on top.

Food Safety Concerns: Griddles have some built-in food safety features, such as a 30 to 60 splash guard along the back that keeps food from falling off and catches flying grease. Another is a trough designed to capture food particles and built-up grease. The material out of which the griddle's plate is constructed can affect cleaning, as well. For instance, chrome is easy to clean by using a scraper, water and chemical powder. Frozen food, however, tends to stick to cast iron, and is tougher to get off. Polished and cold-rolled steel are both easier to clean than cast iron.

Cook & Hold Ovens

Types: One model of cook-and-hold oven utilizes natural convection - that is, without forced movement of air - to cook hotter and keep humidity at close to 95%. Another version uses a slightly lower cooking temperature and moisture level, combined with a slow air current and levels of humidity ranging from 30% to 60%. The so-called "hot wall" cook-and-hold oven can use a heated metal wire element embedded in the inner walls of its cooking cavity to transfer heat.

Capacities/Footprints: A single oven typically has a capacity of 90 lbs. of food. Double-stacked units offer twice as much capacity.

Energy Source(s): Ovens run on electric power sources ranging from 120-volt single phase to 380-volt 3 phase. Because they can cook at lower temperatures, they typically use less electricity than conventional ovens.

Manufacturing Method: Ovens are constructed of heavy-duty stainless steel. Cabinets feature strong insulation for maximum heat retention, and some interiors include porcelain.

Standard Features: Many of the latest models offer features such as stainless-steel interiors and exteriors, wire racks and drip pans, removable interior side walls, a positive latch door, electronic controls, removable top and heavy-duty casters. High-temperature ceramic magnetic latches for easy opening and security during transport are also available.

New Features/Technology/Options: Some makers now offer a meat probe that monitors internal product temperatures and automatically switches an oven over to the holding cycle once a product reaches its pre-selected cooked state. Wire racks within an oven help food cook evenly. Adding a firebox effectively converts an oven into a smoke-and-hold unit. The flip side of the added production variety is a need for an exhaust hood and larger amounts of electricity.

Prime Functions: Low-temperature roast-and hold ovens, also known as cook-and-hold ovens, give operators the ability to cook foods well in advance of service. Units can hold cooked products safely for up to 24 hours.

Key Kitchen Applications: These ovens are most at home in operations that serve a large volume of roasted meats. The ovens blend convection heat and radiant energy to cook slowly. As a result, shrinkage is minimized. The low temperature also promotes retention of natural juices and flavors. Other foods, including seafood, poultry, vegetables and frozen entrées, can also be prepared in ovens of this type. Frozen items produced with sauces or gravy are an especially good fit.

Maintenance Requirements: There are no special ventilation requirements, which renders cook-and-hold ovens relatively mobile and flexible. Many models have removable interiors or top-mounted control modules that allow easier cleaning and maintenance.

Food Safety Functions: The lowest temperature at which these ovens can hold food and prevent bacteria from multiplying is 142°F. Timers and electric probes help determine when products are done. Sheet pans should be routinely placed beneath cooking foods to catch drips.

Microwave Ovens

Types: Commercial microwave ovens are altogether different from their home counterparts. In fact, certain newer commercial models effectively combine microwaves with controlled delivery of hot air, or convection, to improve cooking times and versatility.

Capacities/Footprints: Cabinet sizes on most commercial models range from 130 to 250 wide, 160 to 250 deep and 130 to 190 high. Larger-size cavities can hold a pair of plates or 100 3 120 pans.

Energy Source(s): Smaller microwaves operate on 120 volts; larger, heavy-duty ovens require 208 to 240 volts. Inside microwaves, from one to four electronic magnetron tubes convert electricity to microwaves. A wave guide (or fan) at the top moves waves into an oven cavity. There, wave stirrers spread them out evenly. Power is measured in watts. Most lower-volume operations will receive enough performance from a 700-watt oven. Larger outlets are more likely to require 1,400- to 2,700-watt ovens.

Manufacturing Method: Stainless steel is the preferred material for cases. Adjustable legs are commonly chrome-plated, and powder-coated handles are a nice feature.

Standard Features: Most microwave ovens come equipped with an automatic shut-off device to prevent overheating. Doors are required to have two independent but interlocking systems that automatically shut off an oven when its door is ajar. Doors also come with seals and absorbers to eliminate the chance of radiation leakage.

New Features/Technology/Options: Microwaves are now being combined with other cooking methodologies, usually convection or impingement. Impingement heating gives products a crust by warming their exterior surfaces, while microwaves penetrate foods, shortening cooking times. Some newer models feature a rotating stirrer system that eliminates cold spots. Smart, or intuitive, controls use built-in cooking profiles to help kitchen staffers. Accessories can range from cooking platters and paddles to oven stands and carts.

Prime Functions: Microwave ovens are used to cook, defrost, self-steam and reheat solid and liquid foods. Their main attribute is speed. Microwaves offer cooking on demand, without warm-up times or heat loss when doors are opened, which also renders them highly energy efficient. They are mostly used in concert with other types of cooking equipment to speed production and help keep ambient kitchen temperatures low.

Key Kitchen Applications: Microwaves are most often used to rapidly reheat partially and fully cooked items including appetizers, snacks, entrées, soups and hot desserts in operations ranging from taverns and casual-theme units to banquet and room/patient service programs. Microwaves are also used in C-stores to prepare frozen packaged food products for immediate consumption. Ovens that combine microwaves with convection can brown poultry, pastries and a host of other menu items that call for control of product color. Chickens prepared in this manner can resemble those roasted on a spit.

Maintenance Requirements: Microwave ovens should never be turned on while empty, since a product is needed to absorb emitted energy. Kitchen staff should only use cookware that is specially manufactured for use in a microwave oven. Glass, ceramic containers and all plastics should be labeled for microwave oven use. The FDA has set limits on the amount of waves permitted to escape microwave ovens. Seals and absorbers on doors that prevent leakage of potentially harmful radiation should be regularly checked and maintained securely.

Wood-Fired Ovens

Types: Gas-fueled and gas-assisted stone-hearth ovens have become quite popular and come in many different configurations to meet a variety of production requirements.

Capacities/Footprints: Many manufacturers have begun redesigning and downsizing their ovens in order to capture some of the retrofitting business they have been missing, especially in metropolitan areas where restaurant layouts are most often small and/or irregular in shape.

Energy Source(s): More operators are now opting for gas-powered models, which offer some efficiencies, as well as visual appeal. Foods' roasted and toasted flavors remain unchanged whether cooked over wood flames or gas flames. Installing pure wood-fired ovens, however, is an issue in most urban settings and large buildings. In large cities, it is almost impossible for a foodservice to use a pure wood oven unless there is an old fireplace flue or the operator can get a special variance. Thus, gas/wood combination ovens or all-gas units make more sense for operators and are much easier to train staff to use.

Manufacturing Method: Wood-fired ovens, as the name implies, consist of an insulated cavity that contains burning wood. The heat is retained by brick or stone blocks and dispersed evenly. Most units are extremely heavy and must be custom-manufactured. Cooking cavities can range from 9-sq.-ft. to more than 30-sq.-ft. Walls are generally 40 to 60 thick. Modular units are available with either concrete-block or steel-frame assemblies.

New Features/Technology/Options: Available options include a ledge near the cavity door that provides additional work space and a box for storing wood. A metal ash dolly is a safe way to move and store wood ash. Also available are digital or dial temperature gauges, moisture meters, tool sets and custom finishes.

Prime Functions: Similar to traditional ovens, wood-fired units heat from the bottom up. Cooking times, however, are faster. One reason is that ovens of this type can retain temperatures over 600°F. for lengthy periods of time without constant tending.

Key Kitchen Applications: These ovens are best-suited for roasting and baking a wide variety of foods, including meats, poultry, fish, stews, vegetable dishes, pastries and breads and, of course, that traditional favorite, pizzas.

Maintenance Requirements: Some floors may need to be reinforced in order to accommodate wood-fired ovens, which can weigh as much as 5,000 to 10,000 lbs.

Food Safety Concerns: A long-handled brush should be used for sweeping away food particles that accumulate on the floor of an oven during use. The oven floor can be cleaned with a damp rag. As with any other piece of equipment, a periodic cleaning schedule must be maintained. The intense heat and high temperatures these ovens generate largely preclude the need for cleaning of their interior walls and cavity top. When units are operated at lower temperatures, however, a buildup on the interior walls and/or cavity top of ovens can occur. To alleviate food-safety threats, these ovens should be heated up to approximately 600°F. until all signs of stuck-on food are gone; scraping should not be necessary. The amount and rate of buildup is largely a result of the type of wood being burned and the length of time at which the oven has been operated at lower temperatures. Exterior surfaces should be cleaned with a mild detergent, hot water and a soft cloth or sponge. Stuck-on dirt can be removed using a non-metallic scouring pad.

Ovens, Assorted

Types: The are many varieties of ovens: Conventional (or range), convection and deck (or stack) ovens, including pizza ovens, are among the most widely used. The range oven, so named because it sits beneath a range top, is the workhorse in many kitchens. It is built to roast, bake and (sometimes) to hold foods. Convection ovens use fans to circulate warmed air around the cooking cavity, helping foods bake or roast as much as 35% faster and, generally, at lower temperatures, due to more efficient heat transfer. This is because the hot air reduces the cooler boundary layer at foods' surface, allowing quicker heat penetration. Chefs like convection ovens because they can produce more products, in less time and space, than conventional ovens. A deck or stack oven is simply one that includes multiple cavities and controls, with two or three heated cavities stacked one on top of the other. A pizza oven is basically a stack oven set for higher-than-ordinary temperatures, ranging between 300°F. and 700°F.

Capacities/Footprints: Range ovens commonly can accommodate standard-size sheet pans on one or more adjustable racks. A single convection oven can sit in a footprint as small as 10-sq.-ft. and can be double-stacked for increased productivity and space savings. Decks in a stack oven generally have 80 or 120 of space above them, depending on their function.

Energy Source(s): Range ovens can be powered by gas or electricity. Most gas range ovens are built with a capacity of 40,000 Btu. Electric models utilize from 1,200 to 5,000 watts each hour. Convection ovens can also be ordered in gas or electric formats. Pizza ovens run on just over 80,000 Btu per deck per hour (gas models) or slightly more than 7 kw (electric models).

Manufacturing Method: Range ovens, in general, feature a double-wall, heavy-gauge construction. This works to distribute heat evenly. Insulation is important for maintaining heat; most makers recommend at least 20 of rock wool insulation. Convection ovens come in three standard sizes: full, which means cavity dimensions are designed to accommodate a standard 180 3 260 sheet pan; bakery depth, which can hold a standard sheet pan in either direction; and half-size, whose cavity can hold a half-size sheet pan. The decks in deck ovens are made of ceramic or stainless steel, with the former often lauded for especially good heat distribution. Not surprisingly, insulation plays a greater role in ovens that are stacked. Hence, the thickness of the insulation is doubled. Electric deck ovens have two sets of heating elements, one on the top for boiling and another on the bottom for baking. Each element has a separate heat switch. Controls located on the side of units are easier to use than those located on the bottom. Each deck in a pizza oven, which is also referred to as a hearth, is comprised of two 10-thick ceramic pieces or one piece of steel. Pizza oven decks are also lower, typically no more than 70 to 80 in height.

Standard Features: Oven doors should open flush with a deck for easy movement of food. Full-size convection ovens can come with a single or double (French-style) doors. Double-door ovens are available in independent (doors open separately) and dependent (both doors must be opened together) models. Programmable controls permit staffers to pick preset time and temperature settings. Rack timers allow cooks to load a range of items requiring different cook times simultaneously while ensuring that they will know when each must be removed.

New Features/Technology/Options: The list of relatively new options for conventional ovens is long and includes heat-treated glass doors, adjustable casters, side-mounted controls, more accurate infinite-heat controls and insulated handles. Some manufacturers utilize two-speed motors together with their control packages. This provides operators with the enhanced flexibility of high-speed air flow for preparing normal items and low speed for more delicate products. Depending on the specific manufacturer, control panels either can be ordered at the time of purchase or interchanged with other ovens at an operation. Door windows are optional, as are interior lights. Door windows are optional, as are interior lights. Many operators prefer to order individual control panels for each of the decks in their deck ovens. This allows them to set different temperatures (from 175°F. to 550°F.) for different dishes. Some pizza oven models have done away with doors in favor of an air curtain to retain heat. The amount of insulation can also be increased.

Prime Functions: Range ovens provide the large-volume, dry-heat cooking process on which most foodservice operations depend. Deck ovens are usually found in operations in which space is limited and production needs are great.

Maintenance Requirements: Gas and electric deck ovens each come with flue vents in the rear that must be maintained. With convection ovens, maintenance challenges are likely to come from solid-state touch-pad controls, since employees may use too-long fingernails or even sharp implements to punch numbers into the keyboard. Thus, penetration of the keypad is a frequent problem. Overloading a convection oven means restricting the air flow that helps it cook, and this will reduce its effectiveness. Gas convection units can have ignition problems because most feature spark ignitions. Night-shift cleaning crews may routinely spray down the floors and some equipment without realizing the damage they can do. Nonetheless, once the electronic "guts" get wet, an oven may not light or light only intermittently. Caustic cleaners such as scouring powder should not be used to clean the inside of a convection oven. Instead, cleaning staff should use a mild detergent on the exterior.

Caustics can't do any damage on the outside, of course, but can mar the appearance.

Food Safety Concerns: Primary among the features operators look for in convection ovens is ease of cleaning. This comes through easy-to-remove shelves and shelf supports that require no tools for adjustments. Shelves should be removed daily for cleaning with warm water and a mild detergent. The types of products being prepared in an oven will help determine how often the doors need to be cleaned. For example, foods that tend to splatter and spill over, such as fruit pies, tomato sauces and roasted meats, naturally require more attention than, say, cookies. To eliminate lingering odors, staff should set a unit at 500°F. and allow it to bake with no products inside for 30 to 45 minutes. Triple-deck ovens usually have one deck, the lowest, that is hard to reach and, thus, may not get cleaned as thoroughly as the other two. This, naturally, is to be avoided.


Types: Restaurant (or café) ranges are designed for light duty. Heavy-duty ranges are similar, but constructed of sturdier materials to handle higher volumes and heavier pots and pans. Heavy-duty models can also be configured and customized as island suites. A variety of specialty ranges - tabletop, stockpot, Chinese, taco - are custom models created for specific applications.

Capacities/Footprints: Most range makers market their units in four sizes: 240, 360, 480 and 600. Not surprisingly, restaurant ranges are smaller (240 to 720) than their heavy-duty counterparts (320 to 360 per section). Many models come with 60 adjustable legs to ensure a level stance.

Energy Source(s): Electric and gas models offer different burners. Gas models have open burners. Electric units come with tubular metal elements that hold resistance wires. These are covered with protective hot tops or French plates.

Manufacturing Method: Ranges may be installed on steel or chrome legs. Shelves are usually made of stainless steel. Stainless-steel spreader plates can be placed between ranges and the appliances next to them. Griddle tops are another type of steel plate that fit over a portion of the range and perform the same function as a freestanding griddle.

Standard Features: Ranges are available with one, two or no ovens underneath. The size of the oven(s) is based on that of baking sheets (180 3 260). Heavy-duty models are constructed in sections and, so, can also be referred to as sectional or modular ranges. They also usually come with four burners, while restaurant models typically have 10 burners. That modularity makes ranges flexible enough to offer features such as a variety of cook tops, overhead salamander broilers and fryer units. The four most common varieties of ranges are open burner, hot tops, griddle tops and graduated hot tops. A fifth type of top, a French hot plate, comes mostly on electric ranges.

New Features/Technology/Options: Some newer model ranges are coming to market equipped with refrigerated bases. A variety of sizes is available to meet individual storage needs. Self-contained and remote refrigeration packages are available. Some range makers offer an open-burner/half hot-top combination. Fiberglass sidewall insulation helps save energy. Swivel casters make cleaning and maintenance easier.

Prime Functions: The range top is almost always the most used piece of equipment in any kitchen. With it, cooks boil, simmer, deep-fry, sauté, braise and hold foods hot.

Maintenance Requirements: A rear flue is crucial for venting heat and combustion by-products from the oven and from under griddles and hot tops. Without it, combustion could be incomplete because of a lack of fresh oxygen. Handles and front surfaces might also become too hot to touch with bare hands. Operating staff should clean ranges frequently to prevent buildup of harmful surface deposits. Ordinary grime can be cleaned with soap and water and a cloth, sponge or fiber brush. For baked-on food, a paste made of water and one of these - ammonia, magnesium oxide, powdered pumice or French chalk - should be rubbed on with a scouring pad or stainless-steel wool. Cleaning with wire brushes, files and steel scrapers should be avoided.

Food Safety Concerns: Most range models come with a drip pan below the burners to snare spills and grease that should be easily removable. Controls should be easily accessible, yet protected from spillage. If heavy pots and pans are to be used, unit managers should be sure to check that the construction of burners and legs will be sufficient to the loads. Induction range tops have been praised for being easier to keep clean than other types, since moist cloths can be used to wipe off cooking surfaces.


Types: Commercial models generally fall into two categories: batch- and continuous-cooking units. Batch cookers are most often specified for operations serving high volumes of customers during specific time frames. They employ a rotating drum that moves skewers around a cooking cavity. Operations that hold food items through- out the day typically use continuous- cooking models. These are almost always vertical units, with skewers or baskets suspended in an ascending fashion.

Capacities/Footprints: Sizes can range from 350 high 3 250 deep 3 240 wide for a countertop model to 750 high 3 310 deep 3 700 wide for high-volume batch machines.

Energy Source(s): Rotisseries can use gas or electricity. Some gas models permit the use of woods, as well as charcoal, to add additional flavor to food products. Heat emanates via infrared technology or the circulation of warmed air. Some units are designed to generate heat from above, others from below. A few models impinge skewers with heating elements.

Manufacturing Method: Rotisserie cabinets vary when it comes to construction. Most feature a galvanized sheet-metal body sheathed inside and out with stainless steel. Doors are also available in different formats, ranging from single, front-pivoting designs to double closures. Other models are completely open. Some doors are made wholly of glass, others have windows. Some makers coat cabinet fronts in anodized metals.

Standard Features: A small electric motor rotates the spits as moist, hot air circulates around foods and through an oven's cavity. Traditional accessories include heavy-duty spits and baskets to hold fish or vegetables. Glass doors for open viewing have moved to the forefront as exhibition cooking has proliferated. Many rotisseries include warming cabinets to hold finished products.

New Features/Technology/Options: Basket spits allow food items such as sausages, fish and vegetables to roast without having to be pierced by a skewer. Casters on spit holders make removal easier. Angled spits allow cooking of larger products, such as whole lambs or roast pigs.

Key Kitchen Applications: Rotisseries are used in both the back and front of the house. They roast skewered meat and poultry, usually whole chickens, as well as fish and vegetables. Some operators use them to prepare barbecued items like ribs or sausages.

Maintenance Requirements: Gas models have more stringent ventilation hood requirements. Electric models must, of course, also be vented properly. Drips pans, spits and drains should be easily removable without tools.

Food Safety Concerns: Drip trays must be cleaned and grease traps drained often. Manufacturers' cleaning guidelines should be followed closely. Models with heated cabinets are designed to withstand caustic cleaners, carbonization and corrosive fats, but damage can nonetheless result. Some high-end models offer a self-cleaning function that can minimize manual labor. Since eye appeal is so integral to rotisseries, spattered grease presents appearance, as well as food safety problems if left uncleaned.

Steamers & Combi-Ovens

Types: The three major classifications of steamers are pressure, pressureless (convection) and connectionless. The first utilizes from 5 to 15 lbs. per square inch (PSI) and cooks at 228°F. to 250°F. Models range from high pressure (15 PSI) to low (2 to 5 PSI). Generally speaking, low-pressure compartment units offer lower operating cost and higher productivity than pressureless units when preparing single items. Pressureless steamers cook at 0 PSI and 212°F. Heat is transferred via the convection of steam. Unlike pressure cookers, pressureless steamers put steam in direct contact with food products. Another difference is that doors can be opened to let staff check or season foods. These units are generally smaller and cook more slowly than pressure steamers. Connectionless units are used by small- and medium-size operations that lack water utilities or drains. Cook times are longer, but utility costs are lower. Combi-ovens combine a variety of cooking modes, moist and dry.

Capacities/Footprints: Combi-ovens actually save kitchen space by combining the functions of two pieces of equipment into one. Countertop and small floor-model steamers work well in smaller foodservice facilities. Large floor-model units are designed for high-volume operations. Smaller steamer models will utilize 120 3 200 3 21/20 steam pans. Most larger units will accept both 120 3 200 3 21/20 steam pans and 180 3 260 sheet pans. As for the number of compartments needed, the rule of thumb is this: up to 200 meals per hour requires a single 1-compartment steamer. For 200 to 400 meals per hour, a single 2-compartment unit. From 400 to 600 meals per hour, one 3-compartment unit is recommended. And for 600 to 800 meals per hour, operators need either one 4-compartment or two 2-compartment units.

Energy Source(s): Combi-ovens that run on electricity require 9.5 kw for smaller, countertop units and as much as 72 kw for larger pieces. Gas units, all floor models, range in Btu requirements from 88,000 to more than 200,000.

Standard Features: Most combi models offer a wide variety of programming options to control both the cooking temperature and humidity levels for specific products. The majority of combi-oven models come equipped with a trio of standard settings. One is fan- forced pressureless steam. This provides a cooking environment just right for vegetables, seafood and other delicate dishes. It is also the proper setting for reheating prepared items, since it will not dry them out. The second basic setting is combination mode. This blends steam with forced-air convection, providing moist heat for baking crusty rolls and breads and a larger number of pastries. Since the steam helps to maintain moisture content and product size, it is also used for roasting meats. The third setting is straight convection. This is used mostly for dry-heat cooking of menu items like pizza, cookies and cakes. Some manufacturers offer as many as seven settings: high-speed convection, low-speed convection, high-speed convection with moisture, low-speed convection with moisture, high-temperature steam low-temperature steam, and holding.

New Features/Technology/Options: Most steamers at work in the field today come with built-in steam generators. Requirements for boiler horsepower (bhp) vary by maker. A rule of thumb states: 1 bhp per steamer compartment in the equipment. Computerized controls always raise a piece of equipment's price, but are often worth the expense in high-volume outlets. Advanced water-filtration systems on steamers are helping improve product quality and equipment life. Innovative door designs are keeping more of the steam from escaping in order to maintain ambient kitchen temperatures. The newest connectionless steamer models offer cooking speed and efficiency that had heretofore been associated with convection cookers.

Prime Functions: A combi-oven combines three cooking modes: steam, hot air and combi cooking, which melds hot air with superheated steam. The moisture maintains flavor and nutrients in the food product, while the hot air speeds cooking. Temperatures can vary from 85°F. (gentle steaming) to 575°F. (searing and high-speed baking). Combi-ovens can also be used to replace holding units, proofers or slow-cookers when used at low-heat settings.

Key Kitchen Applications: Combi-ovens can quickly and efficiently prepare food items ranging from roasted meats and vegetables to puff pastries. They are also used to thaw and blanch. While suggested cooking times provided by steamer manufacturers are helpful, experienced chefs know that temperature fluctuations can always occur. These can be overcome by controlling a variety of factors, including the type and dimensions of the pan used and the freshness and shape of the products. Manufacturer-supplied materials should be used as a guide, but not as the last word. Setting the unit's time will automatically turn off the steam and alert a staffer that attention is needed.

Maintenance Requirements: Operators should outline and follow a regular cleaning schedule for all equipment, but especially those that use water and/or steam. Water deposits or scale buildup on steam generator walls, heating elements and water probes. How fast these deposits form depends on the amount of use and hardness of water. An obvious solution is to filter the operation's water, and there are many types of filters (including carbon and UV-plus activated carbon, which removes particulants and kills viruses). An equally obvious and more labor-intensive approach is constant preventive maintenance, which should go a long way toward eliminating clogs in water lines and tanks, as well as equipment malfunctions.

Food Safety Concerns: Steamers' stainless- steel walls are generally easy to clean. Staff should start with a degreasing spray and follow by running the equipment in steam mode to loosen stuck- on particles.


Types: There are two basic varieties: pop-up and conveyor. Pop-up models are used in smaller/low- volume operations and, generally, just for making toast, waffles and bagels. Conveyor units are found in higher-volume operations and can accommodate bagels, English muffins, buns, sub rolls, croissants and other specialty bread items.

Capacities/Footprints: Conveyor units offer a greater capacity compared to pop-ups. Depending on the number of slots, a pop-up toaster can process 200 to 360 slices of bread per hour. Conveyor models, on the other hand, can handle 300 to as many as 400 slices per hour. The footprint of a typical pop-up model generally measures 100 3 200. Available space will determine whether selected conveyor models are vertical or horizontal. Vertical units generally have a 220 3 150 footprint and stand nearly 39 tall. Horizontal models usually measure 180 3 120 and are typically no taller than 140.

Energy Source(s): All varieties of toasters require single-phase electricity, ranging from 120 to 240 volts. Bread is toasted with infrared radiation from heating elements. The elements are usually metal coils, though some makers use quartz. They are either "naked" (pop-up models) or sheathed in metal or glass (conveyor models).

Manufacturing Method: Stainless-steel construction adds durability and helps prevent rust. High-temperature insulated wire can be used for longer life, while high-temperature bearings should require no lubrication. Some toaster makers also offer chrome-plated steel construction.

New Features/Technology/Options: The number, width and length of slots on pop-up toasters are available in various configurations. Some controls turn off heating elements not being used in order to conserve energy and maintain product integrity.

Browning controls are an often useful option. So are "shade" controls that monitor heat to assure consistency. Warming areas keep toast at the right temperature until it is served. Removable side panels allow easier access to a unit's mechanics and "cool to the touch" exterior materials help to prevent burns.

Maintenance Requirements: Some manufacturers insist that operators bring units in for service, while others will work on toasters where they are installed. Depending on usage rates and models selected, this could prove a critical difference.

Food Safety Functions: Removal of crumbs and thorough, regular cleaning are essential to ensure toasters remain sanitary. This is especially true on conveyor models, which may handle products with toppings such as cheese, meat or vegetables. Staff should keep moisture away from heating elements.

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