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Contents At A Glance

FE&S — specifier — 2006-04 — Product Showroom

Ranges—the Kitchen Centerpiece
Customize your cooking style with light, medium or heavy ranges in various combinations.

Many think of the range as the central part of the kitchen. Obviously, that’s where most cooking happens. Because of that, operators have a wide variety of range/oven combinations they can choose from based on the types of food they serve. Lately, manufacturers have noticed that as menus become more eclectic, so have the range combinations.

  • Most high-end restaurants or chains, hotels and hospitals use heavier-duty ranges because they withstand high-volume production and last longer. Heavier ranges consist of various pieces that fit together in the field as a battery. In contrast, light- and medium-duty units come in one piece with a range on top plus an oven, cabinet or shelving serving as the base.
  • The main types of ranges include open burners, hot tops, fry tops or griddles, and charbroilers, but French tops, planchas and Chinese burners are emerging favorites among operators.
  • Open burners are great for fast sautéing and boiling, while fry tops, griddles and charbroilers cook food directly with heat that’s controlled by thermometers rather than valves.
  • Hot tops, which have flat, steel surfaces, are better for “softer” or induction cooking because the pan sits on the flat surface rather than over an open flame. Hot tops are a growing trend, but, generally, only among higher-end restaurants where chefs have tailored skills and know how to control cooking temperatures. This is because hot tops have graduating heat areas, with the hottest areas in the center and front, and cooler areas on the sides and rear. Skilled chefs need to know where the heat zones are and how to use them; they may keep butter clarified on a low heat zone, and at the same time, use the hottest part for boiling or holding mashed potatoes.
  • Chinese ranges come fitted with rests for woks. It is possible to outfit some ranges with just one wok rest, a style popular among contemporary restaurants and chains, which continued to expand their menu to include Asian-influenced dishes.
  • Planchas are another growing trend in range selection as chefs cook more tapas, small plate dishes, or la carte items. The ranges are similar to griddles in that food cooks directly on them, but they are also similar to hot tops in that they have different heat zones, which allows the chef to simultaneously prepare smaller dishes or ones that require cooking at different temperatures. Many use planchas for seafood, which needs to cook lightly, or other specialty types of cooking. Planchas generally measure 36 inches or larger and feature “gutters” around each side for easy cleaning.
  • French tops are like hot tops in that they have a flat, closed surface, but operators can remove part of the surface over the flame to allow more direct heat, similar to that of an open burner range.
  • Operators can request a salamander above the range for toasting or browning. Red Lobster uses a conveyer oven, similar to a salamander but much larger, to cook large volumes of seafood items.
  • Consultants can spec ranges with either a conventional or convection oven underneath. Convection ovens generally are more energy-efficient than traditional ones, and cook faster.
  • Most individual range units are 36 inches, but some can be customized at 18 inches or expanded to 72 inches.
  • For easier cleaning, include casters on the range batteries. Doing so makes the equipment easier to move.
  • Hoods are purchased separately. Many newer models feature self-cleaning mechanisms.
Range Manufacturers
American Range Corp. The Middleby Corp.
Blodgett Corp. MKN GmbH
Cadco Ltd. Montague Co., The
Comstock-Castle Stove Co. Next Day Gourmet
Peerless Professional Cooking Equipment
Dynamic Cooking Systems Inc. Rankin-Delux Inc.
Enodis Corp., U.S. Range Royal Industries Inc.
FSP International Corp. Spring USA Corp.
Garland/The Garland Group/U.S. Range Southbend
Town Food Service Equipment Co. Inc.
Viking Range Corp.
Intedge Industries Vulcan-Hart Co.
Jade Range Inc.
Lang Manufacturing Co.

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