Step into the kitchen of an Italian restaurant, and then visit a sandwich shop known for its hot panini sandwiches. You'll see that their kitchens have entirely different setups and cooking equipment.
Just for a start, the Italian kitchen will have a sauté station and the sandwich shop will have a conveyor oven.
The point is that commercial kitchens come in all shapes and sizes. There are as many unique commercial kitchens as there are restaurants. But the commercial oven is the hub of them all.
What Kind of Commercial Oven?
The type of commercial oven you buy depends on your menu. Are you offering a lot of dishes that require sautéing? Will you specialize in breads and desserts? Are you offering gourmet pizza?
Each of these menu styles uses a different type of oven or range. Commercial ovens come in as many choices of functions and brands as ovens made for the home.
Commercial Oven Choices
Commercial ovens are good for quick, even cooking and they're ideal for dishes that must be baked, such as lasagna, and other casseroles.
Combination ovens combine convection ovens with a steamer. They can cook large quantities of vegetables in a fraction of the time that boiling would require.
A conveyor oven has a conveyor belt that moves the food through the oven at a pre-set pace, making it ideal for pizzas or hot sandwiches.
A pizza oven heats to high temperatures and is the right shape for pizzas. Nonetheless, it can be used for just about anything else that is oversized, including sides of beef or large pans of dessert.
Other Commercial Equipment
You may need more than one type of cooker. A broiler cooks food with short bursts of heat, good for melting cheeses on soups and sandwiches.
A grill, either a flat top or a charbroiler, is used to cook meats, poultry, and burger patties. A fryer or fryolator deep-fries any from French fries to chicken wings.
Top Brands of Commercial Ovens
The three big names in commercial ovens are Vulcan, Hobart, and Viking. Your kitchen oven will be a major expense, but you can find a gently-used one if you're on a tight budget.
Equipment You Might Forego
Electric ranges take a long time to heat up. They could drive your electric bill through the roof, too. Gas is usually the better option.
Specialized ranges can be iffy. Brick-oven pizza is great but a brick oven can cost three to five times as much as a regular gas oven. Be sure you're going to make your money back on all those pizzas before you plunk down that kind of money.
Heated or refrigerated drawers sound like a great idea for a business restaurant. Unfortunately, they're prone to breaking down under the wear and tear of a commercial kitchen. Reach-in warmers and coolers last longer.
If you're on a budget, above all look for diversity. Don't get carried away buying specialized ovens and ranges until you get established and can afford them.