Basics of Commercial Ovens and Cooking Equipment
What you need depends on what you plan to serve
Step into the kitchen of any Italian restaurant that specializes in pasta dishes then visit a sandwich shop known for its hot panini sandwiches. Their kitchens will have very different setups and different cooking equipment. 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 Do You Need in a Commercial Oven?
The type of commercial oven you buy will depend on your menu. Consider the type of cooking that will be done in your kitchen. Are there a lot of dishes on your menu that require sautéing? Will you be baking your own breads and desserts? Are you planning on offering gourmet pizza?
Each of these menu trends uses a different type of oven or range. Commercial ovens come in different brands with different functions just like ovens you might buy for your 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 or 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 belt moves the food through the oven in a conveyor oven, making it ideal for pizzas or hot sandwiches.
A pizza oven is a large oven that heats to high temperatures. Not only can it be used for pizza but you can cook just about anything else in a pizza oven, too, including large sides of beef or large pans of dessert.
Other Commercial Cooking Equipment
Different stations can require different equipment. A broiler cooks food with short bursts of heat. It's good for melting cheeses on soups and sandwiches.
A grill can be either a flat top or a char broiler. Both are used to cook meats, poultry, and burger patties.
A fryer/fryolator deep fries everything from French fries to chicken wings. Even desserts, such as cheesecake, can be deep fried for an interesting touch.
Top Brands of Commercial Ovens
Vulcan is the top of the line in commercial ranges. A gas range by Vulcan can last forever with only minor repairs now and then.
Hobart is another manufacturer of kitchen ovens. Their ovens are a good deal, especially if you can find one that's gently used.
Viking ranges are increasingly found in the home kitchens of owners who want that industrial chic look, and they're a good choice for commercial kitchens as well.
Equipment You Might Want to Stay Away From
Electric ranges take forever to heat up. They'll drive your electric bill through the roof and they're always breaking. Consider sticking with gas.
Specialized ranges can be iffy. Brick-oven pizza might sound delicious but a brick oven can cost you three to five times as much as a regular gas oven. Make sure you're going to make your money back on all those pizzas before you plunk down that kind of money.
At first glance, heated or refrigerated drawers look like they would be very functional, especially in a busy restaurant kitchen. Unfortunately, they're prone to breaking. They're simply not made for the wear and tear of a commercial kitchen. Reach-in warmers and coolers last longer.
Before you jump at buying any type of oven, range, or other equipment that's only good for a few types of food, consider whether you really need it. Can you settle for something less expensive or a model that's more versatile?