Food Service

An extensive look at ranges, cooktops, deep fat fryers, ovens, and ventilation, including safety tips.

Professional chefs prefer natural gas for the speed and control it gives them when preparing food. Plus, gas equipment is more cost effective to operate than electric appliances.

Contact Tom Simpson for all of your restaurant equipment questions, at 503-721-2458 or send him an email.

Ranges

Natural gas ranges are a practical marriage of cooktop and oven in the same appliance. They can be easily accommodated in smaller kitchen areas. Commercial models are manufactured in 30, 36, 48 and 60-inch widths, and have special installation requirements.

Cooktops

Nothing gives you control like a natural gas cooktop because today's models deliver the precise heat you need. New designs have ports on the inside of the burner to distribute the flame more evenly and provide a higher concentration of heat.

There are so many mix-and-match cooktop features: grills, wok rings, thermostatically controlled griddles, steamers, rotisseries, deep fryers, and lift out grease wells. A new oblong burner ideal for poaching fish is on the market. And there are models with electrical LED readouts that indicate the power level of the gas flame for each burner. Many ranges will relight automatically if the flame blows out accidentally.

New, different-sized burners

  • Standard gas burners provide between 9,000 and 10,000 BTUs worth of energy (A BTU is a British Thermal Unit, or the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit).
  • Many cooktops have three 9,000 BTU burners and one 12,000 BTU burner, a power burner. It is used for boiling, stir frying, and other uses where high heat is required.
  • Other cooktop models offer the standard burners, a power burner and a lower-BTU burner (about 5,000 BTUs) for simmering sauces and other low temperature uses.

Sealed burners

  • Prevent spills from seeping under the cooktop, making cleanup a lot easier.

Quick cooking tip

Remember to place the pot or pan you use on the appropriate-sized burner head. If the flame licks around the outside of the bottom of the cookware, the heat isn't being concentrated properly.

Deep fat fryers

Floor Models: Gas fryers are one of the most widely used pieces of equipment in the food service industry. In selecting a fryer, production capacity are important considerations.

  • Immersion tube type fryer: Manufacturers using this design contend that immersing the burners in fat contributes to fryer efficiency by completely surrounding the heat transfer surface (the tubes) with the hot frying medium.
  • V-shaped fry pot: In this case, burners are located under the fry pot and the curved bottom surface serves as the heat transfer surface. This design offers good accessibility to both the fry pot and the burners located under the cabinet.

Counter Top Models: With the current trend towards downsized restaurant formats, there is a greater selection of gas counter top fryers than ever before.

  • New 15-inch high units: These units are compatible with other equipment(earlier models generally had working heights higher than the rest of the cookline).
  • Volume cooking: Many of the new gas counter top fryers offer volume cooking capabilities that rival top, heavy duty floor models.
  • Hood requirements: When selecting counter top equipment, it should be noted that hood requirements are dictated by the by-products of the cooking process and not by the fuel used.

Ovens

Nothing bakes, broils or bastes like a natural gas oven because they provide the precise, moist heat that cooktops offer.

Gas ovens: Come in radiant heat or convection models.

  • Radiant heat provides a steady heat that is ideal for baking and broiling. It heats the food, not just the air surrounding it, and locks in the juices and nutrients.
  • Fan-forced convection ovens circulate hot air around the food for even heating and browning at lower temperatures. Fan forced convection ovens cook food the same no matter which oven shelf it sits upon, and can roast food 25 percent faster than conventional ovens.

Combination Ovens: Combination ovens are designed to provide food service operators with a choice of three basic cooking functions with a single oven cavity.

  • The oven creates two primary heat transfer sources: pressure-less convection steam and convection hot air. These two heat sources may be utilized individually or in combination, creating three primary cooking modes.
  • A single piece of equipment doing a multitude of cooking tasks can improve the efficiency of your entire production and service system while saving labor costs.

Getting the most from your oven

  • Size: Ovens come in 24, 27 and 30-inch widths, and in single or double oven configurations.
  • Digital controls: Help keep the temperature exact by limiting temperature swings as much as possible.
  • Broiling: Natural gas broiling is virtually smokeless. The splatter goes up into the flame and is consumed, so you can broil with the door shut. That can be an advantage in the summer, because it reduces the amount of heat in the kitchen. Electric broilers produce more smoke that can build up unless it's vented out of your kitchen.

Ventilation

Do not underestimate the importance of a high performance ventilation system for your cooking equipment. It will draw grease, odor, heat, steam and smoke away from you and your commercial kitchen.

There are two methods: updraft or downdraft systems. Consumers need to ask for an updraft or downdraft model with at least 300 CFM rating to ensure that they're getting their money's worth.

Updraft systems: Consumers shopping for an updraft hood should pay more attention to power than to noise, because any vent set on "high" will make noise. The key is drawing power and how well the hood will operate on a "medium" setting.

  • To be truly effective, a hood should move air at 300 cubic feet per minute (CFM).

Downdraft systems: There's no question that a downdraft system is a wonderful option, especially when an updraft system is impractical. Downdrafts produce a current of air that travels over the surface of the cooktop, drawing the smoke and odors into the exhaust duct.

  • Retractable models rise up from the back of the cooktop and, at the touch of a button, will stay on for five minutes after you're done cooking to further eliminate kitchen odors.
  • Some models will remind you when it's time to clean the filters.
  • Many models are powerful, exceeding ratings of 600 CFM.

Gas booster water heaters

A booster water heater is used to increase the temperature of general purpose hot water to 180 degrees F. This reduces the amount of chemicals needed for the sterilization of dishes and utensils.

Natural gas boosters offer several advantages over the other alternatives:

  • 45-50 percent savings in operating costs over electric
  • Superior performance over chemical/low temp process
  • Quicker cycle times
  • More friendly to the environment
  • Uses less water

Gas warewashers

Generally speaking, there are four categories of gas warewasher; flight type, rack conveyor, stationary door, and specialty machines.

Warewasher types: For lower volume operations stationary machines are most often used, while conveyer and flight type machines are best suited for high volume and institutional type operations. Specialty washers are designed for cleaning pots and pans and other items that would require hand washing.

  • Sanitation and cost savings: Gas warewashers are designed to provide a high level of sanitation on a consistent basis and to offer significant cost of operation savings compared to electric models.

There is a large selection of gas-fired warewashers that will not only facilitate compliance with health codes and increase customer satisfaction, but also fit the operator's kitchen space, equipment budget, and production requirements.