One of the most important equipment decisions you can make in your kitchen is the type of range to buy. If you don’t fully plan your range purchase around what you’ll be cooking and how fast you’ll be cooking it, your quality of food and/or quality of service will suffer.
The first question to ask when purchasing a range is, “What is your menu?” While some ranges are designed to handle banquet dinners for hundreds, other, less-expensive models are just perfect for a smaller sandwich shop or hot dog stand.
In the examples above, a hotel-grade range would have a heavier frame and door and higher BTUs such as the Southbend 436 or platinum line. Popular in Europe, it’s also possible to find Combi ranges, which use convection, heat and steam at the same time to allow chefs to cook multiple haute cuisine dishes at different temperatures simultaneously.
Rethermalization is a must-have option for larger kitchen ranges that prepare hundreds of meals. Retherm allows food to be pre-prepared and then safely stored for a period of time before being cooked the last few minutes, then garnished and served.
Lower-volume outlets have unique needs as well. A fast food restaurant may not need a large oven for one or two items, but they may have rush hours that require fast turnover. A lightweight or low-BTU oven would fail to handle the food fast enough.
A Southbend S36 would be perfect for a kitchen that primarily warmed soups and sauces on the stovetop, and perhaps reheated pre-baked lasagna or warmed bread in the oven. Perfect for fairs and lightweight jobs, this oven would be virtually destroyed after a year in a high-volume, heavy menu kitchen.
The stovetop on your range also needs to be carefully evaluated to fit your needs. When you consider the weight of your pots and the weight of the food going into them, you might have, on a busy night, a couple hundred pounds sitting atop your new range. Check the weight and style of your pot grates to ensure your stovetop can handle the load.
For high-volume burner users, such is often the case with breakfast-centric restaurants, you may choose a flat top, which allows your chef to use the heated surface in the most efficient way. Chefs can cook directly on the flat surface, warm pots and pans, sauté and more with a single grate and burner-free surface.
For commercial kitchens that have space or budget issues, combo ranges might be the best starting point. Combo ranges combine burner, broiler, griddle, and oven all in approximately a five-foot area. This helps narrow down your exhaust needs also, inexpensively allowing you stay in compliance with local code.
Establish your menu, weigh your pots and pans, research health code and project your busiest output, and you’ll be on your way to finding the perfect stove for your kitchen.