Specifying Considerations for Charbroilers

For many foodservice operators, charbroilers serve as a key piece of cooking equipment. The flavor profile and overall results this equipment provides are unlike any other cooking process. Because cooking directly over a flame needs more constant monitoring, these units tend to be more difficult to use than griddles, ranges and ovens. For this reason, choosing the appropriate charbroiler plays an important role in properly supporting the menu.

Below, Gary Petry, project administrator at JMK Foodservice Consulting & Design, LLC, of Rowlett, Texas, discusses aspects to consider when purchasing charbroilers:

  • The operation’s hours and volume will help determine the appropriate charbroiler size that the business requires. In the event of frequent and busy time periods, larger units should be specified. A chop house or fine dining restaurant with a more leisurely pace can make do with a medium or smaller charbroiler.
  • The shape of the grate — flat, slanted or adjustable — will impact the results and flavor profile. For example, horizontal grates can capture more drippings, which create more smoke for a better caramelization of meat items. Operators looking for less intense flavor would need a flat, fixed grate.
  • The grate design should connect to menu composition. For example, items like fish require a diamond-shaped grid pattern because it has the least amount of surface area touching the product to help prevent sticking.
  • Operators can choose from a variety of grate materials. The chef’s preference and menu become big factors in this decision. Although the majority of grates are cast iron, other types include steel, cold rolled steel and stainless steel.
  • Cooking technique represents another important consideration. Some models include a hinged hood on the back that when pulled down can trap smoke, which enhances the charbroiled taste.
  • This equipment’s affluence can make exhibition charbroiling a challenge. Smoke typically gets carried to unwelcome places, like the dining room. Because locating these units can become a design issue, operators need to coordinate with a mechanical engineer.
  • Proper venting is a key factor with charbroilers. Consult with a kitchen designer, HVAC engineer and contractor to ensure no cross drafts will occur from open doors or windows, which could be a fire hazard.
  • A fire interlock system will shut down both electricity and gas that’s under the hood, but wood-burning cooking units will need a different type of fire system.
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