Specifying Considerations for Smokers

When purchasing a smoker, foodservice operators should take into account a number of factors.

Factors such as the menu, available space and operation’s volume will help determine the smoker capacity an operation requires. In this case, most manufacturers recommend scaling up the size, which ensures the unit can keep up with production needs. Also consider the fuel source, meaning whether the unit will run on electricity, gas or wood. Wood-burning smokers will require proper storage space. With numerous varieties of wood providing unique flavor profiles, operators have a wide range of options from which to choose. Ventilation is required with smokers and is dictated by local codes and a national standard from the National Fire 

Protection Association (NFPA).

Below, Douglas W. Huber, principal of Foodservice Consultants Studio, based in Montpelier, Va., provides more insight on what operators should consider before purchasing a smoker.

  • The type of smoking application will help determine the style of unit that is required.
  • The key to a successful smoking process is controlling the meat’s cooking method without using direct heat.
  • The idea behind smoking is gentle cooking, which takes time and patience.
  • Everything starts with the menu and there are many options, depending on the application. If a barbecue restaurant has static offerings, then a dedicated smoker will be needed.
  • For more dynamic menus that include a variety of meat types, equipment that is more versatile, like a combi or cook-and-hold oven with smoking capabilities, would make more sense.
  • Operators looking to hot and cold smoke need to think about the type of food that will be prepared. A brisket will require a large-sized smoker with a rack, but different equipment is needed for cold smoking cheese or salmon.
  • There are distinct regional preferences with smoked meats, so operators need to be aware of these when deciding on menu offerings. 
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