Service Agent Q&A with Marcin Zmiejko, associate principal at WC&P, Denver

FE&S: What applications are best for clamshell griddles?

MZ: I would describe this equipment as an enhanced flattop griddle. Clamshells cook food, rather than just heat or melt it. It has really been embraced by the market and is best for traditional scratch cooking. Operators most often use this equipment for burgers. Upgraded models have a top component that puts weight on the burger patty, and the top platen has heat, so both sides cook simultaneously. These units are very effective and have particularly been embraced by schools. Clamshell griddles also can cook chicken, turkey or salmon patties; vegetables; and steak as well as melt cheese and serve as a component for breakfast menus with pancakes.

FE&S: What should operators be aware of in terms of placing these units in the back of house?

MZ: A high-volume operation may want to situate this equipment by refrigeration. Because clamshells don’t use an open flame like a charbroiler, these units can be positioned right next to a fryer without a barrier.

FE&S: What should operators consider in terms of volume?

MZ: These units are available in different sizes. Operators can purchase one longer griddle or two smaller ones, depending on the operation and volume.

FE&S: What type of power do clamshell griddles utilize?

MZ: The really effective units have unusual power requirements as they utilize gas for the bottom and electric for the top. While this type is great for speed of service, it can be pricier and a gas connection is required. Griddles that are solely electric also are available. Regardless of the power type, this equipment needs to be under an exhaust hood during use.

FE&S: Are there maintenance considerations with this equipment?

MZ: One of the concerns for operators with clamshell griddles is the maintenance. It’s important to know how to properly clean the surface or a grease fire can occur.