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Cooking Equipment Buying Guide


Cooking Equipment

Large-scale kitchen equipment from reputable suppliers constructed out of quality materials will stay the distance and provide you with fast, efficient cooking, laundry and cleaning.  It is essential that your kitchen has excellent technology to ensure smooth running, fast service that is not interrupted by breakdowns or faults.  Choose from a variety of different appliances on the Alliance website, all selected for their state-of-the-art attributes and solid reputations.

Without doubt, a chef’s kitchen needs plenty of equipment for fast turn-around and superb results.  You should have a number of different appliances in place, from microwaves for speed, toasters, ovens, combi-ovens, convection ovens, grills, griddles, fryers, Bain-Maries, hot cupboards and other cooking methods.  This is a list of what is useful and popular in industrial kitchens to help you choose what you need. 

Microwaves

Microwaves are very useful but do make sure you buy commercial models because domestic models are fairly low in power and are designed for light use.  Commercial microwaves have higher power, ranging up to 2000W making them safer, faster and they deliver better results.  They are also built to withstand plenty of wear and tear and constructed out of tough materials such as stainless steel.  Here are some more reasons why commercial microwaves are essential to your chef’s kitchen:

  • They cook very quickly.
  • They thaw frozen food very fast and safely.
  • They are small and neat so fit on a counter-top.
  • They are inexpensive.

Which Model?

Always choose the right model for your requirements.  Light duty microwaves range from 900W to 1100 W and are suitable for use in small kitchens, retail outlets or cafes.  Medium duty microwaves range from 1100W to 1500W and are suitable for catering use, moderate use, pubs and restaurants.  Heavy duty microwaves range from 1500W to 2000W and are excellent for very busy restaurants or catering kitchens with regular use.

For further information on microwaves visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Toasters

These are essential for your chef’s kitchen but don’t think about purchasing a domestic use toaster because they are not designed for heavy use.  It is best to purchase industrial style toasters which are ideal for busy breakfasts in cafes, restaurants and hotels.  Additionally, remember commercial electric toasters are suitable for sandwiches, waffles and other toasted goods.   Think about how many pieces of toast will be prepared in your kitchen and choose the toaster with suitable slot numbers – some catering toasters can toast 400 sandwiches per hour!  Additionally, there are buffet top toasters for customers to toast their own bread on a breakfast buffet.

For further information on toasters visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Convection Ovens

In a convection oven, the heated air spreads well throughout the cavity due to the fan which is built into the back of the oven allowing food to be cooked evenly.  Convection ovens work very well for baking and dessert preparation because these types of recipes need even temperatures for perfect results.  Convection oven cooking is faster so recipes using standard ovens should normally be reduced to get good results.  Look for humidifiers, variable fan speeds, timers and other programmes.

Convection ovens do not have to be built-in; there are plenty of counter-top versions in different sizes and free-standing items too.

Points to Remember:

  • Think about what you cook to help you understand what appliances will work for you.
  • Look for products which come with a manufacturers guarantee.
  • The basics which cover a number of cooking methods.
  • Seek out those with humidifiers for steaming and crisping.
  • Look for variable fans for cooking delicate dishes.
  • Look for timers/programme features.

Range Ovens

Every chef’s kitchen needs a good quality cooking range; they are capable of cooking almost anything.  Cooking ranges can be further broken down into four different types:

  • Open Top Burners are gas or electric with an oven underneath. These are excellent for fuel efficiency because most of the heat is directed at the cooking pan rather than into the kitchen.  They also heat pans very fast.
  • Solid Tops have a solid cast iron top which is heated underneath by gas or electricity, like the open top burners they have an oven underneath. Solid tops can accommodate more pots and pans than the open burners and pans can be easily moved from direct heat to cooler areas.
  • Boiling Tables have a similar top to cooking ranges but a boiling table has no oven below. These are useful if there are already enough oven appliances in the kitchen and the underneath is convenient for storage.

Points to Remember:

  • Look for one burner or radiant that is more powerful than others as this is useful for fast boiling or heating big pans.
  • Look for easy to clean ranges.
  • Make sure you have accessibility to spare parts.
  • Always clean spilt food on your cooking range immediately.
  • Check gas burner jets regularly so they don’t become clogged.
  • Clean the pan supports and oven cavities every week.
  • Put sheets of tin foil underneath gas burners as these make cleaning so much easier.
  • Never use harsh cleaning products on stainless steel.
  • Never place pans near the edge of the range.
  • Never slam the oven doors.
  • Never leave jets switched on when not in use.

For further information on cooking ranges visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Atmospheric Steamers

Steamers are used for healthy cooking, they are also fast and economical and very effective once you know how to use them. Suitable for most food as well as vegetables, using steaming as a cooking method keeps nutrients locked into food and maintains moisture.  Additionally, steamers are renowned for keeping food’s texture.  Industrial kitchen steamers vary in size so it’s best to consider how much you are going to use your steamer and also the size of your space.  There are options, for example, full size or half size.  Full size floor model steamers are capable of holding up to 16 full size steam pans, smaller counter-top steamers hold up to 6 pans, it is up to you which will be more suitable.    To get the best results using your steamer, food should be placed in pans with a perforated bottom without a lid, this allows the steam to reach all round the surface area, using sold pans with lids prevents steam from cooking the food and brings poor results.

  • Pressure Steamers have sealed cabinets that fill with steam and the temperature rises very high so they cook quickly. These are excellent for cooking anything from poultry to root vegetables.  They are safe to use.
  • Convection Steamers are excellent for steaming, stewing, poaching, thawing and part-cooking. They are more flexible than pressure steamers and are very popular in restaurant kitchens.

For further information on atmospheric steamers visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Pizza Ovens

If you have pizza on the menu, or perhaps run a pizzeria then a high quality, premium pizza oven will be a vital piece of equipment.  You can choose from large-scale models to small, counter-top products which are useful if you do offer pizza on occasion.  There are a few things to take into consideration before making your decision.  There are different types of ovens which you can buy, some need to be professionally installed whereas others are freestanding or counter-top.  For a traditional pizzeria, brick ovens give superb results but there are other options too.  You need to think about the space you have in your kitchen, how much pizza you will be making per day, what types of pizza you want to offer and your budget. 

  • For low production, choose commercial convection ovens because they have up to 5 racks per chamber and can fit in one or two 16 pizzas on each rack and cook them in a few minutes, these are suitable for restaurants that don’t offer pizza regularly. As well as free standing, these can come as small, counter-top models.
  • For restaurants that offer pizza more regularly choose a brick oven because these can hold 10 to 12 pizzas at once and cook a pizza in less than 5 minutes.
  • For pizzerias or pizza specialist restaurants then select a conveyor oven because they have a continuous cooking platform which cooks pizza quickly, efficiently and cooks a high number at a time.

For further information on pizza ovens visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Fryers

Sometimes referred to as deep fat fryers, these are used for frying fish, chicken, chips and other ingredients.  The food cooks in hot oil at the very top of the fryer.  Always remember that fry time varies considerably between different food and potatoes so purchase one which will cope with your needs and what you are cooking.  Deep fat fryers come in gas or electric, electric fryers are less expensive and suitable for lower cooking batches.  If your chef’s kitchen cooks large amounts of fried food, such as chips, then it is wise to invest in a gas-powered fryer.  While it is more expensive, it is cheaper to run in the long-term although the gas system will need to be serviced regularly.  As a suggestion, have two deep fat fryers, one used just for chips and French fries, the other for frying other food.  Cared for well, deep fat fryers should last for years.  Oil is the main maintenance issue for deep fat frying.  However, used at too high a temperature and without regular cleaning, oil will degrade and this causes damage and poor cooking.  There are a number of pan fryer options on the Alliance website from counter-top to free standing, single fryer pans to twin so depending on your needs, you will find the perfect appliance.

Points to Remember:

  • Always remove food debris from oil as instructed in the manufacturer guidelines.
  • Clean fry baskets after use.
  • Use oil filtration.
  • Regularly check the back of the fryer for grease build-up.
  • Never clean stainless steel using harsh, abrasive cleaners.
  • Never overload deep fat fryers.

For further information on fryers visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Sous Vide

Sous Vide is a very popular method of cooking today and, endorsed by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal it is becoming more widely used in restaurants.  Sous Vide is French for “Under Vacuum” which in cooking means food is sealed in a vacuum pack or food-safe plastic bag and cooked in a controlled temperature environment water bath.  The beauty of this style of cooking is that it locks in moisture, keeps food’s flavour and protects the nutrients.  You are able to cook almost any food using a Sous Vide cooker but it does take longer than conventional methods.  The results are sublime dishes!  Sous Vide ovens are available in different sizes, from counter-top to free-standing depending on your restaurant kitchen needs.

Points to Remember:

  • Always use extremely fresh ingredients.
  • See where the bag is placed, if it floats to the top of the cooker; remove it because this could be a sign of bacteria in food.
  • If you cook food in a Sous Vide oven to use it later, it must be chilled immediately so place the bag into iced water as soon as cooking is finished to stop bacteria growing.
  • Keep a variety of vacuum bags sizes available for different dish cooking and a vacuum bag packer – useful for sealing food pre-cooking.

For further information on Sous Vide visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Combi Ovens

A combination oven (combi-oven) mixes several different cooking methods in one appliance.  It uses dry heat (sometimes this is fan assisted) and steam.  Every professional chef’s kitchen needs a combi-oven.  It is perfect for cooking meat, fish, vegetables, baking cakes and re-heating food. 

It is important to clean out your oven after use to ensure food residue and debris is removed as leaving it will cause damage.  Choose the right combi-oven for your kitchen, taking into consideration size of your space and how much daily cooking you are going to be doing, there are a huge number of options available on the Alliance website ranging from 6 grids to 40 grids, additionally there are banqueting kits, stands and plate trolleys to complement.

Points to Remember:

  • Fit a system for treating water inside.
  • Ensure the door seals are secure, check these every week.
  • Clean the oven every day.
  • Never over-load your combi-oven.
  • Never leave food debris in the oven or in the door seals.
  • Always clean out the fat drains.

For further information on combi-ovens visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Grills/Griddles/Chargrills

Griddles

A Griddle is a kitchen’s basic piece of equipment and it heats food using very high temperatures on a metal plate.  Griddles are either gas or electric but today there are more and more steam griddles available.  For easy cleaning, flat griddles are very popular too.  Griddles are used to cook food and develop a charred flavour as it browns, it also is used in tenderising meat and poultry, providing a crispy or crusty finish, melting fat and drying out breaded goods such as buns, bread and even pancakes.  When choosing your griddle, think about the size of your space and your griddle cooking requirements. For very light griddle cooking, choose some griddle pans which are used on the hob. The Alliance pages have counter-top and free-standing griddles as well as specialist crepe griddles with varying capacities to suit your needs. Finally, always look for something easy to maintain and keep clean and keep a few griddle brushes to help with the cleaning process.

Points to Remember:

  • Thin plated griddles have better response when changing the temperature and come up to temperature very quickly.
  • Thin plated griddles require less energy.
  • Thin plated griddles are less expensive.
  • Thick plated griddles are less likely to warp in the long-run.
  • Thick plated griddles retain their heat well.
  • Thick plated griddles distribute heat more evenly.
  • Thick plated griddles have slower response to temperature change.
  • Thick plated griddles require more energy.
  • Gas is more heavy duty than electric and has a better response to temperature control.
  • Griddles are great for breakfast food, burgers and thin foods but are slow in cooking steak, chops or thick pieces of meat/poultry/fish.

Chargrills

These are perfect appliances for cooking healthy and delicious dishes from chargrilled meats to vegetables and they are extremely popular in industrial kitchens and used during summer months for BBQ food.  A high quality chargrill is essential for restaurants and chef’s kitchens and there are many options available including gas or electric, small appliances to large free-standing equipment. 

Points to Remember:

  • Chargrills are less expensive than gas.
  • Chargrills produce more smoke so provide a great flavour!
  • Chargrills are excellent for searing meat, poultry and fish.
  • Chargrills are hard to clean so make sure there is easy access to keep free from food debris.

Grills

Conventional grills are usually gas powered but there are electrical models too and some have variable heat settings however, usually it is easy to change temperature just by moving the grill tray up or down (closer to the heat or further away).  To complement your grill, branding plates are very popular. These are ridged cast iron-plates and they sit on the grill pan.  You place a piece of meat or fish on the branding plate and it cooks it from both sides resulting in a char-grilled finish.  Less common are pull-down grills which are electric and these are used for gratin dishes and browning the top of other dishes.  They are notoriously difficult to clean but it is essential that food debris is removed or it will stick.  The Alliance website has a number of grills and outdoor BBQ grills available for your restaurant needs.

Hot Cupboards

Hot cupboards are essential appliances for commercial kitchens because they are used to keep freshly cooked food warm in a busy kitchen.  Hot cupboards don’t cook food further, they are heated storage and the temperature is set so that food is kept at the right serving temperature at the same time as keeping it safe from bacteria.  There are plenty of different hot cupboard options depending on your requirements and space.  Additionally, hot cupboards are used to keep plates warm too.  Choose from a large collection in the Alliance webpages, ranging from large freestanding to smaller portable hot cupboards, narrow tall styles and short, wide options.  There are many buffet style hot cupboards which are suitable for keeping breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet choices warm.

For further information on hot cupboards visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Bain-Maries/Soup Kettles

Bain-Marie

A Bain-Marie (or water bath) surrounds a dish with warm water and emits a gentle heat to cook food preventing curdling, breaking or burning.  Bain-Maries can be placed in an oven or on top of a hob and are best used to cook food that needs a slow, delicate form of cooking such as sauces, terrines, mousses, soufflés, melting chocolate and creating custards.  They are useful for holding food with long cook times, re-heating food, heating plates and for self-service. There are two types of Bain-Maries, wet or dry heat.  Additionally, many chefs’ kitchens have Bain-Maries to keep food warm before serving.  Bain-Maries are normally made out of strong, durable stainless steel.  Choose the Bain-Marie most suitable to your needs; there are a number of different size options on the Alliance website, ranging from counter-top, portable to large self-service products.

  • Dry Heat Bain-Marie works in a similar way to standard ovens using a thermostat or manual temperature. Dry heat is more energy efficient than wet heat but it does heat up slowly.  Dry heat is useful if you plan on moving the Bain-Marie round as there is less risk of spillage.
  • Wet Bain-Marie uses moist heat from humidifiers and these stop food drying out but don’t allow food to become soggy. Wet Bain-Maries use more energy than dry heat but they heat up much more quickly.

Soup Kettle

A soup kettle is ideal for preparing very large portions of soup and for restaurants, it is an integral piece of equipment because it will keep your soup nice and hot all day long.  Most soup kettles hold up to 10 litres and come with thermostats and simmer functions so they prevent soup from over-boiling or not staying warm enough.  On the Alliance website you will find plenty of choices to suit your requirements from counter-top to floor standing options.

For further information on Bain-Maries and soup kettles visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Induction Hobs & Boiling Tops

Induction Hobs

Induction hobs are becoming more and more popular with commercial kitchens and are a modern and stylish alternative to gas. They are notoriously more efficient than other hobs although they are more expensive.  Induction works with a magnetic coil that is placed underneath a glass surface and this generates heat between the surface and the pan.  It heats up quickly and distributes heat extremely well.  Do bear in mind that your pans need to be magnetic to use an induction hob and you should buy “ferrous” pans as these contain iron.  On the Alliance web pages you will find a number of counter-top induction hobs with single or double rings as required.

Points to Remember:

  • Induction hobs are safer than gas because they have safety locks.
  • Zones are cool even during cooking.
  • Induction only heats the underneath of a pan so there is no heat wastage.
  • Induction uses less energy and is faster to cook food therefore saving on electricity bills.
  • Temperature control is easy to manage.
  • Cooking is more accurate using induction.
  • Induction hobs are very easy to clean – just a simple wipe is all they need!

Boiling Tops

Boiling tops are useful additions to commercial kitchens as they give you extra hob capacity where you need it and especially if you are lacking in space.  Ranging from six burners to counter-top appliances there are plenty of options with either electric or gas supply.

For further information on induction hobs and boiling tops visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

Bratt Pans

A Bratt pan is used for frying and can perform a number of different cooking methods for large amounts of food at one time:

  • Steaming
  • Poaching
  • Stewing
  • Steaming
  • Braising
  • Boiling
  • Deep frying
  • Roasting
  • Shallow frying

Bratt pans are large, deep cooking pots which are rectangular in shape with a lid.  They are powered by gas or electricity and have a tilting mechanism which is useful for emptying food out of the pan and cleaning it out.  It is important to keep your Bratt pan clean to maintain a high level of health and safety.  The Alliance website has a number of gas and electric Bratt pans to choose from for large capacity cooking and for those who want a small Bratt pan there is a counter-top version available.. 

For further information visit the cooking equipment pages in the Catering Appliances section or contact the Alliance customer care team. 

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