As British BBQ Week comes to an end, it is clear that despite our weather limitations, the British public really do love a good barbecue.
Whether eating at home or in a restaurant, there is no denying the unique and delicious flavour the grill gives your meal. Many restaurants are renowned for using a commercial grill as their primary method of cooking, such as the vibrant modern European restaurant, Edo, in Belfast. Their dishes are cooked over both apple and pear woods to give their dishes a distinctive, smoky flavour. From meats to vegetables, a quality grill is a great way to elevate your menu this summer.
Due to the rise in popularity of grilled food in the last few years, there are many types of grill that can be used in commercial kitchens. Although there is a wide range of styles, the core concept of allowing food to be roasted over a direct flame remains the same. Let’s take a look at some of the different commercial grill choices available.
If your main priority is convenience, the gas grill is for you. This type of grill is the most common option for commercial kitchens due to its ease of use and consistency of results. The gas grill allows for even heating of the food, meaning it is simple to use for chefs of all capabilities and experience levels. Whilst the fine temperature control and quick response times are a key benefit to this style of grill, a drawback is that the lack of smoke emitted gives less flavour to the food.
Some gas grills are powered by propane, others by natural gas. Propane-fuelled gas grills are often portable, unlike the natural gas grills which are permanently installed in a commercial kitchen setting.
Wood-fired commercial grills can be more high maintenance for the operator, but do provide a smoky, woody flavour to meats, fish and vegetables when cooking. To operate, a fire is built in the grill’s fire box using wood and the chef will need to continue to add wood to this fire throughout the cooking time. Using a wood-fired commercial grill allows the chef to tailor the end taste of his dish by changing which wood he burns whilst cooking. This gives chefs more control over the flavours of their dishes. Some popular wood flavours for cooking include: oak, cabernet oak, chestnut, whisky oak, hickory, mesquite and juniper.
More basic models require the fire to be started manually, whilst many of the more modern models have built-in burners or elements that can accelerate the fire-building and therefore simplify the entire process. You must ensure your wood-fired grills are properly ventilated as they can generate dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide.
The pellet grill is technically also powered by burning wood, but this time in pellet form. Much like with a wood-fired commercial grill, you can purchase various different flavours of pellets to alter the taste of your food during the cooking process.
Pellet grills are mechanically-driven and use compressed wood dust pellets as a fuel as well as a flavour source for cooking. The pellets burn evenly using either a small gas burner or an electric burner element. This can be an expensive method of grilling but many find it to be worth the price as the pellets are a delicious source of flavour, very convenient to use and easy to clean up afterwards.
The coal-fired grill is usually associated with outdoor home grilling due to the smoke they generate from the burning of charcoal. However, there is definitely a place for them in commercial kitchens provided there is appropriate ventilation and the grill is properly maintained. Coal-fired commercial grills may seem like more work, but like with the wood-fired grills the flavour pay off might just be worth it.
Electric grills, although convenient, do not allow for that signature wood-smoked flavour as they do not burn any fuel. This cooking method uses an electric burner that heats to extremely high temperatures for cooking meat, fish and vegetables quickly. Some electric grill manufacturers do offer additional wood boxes to help with the flavouring during cooking time, but the flavour pay-off is not quite the same as with other styles of commercial grill.
How do I choose a Commercial Grill?
If you are in the market for a commercial grill for your restaurant, it is important to not only understand the functionalities but also the maintenance requirements. Our team of experts are always ready to assist and advise on any commercial catering equipment purchases, contact us today.