A commercial range is the lifeline of a kitchen, and it’s this range that will handle the majority of your restaurant’s cooking. But whether you’re starting a restaurant from scratch or replacing a range, there is a lot to consider.
Types of Ranges
The chef’s range must be able to suit the size of a restaurant. Size will dictate one type that needs to be considered.
Restaurant Grade Commercial Ranges
Smaller restaurants, those with less than 150 seats, will have a restaurant-grade commercial range. These ranges are also considered mid-size commercial ranges, and they’re what you’ll find in most diners or smaller establishments.
Heavy-duty Grade Commercial Ranges
Heavy-duty models have been designed for restaurants that have more than 150 seats. A heavy-duty range will also be able to withstand more frequent usage and has a variety of burners to be able to help chefs cook multiple meals at once.
Heating Differences Amongst Ranges
The heat supply of the range will matter, too. Typically, the best professional gas ranges are the top-rated ranges. Gas is often the preferred form of heating a range, but it’s not the only form. Electric is the alternative, and while electric is present, these models will cook more thoroughly.
The main difference between the two is the way in which heat is produced.
Gas will ignite with a spark and will use fire to cook the food. A lot of chefs prefer fire due to the unique taste that it provides to the food. Electric will not cause a flame to be sparked. Instead, electricity will flow through the coils in the range and heat up.
Thermal energy is created in the process and will cook the food.
There is a lot of debate over which form of heating is better in a restaurant, but most chefs prefer gas. Why? Gas allows for:
- Faster cooking (no heat-up time like electric)
- Easier control over temperatures
- Easier maintenance
You'll also have to consider the different gas types, such as natural gas or propane (LP). Natural gas is supplied by utility companies, while LP requires you to have a tank filled with liquid propane. The benefits of natural gas are that all of the gas comes through a pipeline, so there’s no risk that you’ll forget to refill the propane.
Once you’ve chosen the type of commercial range that you want to use, you’ll need to determine which type of ignition is the best option. The types include:
- Spark. A spark ignition will use electric to make a spark in a gas burner to light the flame. The spark ignites the gas when the knob is turned, and when air mixes with the gas, it lights the flame.
- Pilot. A pilot is a flame that remains on at all times, and when the gas valve is opened, it allows gas to flow into the burners. Turning the knob will ignite the burner.
Either form of ignition will suffice, and with gas range safety features, you won’t have to worry about spark or pilot causing a fire in the process.
Pictured: Atosa CookRite ATO-24G6B, 60-Inch 6 Burners Heavy Duty Gas Range with 24-Inch Left Griddle and 2 26-1/2-Inch Ovens
Ovens, Griddles and Storage Space
Professional-grade ovens come with a lot of features, but the most important are the following three:
- Oven. An oven may or may not be included. Ranges with ovens are great for full-scale restaurants that may need to bake items.
- Storage. When an oven is not required, the bottom portion of the range can be a storage base. Smaller establishments with less storage space will find that this is the best commercial range for their restaurant.
- Griddles. Will your restaurant require a griddle? If so, there best range for you will have a cooktop and griddle to make your cooking move along smoothly.
Griddles are ideal if you’re going to be doing any of the following:
- Cooking breakfast
- Searing meats
- Preparing multiple meat cuts
Boilers are a great option when you need to:
- Heat up soup
When choosing an oven, you’ll also want to consider the oven’s capacity. This will allow you to know if all of your dishes will have an easy time fitting in the oven if needed.
One last thing to consider is a secondary oven. A lot of units are offering secondary ovens that are ideal if you’ll be using your oven frequently.
Number of Burners
How many burners should you have on a commercial grade range? This figure will depend on how big your restaurant is in size. If you’re going to have over 150 seats and several ranges are needed, you may have an eight-burner range.
Six burners are often more than enough for smaller restaurants.
If you’re unsure of how many burners you’ll need, sit down with your lead chef and discuss your options with him or her. These are going to be your go-to professionals for advice, and the lead chef will be able to understand your kitchen’s needs based off of your menu.
You’ll also find units that have four burners, and others that have ten burners.
Pictured: Atosa CookRite ATO-6B, 36-Inch 6 Burner Heavy Duty Gas Range Single Oven
How to Properly Maintain a Commercial Grade Range
Daily range cleaning should be performed on all ranges and ovens. Even the best commercial ovens need daily cleaning and maintenance to ensure their longevity. Maintenance should be performed regularly as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
When the day is finished, all of the trays, chutes and traps and drawers that are designed to trap crumbs and grease should be removed and cleaned. You'll want these items to be fully dried before putting them back in place.
Any messes that were not cleaned during the day should also be cleaned at this time. Commercial-grade cleaner can be applied on a damp cloth and rubbed into the surface of the unit. If you want to maintain the range’s shine, you should wipe in the direction of the grain.
If burners become clogged, you’ll want to use stiff wire brushes to clean the burner. You'll want to be diligent with the cleaning, but you’ll also want to clean with the utmost safety. Make sure that the burners are off before cleaning. You can also use a pipe cleaner if you don’t have a wire brush available.
Self-cleaning should be performed on the oven if it’s been used often throughout the day.
The range’s venting system will also need to be periodically checked to ensure that the ventilation system is operating properly. The system will need to be cleaned and maintained to ensure that your kitchen is a safe working environment for all of your staff.
When burner valves become stiff, you’ll want to grease them with the appropriate high-temperature valve grease. The manufacturer may also provide recommendations on the right type of grease to use.
Commercial ranges are a must-have for any commercial kitchen, and the higher the number of seats you have in your restaurant, the larger the commercial range you’ll need. Sit down with your head chef or consultant and discuss your needs based on your restaurant’s maximum seating capacity.
Once you know how large of a range you’ll need, you’ll want to look at all of the optional features and accessories to find a range that fits perfectly in your restaurant’s kitchen.