The march of technology in the catering equipment sphere is continuing apace, so what are grill and salamander manufacturers doing to ensure their portfolios are at the cutting edge?
At Charvet, its Rise and Fall Infrared Salamander is designed to save energy with its plate detection systems which turn up the heat from ‘standby’ to full power when a plate is put under the grill, and two independent cooking areas, so one can be switched off during slack periods.
UK sales director Ian Clow commented: “The Charvet Rise and Fall Salamander is cutting edge because it boasts huge power, but also the energy conservation that is increasingly important. Salamanders look great in open kitchens in front of customers, but operators also want to highlight their brands or colour schemes. Charvet can colour match their salamanders to fit in with a designer’s colour scheme or match the corporate brand.”
Clow detailed: “The number-one requirement for a salamander is maximum heat output and with the Charvet range offering half a dozen models from 2.8kW to a massive 11.6kW, Charvet’s distributors sell the benefits of the Charvet range by tailoring the right salamander to their customer’s needs.
“In many cases customers want raw heat, but Charvet’s distributors are increasingly upselling the benefits of heat combined with flexibility; as in the Rise and Fall Salamander, which reaches full temperature from standby in seconds, but also has 30% energy-saving features.”
Over at Cuisinequip, it offers several grills from Berner, including the quick-heating fast griddle, and the induction griddle with advanced controls, as well as a range of quick-heat salamanders. Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip sales director Steve Elliott revealed: “We have features on some of our grills and salamanders for timers, so that gives some autonomy to when and how they are operated.”
Looking ahead, he analysed: “We see a number of advanced features in Berner, Locher and HWM salamanders and grills from Cuisinequip that will feature going forwards. They range from the fast heat-up induction griddles, five second heat-up salamander to the fast flat griddle and all show rapid heating is in demand to quickly and effectively cook foods from steaks and burgers to fish and chicken. Another advanced feature coming into demand is treated grill plates that reduce sticking and therefore cut down on cleaning and maintenance.”
Swift heating is also a cornerstone of the Mareno quick therm electric salamander grill that Grande Cuisine supplies to the UK market.
Grande Cuisine director, Steve Hobbs, revealed: “These units do not require any pre-heating as they heat up very rapidly – from cold to in excess of 200°C in just 10 seconds. In addition they feature timed operation and are only activated when product is placed on the unit beneath the cook plate.
“Furthermore, with both cooking and holding modes there is no need for them to be left on all the time which obviously saves on energy and contributes to a cooler working environment.”
While he doesn’t think that grills are necessarily becoming more autonomous, he does believe in general they are becoming more energy efficient as well as easier to use, clean and maintain, adding: “Items of equipment are set to come on as part of a staged process throughout the day or night dependent on the facility, its style of service and hours of operation.”
Elsewhere, British manufacturer Synergy Grill is proud of its innovative nature, with London and international business director Leander Cadbury feeling it produces “the most advanced grill on the market”.
He said: “Being a specialist at a multifunctional piece of prime cooking equipment, rather than a generalist or another manufacturer of an old-style/conventional grill, is what makes the company’s products cutting edge. Synergy Grill developed its fuel-injection core combustion technology and overall design over 12 years in partnership with chefs, which has led it to be the trusted piece of prime cooking equipment of some of the biggest restaurant and pub groups, from the UK to Australia.”
While noting that grills are not becoming more operationally autonomous but rather more consistent and more operationally efficient, in energy, maintenance and cleaning labour, Cadbury detailed that self-ignition with a simple on/off switch is a basic modern standard.
He added: “Efficiency in grills is a high priority, both to survive as a catering business and to operate sustainably. Dealers are well-placed to sell the benefits of operational efficiency as one-stop shop adviser of equipment. Crucially, that’s the angle from which the growing dealers are winning business over those that shift less efficient equipment or do not promote environmental conscientiousness.”
For Hendi, its top of the range appliance is the Salamander 600. The thermostat is continuously adjustable up to a maximum of 300°C, with independent controls and indicator lights for both the left and right hand sides of the unit. The unit is fully height adjustable by means of a smooth running lifting system, and it also comes with a removable drip/crumb tray with a 590 x 350mm grid.
National sales manager Kenan Koymen underlined: “The use of technology within the units has definitely shaped the way the customer purchases them. Units with automatic plate detection that sit idle when not in use, and therefore save power, are a great innovation but the vast majority of end users will still need to have a standard salamander as well.”
He predicted: “There could be a place for a fully smart salamander that is capable of storing programmes containing set times and temperatures that ensures a product is cooked consistently time after time. However, I suspect it would have to be a very specific product, and one that as being cooked in considerable numbers on a regular basis, in order to justify the investment.”
Lincoln-based Lincat is focusing its grill efforts on the energy-efficient Opus 800 Cook & Hold salamander grill, which is equipped with fast heat up ‘Hi-Light’ elements that are ready to cook in 8 seconds. They are switched on automatically by the grill’s plate detection mechanism, which recognises the presence of a plate or gastronorm pan.
More automation on the appliance is in the form of the end-of-cook-cycle programme. This feature either switches the grill off, or switches to a hold status, which will keep food warm without continuing to cook it, until it’s ready to be served.
The salamander also features three heat zones, which can be independently controlled, for flexibility. Time and power settings are displayed digitally, and the touchpad control and 20-minute audible timer are designed to be intuitive and easy to use.
Lincat marketing manager Helen Applewhite analysed: “Technological advances, such as fast heat-up elements, cook and hold mode and plate detection, have made salamanders more energy efficient. We see the next stage of advances centred around efficiency and ease of use, and features such as touch-button operation. We envisage salamanders and grills inspired by combi ovens, where there are pre-set programmes for different types food, producing consistent quality.”
Elsewhere, Falcon offers a range of technically advanced grills, including the E600 Rise and Fall Grill, which uses automatic plate sensing technology to activate the heat source only when a tray is placed into the unit. Product development chef Shaune Hall believes: “This makes it very energy efficient. In addition, the instant heat-up and precise temperature control save more energy as well as time. It takes up little space and can be sited on a table, counter-top or wall mounted.”
The British manufacturer has also extended its Dominator Plus series with two electric chargrills. They feature powerful elements that should reach temperature far quicker than gas. Food is cooked directly on the elements, delivering the classic chargrill branding. The E3925 has two elements, with independent controls so that in quiet periods a single element can be used to save energy. The E3625 is 600mm wide and has one element. In both models the elements can be swivelled upwards for ease of cleaning.
Hall added: “In the future chefs can look forward to: fully integrated induction salamander grills; one touch activation and touch screen technologies; digitally accurate, precision thermostatic controls; and enhanced safety features.”
The Giorik next-gen grills are the latest developments that supplier Euro Catering has brought to market. The ST30 and the ST40 models from the Italian manufacturer come with reinforced touchscreen panels and 8-second heat-up time from cold, as well as a hold function that allows an operator to grill and hold in the same programme.
Euro Catering sales director Justin Towns said: “These grills are energy-saving leaders, reducing energy consumption over a conventional electric grill by around 79%, which can have a massively positive impact on energy usage and bills. They are also intuitive in the true sense of the word, responding to the touch of a dish on the back bar of the grill by switching on and then switching off when the dish is removed.”
He further advised: “Dealers can benefit from the role that a technologically advanced grill can play in a smaller restaurant, café or specialist steak or burger bar, where it can be used in an autonomous fashion and more or less operate itself whilst contributing to dishes by melting cheese, charring steak, grilling meat, or finishing off desserts.
“This type of operation constitutes a market into which dealers can sell a versatile and big energy-saving grill like the Giorik Hi-Lite and confidently make a sale by highlighting that the venue will see energy savings of 75-79%, which will rapidly pay for the investment in the grill.”
Looking to the future, he feels: “Any evolution is likely to revolve around the energy agenda in some way, and perhaps also based on the size of the equipment, given the ever-shrinking size of kitchens and the continuous drive to give more available space to turnover-generating diners than to the kitchen team and their equipment.”
With the connected kitchen becoming ever more prevalent, could grills and salamanders join in on the internet- enabled appliance wave?
Charvet UK sales director Ian Clow is unsure: “I suppose within a fairly short timescale; all catering equipment will be ‘connected’. But my personal belief is that reliable, well-built equipment reduces the need for ‘connection’. If you add regular planned preventative maintenance to the equation, which helps to identify problems ahead of time, then the benefits of being connected are minimal.”
Kenan Koymen, Hendi’s national sales manager, is not convinced either: “I suppose this is something that could come into the kitchen environment in the future. However, there would be a huge cost implication for this sort of technology and you would have to question whether there would be any real benefit above and beyond what is already available in the marketplace.”
While Falcon Foodservice Equipment product development chef Shaune Hall weighed up the possibility, saying: “While it could be advantageous to remotely monitor the activity of a grill, for example its energy consumption and cleaning, the chefs are so hands-on with these units, that programmability is therefore not the main focus.”
At Euro Catering, sales director Justin Towns believes: “Given the nature of grilling, we do not see further connectivity adding any advantages at present, but who knows what the future commercial kitchen will look like.”
Others were more positive about the possibility, with Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip sales director Steve Elliott stating: “We would say that grills and salamanders becoming connected for energy optimisation will grow in demand so they can be linked to overall energy monitoring and data on use can be gathered to maximise their potential.”
Grande Cuisine’s director Steve Hobbs agrees: “Ultimately, all electrical items will become connected. Mareno is already leading the way in this regard with its award-winning IChef products. In fact, as well as being linked to each other, IChef units can also be connected to a building management or energy system which will allow power to be optimised across all items not just grills and salamanders.”
Whereas Synergy Grill’s London and international business director, Leander Cadbury, surmised: “Connected technology is likely to assist grills and salamanders in advancing servicing and maintenance sooner than it could directly change the cooking operation itself. Grills are pieces of open-cooking equipment and maintain operator interaction rather than, say, close-and-walk away equipment like ovens or dishwashers.”