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Chef Student » Cooking Equipment

Cooking Equipment

29 of October 2008

**Below is a list of equipment used for cooking in a kitchen. I have written a brief description, and where applicable, I’ve also provided a link to wikipedia, and/or other resources, which will open in a new window.**

For safety, make sure the pilots are lit before attempting to turn on the burner. The flame, at its hottest, should be blue with a white tip. The air intake can be adjusted to make sure the flame is at its hottest Also, damage to flat-top ranges can occur if they are left on high without items being cooked on them.
  • Open Element: Limited to only one pot per burner, but they heat up really fast. The heat source can come from heated electric coils or flames from burning gas.
  • Flat Top or Hot Top: Similar to the open element, but the burners are covered with a steel plate. This allows one to cook more items at once due to the increase in heated space. There is also a Heavy-Duty Flat Top, where the plate covering the burners is made from heavy cast steel, thus allowing heavy pots to be cooked on it. The pre-heating time is increased, however. If you require different cooking temperatures, the individual burners can be adjusted to allow for varied temperatures around the steel plate.
  • Induction Cooktop: This is a very unique type of rangetop. The range itself doesn’t get hot. Molecules in the steel or iron cookware become agitated magnetically, which in turn makes the cookware heat up. The downside is that only steel and iron cookware will work. The upside, in addition to safety, is that the kitchen remains cooler as well.
  • Ovens
  • Conventional Ovens: Typically the type of oven you would find in a household kitchen. The air inside the oven is heated. One form of conventional oven is the stack(deck) oven. Individual shelves are stacked on top of each other. Each deck’s temperature is controlled individually and separate from the others. Remember these tips:
  • Preheating longer than necessary can cause energy wastage.
  • In addition to wasting energy by over pre-heating, energy can be wasted by opening the oven door too much. This causes a loss of heat inside the oven.
  • Keep items in the oven spaced out to allow for the heat to circulate in between - the same is true for keeping foods cold in the fridge.
  • Once again, be sure the pilot is lit before turning the gas on.
  • Convection Ovens: These ovens distribute heat more evenly and quickly inside the oven. Fans force air to be circulated through the interior of the oven allowing foods to be cooked quicker even at lower temperatures. There isn’t as much of an issue of blocking foods from being cooked when placed too closely together, as with a conventional oven. Remember these tips:
  • Temperatures can generally be set 25°F - 50°F (15°C - 30°C) lower than what you would use for a conventional oven. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation first.
  • Your food will cook quicker using this type of oven, so be sure to keep an eye on things. Foods might become dry, and with such foods as roasts, shrink in comparison to being cooked in a conventional oven.
  • Once again, check your manufacturer’s recommendation regarding the use of the blower. The motor on some models might burn if operated with the blower switch off.
  • Certain soft items may ripple from the forced air circulation.
  • Revolving Ovens (Reel Ovens): Functions basically the way a ferris wheel does. This type of oven has shelves that rotate, thus making sure the food is cooked or baked evenly. Perfect for baked goods and for operations with a lot of volume.
  • Slow-Cook-And-Hold Ovens: These ovens have very sensitive controls which make it possible for steady and reliable temperature control. Foods can be held at 140°F or even lower for an extended period of time. It’s not unthinkable to cook meats slowly overnight at a low temperature using one of these ovens.
  • Combination Steamer Ovens (combi oven): These can be operated as either a convection oven, a convection steamer, or a combination of both for a high humidity effect. When moisture is present in an oven while meats are being cook, they tend to not shrink or dry as much.
  • Barbecue Ovens or Smoke Ovens: The main thing separating a barbecue oven from a conventional oven is the smoke from burning wood. The oven has a smoke producing section where different flavoured woods can be heated, usually by an electric element, to produce the flavour inducing smoke.
  • Infrared or Reconstituting Ovens: Usually used for reconstituting frozen foods, these ovens generate easily controllable heat with quartz tubes or plates.
  • Wood Burning Ovens: The basic principal behind the wood burning oven is a fire that heats the walls of the oven - usually made from brick or clay. The walls of the oven remain heated even after the fire has gone out. Inside the oven, it’s possible to reach temperatures of up to 850°F (450°C).
  • Microwave Ovens: Food is cooked by microwave radiation.
  • Broilers & Salamanders
  • Broilers (Overhead Broilers): Food is placed on a grate and the heat pours down from above. In a heavy duty broiler, temperatures can go as high as 2000°F (1100°C), so obviously it’s important to keep an eye on the food to prevent from burning. The temperature is controlled by lowering, or raising, the grate in relation to the burner above.
  • Salamanders: Usually mounted above the range, the salamander is a smaller version of the broiler. It’s used for browning and glazing the tops of foods.
  • Grills
    Very similar to the overhead broiler, with the main difference being that the heat source is below the food instead of above it when using a broiler. The added bonus of this piece of equipment is that fats melt and drip below, which creates smoke and helps give the food an extra layer of flavour. The main difference between the types of grills in the choice of heat source: gas, electric or charcoal.
    When I think of a griddle, I think of breakfast. That smooth flat surface holds all of the food you need at once and it capable of cooking it all. It’s important to clean the griddle after every use to keep it working at its best. Griddle stones and cloths are available to help keep the surface at a shine. It’s also important to keep your griddle conditioned by spreading a thin layer of oil over the surface of the griddle and heating it to 400°F (200°C). This should be done before use and repeated until smooth.
    Food is cooked by elements that create infrared heat, usually located on the side or top of the unit, while the food is slowly turned on a spit. These units can be either heated by gas or electricity, open or enclosed, and can range in sizes to handle 8-70 chickens. Juices that drop from the meat are caught in a drip pan in the bottom.
    Deep Fryers
  • Standard Deep Fryers: Gas or electric with thermostatic controls to keep an even temperarture.
  • Automatic Fryers: Automatically remove food after a preset amount of time.
  • Pressure Fryers: Food is cooked under pressure allowing for shorter cooking times at lower temperatures.
  • When using a deep fryer, remember these tips:
  • Keep the thermostat at 250°F (120°C) while filling the kettle with solid fats, until they have melted enough that the cover the elements.
  • Kettles should be kept to the indicated fill lines.
  • If the kettle is empty, the drain valve should always be shut before fat is added.
  • Use a thermometer to check the fat thermometer for accuracy on a regular basis
  • The procedures for cleaning the deep fryer are as follow:
  • Shut the power off.
  • Fat should be drained through a filter into a dry container if it is to be reused.
  • Use some of the fat to flush remaining food particles from inside the kettle.
  • Use a mild detergent to wash . Solution should be brought almost to a boil inside the kettle if its not removable. Use a brush to scrub.
  • Rinse with clean water.
  • Make sure everything gets completely dried when done rinsing.
  • Refill with fat.
  • Tilting Skillet/Brazier/Fry Pan
    This is a very versatile piece of equipment. It can be for many things, including steaming, frying and stewing – to name a few uses. Powered by either gas or electricity, it resembles a deep griddle with a cover which may be tilted to allow liquids to be poured out. To clean, add water, heat and scrub. This should be done as soon as you are finished using the skillet to prevent food remnants from sticking.
    Steam-Jacketed Kettles
    Food is heated by steam in a drum that resembles a big stock pot. They usually range up to 100 gallons, but they can also be found up to 4,000 gallons for establishments that require them. Some kettles tilt to allow liquid out. These are called Trunnion or Tilt Kettles. Those that don’t tilt have a spigot at the bottom for draining purposes.
    Steam Cookers
    One of the best attributes that the steam cookers bring to the table, is their ability to cook foods quickly without losing a lot of the nutrients or flavour.
  • Pressure Steamers: Running on a timer that will not allow the door to be opened until the time is up, foods can be cooked under 15 psi in a high pressure steamer or between 4 and 6 psi in a low pressure steamer.
  • Pressureless/Convection Steamers: Steam is shot onto the food, much like a convection oven uses fans to circulate air. Heat is moved around quickly, thus minimizing the cooking time required.
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