Brian Eskew, director of Marketing at Cerritos, Calif-based Twin Eagles says the trend toward “expanding culinary capabilities” has transcended the “foodie” culture and shows no sign of slowing. “People want to do more at home than just traditional backyard barbecuing,” he says. “We have three products of commercial origin that have had success at the consumer level. The first is a patented design called the SalamanGrill. It is a derivative of a Salamander.”
In commercial kitchens, Salamanders are used for multiple purposes such as broiling steaks or melting cheese on top. “It’s a unit that gives you an overhead, infrared burner,” explains Eskew. “There is no heat coming from the back, sides, or bottom. Some of the best steak houses in the world prepare their steaks in a Salamander using an infrared broiler, not on a grill or a flat-top griddle. We include a 10-inch pizza stone, so it’s perfect for pizzas. It’s a true commercial product that we have essentially repurposed for back yards.”
“Consumers are asking for restaurant style cooking at home to get the same type of professional grade food that is prepared well and tastes great,” says Baker. “The only real way to accomplish this is by having an appliance that has all the features and benefits of a restaurant quality product that makes great food. For example, Wolf brand makes awesome restaurant quality commercial appliances.”
Consumers who choose to go this route usually end up dispelling some misconceptions along the way. Baker points out that many buyers, for example, automatically think stainless steel is better, when in fact the preferred professional material is cast iron. “Stainless only looks good the first day it is purchased,” he says. “Consumers wanting high end commercial grade products outside will almost always have cast iron as the main cooking surface. If you want the experience of cooking restaurant quality food at home, you need a restaurant quality appliance that has the oil management system and cast iron cooking surfaces.”
A grease and oil management system called “Grill Smart” fits the bill at Fornetto, and cast iron cooking grates are used on the main and side burners.
Russ Faulk, vice president, Marketing and Product Development, Kalamazoo Gourmet, believes pop culture via The Food Network is a huge motivator for many customers. Celebrity chefs, he says, have made cooking the equivalent of a spectator sport, and all of it has increased demand for commercial-style ranges, refrigeration and specialty equipment that has “grown in popularity indoors over the last couple of decades, and now we are seeing it move outdoors.”
“Our pizza oven was created to bring Neapolitan pizzeria performance to the backyard,” he continues. “It cooks a pie in less than three minutes. The other products that come to mind are our beer dispensers. You can have two types of beer perfectly chilled and ready to pour. The designs dampen vibration to preserve freshness, and the tap towers are insulated and cooled so the beer is cold from the very beginning of each pour.”
Retailers who succeed in selling high-end professional equipment are usually accustomed to the “good, better, best” framework, but Faulk thinks retailers that do the best “are those who can demonstrate the product and really put it through its paces with gourmet cooking. It also helps to understand each client’s cooking aspirations and where their enthusiasm lies.”