Patio & Hearth Blog

from Patio and Hearth Products Report

Restaurant Equipment is Finding its Way into Outdoor Kitchens

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The SalamanGrill uses an infrared broiler.

The SalamanGrill uses an infrared broiler.

Reproducing the stunning steaks found at Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s is no easy task, but consumers are increasingly willing to spend good money chasing incredible taste. In addition to an amazing piece of meat, the “secret” is in the preparation.

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.”

Products from Outdoor Gourmet/Fornetto allow users to get the restaurant experience at home.

Products from Outdoor Gourmet/Fornetto allow users to get the restaurant experience at home.

Rick Baker, brand manager, Outdoor Gourmet/Fornetto, believes the movement to purchase restaurant quality gear is largely spurred by wealthy homeowners who are paying $20K and up for so-called “high-end” installations.

“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” (found exclusively in the Fervor line of grills), and cast iron cooking grates are used on the main and side burners.

The Artisan Fire Pizza Oven from Kalamazoo Gourmet.

The Artisan Fire Pizza Oven from Kalamazoo Gourmet.

“The cooking grates have been scientifically tested to allow just the right amount of oil and fat to enter the cooking chamber, while directing the rest of the oils away from the food,” explains Baker. “You get less flare ups and food that is healthier to eat…After all, consumers want food that taste good regardless of the price.  We promote this lifestyle and provide the product that gets the restaurant experience at home at an affordable price.”

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.”

The Kalamazoo K750GT Gaucho Grill.

The Kalamazoo K750GT Gaucho Grill.

Kalamazoo focuses on professional performance with all of its products, but Faulk identifies the Gaucho as one that fits particularly well with the trend. “The Gaucho is an impressive, Argentinean-Style wood-fired grill,” he says. “It is the kind of grill you see in the back kitchen of restaurants that embrace artisan cooking, like Lincoln Tavern in Boston, or Green Street Smoked Meats in Chicago.

“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.”

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