Consultant Steve Waltz, senior associate/project manager at Cini-Little International, Inc., Washington, D.C., offers some insight to help operators and their supply chain partners specify the right griddle.
FE&S: What is the main consideration when purchasing a griddle?
SW: The driving factor when choosing a griddle type is what products will be prepared.
FE&S: Are there factors to look at with griddle placement?
SW: Operators need to determine what type of equipment will be adjacent to the countertop griddle, as grease from these units can splatter. It’s best to have sides and backs around the cooking surface to protect surrounding equipment.
FE&S: What are the biggest differences between gas and electrical units?
SW: Gas griddles are faster in both warming up and in temperature recovery compared with electric types.
FE&S: Are there features available to facilitate easier cleaning?
SW: Some models have a gutter across the front so operators can more easily scrape debris off the griddle surface and dispose of it in a scrap rail hole. Other types have the gutter down one side instead. Models are available with chrome finishes that are easier to keep clean. Although this type is more expensive, it is recommended for high-volume operations that have high grease production. Also, it’s important to put countertop griddles on small legs for easier cleaning underneath.
FE&S: How does the griddle plate thickness impact performance?
SW: The countertop griddle performance is affected by the thickness of the plate steel. In heavy-duty models with one-inch-thick steel, the benefit is less temperature variation throughout the plate, which results in more consistent heat. Also, when a cold or frozen item is placed on the griddle, the surface temperature won’t drop. Thinner steel plates tend to have more temperature variations.
FE&S: What impacts griddle temperature recovery?
SW: The space between burners is key. The closer together the burners are, the faster the temperature recovery and the higher the heating consistency. Typically, heavy-duty countertop griddles have burners that are 12 inches apart.
FE&S: What are the benefits of countertop griddles versus floor models?
SW: The benefit of countertop units is that these units can be positioned on top of refrigerated bases for easy access to ingredients. In a cook line situation, placing a countertop griddle and chargrill side by side provides a convenient setup for preparing meat and vegetables using two adjacent pieces of equipment. This saves steps in cooking and production. In a fast-paced operation, the fewer the steps, the faster the speed of service and the better the efficiency.