Salamanders and cheesemelters are an important part of the cooking and finishing process, but often times first time shoppers (or even shoppers that have purchased one before) don’t necessarily know what to look for when shopping. Bearing this in mind, we came up with a list of 5 important tips for those shopping for either a cheesemelter or a salamander.
1. A Cheesemelter Is Not A Salamander – Cheesemelters and salamanders may have a lot in common, but are two distinctly different pieces of equipment. Cheesemelters are intended to operate as finishing ovens; they radiate heat down on already cooked product to melt cheese or brown product. Salamanders can be used to not only finish product, but also used to cook. The salamander works as a top down broiler, and can be used to cook meats (many come with metal racks to create grill marks), as a rotisserie with a spit to roast things like gyro or fowl, and a number of other purposes. Salamanders cook at a higher heat than cheesemelters, and can be used to cook as well as for finishing.
2. Ceramic Or Infrared Heat – Both cheesemelters and salamanders come with either ceramic or infrared heating elements. Ceramic heating elements produce a more evenly distributed heat, but tend to heat the rest of the baking chamber, while infrared heating elements produce higher levels of more intense, focused heat. Though both work well, business owners shopping for a cheesemelter often choose ceramic elements to keep initial costs down and those shopping for a high volume salamander tend to opt for infrared.
3. Where It Will Be Placed - It is essential you know where you intend on placing your cheesemelter or salamander before shopping. These pieces of equipment are often wall mounted or mounted on the rear shelf of a range so cooks can closely monitor them, however special mounting hardware is often required to properly do so. There are a number of standalone pieces that can fit on countertops, and even some large double salamanders that are freestanding, but these freestanding broilers tend to be found in operations that rely heavily on their salamander. Have a specific space in your kitchen in mind for your new piece of equipment before shopping.
4. What Will You Be Using It For - As previously stated, though salamanders and cheesemelters share some of the same finishing functions, they are distinctly different pieces of equipment. Before starting to shop, know what you intend on using your new piece of equipment for. Knowing in advance that you will only be using your piece for melting cheese on nachos or browning French onion soup will stop you from purchasing “too much machine”. The aforementioned business would not do well to purchase an expensive freestanding double salamander; it may come in handy down the road, but for the tasks at hand it would be overkill.
5. The Ideal Size – Space is a concern in every commercial kitchen, but there are a number of other reasons that picking the right size salamander or cheesemelter is advantageous. These pieces will obviously be a draw on power sources, so it is important to have the right size piece to reduce energy costs. However, that being said, business owners should not sacrifice a proper sized piece of equipment to save on energy. Purchasing an undersized salamander or broiler can significantly add to customer wait times in high volume establishments, so a balance between energy savings and proper cooking space should be determined before shopping.