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Tools of the Trade: Hot off the Grill

Tools of the Trade: Hot off the Grill

AS UNIQUE venues gain popularity and more events move off-premises, efficient, easy-to-handle portable cooking equipment has never been hotter.

LICENSE TO GRILL

Gerry Donner, vice president of sales for Union, Mo.-based Region Welding and Manufacturing, finds that people are looking for quality and affordability when purchasing portable grills. Region Welding's grills “are made very sturdy, and they last,” Donner says. “They're great for rental people.”

Unlike other portable grills, the company's towable grills are welded to a trailer for increased ease of use, Donner says. Region has grills of varying sizes, and its 6-foot towable is the most popular. These heavy-duty, 12-gauge steel grills can stay outside and can be powered by propane or charcoal. “It used to be charcoal” that was popular, Donner says, but “everything now is propane. Propane is a lot faster.”

ON THE RANGE

With the immense popularity of food stations, Jeanette Carroll, sales and marketing coordinator for Naperville, Ill.-based Spring USA, recommends her company's induction ranges as efficient, convenient cooking tools. Ferretic cookware — which blends stainless steel and aluminum — creates a magnetic field between the range and the pan, and “the pan itself is what heats. The range stays cool,” Carroll says. “You get even, clean cooking on the entire surface of the pan.” These ranges “are a great tool for demonstration cooking,” she adds. “You can cook a one-egg omelet in less than a minute.”

WHAT'S COOKING?

When first speaking with customers, “I ask a lot of questions,” says Brett Walters, account executive of Orlando, Fla.-based Kirby Rental Service. “What are they cooking? Are they storing it? Transporting it? Are they going to keep it hot on site?”

Such questions help Walters determine if his customer needs a full-service oven or a butane-powered burner. Like Walters, many of the sales and service personnel at the 56-year-old company have “worked in the F&B industry, so they know the market.”

Kirby's new “high-end pewter serving bowls and trays are very hot items,” Walters says. He doesn't get as many inquiries about steam tables these days but says fish cookers are always popular. His advice: “Plan ahead. Call early. You can always cancel, but call early.”

FLUID HEAT

While many holding cabinets keep food warm with convection heating, Thermodyne Foodservice of Fort Wayne, Ind., offers something a little different. Todd Ellinger, director of marketing, says the shelves in Thermodyne's contact ovens are filled with a glycol fluid heated from a device on the side of the unit, so “each shelf is heated by itself.” The unit is used generally with frozen foods, and through a “re-thermalizing” process, the food tastes “like it just came out of the oven,” he says. The advantage of this type of conduction heating unit, Ellinger points out, “is that it never goes over a certain temperature. We can hold [food] up to 2 1/2 hours without damaging [it].”

RESOURCES: Kirby Rental Service, 800/446-1011, 407/422-1001; Region Welding and Manufacturing, 636/583-4110; Spring USA, 800/535-8974, 630/527-8600; Thermodyne Foodservice, 800/752-9182; 219/428-2535

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