The Space-saving Salamander
Commercial kitchens are shrinking1, leaving operators with the task of fitting the equipment they need into smaller spaces while providing room for kitchen staff to work. Nearly every commercial kitchen needs a range; it's a staple that provides a cooktop and generally has either an oven or storage underneath. The space above the range is a little more flexible. More storage is often found there, with some configurations using the space to stack plates or hang pots and pans that will be used on the range below. However, many operators find they can make better use of the space by mounting another piece of equipment: the salamander.
Salamander Broiler Benefits
A salamander is a compact but versatile piece of equipment. It is capable of low-impact heating for melting cheese, toasting bread, and heating plates and cast iron platters. It can be used to give dishes an appealing caramelized crust, but it also has a powerful heating element that can be used for more involved tasks like cooking cuts of chicken and steaks from raw.
Electric and gas-heated salamanders are available, allowing you to choose the heat source that works best in your kitchen. Gas-fired salamander ovens are available in models that use either natural gas or propane. In most cases, you will simply choose the same power source as the range the salamander is being installed above. If you need help choosing between the utilities, read our guide to choosing between gas and electric equipment.
Salamanders use either infrared or radiant heating elements. Radiant is the more traditional option, using a metal element to disperse heat throughout the cavity, with reflectors ensuring it is directed down toward the food. Infrared heat uses the same amount of power along with light to convey heat. Infrared burners can often reach higher temperatures than radiant burners.
The types of controls available on salamanders vary from basic on/off switches to knobs that control the intensity of the heat, which may be incremental or temperature-based. Most models, even those that do not have knobs for temperature control, have racks with adjustable heights that provide control over how close the food is to the heat. Foods that need to be seared, like steaks, may need to be closer to the elements, while more delicate foods dishes might need to be moved further from them.
Salamanders can be installed on countertops, but they are most often mounted on walls over ranges. This has the benefit of conserving space, allowing chefs to add another cooking method into the same footprint, while also putting it within easy reach for finishing dishes that were cooked on the range or in the oven. Be sure you know where your salamander broiler will be installed before you order it, as its installation point will determine the accessories you need, such as rubber feet or wall brackets.
A Winning Combo
When searching for a salamander to pair with your range, first check with the range's manufacturer. Many range manufacturers also make salamanders and some have units with mounting options specifically designed to go with their ranges. The biggest consideration to keep in mind is the width of the unit. Salamanders are available in widths from 24 to 59 inches and should be installed over ranges of the same width or wider. Depending on the width of your range, you may be able to pair two salamanders next to each other if the output you need demands it.
Another important factor to keep in mind as you consider installing a salamander, especially if you will be using it to cook proteins, is its contributions to the airflow your hood will have to handle. Hoods are rated to move a certain amount of air per minute, so be sure yours can handle another appliance before installing the salamander.
- The Kitchen Shrink. Foodservice Equipment and Supplies. Accessed November 2017.