These models provide the authentic flavor of a backyard grill and are made to stand up to commercial demands. They are available in different sizes and styles, and can cook food items to order right in front of the customer. That makes them showpieces that, along with the smell and taste, will attract and entertain customers. To get the right unit, your first considerations will probably be the heat source and the grate you'll need. There are also special options for caterers who need the ability to easily move a complete cooking solution to any event or venue.
Select the Right Heat Source
The heat source of your grill largely determines the flavor it adds to your food and how fast it will cook. Part of this decision will be made by the type of environment you are in and local codes. If you will be cooking for a lot of formal gatherings, you may want to consider a grill with panels that hide the bulky gas tanks. A charcoal grill will produce more smoke than one with gas burners, so regulations may not allow it to be used in close proximity to an indoor venue. Be sure to check on potential issues like these before you buy.
Commercial outdoor gas grills with radiants provide an intense heat that can cook food quickly. Tube-like burners or infrared tiles in this type of grill create heat that's radiated through a metal shield or plate mounted typically above or beside them. That distributes the heat to cook food more evenly. These models provide the ability to prepare lots of food quickly, which makes them a good fit for serving large groups of people at once. Because they have more control and a more even heat than other types, they take less tending and are easy for even amateur grillers to use. When shopping for this type, consider the different kinds of radiants available. Cast iron ones provide more even heat distribution and retain that heat more, which can mean you burn less gas. Stainless steel radiants typically last longer and are easier to clean.
Lava rock grills have burners that produce heat that is absorbed and distributed by porous pumice stones. The advantage of this type of grill is the fat and natural juices of your food drip onto the stones, where it is vaporized into smoke that provides that classic grilling flavor. The smoke and smell also attract customers. One thing to remember is that same dripping can cause flare-ups and the heat may be uneven thanks to the rocks, so it's important to keep an eye on your food. You will have to take the rocks out to clean the unit, and they will probably need to be replaced two or three times a year, depending on usage.
The traditional charcoal grill is probably the most familiar type to anyone who's ever had a backyard cookout. They create heat by burning charcoal, either briquettes or lump. People who prefer this type of grill like the smoky flavor and aroma provided by it. Charcoal, because it produces and radiates the heat, acts as both a fuel and a method of distribution. The heat can be regulated by increasing or decreasing the number of coals and adjusting air flow with vents that are built into the commercial grill. Even with that, this type of cooking requires constant attention, as there will be hotter and cooler areas of the grill. There's also the potential for flare-ups that can quickly burn food. Another thing to consider with this type of grill is that it produces ash from the charcoal that must be routinely cleaned out, which can be a messy job.
Picking a Grilling Surface
The grill surface actually comes into contact with your food, which means it plays a big role in cooking. Stainless steel grates are common and affordable. They are easy to maintain and are valued for their simplicity and durability. Be careful when using sharp utensils and stiff wire brushes on this type of grill because they may chip or pit the metal. That can cause food to stick to the grates. It can also create an opening for rust and a breeding ground for bacteria. To deal with that, clean the grate in a sink with warm water and mild soap and thoroughly dry it after each use.
Chrome grates have a stainless steel core and chrome plating. That makes them more durable than stainless steel alone because chrome is a stronger metal that resists corrosion, is resilient, and is not easily damaged by impacts from things like spatulas. Food is less likely to stick to chrome which makes it easier to clean. Chrome also retains heat better than stainless steel and distributes it evenly, which reduces the chances for hot spots on the grill. These grates typically come with a slightly higher price, but they have some real advantages. Like stainless steel grates, clean with warm water and mild soap in a sink, then dry thoroughly.
Cast iron grates distribute and retain heat very well, which means you get better grill marks on your food. It can also mean reduced gas usage, since the metal itself does a good job of transferring the heat into the food. These grates are durable and quite heavy. The seasoning of the grate surface creates a uniquely savory flavor in the food you cook on it. To create that seasoning when your grill first arrives, use a cloth to rub a light layer of oil all over the grate, then burn the grill for 30 minutes. Between uses, clean the grate with a stiff wire brush (be sure to use one that won't leave bristles on the grate that may end up in your food), then wash the grate in a sink with warm water and mild soap. Before the next use, apply a thin layer of oil to the grate and burn the grill for 20 minutes to reseason. Never spray cold water on a hot cast iron grill, as this can cause it to corrode.
Options for Catering Grilling
While standard models offer legs or casters that make them great for most any outdoor setting, high-volume catering operations can also opt for a towable commercial outdoor grill. These mobile grills can be hitched to your vehicle without additional equipment and are designed for the road. They can be transported in one piece and are ready to go when you arrive at the event site with no set-up or tear-down required. Towable grills are also used in competition barbeque.