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Wood grill options

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm in the spitballing phase of designing the kitchen of our next restaurant and am thinking of a wood fired grill. I'm looking for some input from anyone familiar with the current market. I've read mixed reviews of the Aztecs; one constant in the reviews is that they tend to rust out over time. I like the looks of the Champion line and they seem we'll made. At a minimum I want a model with a gas ignition system. My concerns are mostly in training staff to use it (building the fire, managing fuel, etc).

I'm also interested in input from those who have cooked on them a lot. I'd love to have one where the grate can be cranked up and down but that's probably above the range of my budget. How is heat management? How much fuel do you use?

I am drawn to a wood grill for the flavor, the potential for extreme heat and as a point of market differentiation. But obviously I want practicality. A shelf broiler can hit 1600 degrees, for example, and is simple to use and maintain.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
BTW, I've looked at pellet broilers like the FEC from Cookshack, too. Having used pellet grills extensively I appreciate their strengths, but I'm a little concerned with reliability. I'm not sure if they stand up to being used commercially day in and day out. And if it craps out you're screwed with no broiler at all.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #3 of 9
I work the grill at a well known restaurant in Brooklyn NY. The grill is strictly wood fire. No gas ignition. We take a blowtorch every morning and light it up. The training for this is minimal. Everyone in the restaurant down to the dishwasher knows how to start and maintain the fire. The one downside to this is we have wood delivered twice a week and can run into problems storing it. It eats up allot of wood.

It is very important to have a crank that raises the grill as you will need to adjust the grill depending on how high the fire gets. Also it makes starting the fire much easier. We do 90% of our cooking on this grill, including most of the prep. If you have any specific questions PM me.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Wolff.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #5 of 9

It's been years since I worked in a place with a wood fired grilled.  In my time though, I worked in a number of places that had wood-fired grills.  As a cook, I was always partial to the Aztecs, although I can't vouch for their longevity.  I felt that I could control my heat better and that I didn't have to feed it as often to keep good heat going.  It was a fixed grate grill, as opposed to an adjustable grate, and I actually preferred that as I would build my bed of coals to accommodate both lower heat and higher heat.  It was a pretty large grill so I devoted 1 part to firing fresh wood.  Once it burned down to coals I would pulled them over to where I cooked, building my various heat levels-no grate adjustment necessary.  It did take getting used to and the worse was being caught in a rush with a, less than, adequate bed of coals for cooking. Only happened to me a couple of times before I learned my lesson.  The worse part was having an sous chef that like to mess with me.  He'd come by and load my grill with wood just to watch me try and cook over a flaming grill..  It made for some interesting rushes as I tried to fight the flames while cooking 8-10 steaks at a time but I got them out, perfectly cooked, not charred, and not bitter from smoke.  Did spend over a year though without any hair on my forearms!!!!

post #6 of 9

Hey Chef,

Have you checked NorCal, I know they had some really nice commercial grills as well as residential. I can't remember the name of the grill I got for the lake house, but it has the adjustable grid and is propane fired.. Sorry , chemo brain.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone!  And WOAH!  Sorry to hear that Panini.  I didn't realize you were dealing with that.  I hope it's going well!

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #8 of 9

@Phaedrus,

No big deal.3 times for me, all different. 1 for wife with stem cell transplant. Staying busy expedites the corner turning. Chemo brain is a real thing. I've participated in 3 different trials for it. My last chemo I tried an oral dose over iv. 18 months.

  Chemo brain is sometimes frustrating.

    I went to switch out some of my old cars in storage Sunday, Holiday weekend,guard comes by and asks, "what year is that?" I've owned this 71 hemi cuda since 79. I just couldn't remember the year. 10 minutes later I'm surrounded by some of the city's finest.

It's crazy. I can remember obscure telephone #'s from my childhood. but not what I did 10 minutes ago.:crazy:

  Did you make a decision on your grill. Just curious, does a seasoned restaurant grill cook know how to use the elevating grate?

   If we're at the lake for the weekend, I can't get the rhythm down. There for the week and I can pump 30 steaks quickly, all perfect.

I'm also curious, can you leave the fire going all night. I find it better to have previous burn to fire up.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

I hope your treatments are going well.  Pretty much everyone has to deal with cancer unless they die of something else first!

 

I haven't made any decisions yet.  We won't break ground and pour concrete to begin construction of the restaurant til early fall with opening tentatively slated for next spring/summer (and it's not 100% certain yet).  At this stage I'm just gathering information.  Coming up in this game I kind of made my bones as the saute guy but I kind of morphed into the broiler guy over the last ten years or so.  My experience cooking over a wood fire is strictly limited to camping, and then usually cooking over oak.  I'm pretty confident I can figure out how to cook over any source of high heat.:lol:  But I'm interested in the logistics- how much wood is required, how much work to keep a constant flame, etc.  I have pretty extensive experience with fires while hiking and camping but an open fire is quite different than a stove.  Having had wood heat as a kid I understand how controlling airflow controls the amount of fuel used to  a great degree but commercial wood cooking is something I have zero experience with.  My concern is something Pete points out, the chance of getting caught flat footed needing to crank out a bunch of stuff at a time when I didn't expect to be busy, thus not having a fire stoked up enough.  And of course running out of wood would be embarrassing!

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
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