Use of the salamander in professional kitchens
The use of the salamander in professional kitchens is essential for all chefs. The kitchen salamander or salamander grill is named after the mythical beast that lives deep in the earth and can resist fire. The handy piece of kitchen equipment we have at our disposal today is associated with the fireproof creature because its main task is to produce heat – and plenty of it!
In professional kitchens you will often find salamanders. There is nothing better for browning, glazing or caramelising a dish to give it an appetising finishing touch, and it is also ideal for keeping food at the perfect temperature.
Kitchen salamanders are designed for melting cheese, caramelising a sugar topping, broiling and complete baking of both sweet and savoury dishes. This item of catering equipment has a large heating element in the ceiling which diffuses very intense heat by radiation.
Kitchen salamanders are also known as salamander grills and may be powered by gas or electricity. There is a wide range of models; some salamanders have fixed ceilings while others are moveable. They all have adjustable thermostats, and you can adjust the height and location of your containers according to the dishes you are preparing. In addition, some salamanders come with features to make the chef’s life easier, such as timers, sound alarms, automatic memory etc.
Salamanders or salamander grills are widely used in fast-food outlets, cafes and restaurants. They are also helpful for grilling vegetables such as peppers, courgettes and aubergines and caramelising meringues and hot desserts. Salamanders in professional kitchens are also frequently used for melting cheese. But there is also a similar item of kitchen equipment called a cheese melter specifically designed for this purpose.
What is the difference between a salamander and a cheese melter?
While it is true that a professional kitchen salamander can be used to melt cheese, there is another item of kitchen equipment known as a cheese melter that has some different features. These pieces of equipment have some similarities.
They are both usually wall mounted at eye level, although worktop models are available. Both a salamander and a cheese melter need a hood to be safely operated at high temperatures.
And finally, both pieces of equipment focus the heat downwards.
But there is also a significant difference between them, consisting of their level of heat output. A salamander in professional kitchens produces far more heat than a cheese melter and can be used to cook dishes instead of just warming them.
Salamanders also achieve grilling temperatures higher than standard ovens, so you can use them to grill steaks and other meats.
While the design of the two pieces of equipment may look similar, there are some differences. For example, a cheese melter is fitted with a rack like one you would see in an oven. And instead of a grease tray, it usually has a crumb tray that you can remove for cleaning.
A salamander has a grease pan and a height-adjustable cooking grate. By changing the distance from the heating element, you can customise the temperature at which various dishes are cooked.
Both salamander grills and cheese melters are multifunctional pieces of kitchen equipment. You can undoubtedly melt cheese with a kitchen salamander, but you can also use it for much more. Cheese melters can also do more than just melt cheese – in many restaurants, you will see them used to keep plated food warm before serving.
Should I choose a salamander or cheese melter?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question; it all depends on your kitchen. In a busy, high-volume kitchen where you need to melt cheese and also need to be able to grill or broil, a salamander grill will be an excellent addition to your kitchen equipment.
But for a small cafe or snack bar, a cheese melter may be perfect for your needs.