The waffle iron came to America with the Dutch pilgrims in the year 1620. These early models were of a simple construction featuring two hinged iron grid plates attached to two long wooden handles. The waffle maker was filled with a leavened quick bread batter then closed and baked over an open-hearth fire, hand rotated to ensure even distribution of batter. The professional waffle maker today maintains these basic qualities, combines them with technological improvements, and meets the needs of the busy food service industry.
The first professional waffle maker was produced by the Edison Electric Appliance Company in Ontario, California in the mid-1920’s. It featured a heavy-duty Cal-rod heating element, which allowed for continuous use in a commercial environment. Continuous use is the first challenge facing any commercial kitchen appliance.
Continuous use means high heat for hours at a time. To endure this your waffle maker should have the following features:
1. The power cord should be a permanent attachment unlike the home models that have a detachable cord.
2. The appliance housing should be die-cast. Die-casting has proven to be highly efficient at handling heat. Stainless steel housings can become scalding hot under commercial conditions.
3. Look for an embedded heating element. Embedded heating elements have proven to be superior over the original cal-rod by consistently spreading the heat throughout the cooking surface.
4. Food service cooking depends on speed to be profitable. A commercial waffle maker needs a minimum of 1650 watts, to ensure fast pre-heating and quick cooking. The home versions have between 550 watts and 1250 watts and can take 15 minutes or more to pre-heat.
5. The control panel mounted above the cooking surface is a feature usually found on commercial models. Nemco Food Equipment commercial waffle makers specifically features top mounted controls. Cleaning the batter spilled onto the control panel is one more thing that consumes time at the end of a shift. The top mounted control panel is efficiently up and out of the way.
6. Many commercial models have drip trays below the griddle. This too saves clean-up time.
7. One feature found only on a professional waffle maker is the floating hinge. When preparing the classic Belgian waffle, a waffle recipe using a yeast-leavened batter, the floating hinge allows the waffle to rise to its fullest potential.
A single grid professional waffle maker can produce as many as 25 waffles an hour. A double grid waffle maker can produce as many as 60 waffles an hour. The average single grid home countertop waffle maker would do well to produce 10 waffles in an hour.
There is some debate about the safety of the non-stick surface material used on waffle makers today. Some non-stick materials will reportedly out gas at high temperatures. Adequate ventilation is essential in any kitchen. However, there are options available for those professionals wanting a more traditional cooking surface.
Many home models have an automatic shut-off feature. The busy commercial environment needs an appliance that is hot and ready to go at a moments notice. The auto shut off feature while ensuring safety in the home is a liability in the commercial environment.
Manufacturers of waffle makers for home use include these brands: Waring, Cuisinart, Villaware, KitchenAid, Toastmaster, Krups, and Faberware. These brands are found at leading retailers and range in price from forty dollars to over two hundred dollars.
These commercial manufactured brands are found at restaurant supply outlets: Nemco, Star, Equipex and Waring. Waring is the only brand that truly crosses over successfully into the commercial market with their Waring Pro Series - check out this Waring Commercial Professional Waffle Maker . Commercial waffle makers range in price from two hundred dollars to well over one thousand dollars. Among these Equipex is considered the best - you can also find Equipex waffle makers on Amazon
Whether at home or in the work place all these machines feature the same type of controls: power on/off, temperature, and an audible cooking alert. What pushes one above the other can be as simple as price. However, the professional will do more than compare price. The successful food service business will evaluate its needs and shop to meet those needs.
A professional waffle maker must be durable under continuous use. It must be easy to clean. Some models feature removable grid plates for easier cleaning. However, immersion in soapy water disrupts the seasoning process and is not a feature usually found in a commercial waffle maker. The double grid machine is essential for high output situations. The rotating feature is a subjective choice. Rotating was necessary once upon a time, but with an embedded heating element and die-cast housing, rotating is not really necessary to produce a fine edible product.
We hope we made your choice a little bit easier, happy cooking!
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