When it comes to high-production cooking, consistency matters. If your cooktop doesn’t heat evenly, your customers are going to get unevenly cooked — and potentially unsafe — results. So keep an eye on these four factors:
1. The Thermostat Controls
The readout your cooktop is giving you is only an estimate. The temperature is accurate within plus or minus thirty degrees Fahrenheit of the preferred temperature. Residential ovens are often the same way and give you little precise control over the exact temperature. Solid-state thermostats, on the other hand, give you readings that are within five degrees of the real temperature. For the best accuracy of all, get a cooktop thermometer.
2. How the Heat Is Distributed
Traditional burners don’t heat the surface evenly. Instead, look for steam-heated systems that circulate steam under the surface. Not only do they allow new sources of heat to reach every square inch of the surface, but cooled steam also drops down away from the surface and gets replaced with hotter steam to provide instant temperature recovery.
3. The Temperature of the Ingredients
If you set something frozen on the cooktop surface, that’s going to have an impact on the surface temperature. Good griddles can restore the set temperature quickly, and it should have a negligible effect on the actual cooking process. But make sure your staff is trained on what differences to expect between room temperature, cooled, and frozen ingredients.
4. Wear and Tear
As cooktops get older, the surfaces may develop inconsistencies. Oil and grease buildup can thicken the surface, over-season the pan, and slow down temperature adjustments. Dents and worn patches may also heat differently because the metal between them and the heat source is thinner. The best way to achieve consistent heat is with regular cleanings and taking care of heavy implements.