How can I put a steakhouse in my kitchen?
May 14, 2014 5:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm at the point in life where I can start affording some small luxuries, and one of my longstanding dreams has been to have the ability to cook restaurant quality steak and stir-fries indoor in my home kitchen via a proper commercial grilltop. What do I need to get, and who should I talk to? Has anyone ever done this before?

Assume that my budget is generous, but not generous enough to fit out a full commercial kitchen. I really just want to cook on it pretty much every weeknight and get the closest thing possible to eating out for 2-3 people. A small setting with a wok ring, an open grill, and griddle plate, would suit me fine. I am hoping that I can replace my current rangetop with this setup, as I don't have the largest space to work with.

I know about some of the basics, such the need for flame failure devices, non-combustable surfaces, and commercial-quality extractors, however all the other stuff in terms of actual brands or equipment I'm at a bit of a loss for.

I'm not looking for domestic brands saying that their gear is 'commercial-grade' - But all the commercial gear and research leaves me quickly out of my depth, and the places that supply this stuff don't seem to want to deal with the small scale I want to deal with.

So, where do I go from here? Bonus points for anyone from Melbourne, Australia that can refer me to any particular vendors or installers etc.

Thank you!
posted by LongDrive to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't have experience of this myself, but yesterday I happened to come across this article discussing pros and cons of installing commerical ranges in homes.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 5:42 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't gloss over the extraction issue. There are no knick-knacks or glasses or other such things in a commercial kitchen. All of the surfaces are cleanable. This is difficult to reproduce in a home environment. If you are regularly high-temperature frying in a domestic kitchen, everything in the room is soon going to be coated in oil, unless you have tornado-class extraction. Even if you do, I would suggest avoiding leaving stuff on open shelves if you can put a door over the space. Doing it outside would be even better - can you do this on a verandah?
posted by Jakey at 7:03 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

OK, I'll grant that proper wok cooking is difficult/impossible in a normal domestic kitchen. But steak? Steak is one of the easiest things in the world to cook. Like, one step above ramen. All you need is a cast iron pan and a stove, plus maybe an oven or sous vide device if you don't like your steaks very rare.
posted by ryanrs at 7:17 PM on May 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is not a problem you need to throw money at, except maybe for a cheap meat thermometer and some salt and pepper. Watch some YouTube videos, take the batteries out of your smoke alarm, be prepared for your house to smell like meat. That's basically it.
posted by tapir-whorf at 7:41 PM on May 14, 2014

This article in today's New York Timed may be of interest.

You may want to look at induction burners--they're pretty fantastic. I have a friend who is a world class chef (seriously, as in "known worldwide" and co-authored award-winning cookbook, and gets flown places to make dinner for people not just "a pretty good cook") and he produces incredible Multi-course tasting menus for large groups with a sous vide setup, blowtorch, and two induction burners. No grill and no commercial range.
posted by donovan at 9:53 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Steakhouses uses a salamander to cook steak. Personally I'd just get a super high power burner induction is great but you'd need a flat bottomed wok.
posted by JPD at 6:06 AM on May 15, 2014

We've got a Jenn-Air range, normal kitchen variety. It has four burners, and two of them can be substituted with either a grill or a griddle, on the fly. We use it for grilling regularly. When we first moved into the house with the Jenn-Air, the burners under the grill could barely warm a steak. I called an appliance repair service, and they bored out the gas jets and now it's quite powerful. We have a downdraft vent, which is adequate but not great, but necessary because it's on an island and we don't have a space for a hood above it.

The only downside of this setup is that it's a standard 30-inch range, and that's pretty small for cooking complicated or large meals. (I'd much prefer a wider stove, but that would require a full kitchen remodel, which isn't in the cards for a while.) But cooking for 2-3 people on it is quite doable, particularly for meals without a lot of courses or dishes being cooked simultaneously.

I did look for flame-failure features on ranges recently, and couldn't find many available at all, which really shocked me. It's such a simple technology, and seems like a liability no-brainer. However I've only had an issue where one would be useful once in my life, when my young daughter turned on a burner without knowing it. If you don't have young kids, this is likely not a big deal in a standard kitchen. (And even with young kids, it can be managed.)

As far as non-combustible surfaces, we have slate and love it. It's totally heat proof and looks great, but it does chip and one corner has broken off. Overall, though, I'd recommend it. It's so pretty when I've just washed it with an all-purpose cleaner and a microfiber cloth, and it's the only surface I've ever felt comfortable putting a super-hot pan on.

We make restaurant-quality meals in our kitchen several nights a week, and we can also whip up macs and cheese from a box without a lot of overhead. I think commercial kitchens are best for restaurants, not homes, and know from experience that a good cook can make incredible meals in a reasonably equipped domestic kitchen without feeling constrained. Good luck with your choices.
posted by Capri at 7:18 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

This isn't a commercial range, but it was the first thing that popped into my head after reading your question.
posted by Silvertree at 7:22 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have the same interest, and I've been reading up on it. Steak, as other people here have said, can be grilled with domestic equipment. Stir fries cannot, at least not adequately. But you can buy separate wok burners from restaurant supply houses; they don't take up much room and you really only need one.

I know you said that you're aware of extraction needs, but the most helpful bit of advice I came across was that extraction fans work better in conjunction with injection fans: you have fans blowing air in at the sides of your cooking area, and fans pulling air out from the top of it. The fans blowing air in should be rather weaker (75%?) than the extraction fans. Or you can cook outside, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:38 AM on May 18, 2014

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