Cheesemelters, sometimes called Finishing Ovens, are commonly used in commercial kitchens to put the “finishing touches” on menu items. As their name implies, they are ideal for melting cheese on top of items such as nachos, French onion soup, omelettes, and pastas. They are also great for crisping the toppings on casseroles and au gratins. Handy for firming up meringues and souffles, they are occasionally used to warm plates as well.
Cheesemelters typically feature a metal box with an open front and no door. They can be mounted above a range, directly to a wall, or used as a countertop unit. Most have one or more wire racks like those found in a traditional oven with infrared heating elements or gas burners mounted overtop. Rack heights are adjustable, and many units have dual temperature controls for left and right side heat adjustments.
Cheesemelters are often confused with salamander broilers, but there are key differences.
- Designed primarily for cooking and broiling
- Can also be used to melt cheese and crisp toppings
- Typically operate at higher temperatures than cheesemelters
- Feature cast iron cooking grates
- Food can be placed directly onto grates to create grill marks
- Require a Type 2 Hood for removal of smoke and grease laden air
- Feature a grease collection tray in the bottom
- Usually more expensive to purchase, install, and operate than a cheesemelter
- Designed to melt cheese and put “finishing touches” on menu items
- Not designed for broiling or cooking raw proteins
- Typically operate at lower temperatures than salamanders
- Feature wire cooking racks instead of iron grates
- Food is not placed directly onto racks: bakeware or plates must be used
- Electric models may not require a hood at all (check local codes)
- Feature a crumb tray in the bottom
- Are usually more affordable to purchase, install, and operate than a salamander
As manufacturers continuously compete to produce equipment that is faster and more versatile, some hybrid models may blur the lines between “cheesemelter” and “salamander.” Whatever it’s called, make sure you select a unit that is designed for the application you need. Southbend manufacturers high quality cheesemelters in a wide variety of sizes.