Montague Steakhouse Broiler, So Easy a Rep Can Do It

Tug Toler

There is a saying in our industry, that I’m pretty certain playfully originated from the manufacturers, “So easy, a rep can screw it up.”  In my almost ten years as a manufacturer’s representative (rep), I’ve seen this line come true again and again.  And while almost all of us have spent a lot of time in kitchens and dish rooms, it’s not to say me and my fellow sales women and men are inept.  We (in the general sense) tend to lack the everyday in and out kitchen knowledge.  Pair that with early in our careers, we get sent out into the field to demonstrate (to kitchen professionals) pieces of equipment that we may never have seen in person before.  This is usually where the rep will screw it up, demo-ing it wrong, making up a fact/answer, or forcing open pieces that were not meant to be opened.  Then the service agent or factory has to come in and fix what the rep broke.

Another time we reps screw things up is when the end user is having an issue and the rep thinks he can save the end user a service call.  This usually happens just after the early phase in our career.  When we have enough knowledge about the product and how it should work to get into trouble.  The rep might try to wiggle this here, or remove that there and presto, the rep has made it worse.

I poke fun at myself and my fellow industry sales reps to help illustrate a point.  While we know kitchens, and we know how the pieces work, we don’t always have the intimate knowledge that comes from using these pieces of equipment day in and day out.

Montague CompanyIMG_4795Personally, I’ve worked on the operations side of our business since I was about 16 years.  I was a short order cook at a ski lodge in West Point, NY for 3-4 winters.  Then later in college, I was a waiter at a couple different restaurants.  Once graduated, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to be.  I moved to DFW and started working at a fine dining steakhouse in Plano, called Kirby’s Steakhouse.

I worked there for 2 years and was a headwaiter and bartender by the end.  I learned a lot about quality steaks, team work, leadership, fine dining, and wine.  Watching the chefs and cooks night after night, the number one thing that I was blown away by (and still admire today) was the ability to know different cuts of steaks internal temperature (“doneness”) just by touching it.  They never used a thermometer and the certainly NEVER cut the steak to check doneness.

At Kirby’s Steakhouse they used an underfired charbroiler to grill the steaks, seafood, and chicken.  The really good grill station chefs could tell the difference between a medium rare and a medium with just using their tongs to “squeeze” the meat.  That is the difference of a few degrees , where the steaks’ color turns from a warm red center to a hot pink center.  Imagine how much time and training it took the chefs that worked the charbroiler to know the charbroiler’s hot and cold spots.  To feel the difference between rare and medium rare just by pushing on it, knowing that if they over cooked it, a $40-$50 steak would be thrown out and they’d have to start over.  Most of us can’t do that great with 2-3 steaks on our grills at home; imagine now adding another 20-30 steaks (of different cuts and sizes) onto the grill all with different temperatures and all put on the grill at different times.  Make sure they have even grill marks and aren’t overly charred.  It really is mind boggling and very impressive.  And once all this is figured out and perfected, as a restaurateur, now you have to worry about that employee leaving or being sick or taking something almost unheard of… a vacation.  You can only hope to have that chef/cook for years.

IMG_4793This all leads me to the Montague Legend Overfired Broiler (often referred to as a Steakhouse Broiler).  It is a mean, and not so lean, protein cooking machine.  It uses RADIGLO true infrared radiant heat from the 42,000 BTU/hr cast iron burners with temperatures as high as 1800° F or 982°C .  Yes, I just typed one thousand eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit.  That 1800° is a little misleading because that is the temperature the ceramic radiant tips reach.  But where the grill grates are, it’s as high as 850°.  In comparison, most underfired (traditional) charbroilers commonly reach 600°F on their top end.  This increase in penetrating temperature directly correlates to a decrease in cooking time.  But where the Montague overfired broiler stands out is the ease of use.  You’ll find these in national chains like Ruth’s Chris, fine dining restaurants, countless country clubs, colleges and universities and mom and pop steakhouses.

The hurdles and issues with the traditional underfire broilers are the flare ups and the over charring that can occur.   They almost all have wide ranges of hot and cold zones.  And there is a learning curve that only time, ruined product,  and experience can solve.

The overfired broiler removes all those variables.  The unit is extremely even in temperature because of the radiant heat and even though it is much hotter than the under fired grills, there is no burning/over-charring the proteins.  Seriously, this heat doesn’t burn the outside like the underfire broiler will (unless you want it to by moving the grill closer to the radiant tiles).  So because of all this, that learning curve is significantly reduced to almost none.  When cooking proteins on this Montague Legend overfired broiler it really only comes down to one variable… time.  3 minutes on one side and then 3 minutes on the other side and you have a perfectly cooked medium rare steak to medium steak depending on the cut and its thickness.  I bet you are reading this thinking the same thing I did, when I was told all that at our first Montague training in December… “right, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

IMG_4792That’s when they told us, Chef Craig would not be cooking us lunch today.  But that the 20-25 or so reps in the room would be cooking it ourselves.  I drew the duty as the one that would be cooking the steaks on the overfired broiler for team, while others grilled hamburgers on a Legend underfired charbroiler, grilled vegetables on a Legend heavy duty griddle, baked pizza in a Hearth Bake deck oven and baked oven bakeable french fries and pies in the HX convection ovens.  I was nervous as to not screw up the high dollar food.  We had Chef Craig there for moral support, but he was going to let us leave the nest and fall or fly ourselves.  He coached me when I told him of my anxiety, “I promise, it’s 3 minutes on one side and then pull the drawer out, flip them all over and then put the drawer back in for 3 more minutes.”  He assured me that I actually had the easy job.  And in the end he was right.

The steaks had a picture-perfect bullseye and were perfectly done.  I didn’t have to mess with them, I didn’t do any 90 degree turns, and I didn’t rotate them in and out of the hot zones.  It really was, “so easy, a rep could do it.”

We have one at our office, please come try it for yourself.

Tug Toler
Tug Toler

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