Mixing things up
On both the sweet and savory sides of the restaurant kitchen, mixers are true workhorses—whether the job is beating a small batch of cake batter or mashing 100 pounds of potatoes. Given the wide selection of mixers available, it’s easy to find the one that fits your needs.
A commercial countertop mixer looks like the brawnier big brother of an electric mixer made for home usage. Most foodservice countertop models are planetary mixers, meaning the bowl remains stationary while the beater rotates. Bowl sizes range between 5 and 20 quarts and horsepower runs from around 1/6 HP to 1/2 HP. Most models come with a flat beater, wire whisk and dough hook.
Since the basic features are fairly similar, choosing the right model often comes down to bells and whistles. For example, some smaller models, like the Varimixer W5A and the Waring WSM7Q, have a tilting head, which allows for easier bowl removal but may be impractical if space is tight. And there are chefs who prefer a sturdier home-type mixer, like the KitchenAid Commercial 5 series, because of its many attachments.
Quantity feeding demands a bigger mixer, and that’s where floor models come in. These rugged workhorses start at 30-quarts and go all the way up to massive 220-quart models. Some of these are planetary while others are spiral, meaning that the beater stays stationary and the bowl rotates. Spiral mixers are often preferred by bakers for their ability to mix doughs quickly and gently.
With the larger floor models, it’s important to consider how the bowls are going to be moved once mixing is done. Globe Food Equipment has a power bowl lift and includes a truck with some of its 60- and 80-quart models. Hobart’s Legacy series features a power bowl lift along with a “swing-out” bowl mechanism for ease of adding ingredients.
Take this job and stick it
Lightweight and portable, stick mixers are handy for pureeing soups and sauces in pots right on the stove. When buying a stick mixer, be sure to measure the depth of the stockpots in which it will be used. If the shaft isn’t long enough, the food at the bottom of the pot won’t get properly mixed. A smooth, easy-to-handle speed control helps prevent splashes.
Most manufacturers offer a range of stick mixers with various shaft lengths and speeds. The Electrolux Professional line features 440 to 660 watts of power. With an electronic speed control button mounted on top, speed changes can be easily controlled. Robot Coupe’s Turbo line tops out with a 1,000-watt model, featuring a removable foot and blade assembly.
KitchenAid countertop mixers feature a number of accessories, including a pasta roller, citrus juicer and sausage stuffer. Also available for KitchenAid models—and coming soon for the Hobart 20-quart countertop mixer—is the BeaterBlade, a mixer paddle with rubber “fins” that continuously scrape the bowl. Varimixer offers a bowl-scraping blade for its floor mixers, as well as a wing-whip blade for mixing heavy items. Another Varimixer option is a programmable control panel, which stores up to 20 recipes.