Chef Meets Bridgeport Mill - The Machining Began
One of the reasons I really enjoy catering has to do with food, but not
with preparing food. In catering you must be on the cutting edge of the
game or suffer the low margin consequences of doing what everyone else
does. Catering allows me to constant explore new foods, new themes and
most important new preparation methods. I like the challenge of doing
something correctly, live in front of everyone that attends the event.
It is part ego, part challenge but most importantly, it is something I
know most competitors won't take on for fear of falling flat on their
face in the publics' eye!
And so after we finally got sushi off the ground after two years, then
finally introduced the churrasco to the world at the wedding show this
year. I have been intrigued by the Benny Hannah's type presentation for
years now. Problem for catering is the damn big equipment necessary and
the ventilation required.
So for about a year now I have been thinking on how to put tappenyaki
into catering. Not some small wasted little table side grill thingy,
but a true small version of the tappenyaki station on the floor doing
tapas of the famous Japanese Steakhouse offerings.
I would grab up an old stainless steel prep table to start yet another
project in pursuit of the EDGE!
Come along for the start of the project and as I progress I will post
other blogs on the development.
First this is the table that I picked.
An explanation is in order, I choose this old table because it is solid
stainless steel, and this drawer interested me. I wish to be able to
support the sushi station by broiling the unagi and such as required. So
I will order in the stainless and insulation to create a salamander in
place of the draw.
But for today let us concentrate on the tappen part, for me that is
stainless steel. So over to the scrap metal yard to find a piece of 310
So I found a nice scrap piece (scrap is half the price of new) and have
it cut to 18 inches by 24 inches. Which will cover the entire drawer
area. This will allow me to use the tappenyaki burner to heat the steel
and act as the broiler in the drawer, oven unit.
But first I must change the steel into a usable piece of metal. And for
that I call on my trusty Bridgeport. (While most people have hobbies,
all mine are taken to the extreme.) So we will start to square up the
After mounting the stainless plate to the machine I begin the cutting of
the .850 inch slab to make it square. A roughing bit is required to
At 2 horsepower I can tear up material with this little tool! And
And so I will create, first two adjacent edges that meet at 90 degrees
and then finish the rectangle so all corners are right angles.
Then I will begin to insure the entire surface is the same thickness.
Since I have been building grills and cookers for years. I understand
that to skip this step is to speed the project up, but a variation of
.15 inches in thickness changes the temperature of the surface by 44
degrees. And that makes not for a good grill at all!
So the work begins to create what will be the finished grilling surface.
And several hours later this is what you end up with! I will add in the
grease grooves when that tool arrives from the supplier.
Now isn't that purdy! You bet it is, and now that it is .750 inches all
the way around, it will cook real purdy as well! While I was out I did
spec out the controls for the beast. They were in stock so I picked them
up as I will need to start plumbing the gas lines soon. I am using all
RobertShaw control. And opted to put on an oven control that allows me
to set the thermostat and have the temp probe do the heat control. I
also picked up the RobertShaw safety pilot so the gas will shut down
automatically if the pilot goes out.
All in all not a bad start to another little task that should keep us on
the cutting edge in the catering world.
'til we talk again, get out in the shop and make something, feels great
to form something to your idea!
Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA