Bespoke cooking and equipment and the Art of Grilling

I recently toured what is a rarity in the Australian Catering equipment industry, that is an ‘Australian owned Manufacturer’! Cookon which has been around the industry for decades has been busy in recent years specializing in Custom and Bespoke Grills and cooking equipment.

Owned by the long established Langford metals group in Brisbane it now has access to the latest technology in Laser and Fibre optic machinery all using précising cutting measurements based on 3D Cad programming . This is normal manufacturing process for production run equipment and metal jobs, but in this case that same precision technology is applied to one off custom designs.

Custom Char and Roaster
Custom Char and Roaster

The team and importantly the design and trades team have been involved with Cookon in many cases for decades, which means there is an amazing amount of IP on board, over the years they have designed and manufactured hundreds of unique cooking appliances, chances are if you can think of it they have probably done it!

The current industry trend that has been around for a few years and is likely to only increase is what we call as ‘show cooking’. Front of house cooking either to order or in advance with slow roasting /grilling techniques showcasing the international food styles of South American and Asian meat cooking where cooking over coals, wood and flame is the key ingredient. Cookon’s powder coating facility allows some added colour to be incorporated also.

Argentinian BBQ


Any ‘honest’ chef or foodie will agree that meat cooked over charcoal or wood always tastes better, the juices and fat as they drip over the coals create mini flare ups increasing the ‘BBQ’ and ‘Smoke’ flavours. I always cook by BBQ and Roasts over charcoal and wood in a Kamado, they have the added benefit of ceramic insulation, speeding up the cooking times increasing moisture retention.


Using different types of wood in the cooking process also can change the flavour of the product as well as cooking times. Add to the improved flavour the amazing spectacle and theatre of the smoke and flame and you really do then create a special point of difference to your menu and operation.

Wood Fired Roast

When wood fire is prohibitive.

It’s not always possible to have a woodfired or charcoal appliance in your kitchen, the set up and compliance costs involved a great due to the duct and exhaust canopy requirements. However all is not lost! You can still create a similar effect by designing a spectacular grill that is gas powered, add some ‘decorative’ flame to the unit and you have a spectacular talking piece without the wood hassles, just not the same flavour.

Custom Show Grill

Turbo charging your grilling.

With all the main branded grill manufacturers that make a ‘matching’ Chargrill/BBQ in their range, I find that they are all just ‘OK’ they do a job and often the menu if wide and varied so all of the appliances in the cooking line are used equally, and here in Australia most of our kitchens are not pumping out massive volume of char/BBQ meats so they handle the workload ‘OK”.

There are though exceptions, specialist steak/BBQ establishments, higher volume pubs that do series volume of grilled meats, these are the types of places that need to seriously look at their grill/BBQ equipment in isolation and look at the design and specification in greater detail. You need to start looking at not just how many Kw of power is being generated but ‘how’ what type of burners, what radiant assistance or baffles are in place, what heat retention is there, in common rank and file BBQ Grills the answer is NONE! You can pump as much gas flame power you like at a grill, but someone has to pay for that gas consumption, and that’s the operator. What if you insulated the box with a ceramic or brick lining to build a residual layer of heat that eventually assist with the cooking process for free!

Cookon Custom LT10 Grill_Cliffords at Watermark_Surfers Paradise (21)

The type of grid/bar is also important, Cast iron retains heat the heat best. Fat Drip tray design is also important no just that it does its job and drain such away properly but is built and designed in such a way that it can cope with the extreme heat being generated. What happens between the gas burner the grill is equally important, it’s not just a case of putting a much gas flame as possible up to the grill surface, that will only invite massive flare ups and hot spot burns that in turn create a nasty carcinogenic after taste. It’s fare to say that most ‘pub’ cooks have no idea when it comes to grilling, they simply believe that lost of heat and flame coming out of the grill is great, they couldn’t be further from the truth! If its out past the meat contact point, what’s the point? That’s just wasted energy and MONEY! The trend of many establishments are offering bigger thicker cuts of meat mean that the skill and equipment is more important than ever. You need the cooking process to penetrate deeper into the meat, this means you need to actually slow things down little to ensure it occurs OR finish the cut off in an Oven to ensure the process is correct. Otherwise you end up with the all too familiar burnt on the outside cold in the middle steak! Combi ovens with their added steam are a great tool for finishing off. Or you can consider a version of wood grill and BBQ as one unit such as the Spanish Made Mibrasa or Josper.

Mibrassa Grill

One of the busiest steak Restaurants I have ever been to is the Webber BBQ GRILL in Chicago USA, massive over sized Webbers loaded with piles of meat and a bunch of highly skilled grill chefs  smashing out massive volumes of food. The technique that was always employed during the process was the lid being placed back on the grill for portions of time, ensuring a more even heat source all over the meat not just under it, and as always with meat cooking ‘plenty of time ‘ was allowed for resting the meat before service.

Webber grill restaurant

if you would like to learn more about designing your very bespoke equipment to suit your operation then feel free to contact us here by email