Blender Basics: How to Choose the Best Commercial Blender for Your Kitchen or Bar

From smoothies and protein shakes at cafés to purees and vinaigrettes at restaurants and piña coladas and frozen margaritas behind the bar, commercial blenders are one of the most versatile — and therefore most essential — appliances in the kitchen. Of course, not all blenders are created equal. To learn about why these kitchen gadgets are necessary, what to look for when shopping for a new one, and how to take care of them so they last, we turned to a couple of experienced chefs and one busy bartender.

A Versatile Appliance

Paul Choi, executive chef at Karma Asian Food & Fine Wine in Mundelein, IL, explains how his restaurant benefits from blenders: “The blender multi-tasks for many different uses, from purees to vinaigrettes. It can be utilized for any area of a restaurant, front or back of the house.” At Karma, he uses one “to puree chipotle for our chipotle aioli, pea sauce for our salmon, wasabi vinaigrette — it makes the thickest and most emulsified vinaigrette.”

David Santos, chef/owner of Louro in Manhattan, also depends on this multi-tasking tool. “Soups, pudding and basic purees — we puree everything and anything with the blender.” He suggests the need for both the traditional appliance and a stick/immersion blender. Using multiple types of professional blenders can help make your kitchen more efficient.

What to Look For

Our chefs agree that power, capacity and durability are the key features to look for in canister blenders. Size replaces capacity when evaluating immersion units.

“You want the motor strong enough to handle everything you put inside — the stronger the motor, the better the blend,” Choi says. “The size allows for how much you can put in at once, and durability refers to dealing with all the abuse the appliance will go through.”

Additionally, consider what you’re using it for. “The kitchen blender needs to be the best possible, while the bar blender only needs to be able to make frozen drinks,” says Choi. “Obviously, a more creative bar menu dictates having a better blender.”

Even with the less-demanding repertoire, choose ones for the bar wisely. Tom Fisher, bartender at Person Street Bar in Raleigh, NC, seconds the need for durability. “Look for a solid assembly — when you’re making margaritas ten times a day, it needs to work.” He also promotes keeping the noise and frills to a minimum. “Choose a model that's quiet, even if your bar is loud. And you probably don't need a lot of speeds, just high, medium and low.”

Care and Maintenance

When it comes to cleaning your professional blender, look for convenience, especially at a busy bar. “You want something that's easy to break down but not with a lot of parts that will get lost in the dishwasher,” Fisher says.

Santos agrees, particularly with a stick/immersion blender, which should have a “detachable bottom so you can wash it easily.”

These appliances work only when they can use all that power to whirl sharp blades, so keeping them honed is important. “Blender blades can be sharpened, and obviously that will produce a better blend,” Choi notes. “They should only be replaced if the blade is no good, otherwise it should last you for quite some time.”

Called upon by chefs and bartenders alike, and with far more complexity than is readily apparent, blenders are in the spotlight. Follow the advice and tips above, and you can be sure your kitchen appliances at your venue are truly ready for their close-ups.

Michael S. Julianelle is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and young son. He runs the anti-parenting parenting blog Dad and Buried.

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