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Title:
FOOD SERVICE EQUIPMENT FOR MAKING A HOLLOWED-OUT DOUGH PRODUCT FROM BREAD OR OTHER DOUGH PRODUCT FOR SERVING SALADS, SOUPS, HAMBURGER, SANDWICHES, DESSERTS, AND THE LIKE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/203919
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Food service equipment for effectively making a hollowed-out dough product from bread or another dough product is disclosed wherein the hollowed-out dough product can then be used in connection with the housing or containment of salads, soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, desserts, or the like. The hollowed-out dough products are formed from bread or other dough products as a result of being placed atop and compressed downwardly upon a pair of platens. Concomitantly with the formation of the bread or dough products into the desired hollowed-out dough products, the interior portions of the hollowed-out dough products are also toasted by means of the platens which are heated internally. Still further, two hollowed-out dough products are formed at the same time such that, for example, they can be utilized in connection with the serving of hamburgers or sandwiches, which require top and bottom hollowed-out dough products, or alternatively, the two hollowed-out dough products can be utilized to serve a diner a pair of open-face sandwiches, or still further, the serving of multiple salads, soups, desserts, or other foods to multiple diners.

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Inventors:
PATEL, Bhupendra, R. (640 Willow Drive, Carol Stream, IL, 60188, US)
PATEL, Jignesh (967 Longford Road, Bartlett, IL, 60103, US)
VEGA, Francisco (2422 S. Lawndale, Chicago, IL, 60623, US)
Application Number:
US2017/042304
Publication Date:
November 08, 2018
Filing Date:
July 17, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
PATEL, Bhupendra, R. (640 Willow Drive, Carol Stream, IL, 60188, US)
PATEL, Jignesh (967 Longford Road, Bartlett, IL, 60103, US)
VEGA, Francisco (2422 S. Lawndale, Chicago, IL, 60623, US)
A.J. ANTUNES & CO. (180 Kehoe Boulevard, Carol Stream, IL, 60188, US)
International Classes:
A21B5/02; A21D13/32; A21D13/33
Foreign References:
US5983784A1999-11-16
US0723654A1903-03-24
US6595114B12003-07-22
US5642659A1997-07-01
US1998764A1935-04-23
US5636564A1997-06-10
US20100098825A12010-04-22
US20110250336A12011-10-13
US5481963A1996-01-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WEINRIEB, Steven, W. (8717 Cold Spring Road, Potomac, MD, 20854, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED AS NEW AND DESIRED TO BE PROTECTED BY LETTERS

1. Food service equipment for making a hollowed-out dough product from bread or other dough product for use in making salads, soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, desserts, and the like, comprising:

a housing having a support surface;

at least one heated platen mounted upon said support surface of said housing;

a compression plate; and

a compression plate operating lever, operatively connected to said housing and having said compression plate mounted thereon, for moving said compression plate into engagement with said at least one heated platen and for moving said compression plate away from said at least one heated platen such that said compression plate is disengaged from said at least one heated platen, whereby when a dough product is disposed upon said at least one heated platen and said compression plate is moved into engagement with said at least one heated platen, said compression plate and said at least one heated platen will operatively cooperate together so as to form the hollowed-out dough product while said at least one heated platen also toasts interior wall portions of the hollowed-out dough product.

2. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , further comprising:

a flipper mechanism pivotally mounted upon said housing and opera- tively associated with said at least one heated platen for removing the hollowed-out dough product from said at least one heated platen after the hollowed-out dough product has been formed and toasted.

3. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , wherein:

said at least one heated platen comprises a pair of heated platens upon which dough products are respectively disposed.

4. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , wherein:

said compression plate is pivotally connected to said compression plate operating lever by means of a first pivotal connection.

5. The equipment as set forth in Claim 4, wherein:

an upstanding standard is fixedly mounted upon said housing;

said compression plate operating lever is pivotally connected to said upstanding standard by means of a second pivotal connection; and

a connecting linkage is pivotally connected at a first end portion thereof to said upstanding standard by means of a third pivotal connection and is pivotally connected to said compression plate at a second opposite end portion thereof by means of a fourth pivotal connection.

6. The equipment as set forth in Claim 5, wherein:

said compression plate operating lever, said connecting linkage, and said first, second, third, and fourth pivotal connections together define a constantly changing linkage system having a configuration which is that of a parallelogram so as to ensure vertical movement of said compression plate within a vertical plane regardless of the angular movement of the compression plate operating lever as said compression plate operating lever moves said compression plate into engagement with said at least one heated platen and moves said compression plate away from said at least one heated platen such that said compression plate is disengaged from said at least one heated platen, thereby ensuring that said compression plate is properly engaged with said at least one heated platen so as to properly form the hollowed-out dough product.

7. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , further comprising:

a latch bar fixedly mounted upon said housing; and

a latching mechanism mounted upon said compression plate mounting lever for engaging said latch bar upon said housing such that said compression plate mounting lever can be disposed at a latched position prior to heating of said at least one heated platen.

8. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , further comprising:

a heater plate disposed internally within said housing, said heater plate being operatively connected to said at least one heated platen such that when said heater plate is heated, said heater plate heats said at least one heated platen.

9. The equipment as set forth in Claim 8, wherein:

a heating coil is disposed internally within said heater plate and has first and second opposite terminal ends thereof adapted to be connected to an electrical power source such that when said heating coil terminal ends are connect- ed to the power source, said heating coil is energized so as to heat said heater plate which, in turn, heats said at least one heated platen.

10. The equipment as set forth in Claim 8, wherein:

said heater plate and said at least one heated platen are fabricated from aluminum.

1 1. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , wherein:

said at least one heated platen has a substantially cylindrical configu ration; and

said flipper mechanism comprises at least one semi-circular wall member which is radially spaced from said at least one heated platen so as to effectively form a semi-annular die space between said at least one heated platen and said at least one semi-circular wall member into which the dough product is extruded when said compression plate engages said at least one heated platen.

12. The equipment as set forth in Claim 3, wherein:

each one of said pair of heated platens has a substantially cylindrical configuration; and said flipper mechanism comprises a pair of semi-circular wall members which are respectively radially spaced from said pair of heated platens so as to effectively form semi-annular die spaces between said pair of heated platens and said pair of semi-circular wall members into which the dough products are extruded when said compression plate engages said pair of heated platens.

13. The equipment as set forth in Claim 2, further comprising:

a hollowed-out dough product discharge tray landing platform fixedly connected to said housing for collecting the at least one hollowed-out dough product removed from said at least one heated platen by said flipper mechanism.

14. The equipment as set forth in Claim 13, wherein:

an upturned lip is formed upon a front edge portion of said bun tray landing platform so as to ensure that the at least one hollowed-out dough product remains upon said hollowed-out dough product discharge tray landing platform.

15. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , further comprising:

a user interface mounted upon a front panel of said housing.

16. The equipment as set forth in Claim 15, wherein: said user interface comprises a plurality of operative buttons and displays for controlling the operation of said appliance, wherein said operative buttons and displays are selected from the group comprising an ON/OFF switch, a timer display, a temperature display, UP and DOWN buttons for increasing and decreas- ing the operational cycle time period and the temperature to which said at least one heated platen is heated, and the like.

17. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , wherein:

said at least one heated platen has a cross-sectional configuration which is selected from the group comprising a circle, a square, a triangle, a cartoon character, an animal, a logo, and a cultural character.

18. The equipment as set forth in Claim 1 , wherein:

said at least one heated platen has an embossment thereon which is selected from the group comprising a circle, a square, a triangle, a cartoon charact- er, an animal, a logo, and a cultural character.

Description:
FOOD SERVICE EQUIPMENT FOR MAKING A HOLLOWED-OUT DOUGH

PRODUCT FROM BREAD OR OTHER DOUGH PRODUCT FOR SERVING SALADS, SOUPS, HAMBURGERS, SANDWICHES, DESSERTS, AND THE LIKE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to food service equipment, and more particularly to food service equipment for effectively making a hollowed- out dough product from bread or other dough product wherein the hollowed-out bread product can then be used in connection with the housing or containment of salads, soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, desserts, or the like. The hollowed-out dough products are formed from bread or other dough products as a result of being placed atop and compressed downwardly upon a pair of platens. Concomitantly with the formation of the dough products into the desired hollowed-out dough products, the interior portions of the hollowed-out dough products are also toasted by means of the male platens which are heated internally. Still further, two hollowed- out dough products can be formed at the same time such that, for example, they can be utilized in connection with the serving of hamburgers or sandwiches, which require top and bottom dough products, or alternatively, the two hollowed-out dough products can be utilized to serve a diner a pair of open-face sandwiches, or still further, the serving of multiple salads, soups, desserts, or other foods to multiple diners. BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the food industry, it is often desirable to provide or serve diners with unique specialty items, such as, for example, in lieu of serving soup or salad within or upon a conventional soup bowl or salad plate, the soup or salad can be served within a bread bowl or a similarly configured hollowed-out dough product. In addition, particular diners may prefer that the hollowed-out dough products be warmed or even toasted. Similar preferences may also be accommodated as a result some diners preferring to have their hamburgers or other sandwiches served to them in a hollowed-out dough product, again, either warmed and/or toasted. To date, appli- cants are not aware of any food service equipment that can not only fabricate hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products but, in addition, can also toast the interior portion of the hollowed-out dough prduct in order to in fact accommodate the aforenoted preferences of some diners.

A need therefore exists in the art for new and improved food service equipment which can rectify the aforenoted deficiencies in the art. More particularly, a need exists in the art for food service equipment that can make hollowed-out dough products. A need also exists in the art for food service equipment that can make hollowed-out dough products and can, effectively and simultaneously, toast the interior portions of the hollowed-out dough products. A need further exists in the art for food service equipment that can effectively make hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products wherein the hollowed-out dough products can then be used in connection with the housing or containment of salads, soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, desserts, or the like. A further need in the art exists for food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time. A still further need exists in the art for food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that, for example, the two hollowed-out dough products can then be utilized in connec- tion with the serving of hamburgers or sandwiches, which require top and bottom hollowed-out dough products. A yet further need exists in the art for food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that, for example, the two hollowed-out dough products can then be uti- lized to serve a diner a pair of open-face sandwiches. A still yet further need exists in the art for food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that the two hollowed-out dough products can then be utilized in connection with the serving of multiple salads, soups, or other foods to multiple diners.

OVERALL OBJECTIVES OF THE INVENTION

An overall objective of the present invention is to provide new and improved food service equipment. Another overall objective of the present invention is to provide new and improved food service equipment which can rectify the aforenoted deficiencies in the art. Still another overall objective of the present in- vention is to provide food service equipment that can make hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products. Yet another overall objective of the present invention is to provide food service equipment that can make hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products and can, effectively and simultaneously, toast the interior portions of the hollowed-out dough products. Yet still another objective of the present invention is to provide food service equipment that can effectively make hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products wherein the hollowed-out dough products can then be used in connection with the housing or containment of salads, soups, hamburgers, sandwiches, desserts, or the like. A further overall objective of the present invention is to provide food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time. A still further overall objective of the present invention is to provide food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that, for example, the two hollowed-out dough pro ¬ ducts can then be utilized in connection with the serving of hamburgers or sand- wiches, which require top and bottom hollowed-out dough products. A yet further overall objective of the present invention is to provide food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that, for example, the two hollowed-out dough products can then be utilized to serve a diner a pair of open-face sandwiches. A still yet further overall objective of the pre- sent invention is to provide food service equipment that can effectively make two hollowed-out dough products at the same time such that the two buns can then be utilized in connection with the serving of multiple salads, soups, desserts, or other foods to multiple diners.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The foregoing and other objectives are achieved in accordance with the teachings and principles of the present invention through the provision of new and improved food service equipment which comprises a housing having an upper surface portion upon which the various operative components of the appliance are mounted. More particularly, a pair of platens are fixedly mounted within or upon a heated plate such that the platens project upwardly through the upper surface portion of the housing. The heated plate is electrically connected to a suitable power source and have heating coils disposed therewithin such that when the power source is energized, the heated plate is heated which in turn conducts heat to the platens. An upstanding standard is fixedly mounted upon the upper surface portion of the appliance housing and a compression plate operating lever, having a com- pression plate pivotally mounted thereon by means of a first pivotal connection, is pivotally mounted upon an upper free end portion of the upstanding standard by means of a second pivotal connection. The undersurface portion of the compression plate is provided with a pair of flat disks such that when the compression plate operating lever is moved downwardly, the compression plate will, in turn, move downwardly and operatively cooperate with the pair of upstanding platens. A connecting linkage is also pivotally connected at a first end portion thereof to the upstanding standard by means of a third pivotal connection located vertically beneath the second pivotal connection defined between the compression plate operating lever and the upstanding standard, while a second end portion of the connecting linkage is pivotally connected to the compression plate by means of a fourth pivotal connection which is likewise located beneath the first pivotal connection defined between the compression plate and the compression plate operating lever. The four pivotal connections in effect define a parallelogram, and accordingly, in this man- ner, the movement of the compression plate is always defined or confined to move within a vertical plane, regardless of the angular or arcuate position or movement of the compression plate operating lever, such that the compression plate will properly mate with the upstanding platens when the compression plate and platen components are brought into engagement with each other so as to form the desired hollow- ed-out dough products.

Bread or other dough products, disposed atop each one of the upstanding platens, will accordingly be reshaped and formed into upside-down hol- lowed-out dough products as a result of their interdisposition between the heated platens and the compression plate disks. Upon locking of the compression plate operating lever at its fully lowered position, the power source is then energized so as to heat the heated plate which, in turn, heats the platens so as to radiate heat, thereby toasting the interior portions of the upside-down hollowed-out dough products. A flipper mechanism, having semi-circular members which effectively coop- erate with the platens to form vertically upstanding circumferential wall portions of the hollowed-out dough products, is pivotally mounted upon the upper surface portion of the housing and is operatively cooperative with the upstanding platens such that when the flipper mechanism is pivotally moved from a first, original, or START position disposed atop the upper surface portion of the housing, to a second posi ¬ tion which is slightly more than 90° removed from or opposite its first original position, the flipper mechanism will effectively deposit the toasted upside-down hollowed-out dough products onto a hollowed-out dough product discharge tray or landing platform in a right-side up orientation whereby the hollowed-out dough products can then be removed from the tray or landing platform by food preparation personnel who will then use the pair of toasted hollowed-out dough products to serve hamburgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, or the like, to diners.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Various other features and attendant advantages of the present inven- vention will be more fully appreciated from the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters designate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIGURE I is a front perspective view of the new and improved food service equipment as constructed in accordance with the principles and teachings of the present invention, and illustrating the operative component parts thereof wherein, more particularly, the compression plate is disposed at its elevated position above the platens, and the flipper mechanism is disposed at its original or START position at which the hollowed-out dough product formative members of the flipper mechanism respectively annularly surround the platens so as to cooperate with the platens in forming the hollowed-out dough products;

FIGURE 2 is a front/left side perspective view of the new and improv ¬ ed food service equipment as illustrated in FIGURE 1 wherein the flipper mechan- ism is disclosed as being pivotally moved from its original or START position to an elevated position so as to initiate the discharge of the pair of hollowed-out dough products which have been formed by the equipment during the hollowed-out dough product formation and toasting cycle;

FIGURE 3 is a front/left side perspective view similar to that of FIG- URE 2 showing, however, the flipper mechanism at its final position at which the formed and toasted hollowed-out dough products have been flipped and deposited onto the hollowed-out dough product discharge tray or landing platform;

FIGURE 4 is a front/left side perspective view similar to that of either FIGURE 2 or FIGURE 3 showing, however, the disposition of the equipment com- ponents when the compression plate operating lever has been moved from its original elevated or START position to its fully lowered and LOCKED position whereby the compression plate, pivotally mounted upon the compression plate operating lever, has likewise been moved to its lowered position at which the compression plate disks are fully engaged with the upstanding platens so as to in fact compress the bread or other dough products therebetween and thereby form or reshape the bread or other dough products into the hollowed-out dough products;

FIGURE 5 is a front/left side perspective view similar to that of FIGURE 4 showing, however, the unlatching of the compression plate operating lever from its LOCKED state upon the conclusion of a hollowed-out dough product for- mation and toasting cycle; FIGURE 6 is an undersurface perspective view of the compression plate as disclosed within FIGURES 1 -5;

FIGURE 7 is a perspective view of the heater plate which is used to heat the heated platens when the heated platens are disposed atop the heater plate;

FIGURE 8 is a schematic perspective view of the heater plate as disclosed within FIGURE 7 showing the internal disposition of the heating coils that will heat the heater plate when the heating coils are energized;

FIGURE 9 is a schematic side elevational view of the new and im- proved food service equipment illustrating the parallelogram linkage system defined between the compression plate operating lever and the compression plate pivotally mounted upon the compression plate operating lever so as to maintain the movement of the compression plate within a vertical plane as the compression plate operating lever is moved through its arcuate trajectory between its fully elevat- ed or START position and its fully lowered and LOCKED position;

FIGURE 10 is an example of a cartoon character or the like which represents an embossment that may be formed upon the platens or comprise the cross-sectional configuration of the platens; and

FIGURE 11 is an example of a cultural icon or the like which may represent an embossment that may be formed upon the platens or comprise the cross- sectional configuration of the platens. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, and more particularly to FIGURES 1 -5 and FIGURES 7 and 8 thereof, new and improved food service equipment, for the preparation or formation of hollowed-out dough products from bread or other dough products, is disclosed and is generally indicated by the reference character 100. More particularly, it is seen that the new and improved food service equipment 100 comprises a housing 102 which has an upper surface portion 104. Beneath the upper surface portion 104 of the housing 102, there is provided a heated plate 106, which can best be seen in FIGURES 7 and 8, and internally within the heated plate 106, there is embedded a heating coil 108 which is disposed within a sinusoidal arrangement and wherein the opposite ends of the heating coil 108 are respectively provided with a pair of end terminals 1 10,1 12 that are adapted to be electrically connected to a source of electrical power, not shown. The heated plate 106 may be fabricated from any suitable material which exhibits good heat conductivity, such as, for example, aluminum, and as can best be appreciated from FIGURE 7, the upper surface portion of the heated plate 106 is provided with a pair of circular receptacles 1 14,1 16. The receptacles 1 14,1 16 are adapted to respectively accommodate a pair of upstanding substantially cylindrical heated platens 1 18,120 which can best be seen in FIGURES 1 -3, wherein the platens 1 18,120 are adapted to be re- movably disposed within the receptacles 14,1 16 either as a result of simply being insert-ed into the receptacles in a relatively snug manner, threadedly connected to the heated plate 106 as a result of cooperating threads being respectively formed upon external and internal surface portions of the platens 1 18,120 and the circumferential side walls of the receptacles 1 14,1 16, or by other suitable means. It is not- ed, as can best be seen in FIGURE 1 , that the platens 1 18,120 have a diametrical extent of D-i, the significance of which will be explained later, and the reason for rendering the platens 1 18,120 removable from the receptacles 1 14,1 16 resides in the fact that sometimes different platens having, for example, different patterns em- bossed thereon, or where the cross-sectional configuration is desired to be other than that of a circle, are desired to be used. For example, the cross-sectional configuration or embossment may be a star-shaped cross-section, or a square-shaped cross-section, or other geometrical cross-sections, or the cross-section may depict an animal, similar to animal patterns utilized for animal crackers, or still further, the cross-section or embossment may comprise a cartoon character, such as a ghost as shown in FIGURE 10, or a cultural icon such as a witch as shown in FIGURE 11 for Halloween-themed hollowed-out dough products, or alternatively still further, the cross-sectional configuration or embossment may comprise a company logo. As was the case with the heated plate 106, the platens 1 18,120 can be fabricated from any suitable material exhibiting good heat conductivity, such as, for example, aluminum. As can also be appreciated, for example, from FIGURES 2 and 3, the platens 1 18, 120 extend or project upwardly through the upper surface portion 104 of the housing 102. Continuing further, and with reference being made to FIGURE 9 in addition to FIGURES 1 -5, it is also seen that an upstanding standard 122 is fixedly mounted upon the upper surface portion 104 of the appliance housing 102 or, alternatively, the standard 122 can be fixedly secured to the rear wall member, not shown, of the appliance housing 102. A compression plate operating lever 124, having a compression plate 126 pivotally mounted thereon by means of a first pivotal connection 128, as defined by means of a first horizontally oriented pin extending through a pair of laterally spaced upstanding ears or lugs 130,132 which are integrally connected to the compression plate 126, is pivotally mounted upon an upper free end portion of the upstanding standard 122 by means of a second pivot- al connection 134. The undersurface portion of the compression plate 126 is provided with a pair of flat disks 136,138, as can best be seen in FIGURE 6, such that when the compression plate operating lever 124 is moved downwardly, the compression plate 126 will, in turn, move downwardly whereby the compression plate disks 136,138 will respectively operatively cooperate with the pair of upstanding platens 1 18,120 so as to form the hollowed-out dough products from the bread or other dough products placed atop the platens 1 18,120 as will be discussed more fully hereinafter. Each one of the disks 136,138 has a diametrical extent D 2 which is greater than the diametrical Di of the platens 1 18,120. With reference still being made to FIGURE 9 in particular, a connecting linkage 140 is also pivotally connected at a first end portion thereof to the upstanding standard 122 by means of a third pivotal connection 142 which is located vertically beneath the second pivotal connection 134 defined between the compression plate operating lever 124 and the upstanding standard 122, while a second end portion of the connecting linkage 140 is pivotally connected to the pair of laterally spaced upstanding ears or lugs 130, 132 by means of a fourth pivotal connection 144, as defined by means of a second horizontally oriented pin extending through the pair of laterally spaced upstanding ears or lugs 130,132, which is likewise located beneath the first pivotal connection 128 defined between the pair of laterally spaced upstanding ears or lugs 130, 132 and the compression plate operating lever 124.

It will be appreciated that the four pivotal connections 128,134,142, 144 effectively define a linkage system that has the configuration of a constantly changing parallelogram when the compression plate operating lever 124 is being moved between its two oppositely disposed positions whereby, accordingly, the movement of the compression plate 126 is always confined to move within a vertical plane regardless of the angular or arcuate position or movement of the compression plate operating lever 124 such that the compression plate 126, and the undersurface disk members 136,138 thereof, will properly mate with the upstand- ing heated platens 1 18,120 when the compression plate 126 and the heated platens 1 18,120 are brought into engagement with each other. It is also noted in connection with the structure of the compression plate operating lever 124 that an upstanding operating handle 146 is mounted upon an upper surface portion of the compression plate operating lever 124 so as to in fact enable personnel to conveni ¬ ently and easily move the compression plate operating lever 124 between its two oppositely disposed positions. Lastly, a latch mechanism 148 is pivotally mounted upon the free distal end portion of the compression plate operating lever 124 so as to latch the compression plate operating lever 124 at a LOCKED position when the compression plate operating lever 24 is moved to its lowermost position at which time the compression plate 126 and the upstanding heated platens 18,120 are op- eratively cooperating so as to form the toasted hollowed-out dough products, as will be more fully discussed hereinafter. The latch mechanism 148 is also provided with a handle 150 for manipulating the latch mechanism 148 such that the latch mechanism 148 may be moved from a latched position to an unlatched position as will also be discussed more fully hereinafter.

Continuing further, after the bread or other dough products have been formed or reshaped into the hollowed-out dough products, as will be discussed more fully hereinafter, means are needed to quickly and easily remove the formed hollowed-out dough products from the heated platens 1 18,120. Accordingly, a flipper mechanism 51 has been incorporated into the food service equipment 100 so as to easily and effectively remove the formed hollowed-out dough products from the heated platens 1 18,120 and deposit the formed hollowed-out dough products in a right-side up orientation upon a hollowed-out dough product landing platform or discharge tray 152 which is fixedly secured to the front wall 154 of the equipment housing 102. More particularly, the flipper mechanism 151 comprises a bottom support plate 156 having a pair of through-apertures 155, 157 defined therein, and a pair of side walls 158, 160 projecting upwardly from opposite sides or ends of the bottom support plate 156. In addition, a pair of semi-circular die walls 162,164, having a diametrical extent D 3 which is greater than the diametrical extent D 2 of the disks 136,138 of the compression plate 126, project upwardly from the bottom support plate 156 and are adapted to surround the rear halves of the platens 1 18,120, as can best be seen in FIGURE 1 , the platens 1 18, 120 extending upwardly through the through-apertures 155,157 when the flipper mechanism 151 is disposed at its lowered position, as illustrated in FIGURE 1 , prior to the formation of the hollowed-out dough products, from the bread or other dough products, when the compression plate 126 is lowered from its fully raised position, as illustrated within FIGURE 1 , to its fully lowered and locked position as illustrated within FIGURE 4.

In this manner, the semi-circular die walls 162,164 are spaced from the upstanding side walls of the platens 1 18,120 and effectively cooperate with the upstanding side walls of the platens 118,120 so to cause the upstanding side walls of the hollowed-out dough products to be formed once the hollowed-out dough product formation or reshaping and toasting operation has been effected as will be discussed more fully hereinafter. Still further, it is also seen that a pair of tab members 166,168 are fixedly secured to the bottom ,support plate 156 at positions located near or adjacent to the front edge portion of the bottom support 156 and are adapted to effectively cooperate with the semi-circular upstanding die walls 162, 164 of the flipper mechanism 151 so as to effectively confine the front portions of the bread or other dough products as they are being formed or reshaped into the heated and toasted hollowed-out dough products. It is also to be appreciated that each one of the flat compression disks 136,138 of the compression plate 126 also has, as can best be seen in FIGURE 6, a pair of downwardly dependent arcuately- shaped tabs 170,172 which are adapted to be interposed between the terminal end portions of the semi-circular die walls 162,164 and the tab members 166,168, as considered in a circumferential manner or along a circumferential locus, so as to effectively cooperate with the semi-circular die walls 162,164 and the tab members 166,168 in reshaping and forming the bread or other dough products into the hollowed-out dough products when the compression plate 126 and its undersurface flat disk members 136,138 are fully engaged with the upstanding platens 1 18,120 as well as being disposed in operative cooperation with the semi-circular die walls 162,164 and the upstanding tab members 166,168. As can best be seen in FIGURE 3, a pair of upstanding ears 174,176 are integrally connected to the bottom support plate 156 and effectively form rear portions of the upstanding side walls 158,160, and it is seen that a pair of handles 178,180 are respectively mounted upon the ears 174, 176 so as to facilitate the pivotal movement of the flipper mechanism 151 from its original lowered position as illustrated within FIGURE 1 to its forwardly pivoted disposition as illustrated within FIGURE 3.

Forward, upstanding edge portions 182,184 of the upstanding side walls 158,160 are provided such that when the flipper mechanism 151 is moved toward its forwardly pivoted disposition as illustrated within FIGURE 3, at which the flipper mechanism 151 will effectively discharge the toasted hollowed-out dough products 186,188 onto the discharge tray or landing platform 152, the upstanding edge portions 182,184 will engage the upper surface portion 104 of the equipment housing 102 so as to effectively arrest the forward pivotal movement of the flipper mechanism 151 and define its angular disposition of slightly more than 90° from its original position, as illustrated within FIGURE 1 , so as to readily cause the formed hollowed-out dough products 186,188 to be discharged onto the discharge tray or landing platform 152. It is to be noted that this discharged movement of the formed hollowed-out dough products 186,188 from their disposition within the flipper mech- anism 151 and onto the discharge tray or landing platform 152 is effectively facilitated as a result of the absence of front semi-circular portions of the hollowed-out dough-product forming dies, which are formed only by means of the rearwardly disposed semi-circular die walls 162,164. It is lastly noted that in connection with the flipper mechanism 151 and its pivotal movement with respect to the upper surface portion 104 of the equipment housing 102, a pair of upstanding tabs or ears 190,192 are fixedly secured internally within the equipment housing 102 and project upwardly through the upper surface portion 104 of the appliance housing 102 as can best be seen in FIGURES 1 and 4. A horizontally oriented rod 194 extends along the front edge portion of the upper surface portion 104 of the housing 102 and opposite ends of the rod 194 pass through holes or apertures, not shown, that are formed within the pair of upstanding tabs or ears 190,192. In a similar manner, forward portions of the upstanding side walls 158,160 of the flipper mechanism are provided with holes or apertures, also not shown, such that the opposite ends of the rod 194 likewise pass therethrough. In this manner, the flipper member 151 is pivotally mounted upon the rod 194 and is able to be easily and freely moved from its original position as illustrated within FIGURE 1 to its discharge position as illustrated within FIGURE 3. Having described substantially all of the operative components of the new and improved food service equipment 100, a brief description of the operation of the equipment 100 will now be provided. When it is desired to effectively form or reshape bread or other dough products into hollowed-out dough products, such as the dough products 186,188 shown in the aforenoted drawing figures, bread or oth- er dough products are disposed atop each one of the upstanding platens 1 18,120. Subsequently, the compression plate operating lever 124 is moved downwardly from its elevated or raised position as illustrated, for example, within FIGURES 1 and 9, to its lowered position as illustrated, for example, within FIGURE 4. As can best be seen in FIGURE 1 , the front wall 154 of the appliance housing 102 has a user interface control panel 196 disposed thereon, and this user interface control panel 196 can be provided with any suitably desirable controls such as, for example, a clock, timer, or temperature display 198 for displaying the operational time of an operational time cycle during which the hollowed-out dough products 186,188 are to be formed and toasted, as well as for indicating the temperature level to which the heated plate 126 and the heated platens 1 18,120 will be heated, UP and DOWN arrows 200,202 to control the allotted time and temperature parameters, and the like. In addition, an ON/OFF power switch 204 is also provided so as to permit or prevent electrical power to be conducted to the heated plate 126. Still further, a latching bar 206 is also fixedly secured to a lower central portion of the front wall 154 of the appliance housing 102. In this manner, when the compression plate operating lever 124 is moved downwardly to its lowermost position, the latch mechanism 148 will engage the latching bar 206 so as to in fact lock the compres- sion plate operating lever 124 at its lowermost position.

As a result of this disposition of the compression plate operating lever 124 at its lowermost locked position, the compression plate 126 has accordingly been moved downwardly whereby the flat disks 136,138, formed upon the under- surface portions of the compression plate 126, will operatively engage the upper surface portions of the platensl 18,120 upon which the bread or other dough products have been placed. It is to be noted that in light of the fact that the diametrical extent D 2 of the flat disks 136,138 of the compression plate 126 is less than the diametrical extent D 3 of the upstanding semi-circular die walls 162, 164 of the flipper mechanism 151 , the flat disks 136,138 of the compression plate 126 will, at this time, effectively be disposed internally within upper end portions of the upstanding semi-circular die walls 162,164. It will also be recalled that the diametrical extent Di of the platens 1 18,120 is less than the diametrical extent D 3 of the upstanding semicircular die walls 162,164, and accordingly, semi-circular or semi-annular spaces, not shown, are effectively formed between the rear portions of the platens 1 18,120 and the interior wall portions of the upstanding semi-circular die walls 162, 164. Therefore, when the bread or other dough products are compressed as a result of the operative engagement of the compression plate disks 136,138 and the upper surface portions of the platens 1 18,120, the bread or other dough products are effectively extruded into the semi-circular or semi-annular die spaces defined be- tween the rear portions of the platens 1 18,120 and the interior wall portions of the upstanding semi-circular die walls 162,164 so as to effectively form or reshape the bread or other dough products into the hollowed-out dough products 186,188. it is to be noted that the front portions of the bread or other hollowed-out dough pro- ducts are likewise formed or reshaped in conjunction with the rear portions of the bread or other dough products as a result of the bread or other dough product effectively encountering both the upstanding tabs 168,168 of the flipper mechanism 151 as well as the downwardly dependent tabs 170,172 of the compression plate 126, although, admittedly, the formation or reshaping of such front portions of the hollowed-out dough products 186,188 is not as precisely or uniformly defined as can be clearly seen, for example, from FIGURE 1 wherein first half-sections 208, 210 of the hollowed-out dough products 186,188 can be seen to be thicker and more uniform in their thickness dimensions than the diametrically opposed second half-sections 212,214 of the hollowed-out dough products 186,188. It is to be further noted that for best results, the interior soft bread material of, for example, a hamburger bun, if this is the bread or bread product being utilized, are the surfaces of the half-bun sections of the hamburger bun that are to be disposed atop the platens 1 18,120. Continuing further, once the compression plate operating lever 124 has been moved to its fully lowered and locked position, the hollowed-out dough product formation and toasting operation is ready to be commenced. Accordingly, food preparation personnel may then enter predetermined temperature and operational cycle time parameters onto the user interface 196, and the ON/OFF switch 204 may be moved to the ON position such that the power source is energized so as to heat the heated plate 106 which, in turn, heats the platens 1 18,120 so as to radiate heat which will thereby toast the interior portions of the upside-down hollowed-out dough products 186,188. Upon conclusion of the shaping and toasting cycle, the latch mechanism 148 is unlatched from the latch bar 206, the compression plate operating lever 124 is moved upwardly back to its original or START position, the compression plate 126 is, of course, moved upwardly along with the compression plate operating lever 124 so as to be removed from its disposition within the upstanding semi-circular die walls 162,164 and from its engagement with the heat- ed platens 1 18,120, and the flipper mechanism 151 may then be pivoted from its original or START position, as shown in FIGURE 1 , to its pivoted DISCHARGE position as illustrated within FIGURE 3, such that the hollowed-out dough products 186,188 are then discharged from the flipper mechanism 151 and deposited onto the discharge tray or landing platform 152 in a right-side up orientation. It is noted that the front edge portion of the discharge tray or landing platform 152 is provided with an upturned lip 216 so as to ensure that the bowl-shaped buns 186,188 are retained upon the discharge tray or landing platform 152 once deposited onto the same by means of the flipper mechanism 151 having been moved to its DIS- CHARGE position as illustrated within FIGURE 3. The hollowed-out dough products 186,188 can then of course be removed from the discharge tray or landing platform 152 by food preparation personnel who will then use the pair of toasted buns to serve hamburgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, desserts, or the like to diners. At this point in time, the food appliance 100 is then ready for a new operational cycle.

Obviously, many variations and modifications of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the present invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.

REFERENCE NUMBER KEY

100 - Food service equipment

102 - Equipment housing

104 - Upper surface portion of housing 102

106 - Heater plate

108 - Heating coil within heating plate 106

1 10,1 12 - Power terminals for heating coil 108

1 14,1 16 - Receptacles of heating plate 106

1 18,120 - Heated platens disposed within receptacles 1 14,1 16

122 - Upstanding standard

124 - Compression plate operating lever

126 - Compression plate

128 - First pivotal connection defined between the compression plate operating lever 124 and the compression plate 126

130,132 - Ears for mounting compression plate 126 upon compression plate

operating lever 124

134 - Second pivotal connection defined between the compression plate operating lever 124 and the upstanding standard 122

136, 138 - Compression disks upon undersurface of compression plate 126 140 - Linkage member

142 - Third pivotal connection defined between the linkage member 140 and the upstanding standard 122

144 - Fourth pivotal connection defined between the linkage member 140 and the compression plate 126

146 - Operating handle for compression plate operating lever 124

148 - Latch mechanism

150 - Handle for operating latch mechanism 148

151 - Flipper mechanism 152 - Discharge tray or landing platform

154 - Front face of housing 102

155 - Through-aperture within flipper mechanism 151

156 - Bottom support plate of flipper mechanism 151

157 - Through-aperture within flipper mechanism 151

158,160 - Side walls of flipper mechanism

162,164 - Upstanding semi-circular walls of flipper mechanism 151

166,168 - Upstanding front tabs on flipper mechanism 151

170, 172 - Downwardly dependent tabs of compression plate 126

174,176 - Upstanding ears of flipper mechanism 151

178-180 - Handles of flipper mechanism 151

182,184 - Front edge portions of side walls 158,160 of flipper mechanism 151 186,188 - Formed and toasted hollowed-out dough products

190,192 - Upstanding tabs for receiving pivot rod

194 - Pivot rod having opposite ends pass through tabs 190,192

196 - User interface upon front face 154 of housing 102

198 - Timer/temperature display on user interface 154

200 - UP button to increase time duration or temperature level

202 - DOWN button to decrease time duration or temperature level

204 - ON/OFF power switch

206 - Latching bar for latch mechanism 148

208,210 - Thickened wall portions of formed and toasted hollowed out dough products

212,214 - Thin wall portions of formed and toasted hollowed-out dough products 216 - Lip upon front edge portion of discharge tray or landing platform