While the Combi Oven is not a new innovation, it is one becoming much more prevalent in kitchens across the nation today. A combi oven (combination oven) is a versatile cooking appliance that combines the functions of a convection oven, steamer, grill, and sometimes a smoker. In this article, we will explore the benefits of combi ovens and why they are a great addition to any commercial kitchen.
What is a Combi Oven?
A combi oven is a combination oven that allows chefs to cook with steam, convection, or a combination of both. This type of oven is especially popular in commercial kitchens because it can handle a wide range of cooking tasks, from baking bread to roasting meats and vegetables.
The steam function in a combi oven allows for gentle cooking, which is ideal for delicate items like fish, vegetables, and custards. By regulating the relative moisture and humidity in the oven cavity this function also helps keep foods moist, which is especially important when cooking meats to prevent them from drying out.
The convection function in a combi oven allows for more traditional cooking methods where hot air is being circulated evenly throughout the oven cavity, expediting the cooking process and providing the pleasant aesthetic color/browning and in some cases crispy texture to the food being prepared.
Why Use a Combi Oven?
One of the main benefits of a combi oven is its versatility. With multiple cooking functions in one appliance, chefs can prepare a variety of dishes using the same oven. This saves time and space in the kitchen and allows for a more efficient cooking process.
Another benefit of a combi oven is the consistency it provides. With the ability to control the temperature and humidity levels, chefs can ensure that each dish is cooked to perfection every time. This is especially important in commercial kitchens, where consistency is key to customer satisfaction. Some of the more advanced units have digital interfaces and controls with hundreds of customizable programs to tailor each cook to the chef or restaurant’s desired result and in some cases incorporating AI to account for variables such as number of door openings and varying entry temperatures of items which could impact cook times.
Using a combi oven can also lead to healthier cooking. The steam function allows for low-fat cooking, which is ideal for health-conscious customers. Additionally, the gentle cooking process helps preserve nutrients and flavors in the food, leaving items such as vegetables with bright lively coloration and exceptional flavor profile.
Combi ovens also save space in the kitchen. Since they combine multiple functions into one appliance, there’s no need to have a separate conventional or convection oven and steamer
Lastly, using a combi oven can lead to cost savings in several areas. Since it’s a multi-functional appliance, chefs can save money by not needing to purchase separate ovens, steamers, and grills. Several models now also come with a ventless option, allowing the restaurateur to not have to add additional ventilation which saves considerable money on potential construction costs. Labor savings is also considerable when you factor in the time it takes to clean and maintain the replaced equipment (grills, fryers, rangetops, ovens, etc…) and the additional cookware associated with those items. The simplification of the cooking process also alleviates the need for hard-to-find skilled cooks, especially in today’s labor market. Additionally, the efficient cooking process can reduce energy costs and save money in the long run
Choosing the Right Combi Oven
Choosing the right commercial combi oven can make all the difference in the efficiency and success of your kitchen. When selecting an oven, it’s important to consider the size and capacity to ensure it can handle the volume of food you need to prepare. It’s also essential to make sure the oven will fit comfortably in your kitchen space.
One of the most critical factors to consider when choosing a combi oven is the control options. Modern combi ovens come with a range of control options, from manual to digital. Digital controls offer precise temperature and humidity settings, giving you greater control over the cooking process. Manual controls, on the other hand, can be simpler to use and maintain, and may be more appropriate for smaller kitchens or businesses with less experienced staff.
Finally, the cleaning process is a crucial consideration when selecting a combi oven. Look for an oven that is easy to clean and maintain, as this will save you time and money in the long run. Some combi ovens come with automatic cleaning functions, while others require manual cleaning. Consider your kitchen’s needs and resources to determine which cleaning process is best suited for your business. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose a commercial combi oven that meets your specific needs and sets you up for success in the kitchen.
In conclusion, combi ovens are a valuable addition to any commercial kitchen. With their versatility, consistency, space-saving design, and cost savings, chefs can create a wide range of dishes with ease. By choosing the right combi oven for your kitchen’s needs, you can streamline your cooking process, enhance the quality of your food, and ultimately delight your customers.