What to Consider When Specifying Combi Ovens

When purchasing a combi oven, it’s important to distinguish between the type that uses hot air or convection and/or steam for cooking and the type that uses convection and microwave capabilities. The latter falls into a different equipment category.

Any operation that cooks with convection and steam can benefit from a combi oven. Not only will these units take up less space than two separate pieces of cooking equipment, but combi ovens are also one of the most versatile tools in the kitchen. For this reason, operators should make sure there are enough units to meet the demands of the menu.

Here, Tracy Taraski, manager of design services at the Bigelow Cos. Inc., Kansas City, Mo., provides details on what operators need to know to properly specify this equipment.

  • Before purchasing a combi oven, operators need to determine the type of food they will produce with these units as well as the quantity to ensure they can handle the projected volume. A combi oven’s capacity differs from unit to unit.
  • Keep in mind, these units accommodate specific pan sizes. For smaller footprints, an oven that fits half-size pans may be most appropriate.
  • With roll-in units, it’s important to have the correct number and size of racks. Also, operators will need to designate a spot to stack these racks outside of the oven.
  • Because some units are more complicated to operate than others, it’s important to assess the labor force’s skill level. While some combi ovens need to be manually set for cooking and steaming, others are completely automated and easier to use.
  • Choosing between boiler and boilerless ovens comes down to how fast a recovery time the foodservice operation requires. Steam generators recover faster and can produce steam on demand, making this type appropriate for banquets and other operations that need quicker speed of service and have higher volumes.
  • Since steam creates calcification and lime, which can damage ovens, installing a good water-filtering system is crucial. Some manufacturers provide filtering systems for the combis that may extend the equipment’s life.
  • Combi ovens require the proper utility hookups.
    Whether gas or electric, water and a drain are necessary.
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