The Benefits of Incorporating a Cook & Hold Oven

Content sponsored by: Alto-Shaam

When it comes to production versatility, cook and hold ovens offer the best of both worlds, preparing foods slowly for better results and maximum yields while holding cooked foods safely until serving.

Alto-Shaam cook & hold food storageUnlike conventional ovens, Alto-Shaam's cook and hold ovens can be used for long-term food holding, which helps maximize labor and production time“Food can’t be held extensively in a traditional oven, or it will overcook,” said Robert Simmelink, executive chef and business development manager at Alto-Shaam Inc. “The benefit of cook and hold units is food can be held for long periods at proper temperatures prior to serving.”

Alto-Shaam invented the cook and hold oven category in the 1970s in response to a customer’s request. The technology was invented by Alto-Shaam owner Jerry Maahs, who entered the foodservice industry more than 60 years ago It features the company’s signature heated holding technology that was developed to keep chicken warm for Maahs’ delivery business during cold Wisconsin winters.  This heating system helped form the company and made it what it is today, a leader in cooking solutions and systems.

Unlike other cook and hold ovens, which utilize a fan and calrod heating elements, Alto-Shaam’s cook and hold ovens use an insulated radiant cable that wraps around the unit. This energizes the oven’s side walls and bottom to evenly and consistently radiate heat.

“The benefit of radiant heating is it’s more gentle, there is less temperature fluctuation in the box, and it provides more precise cooking and lower energy draw,” said Simmelink.

Cook & hold Halo Heat illustrationInsulated radiant cables that wrap around Alto-Shaam's cook and hold ovens energize the oven's side walls and bottom to evenly and consistently radiate heat.When cooking meat, this oven type can significantly improve yields. With today’s high food costs, the increased profits of an extra two pounds of product can be substantial over time.

Another advantage of cook and hold ovens is that, due to using lower heat, these units don’t require a hood or ventilation.

“As a result, these ovens can be located anywhere in the kitchen, maximizing space,” said Simmelink. “And operators don’t have to deal with extending hoods, which saves money. In fact, the return on investment for cook and hold ovens is evident just in the hood reduction alone.”

In regards to food production, these units are not just limited to cooking proteins, but are versatile for a wide range of items. This can help drive operations’ menu extensions. The oven can be used to bake, roast, braise, sous vide, proof, and ferment, among other things.

“With cook and hold ovens, operators can get ahead of the game, since less kitchen labor is needed when food is prepared in advance,” said Simmelink. “Kitchen staff also can come in later, which helps manage labor costs.”

Another big plus is that these units are simple to operate. Unlike traditional ovens, cooking and holding temperatures are preset to either desired oven or product temperatures. The ovens automatically switch from the cooking to the holding mode and remain at proper holding temperatures indefinitely until manually changed.

“The preset feature minimize labor,” said Simmelink. “Staff members don’t need to be taught these parameters, since the temperatures are preprogrammed.”

Optional probes also can be incorporated to cook product to exact temperatures using preset parameters.

“Probes can capture HACCP data for operations that need to track this information,” said Simmelink. “Depending on the model, these details are either displayed on the front of the oven or can be uploaded to a USB drive.”

Cook and hold ovens are easy to both maintain and clean.

Because Alto-Shaam units have no fan or baffle system that need to be taken apart, these ovens can be cleaned in five minutes or less.

Alto-Shaam cook and hold ovens are proven assets to any foodservice operations.

“If the usage guidelines are followed, this equipment can provide perfect results every time,” said Simmelink.

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