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Catering the Modern Way — With Technology

Convotherm 4 mixed load cooking chamberThe Convotherm combi oven allows caterers to prepare multiple items at once, saving time and labor.One modern technique that some caterers are using to save time and money is to prepare menu items in bulk, blast chill them, plate a day or two in advance, and then rethermalize individual plates or thousands of plates at time of service. These processes and techniques challenge a lot of the “old ways” of doing things. First, the concept of cheap, plentiful labor is probably a thing of the past, so using technology helps reduce reliance on expensive labor. Second, this process challenges the idea that only chefs can work with expensive or delicate ingredients — new technology enables less-skilled culinary staff to expertly produce high-quality products using pre-programmed chilling and cooking profiles to deliver optimal results. Finally, prepping in advance multiplies these advantages. All of these benefits are a result of adding Convotherm combi ovens and the Nuovair blast chiller to the kitchen lineup —equipment that is far more powerful and versatile than traditional counterparts.

There are many time- and money-saving advantages to this technique as well. Blast chillers are 85% faster than standard refrigeration; combi ovens cook up to 40% faster than convection. Costly labor is reduced since preparation can be done days ahead of time and many daily tasks can be reduced to 2-3 times per week due to longer shelf life. Food costs are lowered because chefs can take advantage of bulk sales or seasonal deals, blast-chilling ingredients to preserve freshness. There’s also less waste when prep is done ahead of time, thus avoiding last-minute mistakes.

Many caterers (and other operators, too) rely on the Convotherm line of combi ovens to par-cook bulk items and then rethermalize the prepared plates to bring plates to their perfect serving temperature — in as little as 8 minutes. Convotherm’s Advanced Closed System + is unique in the industry and allows Convotherm to deliver faster cooking times at lower temperatures with reduced utility and water costs. For their blast chilling needs, they depend on the Nuovair roll-in blast chillers. At 9,000 m3/Hr airflow and the ability to begin to chill food right from the oven, even at 200 degrees F., the Nuovair blast chiller will prove to be among the most powerful blast chillers/shock freezers available in North America.

Chefs know the value of technology and how it can make any operation run more smoothly. “I spent the early part of my career doing it the old way,” says Todd Boule, Senior Director of Culinary Sales USA for Welbilt. “Adding blast chillers and plated retherm to the operation was a game changer. It saved labor and improved quality.”