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The Converge Oven: A Perfect Partner for Legal Sea Foods

alto shaam PP2 7770 2Matt King puts the Converge oven through its paces at Alto-Shaam headquarters, feeding over 400 in a simulated restaurant test.Matt King isn’t just president and chief operating officer of the 25-unit Legal Sea Foods chain; he’s also a culinary school graduate and experienced chef. So he has a unique perspective on equipment and what makes it efficient. “Everybody’s always looking to save on labor because labor is hard to come by,” says King.  “But I think you get into that gray area of what’s more important to you. Is it the quality and consistency of the product or the labor savings? For me, it’s how can I save on labor without sacrificing quality? Product quality and our guest experience are always first and foremost. Then, is there a way I can do that that’s going to save some labor and drive efficiency?”

Previous experiences with other speed ovens had left King unimpressed with their results. Their microwave technology “reacts differently with the moisture within a product. You’re changing the texture of it by how much microwave [power] you’re using,” he says. “And if you dial back the amount of microwave so far that you’re using predominantly oven, then they’re not as fast as what they’re claiming to be.”

When visiting a foodservice equipment representative, King became intrigued with multi-cook ovens by Alto-Shaam. “I was blown away by the capability…with different temperatures and different chambers,” he says. The rep tipped him on a new product coming in the category: Converge®. “They connected me with Alto-Shaam, and I got a very early preview of it before it was released,” he says. At the preview, he was impressed by the flexibility, quality, and speed. With up to three independent cooking chambers in one oven, Converge can steam, air fry, bake, grill and more—all at the same time with no flavor transfer. Converge is also certified ventless and has self-cleaning capability.

A Real-World Test

Legal Sea Foods 1Lobster was one of the delicious dishes Matt King prepared in the Converge oven at Alto-Shaam headquarters.But King had to put Converge through its paces before he was truly sold on it. “I needed to put them through the test,” he says. So he reached out to Alto-Shaam and told them, “I want to do something out of the ordinary. I want to feed your whole factory and everybody in your offices. I want to do it all out of Converge ovens so we can see the throughput, and my team can play with them and cook on them. And I can have some buy-in on the fact that, yes, these things are going to work.”

And did the Converge oven work? “It absolutely did,” he says. Today, the Converge oven is producing a variety of items for Legal Sea Foods, such as swordfish, tuna, scallops, shrimp, and lobster mac and cheese — all quickly and efficiently. “We can steam vegetables in it. I’ve cooked rice in it. It’s a really versatile oven,” King says. The Converge oven is going into all new Legal Sea Foods units, and existing stores are on a conversion plan to get them in the near future.