What is a Combi Oven?
Combinations ovens or combi ovens as they are known to have been growing in popularity in professional kitchens in recent years. However, many establishments are still intimidated by their higher price tag and apparent complexity in their technology. Nonetheless concerning the costs of a fine-dining or large foodservice kitchen’s overall equipment inventory, purchasing a combi oven is worth the initial price. These, multi-function appliances will help you save on labour costs and cooking times as well as overall increase productivity in your kitchen.
Combination ovens get their name from the three methods of cooking available from one unit: steam, convection heat or combination of both. This multi-function appliance combines several pieces of catering equipment into one unit which then is programmable with a digital touch display.
As commercial combi ovens combine multiple pieces of catering equipment into one appliance, your equipment package costs and maintenance are lowered, this will also save you space in your kitchen improving your workflow.
As they are designed with accurate programmable controls, this allows food to be cooked at a precise temperature, giving them great flexibility and versatility for preparing various menu dishes.
Combi ovens can be set a low temperature to be used in placed of hot hold cabinets and slow cookers.
As they are designed with accurate programmable controls, food can be cooked at the precise temperature and amount of steam the user wants; this creates excellent flexibility when preparing dishes.
Combi ovens are ideal for cooking meat as the convection does most of the cooking while the moisture from the steam prevents meats from losing moisture, drying and shrinking. This results in higher yields of a product being served and avoiding wastage.
Gas or Electric
The decision between purchasing gas or electric combi oven ultimately boils down to the price and utility available.
An electric combi oven is more appropriate if the elevation is high as this would limit the performance of gas equipment, also if your price range is limited, electric models tend to be lower cost than a gas equivalent model.
However, gas may be more suitable as more efficient models are being manufactured with upwards of 50% more efficient than the top electric models. Also, open burner models directly transfer energy and increase temperature instantly.
Note: An electrical connection will still be needed to run the digital displays as well as fans on gas models, furthermore in some cases, chefs and staff may be limited to using either electric or gas in their commercial kitchens.
Ensuring you get to grips with their menu display systems is important when designing to buy. For those who are planning to use a purchase of a combi in place of two or more pieces of catering equipment, ensure that their menu and type of operations won’t require the oven to handle different functions as the same time. While a combi oven can act as commercial steam and an oven, it can’t act as one or the other at the same time. To work around this, the purchase of 2 units would be required; most combi units are compatible with stacking kits which allow them to be stacked one on top of each other.
Most combi ovens have a built-in self-cleaning system that uses detergent tablets. Check the user manuals for the manufacturer recommendations on what cleaning agents to use on the exterior and if necessary the interior of your combi oven.
Water pumped into the combi for steam generation should be treated with a filtrations system, especially if you’re in a hard water area. This will prevent mineral deposit build up in the water lines as well as reduce the build-up of scale on the heating units and cooking chamber. Having clean water also improves the cooking quality and taste of the food; some models will feature an inbuilt filtration system. But make sure that you check the manufacturer specifications to see if a filtration system comes included or an additional unit is required.