Are combi ovens worth the price & what do they do (compared to a regular oven)?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by jonfields, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. jonfields

    jonfields

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    I'm setting up a new kitchen that is a meal delivery service so we make things in large batches and was hoping to get some advice regarding combi ovens. They are much more expensive than a regular oven, so are they worth it? What is it particularly good for? I've seen videos of people cooking rice in them - does anyone have any experience with that?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. frankie007

    frankie007

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    professional chef over 20 years
    I have been using Rational ovens for years and they are fantastic. They have water supply and can steam as well as bake. New models have settings for different products, so if you are baking chicken legs for example, you find the setting for it and choose even the colour of the finished product(light, medium, dark).. The last one I had in the kitchen was the newest model and it came with the manual that was thick as "War and peace"  They are accurate and hard wearing but then Rational is a market leader at least in Europe. They are expensive though and as I can see you are cook at home it would probably be too dear for you. They are bulky, commercial beasts and self cleaning too! So definitely worth the money and very versatile.
     
  3. jonfields

    jonfields

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Oops I hadn't set up my profile fully. I am actually not looking for home usage. I am setting up a new kitchen for my meal delivery service and we cook in bulk - we do about 1000 meals in one day. Right now, our stove top, oven and rice cookers are limiting us (different things we're cooking are holding up being able to cook the next thing - we need to make soup, but there are beans cooking on the stove), so I'm looking for bigger equipment for the new kitchen. The combi oven seems good because we can bake things, but then also use the steam setting for rice (from what I've read). Someone also said that you can boil pasta in them, but I'm not sure how that would work. And can they also cook beans? That would be pretty amazing.
     
  4. frydumpling

    frydumpling

    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    We got a combi when we remodeled our restaurant a few months ago. A chef came and showed us all the neat stuff it is capable of. So if you buy new, i'd recommend saying you'll only buy if they send someone to come and show you everything you can do with it. One thing he did show us was rice. Same recipe that we always used on stove top, into a hotel pan, no cover or anything, on steam mode, and it turns out great. We were also told it could do pasta, which I thought was crazy, but when the chef came to demo, he didn't believe it was possible. But who knows, I still haven't tried. I love the oven though. Sounds like you would too. But I would only buy on the stipulation that whatever company you buy from sends someone out to get you started on it. Any other questions feel free to ask. Hope this helps!

    Cheers.
     
    jonfields likes this.
  5. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,985
    Likes Received:
    539
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Keep in mind, combi ovens usually come in 1/2 size, the full size ovens are almost twice as expensive.  1/2 size works well for anything in hotel pans, and ideal for roasting meats.

    If you bake a lot, you'll still need a baking oven, since you can only load a max of 5  1/2 sheet pans in a regular 1/2 size combi oven.  Also remember there are only 24 hrs in one one day, and only one combi oven.  If your oven is "busy" with steaming $20 worth of rice, you can't load in $140 worth of roast beef until the rice is done
     
  6. jonfields

    jonfields

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Yeah you make a good point. So we're all plant-based, so we don't make any meat, so can't use the combi setting for that. Anything else the combi setting is really good for? We're also considering steamer unit and a convention oven - buying 2 separate units. What appealed to us about the combi oven is being able to cook tons of rice, beans & pasta on the steam setting, and also being able to bake more efficiently than our current oven (things like tofu or falafels). But none of those things sound like I really need a combi setting unless I'm mistaken. If I buy 2 units, I get double the racks, which would be nice.
     
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    4,985
    Likes Received:
    539
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    If you do a lot of baking, you'd want one l large oven instead of two 1/2 size ones-regardless of combi or not. Firstly you get more product on one 18 x26" pan than you do on two 18" x12" pans, secondly you spend considerably less time putting on and taking off product on the larger pans compared to half pans (this adds up fast), thirdly you will need double the amount of half size pans than full ones, and fourthly, you loose the capacity to bake full size sponge or other cakes, as well as standard 12-er muffin pans won't fit in a half size. While a rational-type oven has a far better fan than a plain-jane convection, it is still a convection oven and does not offer you separate top and bottom heat zones like a deck oven will.

    A steamer might be a good idea for the rice and beans though. Standard commercial asian rice cookers -the type that can cook and hold enough rice to fill 2shallow hotel pans also might be an option as well.

    None of this means that a rational-type oven is not an excellent piece of equipment, because it is. Its just that this type of oven "really brings home the bacon" in regards to to low-weight loss in meat roasting, and banqueting plate re-thermalising.

    Hope this provides some insight.
     
  8. jonfields

    jonfields

    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Oh I see what you mean by 1/2 size ones. I thought you meant ones that had less shelves (10 rack vs. 20 rack), but I see you mean 1/2 sheet pans vs. full-size sheet pans. I see what you mean about being able to fit more on 1 full size ssheet pan vs. 2 half ones - my other thought around that would be that the full-size sheet pans may not fit in the dish washer, so that would mean hand washing, meaning more time & labor. We haven't bought a dish washer yet, so maybe we can get a machine that can wash full sheet pans.

    We don't bake so the cake stuff doesn't apply to us & we're a plant-based meal delivery service, so we don't cook any meat. We actually cook our meals and then cool them immediately before delivery, so the meat roasting & the banqueting plate rethermalising of the combi oven wouldn't be that useful to us. Is there anything else that the combi oven is good for?

    I appreciate your thoughts!! Very helpful.