Heat Retention in Steamed Foods versus Convection Heated Foods

Joined Jun 14, 2016
I am a new executive chef in a hospital and we are having trouble with patient's food loosing temperature too quickly.  A lot of the food is cooked on the steam setting in the combi oven.  I feel like it would hold temperature longer if the cooks used the combi mode or convection mode.  We plan to test this theory this week but does anyone know if this is scientifically correct? -thanks!
Joined May 5, 2010
Hello and welcome to Cheftalk.

What happens to the patients food after it is plated now? 

How is it kept warm now.

How do you keep the food hot as it is being carried out to the rooms now?
Joined Jun 14, 2016
Hello and thank you!
What a great resource cheftalk is!
Currently we use an induction base that we put a heated plate on then a cover. The plated meals go into an insulated cart then up to the patients. We have considered heated carts but need to think through how to deal with cold items efficiently.
Joined Jun 19, 2016
just pop all the cold foods into another insulated cart, this should already be the current process so its surprising to me (given this is institutional food) that it is not, at least for a trial purpose this can be done with current equipment without the need for further investment, and if the temperatures still do not meet the required standards then the hospital needs to take a serious look investment in heated carts.

as for the (theoretical) science behind steam vs dry heat, there may be condensation which through evaporation is speeding the cooling process, but an insulted cart should negate most of this problem as its not exactly billowing gale force winds inside the cabinet.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Whichever way you heat it, temp it so you know exactly what the temp is for each process. Combi, convection or steam won't make the food hold the heat any longer. When it's hot, it's hot. So how hot is it?  Environmental conditions after heating will determine rate of heat loss. 

      I don't' understand what the induction base is or how you are using it so I'll suggest pre warming the plates, covers. If the food is currently being plated on room temp plates, covered with a  room temp cover and put in a cart, the heat from the food dissipates too quickly. . Everything hot to begin with increases the heat trapped in the carrier. 

If cold food is on the same tray as the hot food, then cold food gets put on tray first. Hot food goes on at the last minute, just before leaving the kitchen.

      I would also follow the food up several times to see if any delays are occurring. Do the carts make it to the rooms right away or get left in a random hallway for any length of time. Are the carts taking the direct route or the scenic route? 
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