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SmartHold Proofing & Holding

High-quality insulated heated holding cabinets—particularly those with appropriate humidity control—offer foodservice operators significant opportunities to improve food value, throughput and productivity. The ability to hold a wide variety of foods for long periods of time is like putting production time in the bank. The reduction in waste, alone, becomes a major justification. The key to achieving these advantages lies in equipment that offers more precise control of the holding environment. The flavors, textures and moisture content of various cooked foods react differently to heat and humidity. The ability to set and maintain ideal holding conditions for popular menu items can mean the difference between twenty minutes and two hours. This translates into smoother production schedules, better equipment utilization throughout the kitchen, and lower labor and operating costs.

Recently, we’ve talked about the science behind holding and how to buy time with holding cabinets. Today, we’re taking a closer look at proofing and holding with Henny Penny SmartHold cabinets.

Since a SmartHold cabinet can create and maintain the perfect holding environment, food is better left uncovered inside. This helps reduce labor and clean-up time.

The following chart shows optimal SmartHold cabinet settings for common menu items. In general, settings for a particular item can be applied to similar menu items not shown here. For specific recommendations, please send inquiries to

Keep in mind that some foods are more durable than others. When holding a variety of items at the same time, choose temperature and humidity settings closer to those suggested for the more sensitive foods or midway between foods with similar durability.

Food temperatures must remain above the minimum required safe holding temperatures. The USA minimum is 140°F (60°C). If the cabinet door(s) is opened frequently, temperature should be set slightly above the minimum required safe holding temperature.

Based on Henny Penny HHC 900 and SmartHold holding cabinets. Results will vary for other manufacturers.

Want to learn more about our SmartHold solutions? Click here.

The Science Behind Holding

Reliable holding equipment preserves quality, keeps food ready to serve, and allows employees to prepare for peak hours while offering additional benefits (click here to read our blog about how kitchens can “buy” extra operations time with heated holding solutions). Getting the most out of your holding equipment is easier said than done, which is why it is important to understand the science behind it.

One of the first things every aspiring chef learns is that cooking is a function of time, temperature and moisture. This is also true of holding with a few important differences. When food is cooked it undergoes rapid and continuous change as it is subjected to extreme conditions. The finished or “done” state is simply a point to be reached along the path of change. To maintain this state for any length of time requires conditions that are much more subtle in relation to those of the food itself. Ideal holding conditions are those that cause very little in the way of further dynamic changes in the food and prevent changes from taking place naturally. Most simple heated cabinets can do this for short periods. However, different foods react differently to periods of extended holding. Most fried and baked products, for instance, tend to dry out. Other foods become soggy as excess humidity builds up from covered dishes or “wetter” foods and forces the re-absorption of oils, juices or sauces that were released during cooking. The structure and flavor of casseroles, hot sandwiches or other multi-textured foods will begin to breakdown as drying and absorption affect ingredients differently.

Size and cut makes a big difference in how long meats, poultry and fish can be held. Large whole or half joints, which are typically cooked in a slower process, usually hold well. The combination of crust and high ratio of volume to surface area make it easier to preserve flavor and texture in a heated holding environment. For this reason, also, thick fish steaks can be held longer than thin fillets, which do not hold well at all. With proper humidity control, longer holding times improve the flavor and consistency of certain meats, such as ribs. What is essentially a low-temperature, slow-cooking environment continues to breakdown proteins in a gentle way, making the meat more tender. The absorption of seasonings and sauces into the product in this case, enhances the desired flavor and texture. With the number of variables in play, the goal of holding—to suspend the results of cooking at their peak indefinitely—remains elusive. But the benefits of being able to hold a wide range of foods for hours rather than minutes would be significant.

The below chart shows popular menu items grouped by common holding temperature ranges.* Items in the same temperature range can generally be held together. Holding times will vary depending on the durability of the item and humidity in the cabinet. The Humidity column shows ideal relative humidity. With a controlled humidity holding cabinet, much longer holding times can be achieved.

*Based on Henny Penny HHC 900 and SmartHold holding cabinets. Results will vary for other manufacturers.

At Henny Penny, we provide holding equipment and support to some of the world’s largest restaurant chains — and we’re proud to manufacture everything in-house, right down to the control panel. Click here to learn more about the line of holding equipment that gives operators the options they need and the quality they expect.

WIN at Takeout with a Henny Penny EPC

Grocery shopping and grabbing meals on-the-go aren’t as simple in a world changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, people are looking for ways to make their lives easier. As a result, takeout has become increasingly popular and fast-food or dine-in restaurants aren’t the only places that can capitalize on this rise in demand. Imagine the relief of a grocery shopper who needs to pick up dinner on the way home when they come across a display containing rows of fresh chicken and sides while approaching checkout. At a counter service restaurant with frequent carryout orders, guests will be thrilled to see hot and ready-to-purchase dishes when they walk in to place an order. With a Henny Penny Express Profit Center (EPC), various business concepts with diverse menus can maximize takeout sales.

Conventional self-serve heated merchandisers can’t avoid letting hot air out and cool air in. With Henny Penny, the FreshLock™ air curtain creates a thin wall of moving air that separates cool air in your store from hot food items in the unit. The result? Evenly heated products throughout the cabinet that keep their freshness and appeal for up to four hours! *

We never take a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to our customers. Different sizes, different widths, different shelf configurations… all the options that help you take advantage of impulse purchases throughout the store. Place EPC units as aisle end caps, along walls, or freestanding near checkout lanes.

Sustainable solid-state LED lighting offers brilliant product presentation with bright warm-white light, no flicker or buzz. Highly energy efficient, durable, safe to dispose but almost never need replacing. Other features include:

– Heated shelves and deck with independent temperature controls

– Black matte finish and stainless steel, with clear side panels for visibility

– Easy mobility with available casters, 120 V compact plug-and-play unit

EPCs are a perfect example of how various operations can win at takeout – it’s all about convenience and delicious food. Join the thousands of satisfied restaurant owners who trust Henny Penny quality and 24/7 global customer support.



*Safe holding times may vary depending on product


Buying Time with Holding Cabinets

Restaurants, delis and other retail foodservice operations put a great deal of resources into equipment and procedures that produce food with the consistent flavor, texture and appearance their customers have come to expect. Yet without some means to preserve fresh product for a reasonable amount of time, the effort—along with a significant portion of food—is wasted. This is more important than ever with the rising demand for delivery and take-out. You now need to be even more efficient in your kitchen and that is where holding cabinets come in.

Heated holding cabinets are typically used to keep extra quantities of food hot and tasty until it is time to fill orders or re-supply a display or warmed assembly station. But when we think a little harder about this function, it’s easy to see that what holding cabinets really do is produce extra time in the operation of your kitchen. This extra time—a function of how long foods can be held at acceptable quality— can be used in many ways to increase the utilization of equipment and improve the efficiency of processes and workers. Depending on the type of food and the quality of your holding equipment, the productivity potential can be significant.

“Buying” extra operations time with heated holding cabinets allows you to:

Cook well before the mealtime rush. “Cooking to hold” results in more efficient production that often eliminates the need for additional cooking equipment and accessories. You can also reduce energy expense by cooking during off-peak hours. Employees are free to focus on service, so more orders can be taken and served during peak mealtimes.

Cook in higher volume. Cooking ahead of time allows operators to better utilize existing cooking equipment by cooking a series of full loads, rather than partial loads to order. Using higher capacity equipment that produces more product per load from the same floor space will save even more money.

Reduce product handling. Full size holding cabinets can become a key part of a “reduced-touch” production process. Pans or grids of food can be removed from ovens or fryer baskets and placed directly into holding cabinets without re-racking for pick and pack staging, or as part of a cook/chill production process.

Reduce product waste. Properly integrated holding capabilities preserve cooked food safely for significantly longer periods than heated display cases or warming lights. This enables you to sell more and throw away less over the course of the day.

Efficient menu production. Using holding cabinets to hold a wide variety of foods for different lengths of time can help you plan your cooking sequence for the best utilization of equipment, labor and time.

These are just a few examples of how the general principle of heated holding can extend beyond simply keeping something warm until you need it. In every case, the benefits grow with the length of time that food can be acceptably held – that’s why at Henny Penny, we developed our line of SmartHold cabinets to keep food fresh for up to 2x longer than the average cabinet. Click here to learn more about the various holding cabinet solutions we have to offer.

The NAFEM Challenge: Give Us Your Feedback

Every two years we look forward to NAFEM. Not only is this show a great opportunity to show off our innovative products to industry peers, partners and customers, but it’s an even better opportunity to meet with those stakeholders and learn what is on their minds. If we can understand their challenges and what they need to make their operations more efficient and profitable, we can then make products that better suit those needs.

This year, we’d like to do more of exactly that — hear from you. We have three new products that we will be introducing at NAFEM, as well as our latest frying innovation, and we’re interested in your feedback.

Combination combi ovens offer optimum flexibility, utility and operation (2 separate controls) in an integrated format.  We are introducing two new products in this platform.

Our FlexFusion Team Combi takes efficiency to a whole new level. With two separate cooking chambers, operators now can cook completely different items simultaneously, despite specific humidity, temperature and cook time requirements in each unit — without risking any flavor transfer.

The Space$aver Plus Team Combi, another option with two separate cooking chambers offers the same separate cavity design allowing similar flexibility in a compact footprint with integrated hood.  Perfect for kitchens where space is a premium, this model’s integrated hood system has a 4 stage filtration system the serves both chambers.

The FlexFusion Smoker combi helps further expand your combi oven’s versatility. Sitting outside/on top of the cooking chamber, the smoker maximizes floor space and gives operators a combi that can now be used to cook in more ways than ever before. From meats to fish to vegetables, the FlexFusion Smoker is a game-changer for any operation looking to mix up their flavor profiles .

Last year we introduced our F5 open fryer to the market, and now it makes its first NAFEM appearance. With an incredibly simple design, complete with built-in help guides and icon and picture-based touch screen controls, the F5 makes frying easier than ever. Its kitchenproof design is constructed around an ultra-efficient internal system that features 3-minute filtration and sets new standards for a low oil volume fryer.

If you’re interested in these products but aren’t sure what makes them different, when you visit our booth feel free ask questions. Some that might help you understand these products better are:

  • What is a combi “team” and what can it do better or differently than a regular combi?
  • I’d love to include smoked meats to my menu, but I’m not sure what items to add. Is there anyone that can help me with this process?
  • How can I reduce the amount of oil I use in a week?
  • I’ve heard about your touch-screen fryer and have never used one. Can I try it out?

So, if you are in Orlando and visiting the NAFEM Show, we challenge you to swing by booth #1804. Come experience these three new pieces of equipment, give us your honest feedback and ask questions. We look forward to seeing you here in Orlando.

Make Moving to a 30 lb. Fryer Your 2019 Resolution

In 2019, consider extending a New Year’s resolution to your kitchen equipment. If you’re still using a 50-lb. fryer, it may be time to consider evaluating the benefits of a 30-lb. fryer.

Operators can expect three advantages over a 50-lb. fryer:

Oil Savings — A drop in 20 lbs. means 40 percent less oil is needed to cook the same amount of product. Additionally, a 30-lb. fryer, can provide twice the oil life than a 50 lb. unit, meaning greater, hard savings in oil costs. Less oil, more frequent filtration and auto top off combine to create maximum oil extension.

Better and More Consistent Product Quality —With frequent filtration and automatic top-off, the oil “sweet spot” will last longer, creating a more ideal environment for frying food and creating a higher quality product, consistently.  By maintaining a constant level of oil (which is managed by vat sensors) operators will also achieve a higher quality of fried coverage around the product and a more consistent product coming out of the fryer.

Henny Penny’s Evolution Elite open fryers use 40% less oil.

Extended oil life has positive health ramifications for customers, as well. Often with a 50-lb. fryer, operators will try to push their oil life beyond its natural expiration time. In extreme cases, if extended too long, oil can even produce carcinogens and increase food’s cholesterol levels. With a 30-lb. fryer, oil savings will drive pro-active oil management.  Having a team that watches oil quality and reacts to it will translate into better tasting and safer oil.

Ease of Use — By transitioning to a 30-lb fryer, gone are the days of manually opening and closing of multiple drain valves and turning on/off pump motors just to filter the fryer’s oil. Instead, with the push of a button, oil is filtered automatically in just four minutes. This easy processes, mean simpler training for your team and creates less interruptions for regular cooking operations.

Interested in a Henny Penny low-oil-volume fryer? Take a look at our Evolution Elite, or connect with your local distributor to find the right fryer for your operation.

Know Your Fryer’s Features: Load Comp

If each day at your restaurant was exactly the same — from the number of people that show up to the items they order — running a restaurant would be easy. But we all know, this has never been the case and will never be the case. The difficulty of not knowing what will happen each day is a challenge preventing you from being able to eliminate waste and produce consistent high-quality products.

Luckily you can use equipment to take some of the guesswork out of the equation. A timer on an oven, for example, helps you maintain consistency. A timer, however, doesn’t consider volume. If the volume changes, the timer is less effective.

A standard fryer is open to the same subjective cooking. With no way to account for volume, you cannot be sure a standard level of consistency is being met despite the quantity being cooked.

Henny Penny fryers feature a tool specifically for this job. Our fryers, both open and pressure, include a load compensation feature, incorporated to drive consistent quality and reduce waste. Whether you’re a high-volume franchise or a single location this feature will work for you.

The feature works simply; enter a value and it will duplicate your product accounting for changes in volume. To create your own values, follow these directions. After cooking an item for the first time, enter the cook time and average cooking temperature of its normal or average-sized load. Then add information for its biggest load into the equation. After entering this information, the equipment’s load comp setting will determine the cooking speed for any size load.

No matter how much you cook, the Load Comp feature will consistently ensure perfect quality.

If a half-sized load is added, the clock will speed up to cook faster to ensure consistency. This feature even accounts for adjustments to load temperature, such as fresh items or items out of a freezer.

Load comp helps you take the guesswork out of frying by calculating the additional or subtracted cooking time required. Less guessing means fewer failed batches, which means far less waste. With every batch of fries, chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks coming out of your fryer comes the consistent quality your customers expect.

Whether you are looking for consistency across varying large orders, or you just want to throw a single order of fries in every now and then, the load comp setting is great for operations both large and small.

Be sure to visit our complete frying line up to see all of the Henny Penny fryer options that feature load comp in their programming.

Three Tips for Better Combi Cleaning

A clean kitchen is as important as it gets in the restaurant industry. With the number of utensils, surfaces and equipment that need cleaned, it is a time consuming, tedious and ongoing job. That is why when you find equipment that can help reduce cleaning time and energy, you need to investigate. One piece of equipment that offers incredibly flexibility in the kitchen and can offer easy cleaning options, is the combi oven — many are even offered with a self-cleaning feature.

Why is a self-cleaning feature important? By properly cleaning your combi oven you can extend the life of your equipment by about 10 years. Not only will neglecting cleaning practices result in the buildup of harmful calcium and lime, dramatically decreasing the life of your equipment. Furthermore, it can lead to unnecessary maintenance or replacement costs.

Henny Penny ovens are built with easy cleaning in mind. In three steps or less, you can initiate the automatic 2-in-1 WaveCleanTM cartridge system, which ensures your oven’s tank, hoses and entire steam production system are perfectly maintained, and rid of mineral buildup.  The ability to set-it-and-forget-it means no hand cleaning, which helps keep your equipment in excellent working order for its life.

The cleaning process in our combi ovens is simple. But we know your quest for equipment longevity and cleaning process simplicity goes further than that. Here are some additional tips for better combi cleaning:

Henny Penny SpaceSaver Team Combi Oven

Cleaning for the chicken obsessed

The cleaning power built into your unit is enough for your daily or weekly cleaning schedule. However, if you are cooking a lot of chicken, pay extra attention to the door gaskets — the fats in this protein, when cooked off, tend to build up here. Wiping down the gaskets with warm soapy water and sanitizing this part of the machine weekly, will keep you from needing to replace gaskets prematurely.

Safer cleaning

You can choose units that employ a variety of different cleaning solutions. From powder cleaning agents, to cartridges, liquids, or cakes there is an option that fits your operation. If you don’t want to worry about putting on gloves and goggles when working with your cleaning solution, consider a unit that uses cartridges. These require minimum safety precautions, are fast, simple, create less mess and are safe for the kitchen environment.

Baking and steaming mean less cleaning

If you have purchased a combi oven primarily for steaming vegetables or baking breads and cookies, know that your cleaning schedule can be different than if you are cooking proteins routinely. Vegetables and breads produce less calcium and lime buildup, which, as we mentioned, are the main enemies of your oven. This means you may be able to limit your cleaning schedule to once a week. Cutting back on cleaning means less money spent on cleaning agents.

Be sure to check out previous Our Take blogs for more information on combi ovens, including why the time is now to invest in a combi. To learn more about the many features and benefits of Henny Penny made combi ovens, take a look at our complete line-up.

What You Can Expect On Installation Day

A much anticipated day – installation day. You have invested your time, energy and have weighed all of the options to make sure your new equipment is the right investment for your restaurant. You are confident the new equipment will maintain your brand’s high standard of quality food and have even built excitement amongst your team when talking about the efficiency and ease-of-use.

What you might not have thought about are the details and logistics for the day your new piece of equipment arrives. Not sure how to prepare your kitchen for its newest addition or just how long the installation process will take? Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked installation day questions.

Who will be my point of contact?

For every installation, your Henny Penny distributor will appoint a project manager who will reach out to the business owner/operator, GM, contractor or who ever will be overseeing the install. Typically, the first contact will be made to schedule a site visit to inspect utilities, take measurements and communicate with the business’s point of contact the step-by-step details of the installation process. The project manager will also contact any plumbers and/or electricians that are involved to makes sure they have the information needed to execute their jobs successfully. Once an installation date has been scheduled, the project manager will stay in touch with all of the involved parties several days ahead of time and then again the day prior to installation, to avoid any last minute surprises.

Who will be showing up to perform the installation?

Two or three representatives from the Henny Penny distributor that covers your area will accompany your new equipment. Should your business need any electrical or plumbing work prior to install, as the Operator you will be responsible for coordinating those services and scheduling the work prior to installation of the new equipment.

What can I do best prepare my business for delivery and installation?

If you’re receiving new equipment, there’s probably a good chance you’re getting rid of old equipment. If you’ll be receiving a new fryer, you’ll want to be sure that any oil has been discarded from the old fryer. If you have not arranged for the old fryer to be removed by your distributor, you will still need to remove or relocate the old or existing unit prior to installation.

You can also help ensure a smooth delivery by making sure all aisle ways are clear and free from any obstacles. If possible, you should also move any other equipment that might be in way of the delivery team during installation. The more space available to work in, the quicker and smoother the installation will go.

Who from my team should I have around when our new equipment is installed?

Following the installation of your new equipment, the installers will give an on-site training session to go through equipment start up and operation. You will want to have any employees who will need to be familiar with the operation of the new equipment, either to operate or to train others available during the training.

How will installation affect my business that day?

Most installations will occur between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., however, the Henny Penny Distributor will work with you to ensure installation happens during non-peak hours. The overall time of the installation can vary from location to location, but you can typically expect two installers to have your new equipment in place and running in about one hour, plus additional training time which may vary depending on the equipment.

Do I need to keep anything in mind or watch for anything after my equipment is installed?

Following installation, we walk away confident that your new equipment will be running perfectly. However, if you should have any questions or concerns about the equipment or the installation process, we encourage you to call our Technical Hotline at 1-800-417-8405.

For more technical information on any of our equipment, or for answers to more frequently asked equipment questions, visit our CUSTOMER SUPPORT page.

Is now the time to invest in combi oven technology?

The restaurant business is tough. Fighting for ‘share of stomach’ can be cutthroat. Because of the fast pace of trends and consumer demands, restaurants need to constantly evaluate not only customer facing efforts, but also all aspects of their business including back-of-house. Labor, training, efficiency, product quality, lack of space, crowded hood space and menu flexibility are all headline concerns and finding unique ways to identify an opportunity to improve in any single space can be a game changer.

The right equipment can go a long way in transforming a kitchen’s operations and give operators the ability to do more with less. The combi oven is perhaps the greatest example of a piece of equipment that can increase flexibility, provide greater efficiency and optimize space in modern kitchens.

Increased Flexibility

There may not be a piece of equipment that can do more in terms of menu prep in a smaller space. Flexibility is at the heart of every combi, affording operators the opportunity to bake, grill, steam, poach, sear, slow braise or sous vide menu items with incredibly accuracy and consistency. The programmability makes it easy to switch between moist and dry products, empowering operators to organize production schedules by production methods and ensure that recipes are being executed at the highest quality at any point during service.

Greater Efficiency

Faster cook times and greater product yield simply mean better operational efficiency, but the combi is efficient in so many other ways. When it comes to training, not only does the interface and programmability make it a snap to learn for new team members, but with the combi taking the place of three separate pieces of equipment (grill, oven and steamer), operators need only train their staff on one. Having to learn, use and service only a combi will lead to reduced stress for staff and less stress on your operating budget through the added benefit of lower maintenance costs.

Optimized Space

At less than 36 inches wide, the combi’s most obvious and major strength is its space efficiency. By utilizing a combi oven, operations can effectively eliminate an oven (36 inches on average) a grill (24 inches) and a steamer (21 inches). Consolidating this equipment means freeing up around 50 inches of cooking space, all of which requires hood coverage. With hood space costing an average of $1,200 per linear foot —plus the additional cost of air conditioning brought on by the larger hood — a combi oven can mean a lifetime of cost savings.

There are numerous reasons why now is the time to invest in the flexibility and efficiency of a combi oven. Those who have begun to experience, or will soon be experiencing, the d space squeeze, will be able to capitalize on the benefits of this piece of equipment. To learn more about the combi oven options that Henny Penny has to offer, visit