In Part 1 of an interview with Henny Penny Product Manager Dann Woellert, we discussed the basics of combi oven ownership and why they’re growing in popularity. We’re continuing the conversation and dive deeper into how combi ovens can support kitchen operators who are challenged with delivering a strong customer experience amongst ever changing menus. By utilizing a number of cooking methods, several of which can be used while cooking a variety of foods at the same time, combi ovens are increasing kitchen efficiency, customer experience and cost savings.
Is there a particular type of menu item that cooks best in a combi?
One of the biggest benefits of a combi is the wide variety of products that it can cook effectively. It allows proteins to cook faster and with more moisture, allowing the food to maintain its moistness. It lets operators cook baked goods in a moist environment. It also can also cook different foods in the same chamber, at the same time, without flavor transfer between items. It is a product truly rooted in versatility, waste reduction and quality all in one footprint.
What are restaurants most often using combis for?
The flexibility of the combi makes it beneficial for the cooking of a variety of menu items at a variety of different types of restaurants. Fine dining to QSR can benefit from combi effectiveness. QSR restaurants for example, see the value in using combis to cook large amounts of one protein like bacon, which has large product variability, but requires consistent quality in a fast paced environment.
Are restaurants adjusting their menus to accommodate the benefits of a combi?
A key benefit of the combi is that it can help a restaurant expand their menu. A large number and variety of recipes can be stored and utilized in a combi. An operator can store seasonal recipes that are only used for a limited time, and then retrieve them again when needed.
In what areas does a combi lead to cost savings?
- Reduced food waste as a result of more consistently cooked product
- Higher yield on proteins due to less shrinkage
- Shorter cook times, resulting in energy savings
- Higher productivity
- More energy efficient than convection ovens
- Ease of use/labor re-distribution
Is there a lot of training associated with combis?
It doesn’t require a great deal of training to learn how to use a combi. An operator only needs to know the basics of what products lend themselves to each of the three cooking modes —steaming, convection and combi cooking. Most of the training on the actual equipment is centered on developing and programming recipes into the combi. Once these recipes are established, it is easy as selecting a product photo and hitting ‘go’.
Combi ovens have been a staple in the foodservice industry globally for decades. In the U.S., adoption has primarily been by commercial outlets (hotels, hospitals, catering) and retail. However, changes in available sizes (i.e. Henny Penny’s SpaceSaver model) and hood technology (units with integrated hoods) have removed some of the objections that are expressed in regards to adopting a combi. With combi use on the rise, it’s certainly the right time to learn more about this technology and how you can integrate it into your back-of-house operations and reap the benefits of this proven technology.