You’ll be hard-pressed to find many kitchens that don’t use combi ovens these days, such is their reputation for speed, flexibility and efficiency. But what does the future of the technology looks like and how operators are using it to best effect. FEJ caught up with Paul Hickman, development chef at Lincat, to combi oven technology.
When you look at your customers today, what are some of the most innovative ways that they are using combi ovens?
Customers are going back to basics and using combi ovens to cook items from scratch. We have butchers using Lincat combis to make pastries and pies, and steam joints to produce cold sliced meats to supply to foodservice businesses. Another customer is using their combi oven to make artisan steamed puddings to sell into hotels and restaurants.
Do you think chefs are opening up their minds to the capabilities of combi ovens?
Yes, they are not just used in large restaurants anymore – smaller operators are making the most of the flexibility of combi ovens and the ability to make a selection of items in a single unit.
What are some of the less-traditional or obvious ways that operators can use combi ovens to enhance their offering?
Combi ovens can be used for drying and smoking, as well as cooking. They are ideal for drying out tomatoes, mushrooms and herbs, and a hot smoker accessory, such as our VarioSmoker, can make the production of aromatic meat, fish and vegetables easy.
What features might the latest generation of combi ovens have that operators might not know about?
Technology is ever-evolving when it comes to combi ovens, especially surrounding efficiency. For example, Lincat’s recently-launched, next generation combis are low-energy halogen lighting and have triple-glazed doors. There are also programmes to show exactly how much energy each cooking process uses, so operators can keep track. As more operators take advantage of overnight, remote cooking processes, advances have been made in food safety management and the access and storage of HACCP data. On Lincat combis, this information can be stored on the unit for 10 days, or downloaded onto a USB.
To what extent will combi ovens evolve or change in the coming 12-24 months? Do you see any new features or design aspects being introduced in the market?
Combi ovens are constantly being reviewed and developed, with new features and technologies being introduced all the time through software updates. Operators investing in a combi oven can be confident they can keep up to speed with the latest advances.