Is My Kitchen Equipment Required to Be Under a Hood?

Does your commercial kitchen equipment require a vent hood? It depends on several factors. These include the type of equipment, your menu, and your operation’s location. The ultimate judges of hood requirements are your local health and fire officials. They will advise whether hoods are required and, if so, what type. Always check with local officials before proceeding. Most states and municipalities adhere to the International Mechanical Code. But you may find that your locale has additional guidelines. For example, New York City’s codes are more stringent than most other municipalities.

Commercial kitchen vent hoods are expensive. Depending on the type, they can cost as much as $1000 a foot to install. Add to that the cost of operating and maintenance, and you’ve got a substantial chunk of change. So, in these days of constant inflation, you may be looking to save where you can. Perhaps you’re wondering if your equipment must be under a hood.

Different Hoods for Different Situations

Type 1 Hoods

Appliances that produce greasy by-products and smoke require Type 1 hoods. These hoods primarily deal with the removal of grease particles from the air. For this reason, many refer to them as grease hoods. Type 1 hoods are typically above deep fryers, cooktops, open-flame stoves, conveyor-pizza ovens, char-broilers, and such. Because of the grease by-products that Type 1 hoods capture, they require frequent cleanings to help prevent damage and fire risks due to grease buildup.

Type 2 Hoods

Type 2 Hoods are for other kitchen appliances that don’t have to pertain directly to cooking. These appliances can include dishwashers, pasta cookers, and other equipment that doesn’t produce smoke or grease. Since Type 2 hoods mainly deal with removing heat and steam from the air, the industry refers to them as condensate hoods or heat hoods. They help create a more comfortable work environment.

We strongly advise you to contact a consultant or other knowledgeable foodservice professional to determine whether a vent system is needed (and if so, which type). Adding a ventilation system you hadn’t budgeted for is a financial blow for an operation that already operates on slim margins.

foodservice products

Vent Hoods and Winston Products

Collectramatic® fryers must always be under hoods. Likewise, a Winston Smoker Box with your CVap® oven will require it to be placed under a vent hood or outdoors. That little box generates a lot of smoke.

Although the above Winston products require vent hoods, you can usually use CVap products without hoods. We hired the independent testing firm Intertek to verify CVap’s compliance with the EPA’s Method 202 – Condensable Particulate Matter standards. The ovens were checked for particulate compliance using full loads of pizzas (good and greasy food). The results speak for themselves. CVap ovens breezed through to a passing grade. Place CVap ovens, holding cabinets, and warming drawers where sufficient electrical power is available.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, please don’t just take our word for it. As mentioned, local codes can vary a lot. It’ll save you money and peace of mind to consult with your local authorities (and perhaps a consultant) to ensure you comply with your area’s codes.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods in Bulk

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Retherming bulk packages of prepared foods can be challenging unless you have the right equipment. To clarify, let’s discuss rethermalizing, define prepared foods, and outline what operations are likely to use premade food. Finally, we’ll talk about what equipment is best suited to retherm them.

What is Rethermalizing?

Rethermalization is the process by which prepackaged food that is either frozen or chilled is brought to hot temperatures safely and effectively. Food must transition through the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F) in under two hours to meet the FDA Food Code. And although we’re primarily talking about commercially prepared foods, you can also use the retherming processes on leftovers. When reheating leftovers, food must reach 165°F in under two hours (though 90 minutes is preferred). (If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, find specific requirements in Chapter 3 Section 403.11 – Reheating for Hot Holding – Subsection A – E (page 91) and Chart 4-B.)

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

What are Prepared Foods?

Prepared foods encompass a wide range of food products. In the broadest sense, prepared food is food that is ready for consumption. It has been produced elsewhere and sold to the consumer (be that an individual or an organization). We’re speaking primarily of commercially prepared foods. These are foods that are mass-produced long before consumption. They come in a can, a chub, vacuum-seal, frozen, or other forms.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Popular with operators, prepared foods decrease labor by outsourcing the initial food product. Portion control is made simple. And when rethermed properly, prepared foods are indistinguishable from made-to-order food.

Who Typically Serves Prepared Foods?

Although commercial foodservice primarily serves prepared foods, they are also popular in these foodservice segments:

B&I (Business and Industry)

Businesses that are not primarily foodservice operators but purchase foodservice items (such as corporate cafeterias).
It also includes government facilities.

Education

This includes preschools, K-12, colleges, and universities.

Healthcare

Another broad category. Includes hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities, senior living facilities, and others.

Concessions

Stadiums, museums, conference centers, amusement venues, country clubs, and others.

Catering

Also implemented at event facilities and mobile caterers.

These seem like widely disparate operations, but they have one thing in common.
They all need the ability to retherm large quantities of food quickly and safely.

Retherming Equipment

Achieve retherming by utilizing several different equipment pieces. The most common are rethermalizing ovens (a.k.a., thermalizersthermalizer ovensrethermalizersretherm ovens, and others).

Some folks may think first of combi ovens. Combis certainly can do the job and do it faster than most other oven types. But they also involve a substantial investment in upfront costs and operating costs. They require expensive vent hoods in most locations. A more economical option is the rethermalizing oven.

history why we build retherm ovens

In many respects, retherm ovens are like convection ovens or cook and hold ovens. However, retherm ovens have greater wattage and air movement. CVap Retherm Ovens also feature vapor heat. Consequently, this improves energy transfer efficiency. Retherm efficiency is the transfer of energy from a heated cabinet to a thermal mass (food) at a fast and controlled rate. In other words, retherm energy efficiency measures how much power an oven consumes and delivers to the food product during rethermalization. Since heated vapor is tremendously efficient at energy transfer, CVap retherm ovens excel at heating a thermal mass quickly.

Critically, the larger the thermal mass, the more energy (kW) is needed to transfer to the mass. Similarly, the more energy (kW), the faster the thermal mass can absorb the energy and reach desired temperatures. Consequently, this makes retherm ovens ideal for reheating chilled or frozen foods. They deliver lots of energy quickly.

Winston CVap Retherm Oven

Of course, Winston’s CVap® Retherm Oven is the hands-down best. CVap Retherm Ovens feature two circulation fans, providing robust air circulation throughout the oven. The fans speed up the retherming process and minimize hot or cold zones within the oven.

Winston-Foodservice-No-Vent-Hood

CVap ovens have a maximum air temperature of 350°F and can operate without a vent hood in most locations. Winston has conducted independent testing to verify. Hood availability is an important consideration when choosing an oven.

Another thing to consider when choosing a retherm oven is versatility. CVap Retherm ovens aren’t one-trick ponies. Yes, they’re great at retherming. But they can also bake, roast, sous vide, low-temp steam, and more. Whether serving prepared foods or cooking from scratch, CVap Retherm Ovens are the perfect oven for any large-volume feeder operation.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Lobster Tails

So you’re hosting a big catered event and want to impress your guests? There is nothing more impressive than lobster…if it’s done right.
We set out to show that CVap® ovens can stage lobster tails for catering right.

Staging Lobster Tails Process

Ingredients

  • 4-5 oz Lobster Tails
  • Melted Butter
  • Paprika

Allow the tails to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, per label instructions. Lobster (and all shellfish, for that matter) is unforgiving regarding safe handling. Make sure to only thaw in the refrigerator, and cook promptly once it has thawed.

Preheat the CVap oven.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

The product we chose was Greenhead frozen lobster tails.

Settings

Cooking

  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Vapor: 136°F
  • Cook Air: Sous Vide

Holding

  • Hold Time: 2 hours
  • Hold Vapor: 136°F
  • Hold Air: Sous Vide

Prepare the tails by “boxing” them. This simply means to make an incision with scissors along the top spine of the shell. Crack the shell to carefully pull the lobster meat almost all the way out – BUT NOT COMPLETELY. Leave the end tail meat in the shell and lay the meatier portion on top, see image.

Douse raw tails with plenty of melted butter. Evenly sprinkle with a touch of paprika for color.

Staging Lobster Tails Results

To be honest, I LOVE crustaceans! But usually lobster is just meh. It probably has something to do with being hundreds of miles from the nearest coast. (yep, I’m a bit of a fresh seafood snob). Lobster is too expensive for the experience of chewing on rubber bands. Or at least that’s what I thought before cooking them in CVap. 

Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails

We reviewed these babies after about an hour into holding. The texture was tender and juicy. The flavor was buttery, briny, and sweet. They would be perfectly fine to serve in this state. But if you wanted to give them a little more texture or snap, you could finish them in a high-temperature convection, broiler, or even with a blow torch. This gives the lobster meat a toothier bite

CVap gives you so much flexibility and peace of mind. It ensures that all your hard work isn’t wasted by overcooking these tails and turning them tough and rubbery! Don’t shy away from utilizing them as a surf-n-turf option on your catering menu! CVap allows you to serve lobster with sous vide precision, but at a scale to feed scores of people.

What to do with all those lobster tail leftovers? Vac-packed and freeze them for later use! Or turn them into that New England favorite – lobster rolls!
That’s what we did.

We prepared two versions of lobster rolls:

OMG!!  So effing good!

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering
Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Ultimate Guide to Cook and Hold Ovens

cook and hold oven
cook and hold oven

Not all cook and hold ovens are equal. Let’s examine the differences in equipment and discover which cook and hold ovens are suitable for your kitchen.

In one form or another, Ovens have been around since prehistoric times. Not long after learning to control fire, our ancient ancestors figured out that encompassing fire or embers within a vessel or enclosure produced even better results when preparing food. Skip forward a few millennia, and we’ve arrived at today’s modern, technology-packed ovens. Whether you are outfitting a commercial kitchen, refurbishing your restaurant, or redesigning your school cafeteria, you will want to know the differences and the best fit for your kitchen.

Traditional Oven Types

conventional-oven

Conventional

This is your basic oven, with electrical elements or gas burners providing radiant heat within the interior. You will find these in residential settings.

Convection Oven

Convection

This kicks conventional oven technology up a notch. Convection ovens add powerful fans to circulate heated air throughout the oven’s interior. They cook significantly faster than conventional ovens. However, if not closely monitored, they can overcook or dry out food.

passive-humidity

Passive Humidity Ovens

These ovens include a water reservoir to add humidity to the oven’s interior. The upside is that it is easier to retain the food’s moisture by adding moisture, resulting in a juicier product.

humidified oven

Humidified Ovens

These ovens control the water vapor generation within the unit, with varying degrees of success. Humidified equipment includes Controlled Vapor Technology ovens and combi ovens. 

Equally important, one should remember that simply controlling relative humidity doesn’t necessarily translate to managing food quality. In fact, it’s merely reading for the maximum amount of water vapor an atmosphere can contain at a particular temperature. For example, 50% relative humidity can exist from 120°F to 245°F. Otherwise, the relative humidity is irrelevant. Controlling vapor, on the other hand, is highly precise. Controlled Vapor Technology (or CVap) precisely controls the temperature of the water vapor within the oven. In turn, it also controls the temperature of the food itself. 

What is a Cook and Hold Oven?

Cook and Hold Ovens perform the functions of both an oven and a holding cabinet. In the case of Winston’s CVap® Cook and Hold Ovens, they are incredibly versatile. They’re great at cooking, baking, roasting, braising, steaming, sous vide, holding, proofing, dehydrating, and much more.

Cook and Hold Ovens Increase Yield

Overall, the main benefit of CVap Cook and Hold Ovens is that they increase yield, which helps your bottom line. Depending on the primal cut, CVap ovens can yield one to two additional servings, which increases profits exponentially over time. There’s simply no comparison between CVap Cook and Hold Ovens and conventional or convection ovens.

Slow cooking produces a high yield with natural browning. The meat retains more food juices which result in less shrinkage. Use practically any type of meat with slow cooking. Natural enzyme action tenderizes the meat. Preserve and enhance the delicate flavors of seafood. Retain color and nutrition in vegetables. Bread, rolls, desserts, pies, and cookies brown evenly for a beautiful presentation. Gentle air circulation roasting at lower temperature produces a tender roast, naturally browned to perfection. Just a little light seasoning to taste is all that’s needed. 

You save time and labor when you don’t have to pre-sear, put on sauces, or rubs.  

CVap ovens save on overhead costs, like labor. Features such as timed preheat and overnight cooking mean your oven is working, even when your staff isn’t. In most cases, CVap equipment doesn’t require placement under a vent hood, saving you electricity and valuable vent space. 

Cook and Hold Ovens Are Not Combi Ovens

Although often compared to combi ovens, CVap Cook and Hold Ovens. Unlike combis, CVap ovens don’t require expensive chemicals and extensive cleaning. Although CVap ovens can’t match the speed offered by combi ovens, it makes up for it in precision. CVap ovens don’t require hard plumbing connections or vent hoods. They produce food that’s every bit as high-quality as food produced in combi ovens. Frankly, combi ovens tend to be overly complicated. For that reason, they’re often under-utilized in kitchens. And the upfront costs of combi ovens are incredibly high compared to other oven technologies

cook and hold staff

Cook and Hold Oven Types

There are various cook and hold ovens to choose from, depending on your foodservice operation’s needs.
Key features to consider are temperature ranges and the results you need to achieve.

cook and hold oven

Cook and Hold Ovens

Cook and Hold Ovens specialize in low and slow cooking. Generally, slow cooking minimizes shrinkage and boosts yield. Reduce shrinkage by 15 to 20 percent when cooking in this method. These ovens automatically transition to an automatic hold mold and the conclusion of the cook cycle. Auto holding removes the necessity of having staff constantly monitor the unit. Cook and hold ovens that utilize advanced technology, such as CVap (Controlled Vapor), precisely control food’s temperature and texture.

Retherm

Retherm Ovens

Retherm ovens are another version of a cook and hold. They rethermalize pre-cooked foods to the desired serving temperature. Depending on the brand of the oven, some may not have a holding option. However, Winston’s CVap Retherm Ovens can also precisely hold foods. This option sets it apart from other manufacturer models. Therefore, you can cook and hold all in the same unit.

Cook and Hold Oven Temperature Ranges

There are various cook and hold ovens to choose from, depending on your foodservice operation’s needs.
Key features to consider are temperature ranges and the results you need to achieve.

CVap Technology

CVap technology uses the thermodynamics of water vapor to control food temperature. Unlike our competitors, CVap technology can precisely control food temperature. Eliminate overcooking for good. CVap is a dual heat system, combining both moist vapor heat and dry air heat. As a result, food is at the exact temperature and texture. There isn't an equivalent system that compares moist foods to crisp foods.

Probe Cooking

Probes are one of the best ways to achieve optimal food temperatures while cooking or holding. Some cooking and holding ovens can set food probes to your ideal internal temperature. The unit will automatically switch to holding mode once a set cook temperature reads. The oven will then hold the food at the optimal temperature and texture until it's ready to be served. CVap Series 7 and Series 5 ovens are probe-ready. These ovens give you the option of cooking by probe temperature or time.

Low-Temperature Ovens with Cables

Food products are subject to fluctuating temperatures when using a low-temperature oven that distributes heat with halo cables. After all, directly controlling food moisture is the only way to ensure internal water is not lost — loss of internal moisture results in poor food quality.

Low-Temperature Ovens with Controlled Vapor

Low-temperature ovens that utilize controlled vapor, such as CVap ovens, must be filled with clean water. For this purpose, these units need to be connected to a water source to operate correctly or be filled manually with water. Also, to prevent limescale buildup, clean the basin daily.

Humidified Ovens

Not all humidified ovens are alike. Although introducing water vapor into the oven cavity delivers better results than a simple oven, it indirectly affects food quality. Generally, such passive humidity ovens allow food to retain internal moisture. Unfortunately, they don’t directly control other aspects of food quality. CVap ovens, on the other hand, precisely control the temperature of water vapor within the unit. Not only are they controlling vapor temperature, but they also control food temperature.

Soup

Simple thermodynamics dictate that different bodies of water will inevitably equalize their temperatures, given enough time. All foods contain water. For instance, think of that food product as a body of water. When you place the food in the oven, the food (water) is cool. The oven is full of hot water vapor. When the hot water vapor condenses on the colder food surface, this transfers heat energy into the food. Then the heat energy raises the food temperature until it reaches equilibrium. The food-water temperature matches the heated water vapor of the oven. Food cannot overcook because it can’t exceed the temperature of the water vapor.

You might think that all this water vapor would result in soggy food, but that’s not the case. CVap’s air heat engineering controls the surface texture of food. For example, if you serve breaded proteins or baked goods, surface moisture evaporates more quickly. As a result, you achieve the desired surface aesthetic. Soups or pasta do not need dry surfaces. In this case, air heat is low, allowing the water vapor to raise food temperatures to the desired level quickly.

Cook and Hold Oven Control Options

Most cook and hold ovens have different control options available to match the sophistication needs of the kitchen.

Simple Controls

simple-control

Simple controls often include buttons and dials rather than touch screens. However, touch-based terminals are becoming standard for newer models. Stored recipes and probe cook options are often available. Recipes can be uploaded and downloaded by USB. Also, enable HACCP documentation easily.

Touch Screen Controls

Touch Screen

In addition to all the features of simple controls, touch screen controls allow kitchen staff to select preset channels with ease. Capacitive touch controls are simple to understand and easy to clean.

Comparing Cook and Hold Cabinet Styles

There’s a size configuration to suit every operation. Each serves various purposes and provides multiple solutions. In addition to the size, the inside structure of the oven is essential to consider. Side racks are standard on most models. Additional configurations are also available based on your needs.

cvap equipment sizes

Countertop Ovens

Smallest CVap Cook and Hold Oven are just over 36" tall. Winston's most compact oven holds up to four hotel pans of food products. These are perfect for small-batch cooking, and the design allows you to maximize your counter space. This powerful little oven operates on a standard 120V circuit.

Under Counter Oven

This type of oven can hold up to eight hotel pans and are approximately 36" tall. These low-profile ovens can easily slide under counters and worktables to maximize space. Casters make cleaning and maintenance easy.

Half Size Ovens

Half-size ovens are slightly taller than under-counter ovens hold up to ten hotel pans of food. Their height is approximately 39 inches tall. Half-size ovens are compact, and you can maximize kitchen space by stacking a second oven or a holding cabinet on top of it.

Full-Size Ovens

Free-standing, full-size ovens are ideal for large kitchens and extensive operations. They hold up to 28 hotel pans of food and are approximately 76 inches in height.

Contact Winston Foodservice Today

While there is a wide variety of cook and hold ovens available, it’s essential to find one that meets all your space and operational needs. Thanks to Winston CVap Technology, our cook and hold ovens ensure your food is cooking evenly and consistently. They don’t need hoods or permanent plumbing. Options include heavy-duty casters. therefore, you can move them to wherever you need. Cook and hold ovens are great additions for Ghost kitchenscloud kitchenssatellite kitchens, or commissary kitchens. In conclusion, there’s a CVap Cook and Hold oven to suit every need, every kitchen, and menu.

Talk to an expert today to learn more about how CVap Cook and Hold Ovens can benefit your operation. One of our qualified professionals will be glad to reach out to your shortly.

Fill out a contact form, or call 800-234-5286 to speak with a member of our team.

Perfect Pastrami in CVap

Ever had really good pastrami? Many folks have only experienced the lunchmeat version. But that stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. We wanted to put our CVap® Retherm Oven and Winston Smoker Box through the paces to make this savory, smokey meat.

Pastrami’s Past

Food nerd time. Pastrami originated in Romania. The name comes from the Romanian pastramă, a conjugation of the verb a păstra. It means “to preserve food, to keep something for a long duration.” Pastrami likely also has roots throughout the Aegean region. Like so many cured meats, it originated as a way to preserve meats in the absence of refrigeration.

Pastrami came to the United States with Jewish Romanian immigrants in the 1880s. It was originally made with goose breasts but has transitioned to primarily beef. Although originally a staple of ethnic New York delis, it’s now a favorite of folks just about everywhere. The consensus is that pastramă became pastrami because it rhymed with salami.

Give It Time

One thing to remember about Pastrami – it’s a time investment. You’re looking at a week or more to properly brine (or cure) the proteins. It’s not something you’ll make at the spur of the moment. To obtain the best results you have to plan ahead and give it time.

The Brine

Pastrami Brine
Weight (g/kg)
% Formula
Total
9990.7 g
100.000
Water
9 kg
90.084
Brown Sugar
580 g
5.805
Salt
300 g
3.003
Insta Cure #1 (6.25% NaNO2)
60 g
0.601
Coriander, Whole
13 g
0.130
Mustard Seed
10 g
0.100
Black Peppercorns
10 g
0.100
Pink Peppercorns
8 g
0.080
Fennel Seeds, Whole
4.5 g
0.045
Cinnamon Stick, Whole
3 g
0.030
Chili Flakes
1 g
0.010
Clove, Whole
0.7 g
0.007
Bay Leaf
0.5 g
0.005
pastrami

Pastrami Seasoning – Topical

Pastrami Seasoning
Weight (g/kg)
% Formula
Total
304.4 g
100.000
Brown Sugar
75 kg
24.64
Salt
75 g
24.64
Black Pepper, Ground
72 g
2.65
Coriander, Ground
55 g
18.07
Garlic, Granulated
10 g
3.29
Juniper Berry, Ground
10 g
3.29
Chili Flake
7.4 g
2.43

The Proteins

certified angus beef

Beef

most common cuts: brisket, short rib, navel

Carolina style pulled pork

Pork

most common cuts: shoulder, belly, loin, ham, leg (obviously not kosher)

brining perfect turkey

Turkey

most common cut: breast

The Pastrami Process

  1. Prepare the brine by mixing everything together in a large container. Allow plenty of capacity to add the protein (accounting for displacement). This amount of brine can easily cure four full briskets. Adjust the amount accordingly to accommodate larger or smaller quantities.
  2. Trim excess fat from protein.
  3. Add protein to the brine. Allow red meat (beef or pork) to static (or passively) cure in the refrigerator. Brine for at least five days. Seven days is preferred. The maximum cure time for red meat is 14 days. If you are preparing turkey pastrami the cure time can be reduced to between two to five days.
  4. Remove proteins from the brine. Pat dry.
  5. Combine the topical seasoning ingredients. Apply dry rub to brined proteins. Ensure every surface has a light coating of the dry rub.

Cooking Process

We utilized a CVap RTV7-14UV Retherm Oven. The setting will be similar in whatever CVap oven you use. Since it involves smoking, we recommend full-size CVap ovens. Although you can smoke in smaller models, it can overconcentrate the smoke, resulting in a smoky flavor that’s a bit overpowering.

Cook Time: 9 hours OR until the internal temp reaches at least 185°F

Temperature: Vapor: 190°F/Air: 220°F

Place proteins on the open oven racks.

Engaging the Winston Smoker Kit

  1. Plug the timer into the wall and ensure the smoker box is connected to the timer. We like to use a mixed wood pellet as the smoke medium, but sawdust or smaller type chips (no bigger than a fingernail) can be used.
  2. Adjust the timer to start the box heating. Add your smoke medium onto the heating element inside the smoker box. Place the smoker box on a sheet pan inside the oven, on a bottom rack just above the evaporator. The box will take about 15 to 20 minutes to start smoldering.
  3. Press ENTER once the product is placed inside, and the smoker is filled and in place.

We smoked the pastrami for about five hours. The results were outstanding.

pastrami

Chef’s Reflections

We had a few thoughts after completing our pastrami testing:

  • Add a solid sheet pan just above the smoker to catch the drippings. You’ll save yourself a lot of cleanup time.
  • Allow PLENTY of time to make this recipe. If fact, it would be prudent to prepare a month out from serving.
  • Vacuum pack the pastrami once it has cooled. Refrigerate for at least a week before slicing. The longer pastrami sits, the better it gets!
pastrami
pastrami

Serving Ideas

Now that you’ve got all this awesome pastrami, what are you going to do with it? Pastrami is great all by itself, but it’s best enjoyed as part of an ensemble. Here are a few ideas…

Old School

The classic pastrami on rye bread, with a bit of mustard and a pickle on the side. Add a little sauerkraut, cheese, and dressing to make it a reuben.

Deli Burgers

Pump up the decadence by combining a hamburger patty, horseradish sauce, and mustard on rye.

Pastrami Carbonara

Pastrami is good. Pasta is good. Together, they’re great! Lumache pasta, parsley, parmesan cheese – it’s good stuff.

Potato Rösti with Pastrami

Potatoes, crème fraiche, mustard, yum. Damn the carbs, full speed ahead!

Pastrami Hash

Peppers, potatoes, pastrami – it’s a satisfying combination of delicious flavors.

Pastrami Roll Ups

Watching carbs or going keto? Skip the bread and used the pastrami itself to form these tasty treats. Dip in mustard or Russian dressing. Mm mm.

Breakfast Enchiladas with Sausage & Bacon

Breakfast enchiladas

Need to fix breakfast for a bunch of people? Breakfast enchiladas are a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Prepared in a CVap® oven, they are hearty and filling, and of course, deliciously easy.

Enchilada Facts

Of course, we like to nerd out a bit on our recipes. Like so many favorite foods, enchiladas come from Latin American cuisine. Although they were around much longer, enchiladas were first mentioned by Spanish invaders in the mid-1500s. Specifically, conquistadors were served enchiladas in the ancient Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán. Originally enchiladas were eggs in corn tortillas. The Spanish were quick to modify the native staple. They added meats and spicy sauces, to raise the flavor profile.

Cooking in Breakfast Enchiladas CVap

Admittedly, you don’t have to have a CVap oven to prepare enchiladas. However, if you need to serve more than a handful, a CVap oven will make your life so much easier. In this preparation, we prepared 40 enchiladas. But the recipe can easily be scaled up or down to suit the gang you are feeding.

Breakfast enchiladas

Breakfast Enchiladas Ingredients

  • 30 – Large eggs
  • 4 cups (1 qt) – Half-and-Half
  • 4 lbs. – Breakfast sausage of choice
  • 1½ lbs. – Bacon of choice (or real bacon bits & pieces)
  • 2 lbs. – Shredded cheese of choice
  • 40 – 6” Flour tortillas
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Breakfast enchiladas
Breakfast enchiladas

The Process:

  1. Preheat your CVap oven to Vapor 200°F/ Air 350°F. 
  2. Pre-cook the sausage in a full 2” hotel pan (should take 15 to 20 minutes).
  3. Pre-cook bacon on a full solid hotel pan (should take about 30 minutes).
  4. Transfer sausage to a bowl. Using gloves, crumble sausage until all the large bits have been broken up.
  5. Slice or chop bacon into small pieces. Reserve about 1/4 cup for top garnish. Add the rest of the chopped bacon to the sausage.
  6. Add half of the cheese to the sausage/bacon mixture. Reserve the rest of the cheese for the topping.
  7. Portion ¼ cup of sausage/bacon/cheese mixture onto each tortilla. Roll up and soldier into a hotel pan.
  8. Mix eggs and half-and-half until well combined. Pour evenly over the rolled enchiladas.
  9. Top with cheese and bacon garnish.
  10. You can bake immediately. However, you can also prepare this ahead of time, cover it, and refrigerate it for baking the next day.
  11. Bake in breakfast enchiladas CVap for about 90 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set and cheese is gooey and melted.

Chef’s note – Traditionally, breakfast enchiladas are made with corn tortillas. We opted for flour since it’s a little easier to work with, and tends to be a bit more popular. But by all means, prepare yours to suit your patrons’ preferences.

Give Caterers an Advantage with CVap®

caterers

Caterers, like others in the hospitality industry, face their share of challenges. Among
them are assuring food safety, maintaining food quality, and providing fast
service. Critically, falling short in any of these areas can damage your reputation and threaten
your business. Winston’s CVap® equipment can provide solutions

Maintaining Safe Food Temperatures

According to the CDC, one of the top causes of foodborne illness is allowing food to remain at an unsafe temperature for too long. Consequently, the importance of maintaining safe food temperatures cannot be overstated. In fact, being the source of an illness outbreak can crush a business. Undoubtedly, CVap equipment is a powerful tool for serving food safely. CVap Cook and Hold and Retherm Ovens are engineered to efficiently transition food temperature through the danger zone well within FSIS guidelines. Indeed, all CVap holding and cooking equipment can reliably maintain food at safe temperatures for extended periods, without quality loss.

caterers chafing dishes

Bringing the Power of Heated Vapor to Caterers

Unique technology sets CVap equipment apart from other brands. All food is comprised mostly of water. Consequently, food’s high water content causes food moisture to behave like water when heated. Uniquely, CVap utilizes heated water vapor as its primary heat source. Thermodynamics dictates that once food temperature equalizes with the vapor temperature it cannot fall below it. CVap offers food temperature precision that is unmatched by our competitors. Additionally, add an optional food probe (Series 7 models) to collect food temperatures and utilize CVap’s integrated temperature collection feature to document all your HACCP data.

Although one might think that vapor heat would result in soggy food, that’s not the case. In fact, CVap technology also utilizes a second, dry air heat. Accordingly, this air heat serves to control moisture evaporation from the food’s surface. Consequently, air heat allows you to select the texture of food, from moist to crisp. Together, the vapor heat and air heat work in tandem to cook and maintain food exactly as desired.

Avoiding Contamination

According to the CDC, the other critical risk to food safety is contamination. Of course, contamination risks encompass areas throughout your operation. But keeping equipment clean is critical to reducing contamination risks. To that endeavor, CVap equipment is designed for easy cleaning.

To that end, rails and flues are easily removable. Stainless steel interiors are accessible and durable. Undoubtedly, daily cleaning assures equipment is free of illness-causing chemicals and residue. Indeed, not only does cleaning protect your patrons, but it also protects your warranty.

Serving Quality and Quantity

caterers

Indeed, caterers face the constant challenge of serving large numbers quickly. Clearly, they must do so without sacrificing food quality. Undoubtedly, nobody wants the infamous rubber chicken meal. Of course, CVap equipment offers capacities as large as 14 full-sheet pans. Clearly, large capacities, paired with precise food quality control, means you can serve dozens of meals quickly. Since CVap equipment maintains peak quality for extended times, you can prepare well ahead of serving, and still maintain just-cooked freshness.

caterers

Staging is another helpful process. For this purpose, food can be cooked and held at a precise setpoint and then finished in a few minutes on a grill or plancha. Undoubtedly, staging is perfect for proteins. You can achieve sous vide temperature precision. Food’s interior will be uniformly cooked, end to end and top to bottom. Finishing provides the seared exterior or grill marks diners expect. All can be done quickly, improving serving time.

Staffing, and Skills

Hiring and keeping competent staff has always been a challenge for caterers. Undoubtedly, the pandemic and its aftermath have exacerbated that struggle. Indeed, the nature of catering businesses tends to attract younger workers, such as high school and college students. Consequently, high turnover is a given. Skill levels can vary widely. Accordingly, equipment must be easy to use and require minimal training.

CVap ovens and holding cabinets have eight preprogrammed channels. Of course, these channels encompass the most common cooking and holding processes. Each channel can be re-programmed to custom-fit your menu. Additionally, controls can be locked to prevent unauthorized setting changes. Undoubtedly, push-button simplicity makes CVap easy to use, even for untrained new hires.

caterer plates

Because CVap automates so many tasks, it can even reduce the amount of labor necessary to execute events. In fact, ovens transition to an automatic hold, meaning no babysitting is needed. Without a doubt, extended hold times maintain high food quality until the staff is ready to serve. To be sure, overnight cooking and delayed startup mean your equipment is working even when nobody’s in the kitchen.

Serving sous vide? In fact, a  single CVap oven can match the cooking capacity of a kitchen full of immersion circulators. Add in the fact that sous vide bags are optional in CVap, and you’ve got a serious labor (and space) saver.

caterer food waste

Food Waste

Food waste is a huge problem across all sectors of the hospitality industry. For caterers, it’s a particularly daunting challenge. Food is money. Nobody can afford to waste it. But no caterer wants to host an event and run out of food. Walking that fine line of providing enough, but not wasting is a never-ending fight. Having to throw out food that’s of questionable integrity is even more painful.

CVap can help reduce waste. Our ovens can be programmed for high-yield cooking, resulting in better yields and more servings per primal cut.

Sizes and Configurations to Suit Every Caterer's Situation

Catering jobs come in all sizes, from small gatherings to large venues. In fact, CVap ovens and holding cabinets are available in a wide range of sizes, from the large 14-pan to the under-counter 4-pan model. Indeed, CVap Hold and Serve Drawers are designed for small spaces, perfect for kiosks, food trucks, and serving stations. Though they’re small, they deliver the same high performance as our larger CVap models.

Of course, mobility is a frequent necessity for caterers. To that end, CVap equipment features casters, making it easy to shift it where you need it. Optional transport packages enhance mobility with heavy-duty wheels, push-pull handles, evaporator cover, and cord wrap. The fact that CVap equipment doesn’t require a vent hood or permanent plumbing means you can use it about anywhere with sufficient power available. Prepare food in the kitchen and roll it to the serving area without unloading. It’s easy with CVap.

Critically, Winston offers CVap in the size, configuration, and option levels that caterers need, whatever your volume or budget.

Need help deciding what equipment is best for your catering business? Contact us for one-on-one help to equip you to succeed. We’re happy to help!

 

cvap equipment sizes

How to Pick a Holding Cabinet for a Commercial Kitchen

holding cabinet

No matter what type of commercial kitchen you’re operating, there’s a holding cabinet that can benefit you. Holding cabinets are a crucial part of any kitchen that serves hot food. They save time and labor. Consequently, holding cabinets can increase your bottom line.

What is a holding cabinet?

CVap commercial kitchen equipment foodservice products

Basically, holding cabinets are heated appliances designed to hold cooked foods at a safe serving temperature. Some holding cabinets do this well and some do not. Of course, the quality depends on the manufacturer and design.

Notably, people sometimes refer to holding cabinets as hot boxes, warmers, insulated warmers, hold and serves, warming cabinets, and other titles. Nonetheless, their function is the same.

Winston’s CVap® technology started as a holding technology. Colonel Sanders (yes, really) challenged our founder Winston Shelton to invent a cabinet that could hold his famous chicken for an extended time. Critically, the chicken had to maintain the infamously high quality that Sanders demanded. Shelton was up to the challenge.

Although the Colonel didn’t live to see the final product, CVap technology was the result. It revolutionized the foodservice industry. Nearly four decades later, CVap is still the pinnacle of holding cabinets.

All holding cabinets have the same job; keeping food hot until it’s served. Clearly, some do this better than others. It’s dependent on their design. Holding cabinets fall into four basic categories:

  • Dry holding cabinets
  • Passive humidity cabinets
  • Humidified holding cabinets
  • Controlled vapor holding cabinets

What Can I Use a Holding Cabinet Holding Cabinet For

As the name implies, holding cabinets are used for keeping food hot while serving. Although they’re found in all sorts of commercial kitchens, they’re particularly well suited for high-volume operations. These include fast-food establishments and institutional kitchens (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.).

 Notably, holding cabinets cannot be used to reheat food – that’s a food code violation. But used with a little forethought, holding cabinets can reduce labor by allowing staff to prepare food ahead of rush periods. Depending on which type of cabinet you choose, holding cabinets can help you serve fresh hot food to all your patrons.

holding cabinet

How to Select the Right Select the Right Holding Cabinet

When it comes to selecting the right cabinet for your commercial kitchen, there are several factors to consider. In the interest of transparency, we’re only talking CVap holding cabinets here.

Your Volume

How much traffic do you see in a typical day? Is it spread throughout the day, or does it come in rush periods? If your volume isn’t particularly heavy, you may be able to thrive with a smaller CVap unit, such as a holding drawer or half-size holding cabinet. There’s no point in paying for more capacity than you need. On the other hand, higher-volume operations may want to consider larger cabinets, such as an HOV5-14UV or HOV3-14UV. Clearly, larger cabinets increase your holding capacity, so you can maintain food at high quality throughout meal periods.

Your Space

How much room is available in your commercial kitchen? If you’re in a confined space, such as a food truck or concession stand, you obviously don’t have a lot of room to work with. Smaller CVap cabinets, such as warming drawers, holding bins, or under-counter holding cabinets are a good solution. Likewise, larger spaces can accommodate bigger cabinets, from the half-size HOV7-05UV up to the HOV5-14UV. CVap holding cabinets don’t require vent hoods, so there’s no need to utilize that valuable space. Optional stacking kits give you the option of stacking two cabinets, doubling the footprint capacity. There’s a perfect size for any operation or workspace.

Your Menu

What food products are on your menu? CVap holding cabinets provide an extended hold on any food products. CVap truly excels at moist foods, such as soup, pasta, and seafood. The moist vapor environment inside CVap cabinets really interacts with the food’s moisture, locking in freshness for a long time. Foods that you wouldn’t consider particularly moist, such as pizza, burgers, or steaks will also hold fresh for an extended time. Nothing can hold forever, but these foods will hold for a substantial time before losing quality.

At the upper end of the scale are crisp foods, such as french fries. Again, CVap provides a respectable hold. But the high differential temperature required to properly hold crisp foods will inevitably cause food evaporation to creep up. This shortens the time before quality starts degrading. Don’t get us wrong, CVap cabinets still provide a respectable holding time. But it’s important to realize that even the best cabinets have their limits.

Does your operation offer baked goods? CVap holding cabinets are also excellent proofers. You can proof and hold in the same cabinet, getting double duty from the same footprint.

Your Budget

The brutal reality of today’s world is that everything is getting more expensive. Geopolitical turbulence (we’re looking at you, Russia), persistent pandemics, and supply chain strain is ratcheting up the cost of everything. This is particularly true of stainless steel. Naturally, stainless steel is the primary component of virtually every holding cabinet.

Money is always an issue. But at rocky times like these, you may be tempted to go with the cheapest cabinet you can get, namely a dry or passive cabinet. But you need to look beyond the initial cost. Buying the cheapest cabinets will save money up front, but over the life of that cabinet, the decrease quality of the food served from it will add up costs over time. In the end, it may cost you more than you saved by buying the el-cheapo cabinet.

CVap cabinets’ precision and elevated food quality really are the better option. We admit, CVap isn’t the cheapest brand out there. But it is the best. CVap in your commercial kitchen gives you the assurance that you are serving food at the absolute peak of quality.

Winston offers CVap holding cabinets in three feature levels, tailored to fit a range of budgets.

Our lowest tier is Series 3. The 3s feature simple membrane controls. They’re easy to operate, even for untrained staff. Although they’re the simplest CVaps, they still deliver the precise hold that people expect from CVap cabinets.

Next up are our Series 5 cabinets. The 5s have capacitive touch controls, desktop programming, a USB port for programming uploads and data downloads. Eight programmable channels cover about every type of menu. Convection fans minimize hot and cold zones with the cabinet.

The top of the line are our Series 7 cabinets. Series 7 have all the bells and whistles as the Series 5s, plus a few more. Wireless NFC programming enables you to reprogram the cabinet with the wave of your Android phone. Convection fans can be turned on and off. And a probe option gives you accuracy the is simply unrivaled.

As you can see, there’s a CVap holding cabinet to suit every budget.

Your Mobility

Sometimes you have to move it, move it. CVap cabinets come stock with casters, so moving them around your kitchen, whether to clean or to rearrange, is no problem. If you need to really move it around, consider adding the optional transport package. This includes 5” heavy-duty casters, push-pull handle, cord wrap, and evaporator cover. It’s perfect for commercial kitchens that need to move hot food from one area to another, such as from a school kitchen to a classroom.

CVAP Accessories

Ultimately, It’s Up to You

Nobody knows your operation as you do. In the end, you are the best judge of what you need. But if you need a little guidance, contact us. We’ll be glad to discuss your needs and options and suggest the best solutions for your commercial kitchen.

Wet Bulb, Dry Bulb, and the Science of Cooking with Water

thermodynamics wet bulb dry bulb

Cooking, in all its forms, involves controlling water. That’s a basic fact. Heat’s interaction with internal moisture causes changes to food as it cooks. After all, food is mostly water. Notably, some foods are more than 90 percent water. So, it makes sense that food behaves like water when heated. Let’s delve into wet bulb, dry bulb, and the science of cooking with water.

wet bulb dry bulb thermometer

Dry Bulb

Dry-bulb temperature is measured by a bare thermometer with no radiant heat affecting it (sunlight, radiators, Chippendales dancers, etc.). It’s what we think of as the air temperature. Wet-bulb temperature is a little trickier. Simply put, wet bulb is the lowest temperature possible under ambient conditions by the evaporation of water only. Sounds complicated, but it’s not.

Wet Bulb

Wet-bulb is measured with a thermometer covered by a water-soaked wick or other porous fabric. Remember, evaporation is a cooling process. Therefore, the drier the air, the faster moisture evaporates, and the lower the web-bulb temperature. Wet-bulb is always lower than dry-bulb. However, there is an exception. At 100% relative humidity, wet-bulb and dry-bulb temperatures are equal. Certainly, it’s physically impossible for the wet bulb to be higher than the dry bulb.

Author Nathan Myhrvold eloquently described the role that water plays in cooking in his book series, Modernist Cuisine:

Water is also the medium in which most cooking is done. Sometimes we use it directly, as when boiling, steaming, extracting, or cooking sous vide. Water plays a role in ostensibly “dry” processes such as roasting and baking as well, yet many chefs fail to account for its effects. Whether it’s a liquid boiling or simmering in a pot, a vapor rising from a steamer, the humidity in an oven’s air, the liquid circulating in a cooking bath, or the crushed ice in a blender, the unique properties of water come into play in all manner of culinary operations. Faced with such powerful and ubiquitous phenomena, cooks must learn how to manipulate water or risk being foiled by it.

food is water

Long before Myhrvold, our founder Winston Shelton discovered water’s role in cooking. He deduced that to control food’s temperature, you must control food’s internal moisture. This led to the invention of CVap® (Controlled Vapor Technology). Shelton developed it as a hot food holding technology. But he realized it could also revolutionize cooking.

New Technology, New Words

Never limited by existing language, Winston fondly coined new terms. A significant Winstonism was thermoisturization. He defined it this way:

Thermoisturize: Taken from the words thermalize and moisturize…to mean the process of thermalizing while moisturizing. Also, ‘thermoisturization.’ The scientific world uses ‘thermalizing’ to represent the heat transfer phenomena in each of the processes. ‘Thermoisturization’ is coined to represent the simultaneous thermalization and moisturization of foods.

Our Corporate Research Chef, Samantha Brown, explains thermoisturization in more layman’s terms here.

The Laws of Thermoisturization

Shelton wrote The Laws of Thermoisturization. These explain the mechanics of controlling wet bulb and dry bulb temperatures inside an oven utilizing two heat sources. Ultimately, the reason wet bulb temperature control is more important is as follows:

  1. The large amount of moisture in all fresh foods.
  2. The enormous heat energy in water vapor.
  3. The ability to accurately control the amount of water vapor in the food’s atmosphere.

Certainly, that’s a lot of scientific jargon. A much simpler explanation of CVap can be found in this quirky video.

CVap generates heated vapor from a water reservoir at the unit’s base. We refer to it as the evaporator. If food is cooler than the evaporator, the heated vapor condenses on food, heating it. On the other hand, food that’s hotter than the vapor temperature evaporates moisture, cooling it. Since evaporation and condensation are highly effective heat transfer phenomena, food temperature must equalize with the vapor temperature. Ultimately, food temperature is affected more by the vapor temperature than the air temperature. Food simply can’t drop below the evaporator temperature. This differs from other so-called “humidified” equipment. Only CVap directly controls food temperature via controlled-heat vapor.

thermodynamics wet bulb dry bulb

Conventional Cooking vs. CVap Cooking

In a conventional oven, evaporation increases exponentially with the food’s temperature. Evaporation slows as food’s interior moisture decreases. As a result, the food dries out.
Indeed, evaporation is counterproductive for several reasons:

  1. Evaporative cooling hampers the heating process.
  2. Energy is wasted evaporating moisture instead of heating food.
  3. Food quality decreases as moisture evaporates.

In order to serve at peak quality, food must be removed from a conventional oven as soon as it reaches the desired endpoint temperature. If not, food overcooks.

CVap Cooking

In a CVap oven, food moisture cannot evaporate until food reaches vapor temperature. Critically, food heats more rapidly in the absence of evaporative cooling. As food reaches the selected endpoint, its temperature stops rising. For that reason, food can remain in a CVap oven for extended periods without overcooking.

Relative Humidity is Bull$h*t

Some manufacturers throw the term “relative humidity” around. They claim better control over food quality via relative humidity. However, when it comes to food, relative humidity is BS.

Relative humidity is simply a measurement of how much moisture air can hold before becoming saturated. But it changes, depending on the temperature.

“Controlling” Relative Humidity?

“Controlling” relative humidity is a bit of a misnomer. Relative humidity can be the same percentage at a wide range of temperatures. You can have an RH of 50% with a dry-bulb temp of 62°F or 86°F or 150°F (and so on), depending on the wet-bulb temperature. Consequently, relative humidity’s effect on food temperature and quality is indirect, at best.

CVap is Different

That’s why CVap technology is so different. The other guys attempt to affect food by manipulating the oven’s air. But they have it backward. Only CVap directly controls vapor temperature, which dictates food temperature.  

After all, do you want to heat air, or do you want to heat food?