Part Four: Chef Reed’s CVap® tips: study it, use it, experiment with it, clean it

Read all parts in this series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Though chef Reed Johnson is skilled with CVap®, he says he’s not tapped its potential. He experiments with it daily using different foods and settings, while tweaking simple things such as reconfiguring its shelves to maximize food load. He says the oven is infinitely customizable if chefs take the time to learn its virtues.

If a group of chefs asked how to learn CVap® quickly, what would you tell them?

I’d tell them to stage with somebody who uses it regularly. Nothing beats seeing them in action and working properly. I’d also tell them to search for CVap videos online.

I’d also tell them to talk to other chefs who use it; they’ll tell you that CVaps allow you more freedom to do more things. The quick sales pitch would be to tell them it can hold cooked eggs perfectly for 4 hours and fried chicken to the point that, when you bite into it, it tastes like it just came from the deep fryer. I’d tell them to experience it for themselves.

Based on your time working with it, is there any foodservice application that wouldn’t be a good fit for CVap®?

I can’t think of any sort of food out there it wouldn’t work for. You can control humidity from zero percent to 100 percent, and temperature from 100 F for proofing and 200 F for baking. And anything you’re cooking in them will also hold perfectly in it.

The whole cook and hold system behind them is amazing to me. Just making something simple like prime rib … put the whole seasoned prime rib in, programming it to start with dry heat to sear and brown, then cook it for several hours, then it starts stepping the temperature down until you’ve got finished 130 F prime rib holding and ready to go on the buffet.

Some chefs say it reduces food cost through better yield.

It does that, and it does reduce food waste by keeping your products consistent. That also lowers food waste. And when you’re cooking food that doesn’t have to be remade, you’re saving on food and labor at the same time.

You’ve mentioned a couple of times that you appreciate its design. What’s unique about it?

Just making all the racks adjustable is huge. CVaps have wider rails than other holding cabinets, so a full sheet tray can slide in perfectly. You can also turn hotel pans sideways to fit. Deep hotel pans fit perfectly on those racks. If you load it smartly, there’s not an inch of waste. And you can’t really overload the unit because it’s built with 2 inches of space around everything. That creates its own natural convection that moves everything around.

It may not sound all that important, but they clean up so easily since they’re all stainless steel, and there aren’t any weird places for food to hide that you can’t get to. Somebody obviously put a hell of a lot of thought into them.

Lighting round question: Give us some of your favorite CVap® settings:
  • Holding poached eggs and sunny-side-up eggs: 140 F and +0; water bath for poached; on Silpat for sunny-side up
  • Holding fried chicken: 150 F and +80
  • Pulled pork and brisket: 170 F and +5,
  • Proofing English muffins: 100 F and +0; proof setting straight up for larger Pullman style loaves
  • Holding buttermilk biscuits: 150 F +30

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