In this post I want to bring to light one of the current dilemmas many of us are facing in our kitchens today. Although the list of equipment offerings and technologies continues to grow, we see more and more specialized kitchen equipment designed for a specific job. Whether we are baking, steaming, braising, boiling, poaching, roasting, grilling, staging, frying or searing, there is a piece of equipment on the market specifically designed for that specific job.
Most of our kitchens are littered with several pieces of single-purpose equipment. They are all pieces of a puzzle that fit together and (hopefully) lend themselves well to each other. Whether we are talking about convection ovens, steamers, grills, flat top griddles, immersion circulators, holding cabinets, combi ovens, low temp roasting ovens, etc… they all have their place and purpose. On the other hand, most of the real estate in our kitchens is at a premium, preventing us from utilizing them all properly. We are left with two answers to this challenge, either build massive kitchens capable of holding all this equipment or find versatility in the equipment we use.
When discussing versatility, most equipment can be placed into one of two categories, versatile equipment or single-purpose equipment. Let’s dissect these two categories a bit further and analyze some of the equipment mentioned above.
Convection ovens are the go-to standard for versatility and have been widely used in kitchens around the world for years. These ovens have their place in most kitchens as they are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the market today. From prep to finish the convection oven can be used throughout the entire cooking process and is effective at both high and low temperatures, all within a small footprint. Other equipment that fit into this same category are grills, griddles, and combi ovens.
Steamers are one of the main culprits in the single-purpose category. They are less versatile and capable of only one temp and one process – steaming. Not only is the equipment limited by its versatility, but often, finding a place in the kitchen for single-purpose equipment can be a hassle. While highly effective at performing the specific job the unit is designed for, single-purpose equipment can be a waste of space if it is not utilized around the clock. Other examples of single-use kitchen equipment include immersion circulators and low-temp roasting ovens.