Essential Kitchen Equipment for New Restaurants: A Checklist

essential kitchen equipment
essential kitchen equipment

Opening a new restaurant is no walk in the park. There are lots of hurdles to bear in mind. According to recent data, one in three restaurants won’t survive its first year. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Talk to folks who have walked the walk of opening a thriving operation. Chef Andy Husbands is a great example. He’s successfully opened five locations of his Boston-based concept, The Smoke Shop. His advice is spot on.

“Use professionals. That is a business planner, an architect, a lawyer, and not your cousin. Use somebody who actually writes restaurant leases. Someone who actually designs restaurants. I know that your friend’s sister is really good at designing, but if she hasn’t designed a restaurant before, you don’t want her making mistakes on your dime.”

Obviously, there are a ton of things to consider for a new restaurant. We’re concentrating on the stuff you’ll need inside this new place, essential kitchen equipment. Specifically, equipment for prepping, cooking, storing, and cold storage. Most commercial kitchens are going to need some mix of the following:

  • Cooking Equipment
  • Cold Storage Equipment
  • Ice Maker
  • Food Prep Surfaces and Equipment
  • Storage Racks and Containers
  • Dish Washing Area

Cooking Equipment

Ovens

When you think about essential kitchen equipment, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably ovens. Commercial ovens aren’t like home ovens. They have higher power and larger capacities. And they’re designed to cook all day, every day. There are a bunch of different types of ovens, and they all come in different sizes. Calculate how much food you will prepare during a typical service to figure out what capacity you’ll need. And don’t forget to lean on your kitchen equipment designer for input.

Oven Types

Conventional Ovens are like ovens found in most homes. They use simple radiant heating elements for cooking food.

Combination ovens or combi ovens are part steamer and part convection oven. Combi ovens are versatile and powerful. They cook faster than any other type of commercial oven. But you will pay for all that speed. They can cost an arm and a leg and aren’t cheap to maintain. If you’re going with a combi, you’ll have to have a vent hood and will have to plumb it to a drain.

Some combi ovens offer lots of bells and whistles. Ask yourself whether you need those fancy features. If they’re not beneficial to your operation, why pay for them? Factor in the repair costs when those extra features break down. You’ll want to weigh the costs versus the benefits before investing in a combi.

Cook and Hold Ovens do exactly that. They cook food and then switch to a holding mode until the food’s ready to be served. They aren’t as fast as combi or retherm ovens, but they make up for that with versatility, precision, and higher food yields. CVap Cook and Hold Ovens are ideal for classic “low and slow” cooking. This boost yields, so you can get more servings from every cut or roast. More servings mean better profits. And because you’re not cooking the hell out of it, food retains more of its natural juices.  

Thermalizers are robust ovens used to reheat prepared cold or frozen foods. When it comes to food safety, time and temperature are important. The more time food spends in the temperature danger zone, the faster bacteria can grow. Thermalizers are designed to push food temps through the zone in under two hours. Winston’s CVap® Retherm Oven is a great example. These retherm ovens don’t just reheat, they are also capable of a wide range of cooking processes, from baking to roasting, to sous vide. Winston’s retherm oven can also automatically switch to hold mode at the end of the cook cycle, taking pressure off the crew.

Microwave Ovens use the same technology as microwaves found in most home kitchens. Commercial models are larger and more powerful. They’re commonly used to retherm individual portions of prepared foods. Even restaurants need to nuke stuff sometimes.

Convection ovens use powerful fans to circulate hot air around the food. This cuts down on hot spots and helps food good more evenly. Convection ovens are perfect for baking. They are fast, but they can dry food out if you’re not careful. It might take a little trial and error to dial in satisfactory results.

Sous Vide

Okay, technically, sous vide is a cooking technique. It’s French for “under vacuum.” It usually involves vacuum-sealing the product in food-grade bags and placing it in an immersion circulator. These circulators keep water at a set temperature. The laws of thermodynamics being what they are, food temperature equalizes with the water temperature. It’s a very precise cooking method. Overcooking is dang near eliminated.

sous vide cvap

Commercial immersion circulators are more powerful than home countertop models. Sous vide can be used for most meats and vegetables. It’s perfect for delicate foods, like fish. Adding spices or oils to the bag before sealing can enhance the flavor. Circulators are not fast cookers. You’ll need to plan to accommodate their slow cook time. Even commercial circulators tend to be fairly small, so you’ll need several circulators to achieve higher volume. Most circulators are placed on countertops so space may be an issue. And many localities require sous vide processes to have an approved HACCP plan, which is another expense. Don’t forget to factor in the need for a vacuum sealer and the cost and labor associated with using the bags.

CVap ovens are ideal for sous vide cooking. Their dual heat system can achieve 100 percent humidity, mirroring the effects of food cooked in an immersion circulator. Since CVap cooks with water vapor instead of a water bath, bags are optional. Additionally, CVap ovens can cook large volumes of food in a small footprint, compared to the expansive countertop space required to cook the same volume in circulators.

Ranges

There are two types of restaurant kitchen ranges – gas and electric. Both have their good and bad points.

Gas ranges utilize live flame, which offers better cooking speed and precision than electric burners. However, they can also be harder to clean.

Electric ranges provide more even cooking and easier cleanup than gas. They take longer to heat up. And utility costs are generally higher than the gas ranges.

Grills

Not every commercial kitchen requires a grill (or griddle) so this may or may not be considered essential kitchen equipment. But if your menu includes burgers, steaks, pancakes, etc., you might consider a grill. Good grills come with a flat griddle surface for making pancakes or grilling sandwiches. Like ovens, you have a choice of gas or electric.

Fryers

Commercial fryers use hot oil or shortening to deep fry products like fried chicken, fries, seafood, appetizers, etc. Smaller restaurants may get by with a countertop model. But if you anticipate serving lots of fried foods, you’ll want to consider a larger floor model.

Commercial fryers are available in gas or electric. Gas fryers tend to cook faster. Electric fryers are usually less expensive to operate. There are dozens of configurations, but they come down to two types – open or pressure. Open fryers are great for fries, seafood, and other fried appetizers. On the other hand, if you’re serving fried chicken, consider a pressure fryer. Pressure frying speeds up the cooking process and makes the final product less greasy.

 

A well-built fryer can last over 20 years (with regular maintenance). Winston’s Collectramatic® fryer line offers both open and pressure models. Winston’s fryers are strictly electric.

As you can imagine, commercial fryers do come with risks. Anything that uses hot oil to cook can be dangerous if misused. Your staff needs to be thoroughly trained on how to operate a fryer safely.

Holding Equipment

Although they aren’t technically cooking equipment, holding equipment allows you to keep hot cooked food at a safe temperature until you serve it. Holding equipment frees up the cooking equipment to allow you to keep on cooking. Some ovens, such as CVap ovens, can function as holding cabinets, offering double duty from the same footprint.

Holding cabinets are commonly available in half or full size. This gives them a capacity difference from four to 14 pans. Like with ovens, the cabinet’s efficiency depends on its technology. The cheapest are dry radiant heat. Humidified cabinets cost more but are much more effective and offer longer hold times. CVap Holding Cabinets offer the longest quality holding times in the industry.

Consider your holding needs when choosing a holding cabinet. If yours is a low-volume operation, you may not need to hold. The higher your traffic, the more likely it is that you will need it. Holding cabinets can be an important crutch to get you around staffing challenges.

Warming drawers are smaller than holding cabinets but serve the same function. They are usually on or under counters. Drawers are great in operations with limited space, like food trucks and concession areas. Because they recover quickly, drawers are a great option where the food must be accessed frequently. They usually hold one to two hotel pans, depending on the configuration. Humidified drawers are more precise than radiant heat. CVap Hold & Serve Drawers, like other CVap products, offer the best quality hold in the industry.

There are lots of other appliances available for keeping food hot. These include countertop food warmer bins, soup warmers, heat lamps, and steam tables. Think about your menu when deciding what holding solution is best for you.

Cold Storage Equipment

Freezers and Refrigerators

Another must have for any restaurant is refrigeration. Without a fridge, you can’t keep perishable food fresh. Likewise, freezers are crucial for inventory management.

Industrial-grade refrigeration units are designed to meet the requirements of foodservice operations. They are available as reach-in or walk-in units. Although walk-in fridges and freezers have more storage space, smaller restaurants may not need a walk-in.

Be familiar with the maintenance requirements of your refrigeration equipment, as it can be expensive to repair. If a faulty unit reaches unsafe temperatures, it can ruin your inventory and put customers’ health at risk.

Blast chillers are designed to cool foods quickly. The Temperature Danger Zone is as important when cooling food as it is when heating it. Simply placing hot food in a refrigerator to cool may not chill it fast enough. Blast chillers can cool large quantities of food quickly. While they aren’t necessary for every kitchen, they’re a great tool.

Ice Maker

You’ll probably need an ice maker if you’re serving any kind of beverage. Beyond icing drinks, they can also be used to fill bins for keeping canned and bottled beverages cool or as ice baths for food in hotel pans. Factors to consider when choosing an ice machine include capacity and cube shape. The ice maker should also be easy to drain and clean so that old ice or contaminants aren’t lingering in the depths of the ice.

Food Prep Equipment

Food Processors

Another essential kitchen equipment is food processors. They are great for slicing, chopping, blending, and pureeing. They’re handy for making dressings, dips, and sauces.

The more horsepower a processor has, the longer it can operate without bogging down or overheating. Likewise, the processor’s rotations per minute (RPM) affect how efficiently the blade cuts. There are a few different food processor types to consider.

Batch bowl processors are the same type most home cooks are familiar with. Staff simply choose their preferred blade, drop the food in, and collect it in the integral bowl.

Continuous-feed food processors are more of a workhorse. As the name indicates, continuous feed processors run continuously, dropping the food into a separate bowl. They are ideal for high-volume kitchens.

Buffalo choppers are among the most powerful and heavy-duty food processors. They have metal parts and sharp rotating blades sturdy enough to process meat. It’s more of a specialty item. Not every kitchen needs one.

Mixers

Most restaurant kitchens will need a commercial mixer. These are designed for frequent use.

Hand mixers are ideal for quickly blending soups and sauces, chopping up ingredients, and emulsifying dressings.

Countertop mixers work well for smaller restaurants that only need occasional mixing.

Floor mixers are ideal for high-volume commercial kitchens. These huge heavy-duty mixers stand on the floor and have the power to mix massive quantities of ingredients quickly.

Slicers

Commercial slicers are used for slicing meats and cheeses. Horsepower always indicates how long the slicer can run without overheating or bogging down. Check out the slicer’s blade kits and make sure the size works for the type of food you’ll be slicing.

Prep Surfaces and Cutting Boards

Prep tables, counters, and cutting surfaces are essential kitchen equipment. The best prep surfaces are stainless steel. Stainless is tough, doesn’t absorb bacteria, and can withstand the harsh cleaning products used in commercial kitchens.

When it comes to cutting boards, your choices are plastic or wood. Plastic boards are easier to sanitize but can develop deep grooves that can hide bacteria. Wooden boards are tougher to clean than plastic ones but don’t develop grooves as easily.

Consider adopting a color-coded system for cutting boards help prevent cross-contamination.

Storage and Containers

Storage Racks and Shelving

An organized storage shelving system streamlines your kitchen. It keeps the most-used kitchen equipment and supplies within arm’s reach. Likewise, store the stuff that’s used less frequently on the top and bottom shelves. The bottom shelf must be at least six inches off the floor to meet health codes.

Mobile storage racks are handy. They’re commonly sized to fit 20 standard sheet pans and are great for storing and transporting food.

Storage Containers

Storage containers, such as plastic bins and hotel pans, make every cook’s job easier. Pair these with good tape and markers to clearly label containers with contents and dates. It will make FIFO easier.

Dishwashing Area

Every restaurant will need a designated dishwashing area. Small operations may be able to get away with a simple triple sink setup (for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing). Larger restaurants will want to consider a commercial dishwasher, which can handle a much larger volume of dishes. As with planning in other areas of the restaurant, contemplate your anticipated need when choosing a dishwashing option. Check local health codes to see what is required for your location.

Although it’s not really part of dishwashing, having the proper number of handwashing sinks available to your staff is equally important. It’s something every health inspector will look for.

Sourcing Restaurant Equipment

It is advisable to reach out to a foodservice consultant, manufacturer’s rep, or equipment dealer to guide you, particularly if you plan to buy all-new equipment.

Buying used equipment is an option. There are caveats to buying used. While used equipment is often still in great shape, you don’t know if it’s been properly maintained or works as it should. Used equipment isn’t usually covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, so you’re fully responsible for repairs.

Begin your search with a little online investigation. Numerous large online equipment dealers can help narrow down your search. Interested in Winston’s products? Fill out our contact form. We’ll be glad to help.

10 Food Safety Tips for Commercial Kitchens

food safety tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly twenty percent of foodborne illnesses are caused by poor food safety. In real-world numbers, that’s approximately 3,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. No commercial kitchen operator wants to be the source of an illness outbreak. There are several steps you can take to minimize the risk. Check out these food safety tips to ensure your kitchen stays safe for your customers, your employees, and your bottom line.

Maintaining clean and safe conditions for your food prep areas is critically important. Salmonella and other dangerous bacteria cause serious illness. Knowing how to ace health department inspections ensures you can operate a safe and clean kitchen. Additionally, it gives the operator peace of mind.

Commercial and industrial kitchens can be very hectic, making it challenging to ensure that everything is done properly. But following these ten safety tips will protect the health and safety of your customers and staff.

Washing Hand

The simplest food safety tip is also the most important. Wash your dang hands. This means providing a dedicated hand washing station for your staff in a commercial kitchen. This minimizes cross-contamination. Even trace amounts of bacteria can sicken someone, so hand washing is a priority. Soapy hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds under running water. Make it easy for your team by recommending they sing the Alphabet song or Happy Birthday in their heads while washing their hands.

food safety tips

Stay Home When Sick

This is another no-brainer, but it continues to be an issue. The CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) surveyed nearly 500 food workers. The results showed that five percent of workers admitted to preparing food while they were suffering from vomiting or diarrhea. Doing so puts their customers’ health at risk. Gastrointestinal illnesses, such as Norovirus and E. coli, are incredibly contagious. It takes as few as 18 viral particles to make someone sick. And many contagions can survive the cooking process.

Allowing sick workers to be present in your operation puts all your customers and staff at risk. Offering sick pay to workers indeed carries a cost. But removing the financial pressure for workers to “power through” an illness can protect your business and reputation. And in these days of chronic labor shortage, including a sick pay benefit can be another incentive for folks to join your team.

Use Gloves, But Use Them Right

Workers should be wearing kitchen gloves when preparing food. This food safety tip is a tricky one because they need to understand that they can’t use the same gloves for every ingredient. Gloves must be changed when moving from raw meat and poultry to cooked food. Failure to do so can spread contaminants to the customer’s food, leading to food poisoning. Providing an ample supply of gloves for your workers is important. Training staff on proper glove use is time well spent.

food safety tips

Washing Food Properly

Make sure fruits and vegetables are washed. Even produce that will be peeled or skinned must be washed. Not doing so risks spreading bacteria from the outside of the product to the inside.  Fruits and vegetables should be washed under cold running water. To add an extra layer of safety, use an FDA-approved fruit and vegetable rinse. Check with your health department to see which options are recommended in your area.

food safety tip

It's All About the Temperature

Food temperature is absolutely the most important factor in food safety. Assuring that food transitions quickly through the temperature danger zone (40°F to 140°F) is paramount. Likewise, it’s important to know all proteins’ minimum safe internal temperature. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) sets the standards for beef, pork, poultry, and seafood. When reheating cooked food, it is important to reach a minimum of 165°F. Care should also be taken when verifying food temperatures so that thermometers don’t inadvertently cross contaminates.

temperature

If cooked food is to be held hot, it’s equally important to verify that food temperature doesn’t drop into the danger zone.

Winston’s CVap® technology is an industry leader when it comes to safe food temperatures. CVap’s unique dual-heat system is designed to help food transition quickly through the temperature danger zone. Once the desired doneness temperature is achieved, CVap can maintain food at the desired temperature for an extended period without sacrificing food quality. It truly is a game changer.

Implementing and maintaining a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan is advisable.  This is a plan with a preventative approach to food safety. www.fda.gov

Avoid Cross-Contamination

Naturally, many foodborne illnesses arise from accidental cross-contamination, where bacteria are spread from raw meat or poultry to other foods. Utilize separate cutting boards for raw produce, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Consider labeling each board with its intended purpose or use a color-coded system. Be sure to keep boards separate from one another. Likewise, use separate utensils and meat thermometers.

food safety tips

Stay Cool and Separate

Refrigeration and freezing are the primary methods for storing foods. Raw meat and poultry should be kept separate from other foods, especially vegetables, prepared sauces, and anything else that requires little preparation. The FDA advises that food should be cooled to 41°F or below and cooled in a way that provides ventilation, so air can circulate around the food. Make sure meat doesn’t drip and contaminate other food. Cut vegetables should never be left out at room temperature but properly stored away. Never store food on the floor either, and have a thermometer in the refrigerator, not just the freezer.

As stated before, it’s important for food to quickly transition through the danger zone when cooking. It’s just as important for food to cool quickly, to pass through the zone in as little time as possible. Blast chillers are optimal for this, but not every commercial kitchen has one. It’s advisable to store food in shallow containers rather than large vessels to increase the exposed food surface and allow more heat to dissipate. Another option is to place food containers in an ice bath, which will facilitate the chilling effect.

It’s important to understand the role of cold storage and food safety. Refrigeration does not stop bacteria from reproducing but does slow it down. That’s why keeping track of how long a product has been refrigerated is important. Once it’s outside the safe window, it should be discarded.

food safety tips

Freezing, on the other hand, stops bacterial growth. However, bacteria are still present in frozen food. Once thawed, all relevant safety protocols must still be followed.

Although food temperature requirements vary, it’s a good rule of thumb to consider any food that has been in the danger zone for more than four hours to be unsafe and thrown away.

Clean and Sanitize Prep Surfaces and Equipment

Your staff needs a proper workstation and equipment to do their job. Use hot soapy water or a small amount of commercial bleach or cleaner on cutting boards, dishes, countertops, etc. It’s equally important to keep your equipment clean. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing ovens, holding cabinets, grills, and other commercial equipment.

As is the case with many food safety factors, it’s advisable to check with your health department for specific recommendations.

clean
clean
clean

Label Food

The mantra with food is FIFO (First In, First Out). Label food with its arrival date and expiration date, and make sure stock is rotated so that the older stock is used first. Be aware of expiration dates and follow them. The golden rule is “if in doubt, throw it out.” Saving a few pennies by using expired products can cost you dearly if it causes an outbreak of foodborne illness.

Staff Training

Your operation is only as good as your staff. That makes it critical to properly train your staff in all aspects of food safety. Failure to train can lead to shortcuts and a lack of awareness, increasing the risk of your customers getting sick. Each new staff member must be properly trained, both in what to do and what not to do.

An excellent source for food safety is FoodSafety.gov. You can keep up with any food safety recalls, cooking tips and other important information.

food safety tips

Is My Kitchen Equipment Required to Be Under a Hood?

steamy kitchen
steamy kitchen

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

frying in oil

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.

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.

Retherming Brisket in CVap®

retherming brisket

Brisket. Is there a better product to cook to celebrate May’s National BBQ Month? Brisket is incredibly popular, with a 23% increase in menus over the last decade. Whether you’re preparing these babies in-house, or are opting for commercially produced products, CVap ovens are great for retherming brisket without sacrificing quality.

retherming brisket
retherming brisket

To test the full range of products, we rethermed two brisket types. The first was a fully cooked, house-smoked, whole unsliced brisket. The other was commercially produced Hormel sliced brisket. Notably, both briskets were whole, smoked, and fully cooked. But the commercial product was smaller, roughly seven pounds. Additionally, it came presliced. On the other hand, the homemade product is unsliced and was about 14 pounds. We set them up in the same CHV7-05UV oven, with the same program: Vapor 170°F/Air 200°F. We wrapped both briskets in foil and placed them into the preheated oven.

Retherming Brisket - The Same, But Different

Although these were both whole briskets, they fell under different Food Code 3-403.11(C) requirements. The code requires that rethermed proteins hit their required safe temperature in two hours or less

Because the Hormel brisket was a commercially produced product, the code requires it to reach the minimally safe temperature of 135°F. Our CVap oven easily hit the mark. The Hormel brisket reached safe temp in a little under two hours. Clearly, the lower retherming temperature requirement, coupled with CVap’s high humidity retherming program, and the added ingredients (like phosphate) helped keep this pre-sliced brisket perfectly moist.

However, the food code requirements for previously cooked homemade brisket are more stringent. Code dictates that it must reach a minimum safe temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds. Our initial test reveal that this much larger brisket missed the mark on cook time. Unsurprisingly, this brisket, being twice as large as the Hormel product, took nearly twice as long to hit 165°F in the thickest part of the roast, between the point and flat. But no test is a failure, even if the results are not what we wanted. We headed back to the drawing board.

The solution was simple. We separated the whole brisket into the point and flat and wrapped them separately. Consequently, the two smaller cuts reached the required temperature within the two-hour limit. Although we didn’t test it, you could probably optimize the program by either decreasing the vapor and air temperatures or minimizing the temperature differential between the two (for example, Vapor 180°F/Air 190°F, or Vapor 190°F/Air 200°F).

Why Retherm?

What’s the practicality of retherming briskets instead of serving scratch cooked? Time. Briskets are a classic example of a protein you must cook low and slow to achieve the best results. Unless you can perfectly predict how much your operation needs on a given day (and plan accordingly), it is impractical to cook on-demand. But cooking ahead of time and properly refrigerating reduces the time it takes to retherm and serve. Think of it as a form of staging. Ultimately, anything that helps you serve faster and turn tables is beneficial.

A Full Irish Breakfast for St. Patrick’s Day

irish breakfast

The full Irish breakfast harkens back to Ireland’s agrarian past. Farmworkers needed a good, hearty meal to have the energy to power through the rugged daily chores on the farm.

Like much of the world, farmers make up an increasingly small segment of the Irish population. But the popularity of the Irish breakfast hasn’t waned. It remains a favorite for genuine Irish folks and people who simply crave its hearty, basic goodness.

In the spirit of St. Patty’s we wanted to prepare a complete Irish breakfast in our test kitchen. The goal was to prepare as much as we could using our CVap® ovens and keep skillet-cooked foods hot, holding in the CVap® drawers.

irish breakfast
irish breakfast

What Exactly is an Irish Breakfast?

The exact ingredients of an Irish breakfast can vary. There are even regional variations in Ireland itself. But most involve some combination of the following:

  • Rashers (or bacon)
  • Irish sausages
  • Black and white pudding
  • Baked beans
  • Eggs (sunny side)
  • Tomatoes
  • Potato farl (or some other form of cooked potatoes)
  • Brown bread
  • Irish butter
  • Tea or coffee
irish breakfast
irish breakfast
irish breakfast

Settings for Breakfast Ingredients

  • Eggs – prepared sunny-side-up and held in a CVap Drawer at 140°F /+10
  • Beans – rethermed in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/200°F Air until thoroughly heated. The warm beans were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10.
  • Rashers (Bacon) – cooked in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until it reached preferred doneness (for an Irish breakfast, this means not cooking until crisp). Once cooked, the rashers were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10
  • Bangers (sausage links) – cooked in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until thoroughly heated. The cooked bangers were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10.
  • Potatoes (we used frozen rounds) – in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until hot and crispy. We then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80
  • White Pudding (pork sausage with cornmeal (like scrapple)) – sliced and cooked in a skillet, then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80.
  • Black Pudding (pork sausage with cornmeal and blood (like scrapple)) – sliced and cooked in a skillet, then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80.
  • Tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half.

The CVap Advantage

Our big advantage was the availability of our CVap equipment. CVap enabled us to keep everything hot and fresh so that the full breakfast could be presented all together, with every element piping hot and incredibly fresh.

The results were delicious and filling. Just the thing for a cool late-winter day.

We’ll close out this chapter with an Irish prayer. “Bless us with good food, the fit of gab and hearty laughter. May the love and joy we share, be with us ever after!”

Serve Quickly with CVap® Holding Cabinets

CVap controls make multitasking easier

Now that there are so many delivery options like Grubhub and DoorDash available, serving customers quickly is an even higher priority. People crave comfort and convenience. Having holding cabinets filled with fresh hot foods for grab and go is more important than ever.

Winston’s CVap® Holding Cabinets are a natural fit for ready-to-go meals. Customers can self-serve a complete hot meal, without having to place an order ahead of time. CVap technology keeps food hot and fresh for hours. Foods such as chicken, ribs, and barbecue hold great, with hot sides such as mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, or green beans staying piping hot right alongside the center-of-plate protein.

easy holding chicken

CVap Holding Cabinets are available with glass doors to enhance visual appeal. There’s even a model with flip-up plexi doors, for greater visual impact. A pass-thru option makes it easy to serve customers quickly and to inventory and restock shelves without having to leave the area behind the counter. You’ll treat your customers to visual appeal, and tantalizing aromas. And because CVap Holding Cabinets never require a vent hood, you can place them virtually anywhere.

To learn more about the benefits of CVap technology, watch this video for a quick, easy explanation. You may also contact us to find the holding cabinet that is right for your customers’ needs. 

easy holding bbq event
CVap Holding Cabinet
easy holding

CVap cabinets range in size from under-counter to full size stretch cabinets. They are available in three feature levels. There’s a size and configuration to suit every need, and a price point to meet every budget. Whether your operation is a kiosk, a food truck, a cafeteria, or a ghost kitchen, we’ve got the perfect cabinet for you. Contact us today!

Pepperoni Rolls, Simple and Delicious

pepperoni rolls
   

Pepperoni rolls, the simple yet impressive combination of bread and pepperoni (and sometimes cheese).  This uniquely West Virginian recipe was originally created by miners’ wives as a filling lunch that could be eaten in the coal mines. Pepperoni rolls were first commercially produced in 1927 in a Fairmont, WV bakery owned by Italian immigrant Guiseppe Argiro. 

While you can find some variation of this Mountain State treat in other parts of the country now, we thought it was time to produce some in Kentucky in our CVap® ovens.

pepperoni rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of frozen rolls (approximately 73 in a bag)
  • 40-50oz of sliced pepperoni
  • 6lbs shredded colby jack cheese
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour
  • Melted butter
This party size recipe makes approximately 140 rolls. 

Preparing

Start with frozen bread rolls. Unless you have time to make fresh dough, this is the easiest way to get started. Plus the rolls are already perfectly portioned for individual rolls. Place the frozen rolls into a large hotel pan and cover rolls with non-stick cooking spray. This will ensure that they do not stick together while thawing. Place the pan in CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes. Once the rolls are soft to touch, it is time to roll and fill them with pepperoni and cheese.

With a healthy amount of flour at your side for the purpose of rolling the dough, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches in diameter. Place a large pinch of cheese in the center of the dough. Add about five slices of pepperoni over the cheese. Fold in the sides and roll until the dough is like a burrito. Trap the filling in on all sides to prevent leaks.

pepperoni rolls
pepperoni rolls
folding
pepperoni rolls
Pepperoni Rolls

Baking Pepperoni Rolls

Spray a large hotel pan with non-stick cooking spray and place the rolled dough into the pan. There should be about an inch of space between each roll for expanding purposes. Brush each roll with melted butter to prevent sticking to each other and to add a nice golden crust.

Once the pan is full, place it back into the CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes to finish proofing or until the dough has expanded about 1/4 inch all around. The rolls may be touching slightly. In the meantime, preheat a CVap Retherm oven or a CVap Cook and Hold oven to Zero Vapor/350F Air. When the proofing process is complete transfer the pans to the CVap oven. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they have reached a golden brown on top.

pepperoni rolls

Pair them with some marinara or create the OG West Virginia school lunch with baked beans, chilled peaches, and chocolate milk. Do you have a CVap recipe that you want to share? Post your recipes and pictures on the CVap Operators group!

Carnitas in CVap®

events carnitas
events carnitas

I love food, and I mean all types of food! My absolute favorite style of cuisine is Hispanic – more specifically, Mexican, with its wealth of tradition and depth of flavors. What’s not to love? I have a group of friends I meet every Sunday at our local On the Border for lunch and a margarita or three (if I’m being honest, the food is decent, but the margaritas are the real draw!). I decided to mix it up one Sunday and order one of my favorite traditional Mexican dishes: carnitas.

They were less than spectacular, and I asked my friend Sergio why he thought they weren’t very good. He replied that too many people really only want fajitas on the hot plate, and this restaurant’s preparation just wasn’t traditional. To be fair, one look around the room proved that he was right. It looked like a sauna with the steam rising from every table. I was a victim of demand.

carnitas ingredients

Let's Make Carnitas!

I wasn’t about to settle for this disappointment, however. Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cuisine and I mean, c’mon, it’s PORK! I decided to take matters into my own hands. There are many ways to prepare carnitas, but traditionally it is shoulder meat (or leftover parts of a butchered hog) slow braised for several hours in pork lard, confit style. Once the pork has broken down enough, it is taken out and either pulled apart or cut into cubes. It then goes back into the lard with the heat turned up, and is fried to add texture. There are many twists and variations of this dish, and the part of the country you are from usually defines what ingredients and flavors your carnitas might have. For this recipe, I’m combining the old with the new and adding a splash of CVap®.

Ingredients

2 Lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
2 small bay leaves
½ lime
1 cinnamon stick
½ orange
½ Mexican beer, preferably dark
Fresh cilantro
½ medium onio
2 Lbs. lard or cooking oil

Instructions

In a large vacuum or re-sealable bag, combine all ingredients.

Place bag in CVap Cook and Hold Oven at the settings below. Drink the other half of your Mexican beer!

carnitas in bag
Carnitas in CVap®

Carnitas CVap Cook and Hold Oven Settings:

Legacy CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Doneness: 178
Browning: 0
Time: 8 hours

New CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Vapor Temp: 178°F
Air Temp: 178°F
Time: 8 hours

  1. Once the timer goes off, pull the bag out of the Cook and Hold oven and separate the pork cubes from the other ingredients.
  2. Place lard or oil in a fryer or large pot on the stove and set to 350°F (or medium-high heat). Drop the cubes into the oil and let fry until golden brown, about one minute.

Now comes the easy part: eat the carnitas! I usually enjoy them over a bed of rice and beans with a little salsa on top. I also like them in a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Then again, sometimes I just eat them right out of the pot because it’s fried pork and I’m impatient. There is no right or wrong here, just enjoy!

carnitas pork frying
carnitas meat