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.

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!

What is a Warming Drawer?

warming drawer

A warming drawer is an electrical appliance used by commercial foodservice operators. Their function is to hold and warm food that will not be served immediately fresh, flavorful. 

The Industry refers to them as many other names. Some call them warming drawers, food warmers, hot-boxes, holding drawers, hot cabinets, heated food cabinets, etc. Whatever you call them, a warming drawer can help streamline your operation. This product is a reliable way to keep staple menu items hot and fresh. Ordinary, you can find warming drawers at buffets, cafeterias, and restaurants because they make it easier to keep up with demand. Most importantly, they allow the operator to remain confident in the quality and safety of the food they are serving. CVap® Hold and Serve Drawers have an operating range of 90 to 180°F. The maximum temperature of CVap warming drawers is 250°F.

For example, high-volume food products such as bread rolls are kept warm for immediate serving. Also, perishable foods such as meats stay above 140°F to prevent spoiling; moreover, guests dine safely. In order to do this, set and adjust temperatures with the electronic differential controls. These controls automatically monitor and adjust the drawer temperature. Watch this video for a quick, quirky rundown of CVap drawers.

What Are Warming Drawers Used For?

warming drawer
  • Specifically, drawers are used on the serving line to keep hot components of daily specials ready to churn out, cutting down on cooking times.
  • Servers and front-of-the-house staff use them to hold sides such as nachos, tortillas, breadsticks, and rolls.
  • Also, caterers use them to hold pans of cooked food before departing for events.
  • Drawers are great for holding a variety of foods, such as soft and moist to crisp or fried.
  • In addition to food, you can warm plates, bowls, cups, and other oven-safe dinnerware in drawers.
  • Finally, drawers are used at low temperatures to proof bread dough.

Never use warming drawers for...

  • Cooking or reheating food, especially potentially hazardous foods because we do not design drawers for cooking.
  • Warming plates or dinnerware that is not oven-safe.
  • Heating plastic wrap or conventional plastic containers because will melt and ruin food.
  • Also hazardous, aluminum lining or any other type of foil.

Is a Hold and Serve Drawer Worth the Investment?

Drawer warmer is a wise investment for high-volume menu items and ingredients. Cooking and holding them ahead will help you save time and sell more products. Consider these three questions when investing in drawers for your kitchen. Firstly, how many pieces of equipment does your operation require? Secondly, what type of product do you need to hold in them? Thirdly, where will they be placed?

If catering is your forte, or you find yourself frequently preparing for events, a warmer drawer will help you maintain that just-cooked look and taste. It’s a satisfying balance of achieving quality and quantity. A food warmer can serve as one of the workhorses of your kitchen and ease concerns you might have when large groups arrive. If the need is there, this versatile piece of equipment may be well worth the investment.

Benefits of Holding Drawers

Holding Drawers are an energy-efficient alternative to microwaves and conventional ovens to hold hot food.

They keep food fresh, flavorful, and visually appealing.

Allows you to cook food ahead of time, which frees up labor during peak serving times.

Simple, intuitive controls make it easy for even inexperienced cooks or servers to operate.

Provides a designated space for hot food holding which does not need to be nearby cooking equipment (e.g., an oven or microwave).

It frees up space on griddles and ranges and in ovens and microwaves, which kitchens sometimes use as warmers.

Typical Features of Warming Drawers

Variable Temperature

Digital or thermostatic controls allow you to select the desired temperature suitable for specific foods. CVap drawers feature digital electronic differential controls, and therefore never need calibration.

Vents

Vents allow airflow control to manipulate moisture and humidity to maintain the quality of different foods. For instance, CVap technology allows our drawers to operate without vents for even more control.

Heat Indicator Light

Indicator lights alert the operator when it reaches the desired temperature. CVap warmers indicate the temperature, therefore making heat lights unnecessary.

Mobility

Casters or legs offer different degrees of mobility, while a built-in design allows for discreet, permanent installation. Casters are available as an option on CVap Hold and Serve Drawers.

Different Types of Warming Drawers

All warming drawers perform the same primary function of holding food at serving temperature. However, different models can serve multiple purposes. Some units, like rice warmers, are designed to warm specific types of food and even utensils. Below, you’ll find comparisons of the common styles and types.

Types of Controls

Thermostatic Controls

  • Easy for anyone to use.
  • Typically include an on/off switch and a temperature dial.
  • The control may or may not have actual temperatures listed, and some interfaces opt for number settings corresponding to temperatures.
  • Some may also include a temperature gauge or a heat indicator light.

Digital Controls (includes CVap’s electronic differential controls)

  • Simple, intuitive controls.
  • Typically have a digital or physical power button/switch.
  • Up and down arrows typically control temperature and time settings.
  • Heat indicator light (on some brands).
  • LCD screen displays time and temperature settings; it may also display error codes.

How to Use a Commercial Warming Drawer

With proper training, using a warming drawer is simple, regardless of your crew’s experience level. Though control options may vary across models, the same essential functions apply to all drawers. After you’ve selected the proper warming drawer for your needs, ensure that it is securely resting or installed in an ideal location. Use the following tips and instructions for optimal results.

Voltage

Power your unit with an outlet suitable for the voltage rating of the drawer. Here’s a quick run-through of the typical voltage ratings available:

  • 120V warmers (CVap drawers operate at this voltage)
  • 208V warmers
  • 230V warmers
  • 240V warmers
  • 208/240V warmers

Temperature Setting

After powering the unit on, be sure to set it to the desired temperature and allow it to preheat. Preheating may take up to 30 minutes for high settings. Preheating ensures that hot food will not fall below the desired temperature. If your unit has a heat indicator light, it will illuminate or shut off (depending on the model) to indicate that the temperature is ready.

Digital displays will likely also provide a visual indication of a set temperature or actual temperature. After preheating, place hot food in the drawer as soon as possible, using drawer warmer accessories such as high-heat plastic or stainless steel food pans, if needed. Refer to the following table for a basic overview of food-safe internal temperatures for meat and seafood.

warming drawer

Airflow Control

If your model has them, the vents are located on the front of warming drawers to adjust the air entering the drawer. The more opened the vents are, the more air enters the drawer, ultimately decreasing the moisture level. Dry foods that do not require moisture, such as tortilla chips, will retain a perfect crunch with little to no humidity.

Moisture

Closing the vents allows you to maintain the moisture level inside a drawer. Keeping vents closed retains some of the natural moisture levels for foods that should stay moist. Fill a stainless steel pan with water to increase the drawer’s humidity. Doing so will prevent food like grilled chicken from drying out. To further increase the moisture and resulting humidity of a drawer to accommodate foods prone to drying out. Place a splash baffle inside the pan to prevent splashing when you move the drawer. Set another slightly smaller pan inside the first pan and fill it with the food that requires additional humidity. Also, for the best outcome, do not remove it from the warming drawer for the duration of holding.

CVap drawers, on the other hand, are powered by heated water vapor. CVap differs from other technology in that it directly utilizes heated vapor to control food temperature. Because CVap technology supplies the steam, foods can retain their internal moisture, preserving flavor and nutrients while keeping temperatures steady.

Proofing Dough

Similarly, keeping dinnerware warm before plating and serving is another less conventional use for drawer warmers. Though it’s not the most economical use for your unit, some do so without reservation, based on the notion that some dishes are improved when served on a warmed plate. The food maintains better flavor and consistency. Also, the meal stays warm longer when using preheated plates, bowls, or other dinnerware.

CVap drawers, on the other hand, are powered by heated water vapor. CVap differs from other technology in that they utilize heated vapor to directly control food temperature rather than doing so passively, as other “humidified” drawers do. Because CVap technology supplies the vapor, foods can retain their internal moisture, preserving flavor and nutrients while keeping temperatures steady.

Warming Dinnerware

Similarly, keeping dinnerware warm before plating and serving is another less conventional use for drawer warmers. Though it’s not the most economical use for your unit, some do so without reservation, based on the notion that some dishes are improved when served on a warmed plate. The food maintains better flavor and consistency. Also, the meal stays warm longer when using preheated plates, bowls, or other dinnerware.

CVap drawers, on the other hand, are powered by heated water vapor. CVap differs from other technology in that they utilize heated vapor to directly control food temperature rather than doing so passively, as other “humidified” drawers do. Because CVap technology supplies the vapor, foods can retain their internal moisture, preserving flavor and nutrients while keeping temperatures steady.

Cleaning Tips & Instructions

warming drawer

Clean Daily

To ensure that you are continuously operating in a food-safe manner, clean the drawers of your unit and any inserts daily, giving the exterior a good wipe down as needed.

turn off warming drawer

Turn it Off

Before cleaning, be sure to turn off or unplug the unit first to avoid any potential hazards. Also, allow any equipment to cool down for at least an hour before cleaning or servicing.

IMG_8545

External Cleaning

Never immerse any part of your unit, including the power cord, in water. When cleaning the exterior surface only, use a damp rag. Use a minimal amount of warm, soapy water or utilize cleaners and polishes designed explicitly for stainless steel. Avoid any areas containing electrical components. Furthermore, avoid any surfaces that come into contact with food.

sponge

Synthetic Scrubbers

Use a minimally abrasive synthetic fiber scouring pad or sponge. Clean with a mild cleanser to remove water scale and dried-on food. Do not use steel wool or other highly abrasive scouring pads. Avoid damage to the passive coating of the stainless steel. Abrasions in the coating layer can cause issues such as corrosion and rust.

IMG_8539

Remove Drawers

Lift the drawers themselves off their tracks and hand wash as needed using the handwashing method above.

Remove Pans

If your unit includes inset drawer pans or liners, remove them, and wash and sanitize in a three-compartment sink or commercial dishwasher.

spray

Remove Lime Scale

Use a 3:1 ratio of water (75%) and white vinegar (25%) to remove limescale and other mineral deposits. Fill the existing water pan or a separate stainless steel pan with the mixture and place it into the unit’s drawer. Power the unit on and allow it to run for 30 minutes, then turn it off. Let the pan sit in the equipment for two or more hours, depending on the severity of the buildup. There are also several commercial limescale removers available on the market.

Advantages of CVap Warming Drawers

Unlike traditional heated holding or low-temperature cooking technologies, temperatures created by CVap technology do not fluctuate. Its gentle vapor heat evenly surrounds food, resulting in better food quality and higher yields.

Contact Winston Foodservice Today

For over 50 years, Winston has provided reliable equipment to help foodservice operators meet the growing demands of their customers. Our sales team and global network of sales representatives are happy to consult with you and help you figure out the best equipment to meet your goals.

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

What is a Holding Cabinet?

holding cabinet

To explain, holding cabinets are heated appliances designed to hold cooked foods at a safe serving temperature.

Some holding cabinets do this job well and some do not. Of course, the quality depends on the manufacturer and design. Also, holding cabinets are sometimes referred to by other names. For instance, they are called a hot box, warmer, insulated warmer, hold and serve, warming cabinet, and other phrases.

Winston’s CVap® technology started as a holding technology. The challenge was to create an appliance that could keep foods hot and fresh. For example, operations with a drive-thru service rely on holding units to keep food hot and ready for fast delivery. Winston’s founder, Winston Shelton, saw the benefit of the technology. He worked out the science behind the challenge. As a result, CVap technology has been an industry leader ever since.

 

holding cabinet

What are the Benefits of CVap Holding Cabinets?

INCREASED FOOD QUALITY

Foods held in CVap equipment maintain the aesthetics and nutritional quality customers require. Achieve this by maintaining moisture and succulence in foods. The controls allow for flexibility. This enables serving from kiosks, cafeteria lines, chains, and QSR markets.

Maintain precise food temperature

The CVap process controls food temperature precisely. It keeps food safely out of the temperature danger zone. We program CVap equipment controls in compliance with all USDA guidelines. We can assure operators that CVap holding equipment will assist in maintaining safe temperatures. It also enables the documentation and monitoring of food safety plans based on HACCP.

Decreased Food Cost

CVap technology locks in the moisture of food from the start of the holding cycle. This process extends hold times and provides more time for production. Food costs decrease because there will be less low-quality food waste. 

CVap Equipment Versus the Competition

Three categories define CVap’s competition: dry cabinets, passive humidified cabinets, and humidified cabinets.

Dry Cabinets

Advantages

  • Food product is held in a hot atmosphere, facilitating quick service during busy periods.
  • Utilize this cabinet for dehydration (dried meats and vegetables).
  • Minimize cleaning time.
  • Simple to operate.
  • Cost is generally lower.

Disadvantages

  • No humidity means decreased hold times.
  • Heat rises, therefore causing food temperature differences in the cabinet.
  • Utilizes thermostat, which requires calibration and is only accurate within 10°F.
  • Cannot control food temperature precisely.
  • Food quality is not a primary focus.

Passive Humidified Cabinets

Advantages

  • Food product is held in a hot atmosphere, facilitating quick service during busy periods.
  • Increased humidity level in the cabinet, therefore causing better hold times than dry cabinets.
  • Utilize this cabinet for dehydration (dried meats and vegetables).
  • Unlike most holding cabinets, cost is generally lower.
  • Generally better yield than that of dry units.
  • Units are simple to operate.

Disadvantages

  • Small evaporator used, which limits the amount of humidity within units.
  • Water is not heated by a separate heat source, causing uncontrollable food temperatures.
  • Food quality is still secondary compared to other holding cabinets.
  • Unit has significant hot/cold zones throughout the cabinet.
  • Utilizes thermostat, which requires calibration and is only accurate within 10°F.

Humidified Cabinets

Advantages

  • Food product is held in a hot atmosphere, facilitating quick service during busy periods.
  • Large, heated evaporator is adjustable and allows the user to control food better.
  • Extended hold times on all food products (compared to dry and passive units).
  • Good temperature stratification throughout cabinet (minimal hot/cold zones).
  • Better overall food quality than dry and passive humidified cabinets.
  • Increased yield and higher food temperatures.

Disadvantages

  • Cannot control water temperature precisely, therefore resulting in inaccurate food temperature control.
  • Adjust the Humidity level by 0-10 setting, which doesn’t give an exact water temperature.
  • Insulated evaporator will climb past desired settings, which leads to food temperatures overshoot (in some cabinets).
  • Utilizes thermostat, which requires calibration and is only accurate within 10°F.
  • Determine settings by trial and error and for this reason can be confusing.
  • Recommend daily draining and cleaning of the evaporator.
  • Cost is higher than dry and passive humidified cabinets.

CVap Holding Cabinets

Advantages

  • Food product is held at desired serving temperature, facilitating quick service during
  • Hot and ready during busy periods and maintaining safe temperatures during slow periods.
  • Uses differential control to manage food temperature and food texture independently.
  • Differential control adjusts its air temperature to compensate for the water temperature, therefore optimizing texture.
  • CVap system creates a vapor pressure in the cabinet, eliminating hot/cold zones of food temperature.
  • Control has base settings, therefore making it easy to get an initial setting for the customer.
  • Microprocessor eliminates calibration needs and is notably accurate to within 2°F.
  • Best overall food quality and also the most extended holding times in the industry.

Disadvantages

  • Cost is higher than some competition.
  • Some customers don’t require long hold times.
  • Appearance is also similar to humidified cabinets (for example Cres Cor’s Aqua Temp).
  • Recommend daily draining and cleaning of the evaporator.

Passive Humidified Cabinets

CVap humidified holding cabinet

CVap Holding Cabinets

humidified holding cabinet

Humidified Cabinets

Does CVap Equipment Use Humidity?

All CVap cabinets utilize humidity (the amount of water vapor in the air). However, CVap cabinets do not use humidity the same as some competitors’ equipment. Unlike some competitor models, CVap cabinets generate humidity using a vapor bath. This bath is located in the equipment’s base. CVap holding cabinets function with a three-gallon vapor bath. It is also independently heated. The basin heats to the exact temperature that customers choose to hold the food.

Problem Areas – and How CVap Holding Cabinets Can Help

The most common problem area or areas for improvement are:

Ticket Times

The time it takes to serve the desired customer order. The longer the ticket times are the fewer total customers they can fill in one day. Indeed, CVap reduces ticket times, which enables users to seat more people. As a result, businesses make more money.

Food Quality

Poor food quality can result in loss of sales. For example,  poor quality includes dried-out or tough food. Additionally, food that is too chewy or has poor color can turn away customers. Food that is soggy, hard, or overcooked also can cause food waste and loss of revenue.

Shrinkage

This is how much the product reduces weight during holding and deals directly with food costs. In most cases, food products in a dry or humidity cabinet continue to lose weight while holding. Foods that show high shrinkage also are perceived as lower quality.

Employee Skill

Most kitchens today have trouble finding highly skilled employees. Many employees overcook or burn food, increasing food costs. This problem can also result in poor food quality, long ticket times, or an inability to service high volumes of people. Solutions for these problems translate to increased profits!

High Labor Costs

Again, it is tough to get good employees, and many restaurants overstaff to make sure that the job gets done. CVap products allow restaurants to reduce the number of employees on staff, thereby lowering labor expenses.

Food Safety/FDA Compliance

Many facilities are implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points), a system developed to minimize risks of injuries and foodborne illnesses. Those establishments who choose not to utilize HACCP must still follow FDA guidelines. CVap equipment is particularly effective in HACCP temperature compliance.

Kitchen Limitations

All restaurants have some form of kitchen limitation. Operators may not have space for more equipment, although they have trouble keeping up with their business. Other operators may want to get more equipment but don’t want to spend the money to get ventilation systems.

Utility Costs

The establishment may be utilizing inefficient equipment related to higher gas, water, or electrical costs. Providing equipment that solves this helps the bottom-line for profit earnings.

Features, Advantages, and Benefits

CVap technology holds foods at precise temperatures for an extended time without losing quality. Cook your food ahead of time. Also, eliminate quality changes in food. Significantly reduce long ticket times.

  • Feature: CVap Technology.
  • Advantage: Cooking or holding for extended times without losing quality.
  • Benefit: Reduce long ticket times

CVap technology utilizes a dual-heat source. CVap precisely controls the large evaporator in the bottom of the holding cabinet and the ambient air temperature in the unit. Therefore, you can adjust your desired food temperature by controlling that evaporator temperature precisely. Also, managing the ambient air temperature lets you adjust the food texture. You can decide if you want the food to be soft, crispy, or any desired consistency. In conclusion, by having this dual-heat source, you can hold rare steaks or crunchy chicken, and your staff should be able to keep up with the rush.

  • Feature: Dual heat source.
  • Advantage: Control food temperature and texture precisely.
  • Benefit: Staff can keep up with the rush (employee skill and ticket times).
holding cabinet

Food Sustainability

  • The key to quality food sustainability is more than the simple heat application. Adding simple humidity isn’t the answer, either. The real key to quality holding is to preserve as much natural product moisture as possible. That’s precisely the gentle holding capability of CVap Technology.
  • CVap keeps hot foods at safe, even temperatures while retaining the maximum amount of product moisture, the natural moisture found in most foods you need to hold.
  • Whether your holding needs are large or small, CVap hot food holding solutions are available in a wide variety of models and can support any food preparation or service by extending the sustainability of the food.

Heated Holding Cabinets

  • Holding units are a mainstay for any successful foodservice operation because they maintain precise food temperatures. CVap doesn’t “soak” foods with moisture. Instead, it helps foods retain their natural water for hours without overcooking or drying out.

Drawer Warmers

  • CVap Hold and Serve Drawers can fit anywhere you need production items held hot because they are available in one- and two-drawer configurations, in both standard and narrow widths. Therefore, you can place them on top or under countertops, on carts, or near serving stations.

Some competitors may attempt to convince you that adding water vapor to held foods lessens taste and result in washed-out food. Frankly, that isn’t true. Heating food causes evaporation. Evaporation is a cooling process. So, if a competitor tells you that no vapor is needed, they aren’t being truthful. If the cabinet isn’t providing the moisture, the food is. Overall, no matter how “gentle” they describe their technology, it doesn’t escape the fact that it loses heat and quality when food loses moisture.

Proofing in Holding Cabinets

  • Every CVap product, from holding cabinets, warming drawers, and ovens, makes excellent proofers! Since these units can operate as either a holding cabinet or a proofing cabinet, they’re ideal for small operations that only have space for one piece of equipment in their kitchen. 

Holding Cabinet Sizes

holding cabinet

Undercounter

  • 34″ tall or less
  • Fits under counters
  • Best for small kitchens
holding cabinet

1/2 Height

  • 36-41″ tall
  • Best for low volume kitchen operations
holding cabinet

Full Height

  • At least 65″ tall
  • Best for high volume kitchen operations

Insulation

All CVap cabinets are insulated. Insulated cabinets help preserve heat within the cabinet more efficiently. As a result, this helps save energy and reduces costs. Use insulated cabinets for transporting food items. For instance, if you need to move a large quantity of product from one place to another, an insulated cabinet is the best way to accomplish this task. An insulated cabinet reduces heat loss and energy consumption by heating the unit and cooling its kitchen environment.

Pros:

  • Energy efficient
  • Great for off-site events such as catering, weddings, etc.
  • Cool to touch exterior
  • Less radiating heat leaves the kitchen cooler

Cons:

  • Higher initial investment

Control Type

CVap holding cabinets are available with either capacitive touch or membrane controls. Both are easy to use and highly accurate.

CVap Door Types

CVap cabinets offer three types of doors: glass, flip-door, and solid. Glass doors allow operators to see the product without opening. As it happens, opening and closing the door frequently causes the cabinet to lose heat. Winston also offers a flip-door configuration on some cabinet models. Similarly, you can see the product through a flip-door. But unlike a glass door, a flip-door model allows quick access to foods without opening the door. Meanwhile, solid doors are extremely energy efficient and create minimal ambient heat.

holding cabinet pass-through door options
GLASS DOORS
holding cabinet flip door options
FLIP-DOORS
holding cabinet door options
SOLID DOORS

Holding Cabinet Door Configuration

Full height warmer cabinets are better for high-volume operation kitchens. CVap full-size cabinets feature Dutch doors because they minimize heat loss when the doors open. A pass-through configuration is also available. You can open a pass-through cabinet from both sides. Not only the front of the line can access the cabinet, but also the back of the line. Further speeding up the rate of production and service.

Holding Cabinets and the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic left a lasting impact on restaurants — a stronger emphasis on safety, convenience, and delivery. Improving food safety is an important goal for all foodservice operations. The right equipment can help accomplish this.

Holding cabinets are critical in preserving food temperature and safety in commercial kitchens. In fact, these cabinets help limit exposure to people when cooking for delivery or take-out. Foodservice professionals have incorporated this equipment to improve food safety practices and keep food fresh for take-out and delivery. Also, you can use holding cabinets to limit exposure to circulated air in a kitchen. Cabinets come in a variety of configurations.

Holding Cabinets Can Benefit Your Restaurant

Restaurants can improve food safety, cut costs, and improve delivery during this time. Utilizing holding cabinets promotes limited contact with food and keeps safe temperatures. They also keep food hot and fresh for delivery and take-out operations.

Promote Food Safety

With the risks of COVID-19 still looming, limiting person-to-person contact is essential. Holding cabinets help cut down on exposure between kitchen staff and food. These cabinets also are designed to preserve safe food temperatures before eating. They utilize controlled vapor and fans to distribute heated air to keep food hot.

Limit Food Waste

CVap holding cabinets keep food at safe temperatures for longer than heat lamps. A holding cabinet helps cut down on food waste and costs. They also keep food at desirable temperatures for delivery and take-out, which keeps customers happy.

food delivery

Improve Delivery Programs

Customers expect meals to be hot, fresh, and delicious when it’s delivered. Therefore, keeping food hot and fresh as long as possible is essential to offering quality take-out and delivery. Holding cabinets can keep food hot and safe until it’s ready for the customer.

Contact Winston Foodservice Today

For over 50 years, Winston has provided reliable equipment to help foodservice operators meet the growing demands of their customers. Our sales team and global network of sales representatives are happy to consult with you and help you figure out the best equipment to meet your goals.

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

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

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 pan

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

Stage Hamburgers in CVap

staging in cvap

We receive many inquiries about how to use CVap® Cook and Hold Ovens to stage great hamburgers, and we have been testing several methods for preparing great burgers. Below you’ll find our recommended procedures to stage hamburgers.

Advance Staging or Holding

Recipe/Process:

  1. Preset CVap oven to 135°F food temperature and + 0 texture setting (legacy CVap)/135°F Vapor Temp/135°F Air Temp (new CVap). Allow about 30 minutes for pre-heat.
  2. Set timer to one hour.
  3. Place hamburgers on a parchment-lined sheet tray.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (optional).
  5. Allow burgers to reach a minimum endpoint of 130°F. This will take about an hour. If allowed to stay in this environment for 121 minutes, the burgers will then meet the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Services) standard for the elimination of Salmonella and E. coli.
  6. Hold burgers until time to grill, or finish right before serving. You can continue to hold until ready to serve.
stage hamburgers
staged hamburgers

Stage Hamburgers, Gain Benefits

You gain many benefits by preparing a burger this way: increased burger size, increased juiciness, assured safety without overcooking, reduced service time to the consumer, and enhanced finish flavor due to shortened time period between finishing and serving.

Higher yield equals juicier burgers! Keep checking back, we will post more of our burger data soon. In the meantime, how about telling us your favorite method for cooking your burgers?

For more information about CVap equipment, please Contact Us.