Easy Soup Recipes to Warm Your Menu This Winter

It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Most humans are hard-wired to crave comfort foods in freezing weather. Of all the comfort foods, soups seem to be the best at warming our innards. Many folks think of soup as something that’s prepared on a stovetop. But CVap® ovens are also great for making soup. You can scale the process up to crank out gallons of soup to keep your sales hopping all day. It doesn’t matter whether you’re making soup from scratch or retherming pouches of premade soup – CVap’s got you covered.

Here are a few great easy soup recipes you can whip up in a CVap oven.

Kickin’ Chicken Noodle Soup

easy soup recipes

What soup is more comforting than chicken noodle soup on a frosty winter day? It’s one of those flavors that instantly takes you back to being a kid. It’s particularly good when you’re battling a cold. That’s not a superstition. Evidence has shown that chicken noodle soup can reduce cold symptoms. It’s chock-full of electrolytes, which help you stay hydrated.

Our chicken noodle soup take utilizes CVap ovens and our Collectramatic® Fryers. The result was a soup that combined many flavors and textures. It’s sure to warm the coldest heart. Check out the recipe here.

Vietnamese Pho Soup

easy soup recipes

This flavorful broth recipe has some good bones – literally. It calls for over eight pounds of beef, pork, and poultry bones, roasted in a CVap oven. This recipe is one you’ll need to plan, as it calls for simmering for at least 12 hours.

Pho (pronounced fah) is a Vietnamese staple. There are countless variations of this easy soup recipe. Our recipe is rich in different flavors and textures. You may want to consider offering this as part of a Tết celebration, Vietnam’s observance of the Lunar New Year.

Lobster and Fresh Corn Chowder

easy soup recipes

Here’s a tasty chowder that’s a little decadent. The chowder recipe includes lobster, scallops, veggies, and a brunoise of new potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots. The advantage to preparing this chowder in a CVap oven is that you can stage all the key ingredients in the CVap while the lobster shells enjoy a day-long simmer to create a stock. At serving time, the scallops just need a quick sear to finish. Then the impressive final dish is assembled – with a base of veggies, topped by lobster meat, a couple of scallops, and a generous ladle of the lobster stock. It’s a soup that’s as impressive to look at as it is to eat. It’s a perfect soup on a frigid day to make diners daydream of warm days near the ocean.

Beer Chili is Awesome

Chili is great any time of year. But it really hits the spot in the wintertime. You can spice it up with as much extra heat as you want to bring some warmth to a cold day.

A customer challenged us to see if it was possible to prepare beer chili using just a cook and hold oven. As this recipe shows, it’s not only possible but also awesome. So, bring on the beans! Bring on the meat! Chilly weather is chili weather!

Gumbo Ya Ya!

By the time mid-winter gets here, we’re sick of it. Good thing Mardi Gras comes around to add some color and fun to the never-ending greyness of late February. And we’ve got the perfect dish to inject a little Cajun flavor into your menu.

This spectacular gumbo has it all: veggies, sausage, chicken, and crawdads. Like many great soups, you’ll want to let it cook overnight to coax every bit of flavor. A little roux, a little rice, and you got yourself some great gumbo.

Chicken Stock – CVap Style

Behind every great easy soup recipe is an outstanding stock. In this post, Chef Sam walks us through how to use your CVap oven to create gallons of chicken stock. It’s the perfect base for multitudes of soups. The important thing about this stock is that it can easily be frozen to use at another time. And it makes the most of the chicken, with virtually nothing going to waste.

Retherming Soup in CVap

So far, we’ve elaborated on some great scratch recipes you can make in a CVap. But many excellent pre-prepared canned or bagged soups are available from your favorite foodservice distributor. Use a CVap oven to retherm your premade soups, and you can really scale up production. Our largest ovens can hold up to 28 hotel pans, allowing you to cook gallons of soup at once. CVap technology ensures that no matter what soup you’re retherming, it will never scorch or overcook. And CVap oven’s automatic hold cycle keeps soup hot and fresh throughout your meal service.

bagged-soup

From Soup to Nuts

These are just a few ideas for souping up your menu. Need more ideas or suggestions for adapting an existing recipe to CVap? Just fill out our contact form. Our culinary experts will be happy to help! There’s no need to limit questions to soup. We can help with just about anything!

How Can CVap® Expand Your Menu?

Are you looking to change or expand your operation’s menu? If you have CVap technology in your kitchen, you already have a head start on your goal.

Ideally, expanding your menu won’t involve investing in new equipment. That’s why having CVap in your kitchen is such a game-changer. CVap ovens offer the versatility to accomplish a wide range of cooking processes, such as steaming, baking, holding, sous vide, staging, and more. You can find a rundown of CVap’s capabilities here.

Proteins

Proteins are typically the center of the plate for most entrees. Try some of these ideas to expand your menu.

Sous Vide Chicken

Stage chicken breasts sous vide in a CVap oven. When an order comes in, toss the chicken on a grill for a quick hit on both sides. The order is out in under four minutes. This saves so much time, compared to cooking raw. Serve it as a grilled chicken entree, a chicken sandwich, or in salads…the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Prime Rib

Who doesn’t love prime rib? An overnight cook yields deliciously perfect prime rib. CVap ovens achieve incredible yields. Their low, slow cooking method breaks down connective tissue within the meat. That ultimately means more servings per roast. Got leftovers? Shave it for epic Philly cheesesteaks.

Eggs

Do you serve breakfast? Eggs are the ultimate protein. You can cook up a mess of righteous poached eggs in your CVap oven. A CVap oven can cook dozens and dozens of poached eggs in a single load. You can easily keep a breakfast buffet fully stocked. Poached eggs are the perfect center for great eggs benedict.

Wings

Chicken wings are crazy popular. Add wings to your menu to pop up sales. Stage the wings in the CVap, then pop them in a fryer or onto a grill when ordered. The wings will fly out of the kitchen (pun intended) in a fraction of the time it takes to cook from raw.

Baking

Proofing

CVap ovens and cabinets are great proofers—proof focaccia, brioche…practically any dough. CVap is the perfect proofer. These unique cabinets can maintain a warm, slightly moist environment that helps yeast get down to the business of rising.

Cake

Expand your dessert offerings with goodies like crème brulé, flourless chocolate cake, or carrot cake. These (and lots more) bake perfectly in a CVap oven.

Something Different

Expand Your Menu

Flex your CVap oven for different purposes around the clock. Use as an oven to cook overnight, then use for holding takeaway food during the day.

Do you serve a lot of rice? You can hold rice and popular partner dishes like chicken teriyaki in the same CVap. It’s already set at the perfect holding temperature for both. One of our big chain customers uses this with excellent results.

Expand Your Menu

Is your school using a CVap Retherm Oven for school pizza? Try retherming soups, cooking vegetables, or baking tater tots. You’ll love the results.

Expand Your Menu

Dehydrate! If you’re familiar with CVap technology, you probably think it is humidified. But you can turn off the vapor heat and use air heat alone to dehydrate fruits, veggies, herbs, and even jerky. It’s a great way to introduce unusual products to your menu.

Add some healthier options to your menu by steaming in your CVap oven. Unlike typical commercial steamers, CVap ovens can low-temp steam at 200°F Vapor and 200°F Air. It’s 100 percent humidity at a gentler temperature. It’s perfect for veggies and more delicate foods like finfish and shellfish.

Versatility rules the day with CVap ovens. You can cook just about anything in them. Do you have an idea we haven’t mentioned here? Reach out to us. Our corporate chef and culinary team can advise you on the best way to accomplish it.

Holiday Recipes: CVap® Oven Recipes to Snazz Up Your Holiday Restaurant Menu

Holiday Recipes

The holidays can be a make-or-break time for restaurants. Take advantage of your CVap oven to expand your menu. Your guests are ready to celebrate. These recipes will send ’em home feeling festive and full. It may just help you keep things in the black.

Hanukkah

This year Hanukkah begins on December 18 and ends on December 26. Two perennial Hanukkah favorites are brisket and roasted chicken. We have some great recipes for both.

Retherming Brisket in CVap

Brisket is growing in popularity. In the last decade, it has grown in popularity by 23 percent. Brisket is a relatively tough cut of meat. It must be cooked low and slow to break down its connective tissue. But if you don’t have the time or patience for a traditional cook, CVap can help you save time and effort. By cooking ahead of time and refrigerating, you can serve fresh brisket in a fraction of the time it takes to cook from raw. There are also quality commercial products, such as Hormel’s sliced brisket. These will save tons of time compared to cooking from scratch. Whether thermalizing your brisket or serving a prepacked product, CVap will help satisfy your guests. Read more here: Retherming Brisket in a CVap Oven.

retherming brisket

Beautiful Beef Brisket: Smoky, Juicy, and Tasty!

Do you have the time to cook a traditional brisket? We’ve got you covered. This blog describes how to smoke an incredible brisket: Beautiful Beef Brisket: Smoky, Juicy, and Tasty!

CVap Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables a la Thomas Keller

Are your guests more inclined to prefer chicken over beef? This roasted chicken and root veggie recipe is as hearty as it is easy. Shared with us by our late friend Chef Jim Waley, it’s an adaptation of a recipe by Chef Thomas Keller. Learn how to prepare it here: CVap Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables a la Thomas Keller

Corned Beef in CVap

Some customers will prefer their brisket as corned beef. We tackled that project too. This scratch recipe tested different cook settings to determine the best method for both sliced and shredded corned beef. Please read it here: Corned Beef in CVap.

roast chicken thomas kellar

Christmas

Turkey

Turkey is the center of many Christmas celebrations (not to mention Thanksgiving). Over the years, we’ve tested many turkey recipes in CVap ovens. They all produced excellent results. Rather than giving a synopsis of each recipe, we’ll list them here:

What the Turducken!

Want to give your Christmas celebrants a treat that they’ll never forget? Serve them turducken. Although the word starts with “turd,” it’s a culinary treat that few are willing to invest the time and effort in preparing. Turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken, all layered with dressing. It’s a nutritionist’s nightmare but a diner’s fantasy. If you’re up to the challenge, learn how here: What the Turducken!

Turducken

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a relatively new holiday, dating from the mid-1960s. It celebrates African-American culture. The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits.” It’s based on the harvest traditions of parts of West and Southeast Africa. It occurs from December 26 to January 1 each year.

Kwanzaa food traditions are varied as the African diaspora. Popular dishes for this holiday are influenced by the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and the American Deep South.

holiday-recipes

CVap Gumbo Ya Ya!

A fantastic and easy dish to serve your Kwanzaa guests is gumbo. It’s inspired by the cuisine of Louisiana and is packed with robust Cajun flavor. It features chicken, sausage, and crawdads. Please read up on it here: CVap Gumbo Ya Ya!

Shuckin’, Crackin’, and Peelin’ – Let’s Dish Shellfish!

Treat your guests to the flavors of the Gulf Coast with this wide-ranging assortment of shellfish. There’s something here to please every seafood fan. Check out the recipe here: Shuckin’, Crackin’, and Peelin’ – Let’s Dish Shellfish!

New Year's Day

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Want to really impress the folks celebrating New Year’s Eve in your restaurant? Nothing is more impressive than lobster tails. It’s hands-down the best part of this celebrated crustacean (and not nearly as challenging to eat as tackling an entire lobster). This recipe takes them from frozen to fantastic in about an hour. Read how here: Staging Lobster Tails for Catering.

The Day After

Yeah, we know, everybody starts a diet on New Year’s Day. But after a night of celebration, some folks are still going to want to start the new year with a great breakfast.

CVap Quiche with Fresh Kale

This quiche is easy and pretty nutritious. Hey, if it’s got kale, it can’t be all bad! Your guests will love it, even if they can’t pronounce it. Whip it up with this recipe: CVap Quiche with Fresh Kale.

retherming brisket

Hassle-Free Sous Vide Style Egg Bite

Are you offering a breakfast buffet for your new year’s patrons? These egg bites are easy to make and hold great in CVap. They are as simple as they are delicious. Read how: Hassle-Free Sous Vide Style Egg Bite.

chicken and waffles

Chicken & Waffles – Damn, It’s Good

So maybe your guests aren’t starting a diet on New Year’s Day. They can go all-out with the classic chicken and waffles. It’s sweet. It’s savory. And damn, it’s good. Read about it here: Chicken & Waffles – Damn, It’s Good.

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.

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.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

Lobster Tails

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

Staging Lobster Tails Process

Ingredients

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

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

Preheat the CVap oven.

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

The product we chose was Greenhead frozen lobster tails.

lobster

Settings

Cooking

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

Holding

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

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

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

Staging Lobster Tails Results

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

Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails
Lobster Tails

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

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

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

We prepared two versions of lobster rolls:

OMG!!  So effing good!

Staging Lobster Tails for Catering
Staging Lobster Tails for Catering

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.

Cooking Vegetarian in CVap®

cooking vegetarian
cooking vegetarian

Cooking vegetarian cuisine in restaurants and commercial kitchens is now a thing. There are many reasons behind this growing trend. For some folks, it’s a desire to eat healthier. Others may take up vegetarianism out of a desire to avoid harming animals. Undoubtedly, sustainability factors into some people’s decision to be vegetarians. Plant-based foods certainly have far less impact on climate change.

Although CVap is well-known in culinary circles as being excellent for cooking proteins, we wanted to test it by cooking some vegetarian dishes with a carnivorous slant. It’s worth noting that while these are solidly vegetarian, they aren’t vegan. The cauliflower recipe includes butter, a vegan no-no. Nonetheless, they were a tasty, guilt-free treat for our resident vegetarians and carnivores.

cooking vegetarian

Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot (or hot sauce of preference)
  • ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs Butter
  • 2 Heads of Cauliflower (cleaned and cut into large bite-sized florets)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

The Process

  • Preheat RTV/CHV-05 ovens to 200°F/350°F.
  • Place butter, hot sauce, and extra virgin olive oil in an oven-safe pan and into the CVap to melt butter and heat through
  • Toss florets with the sauce and place them onto a lined baking sheet, single-layer, with space.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes (RTV) – 40 min (CHV), or until reaching the desired texture.
  • Remove from oven, then sprinkle tops of buffalo cauliflower with freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Bake for another two to three minutes.
cooking vegetarian

Serve with your favorite sauce (we used ranch), or enjoy as-is!

The base recipe came from allrecipes.com, but we adjusted it to suit our preferences, so technically, it’s our recipe now 😊

cooking vegetarian

CARROT BACON

This recipe is inspired by Tabitha Brown’s Carrot Bacon recipe. We’ll be the first to admit that good old-fashioned bacon is damn near the perfect food. But if you’re looking for a healthier substitute for bacon, this vegan bacon/jerky recipe fits the bill...

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • ¼ Cup Agave
  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Granulated Onion
  • ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 6-7 Large Carrots (peeled)

The Process

Preheat RTV/CHV-05 ovens to:

  1. Cook Time – will be dependent on the size of carrot slices and expectations of “doneness.”
  2. Vapor OFF and Water Removed Air 300°F
  • Prepare the “curing spice” for the carrot bacon by mixing everything in a bowl and setting it aside.
  • Clean and peel carrots. Use a peeler, a Japanese mandolin, or a comparable slicer to make the carrot strips. The longer the pieces, the more it will look like “bacon.”
  • Toss strips with curing spices, cover, and allow to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Transfer strips to a perforated sheet pan, single layer.
  • Bake in CVap oven until reaching the desired texture.

Remove the carrot bacon from the perforated pan immediately. Otherwise, it will stick to the pan as it cools.

cooking vegetarian

Note: We noticed that the strips get crisper as they cool.

Full disclosure – the original recipe was written for preparation in an air fryer. But we discovered that cooking in a CVap oven increased the volume output! We also realized that this spice blend is similar in flavor profile to Grippo’s Bar-B-Q Potato Chips! Happy accident!

All in all, our vegetarian cooking day was an interesting and
tasty success.

No Matter How You Crack It, CVap Cooks Eggs to Perfection

eggs scrambled feature

If you’re familiar with CVap® technology, you know that it’s very versatile. Its ability to dial in its dual heat system to achieve different cooking processes is unparalleled. One area where CVap really shines is in cooking eggs. CVap’s vapor heat makes it particularly well-suited for moist dishes. Why not use the most versatile technology to prepare nature’s most versatile food? We’ve done lots of CVap testing on eggs, and the results were impressive.

Precision is what sets CVap technology apart from other cooking technologies. When cooking, just a few degrees make all the difference in the eggs’ consistency. Too cool, and they are runny and undercooked. Too hot, and they are granular and closer to hard-boiled. CVap delivers the precision to really dial in the desired end temperature. And only CVap can hold them at that desired temperature for extended periods, without overcooking.

Here are a few examples of how CVap excels at cooking and holding eggs.

eggs scrambled feature
poached eggs

Poaching Eggs

Poaching is a classic example of moist cooking. Ordinarily, it involves cooking food in a liquid and at a lower temperature than most other “moist” cooking methods. The CVap oven’s controlled vapor heat replaces the partial immersion used in traditional poaching. CVap is so versatile, you can poach eggs inside the shell. It’ll hold eggs perfectly, for hours, without overcooking. Read more here.

Baking

Of course, when it comes to baking, eggs are simply an ingredient, rather than the focus. But that being said, CVap ovens excel at baking egg-rich recipes like cheesecake and crème brûlée. In the mood for something savory instead of sweet? How about a goat cheese tartlet or a quiche with fresh kale? No matter what recipe you’re baking, CVap will bake it perfectly, without overcooking.

cvap live event cheesecake
sous vide egg bites

Sous Vide

Although sous vide seems to be getting a lot of attention lately, it’s an age-old cooking technique. Traditional sous vide involves immersing bagged food in temperature-controlled water to cook slowly and precisely. The CVap twist on this technique is that CVap ovens use water vapor instead of immersion. You get the same precision as traditional sous vide without the hassle of bags or circulators. CVap ovens enable you to ramp up productivity in a fraction of the space that countertop circulators would take up. Because sous vide involves lower temperatures, it’s perfect for delicate foods like seafood, vegetables, and of course, eggs. Check out a great example of sous vide cooking with these sous vide egg bites.

Staging

Staging involves cooking food to the exact internal temperature and texture desired and holding it there. When the time comes to serve, simply remove food from the CVap, apply any needed finishing touches (like grilling or garnishing), and serve. CVap technology is uniquely able to do this, even with delicate foods like eggs. Serving a banquet of 500 eggs benedict? No problem. Staging in CVap means every patron will get a fresh, hot dish. If you need a little inspiration, check out this delicious eggs benedict recipe.

poached egg on muffin
egg on toast

Holding Eggs

In a perfect world, every meal is cooked fresh to order. The reality of foodservice is that food usually must be held before it’s served. But to keep food warm doesn’t mean it can’t be kept fresh. Food placed CVap equipment maintains just-cooked freshness, temperature, and texture for extended periods. You can prepare well ahead of the rush and keep serving through peak periods. Imagine being able to cook sunny side up eggs on a skillet, transfer them to a CVap cabinet, and hold them hot for hours, without temperature change, and without the yolks condensing. Cook up hotel pans of scrambled eggs and hold them hot and fluffy until you’re ready to serve. It’s possible in CVap.

Want to know more about eggs, their nutrition, and the health benefits of eating ‘em? Check out this info from the Egg Board.

When it comes to eggs, Winston wrote the book on it. No really, we did. Download a free copy of Delicate, Delightful, Delicious Eggs, by our dear late friend, Chef Barry Yates.