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.

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!”

Pepperoni Rolls, Simple and Delicious

pepperoni rolls
   

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

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

pepperoni rolls

Ingredients

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

Preparing

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

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

pepperoni rolls
pepperoni rolls
folding
pepperoni rolls
Pepperoni Rolls

Baking Pepperoni Rolls

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

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

pepperoni rolls

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

Every Student Deserves Good Nutrition

Beaumont ISD kitchen crew provides great nutrition

Proper nutrition is critically important. After all, nutrition affects both physical and mental development. However, food insecurity endangers many students. As a result, the sole reliable food source for many is at school. For example, in a recent press releaseThe Education Trust stated:
Decades of research and data point to school nutrition programs as critical to help children reach their full academic potential. Adequate school nutrition is linked to improved literacy and math scores, improved cognitive function, reduced absenteeism, and long-term positive educational outcomes.

Winston supports students. For example, we’ve partnered with the School Nutrition Foundation. Certainly, the majority of our support is in the form of the Winston Equipment Grant.

The Winston Equipment Grant

In fact, every year Winston donates up to $100,000 in CVap equipment to a deserving school district. Naturally, to be above board, Winston doesn’t select the recipient. Accordingly, the SNF vets applications. Ultimately, SNF chooses the grant recipient.

Beaumont Independent School District in Beaumont, Texas received the 2020 grant. Tiffany Eckenrod, Beaumont’s Director of Child Nutrition, submitted a powerful video detailing her team’s challenges. In fact, the grant replaced broken or obsolete equipment. As a result, the quality and quantity of food in Beaumont have improved.

Take a look at some other schools that received the grant. After all, it’s our honor to be active proponents of student nutrition.

Winston Pays It Forward with The Winston Equipment Grant

Winston Foodservice Pays Forward
We believe in paying it forward. That’s why we partnered with the School Nutrition Foundation to underwrite Winston Equipment Grant. For over a decade, Winston has made an annual grant of up to ten pieces of CVap® equipment to a deserving school system. Depending on which ten pieces are selected, the value of the grant can exceed $100,000. Watch to see a few of the recent recipients.

Roasting Veggies in CVap®

Veggies CVAP

Roasting Veggies in CVap® Boosts Flavor

There’s no denying it – most of Winston’s blogs focus on proteins. It’s true that CVap® technology brings out the best in meats, but roasting veggies also serves up phenomenal results. I’ve prepared some of my most favorite vegetable dishes in a CVap Retherm Oven. Today we tested three vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots.

425°F is the traditional roasting setting for vegetables in a conventional over. However, since the max temp of a CVap Retherm Oven is 350°F, I had to adapt a bit to convert these items to CVap preparation.

I am amazed at the difference that roasting vegetables makes, particularly when getting kids to eat them. My daughter has always turned her nose up to broccoli no matter how many ways I have prepared it, but roasting it has always made her a happy camper.

roasting veggies cauliflower

Using the CVap oven, we attempted three different preparations, all very simple, and all done on Channel 5 in a CAT retherm oven. This particular setting has a 130°F water temperature and a 350°F air temperature. The high differential allows for the greatest browning potential, and the results were fantastic (as shown in the pictures below.

roasting veggies carrots

Baby Carrots with Honey and Cajun Spice

Toss the carrots in a bowl with honey and cajun spice to taste. These take 20 minutes total cook time.

roasting veggies broccoli

Broccoli Tossed with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

After 18 minutes in the oven, pull the trays out and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. I placed them back in the oven for two minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.

Cauliflower Yogurt Roasted

Cauliflower with Plain Yogurt and Red Curry Paste

First, toss the cauliflower florets in the yogurt with the red curry paste, then add salt and pepper. These take about 25 minutes total cook time.

 

Adjust these recipes to suit your own tastes. As you can tell from these photos, I like a generous amount of char on my roasted vegetables. You may like more or less. Experiment to find the taste and texture that satisfies the picky palate you’re trying to please.

To expand your menu with fresh vegetables, this recipe is a sure bet. Use Retherm ovens for more than cooking pizzas and breaded chicken products. It is fully capable of making scratch food that is very easy and healthy!

Combi Ovens; Blessing or Boondoggle?

CVap cabinets are great for school nutrition

Ah, the much celebrated, occasionally maligned combi-oven. Many a chef has salivated over the thought of adding a combi to their kitchen. But are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Combi ovens allow the user to steam bake, roast, and do a combination of these processes (hence the name combi). Some ovens allow very intricate setting capabilities, perhaps even being controlled by touching a picture of food. They cook fast, and honestly do a good job overall. That being said, those who are familiar with combi units also know that most of these units are very complicated to develop settings for and are almost always underutilized by the customer.

In comparison, CVap ovens also allow you to steam, bake, roast, and do a combination of these processes. They do not have the same kilowatts as the combi, so they are not going to cook quite as fast. But they are a fraction of the cost, a heck of a lot more reliable, and don’t require a vent hood (depending on local codes). While the combi is often oversold, the CVap oven is a great value piece that has endless cooking opportunities.

Want to learn more about CVap equipment? Click here.

Winston Foodservice Annual Equipment Grant

2019 recipient of the Winston Foodservice Annual Equipment Grant

Winston Partners with SNF for Annual Grant

Winston Foodservice is proud to partner with the School Nutrition Foundation to donate ten pieces of CVap equipment (valued at approximately $100,000) to a deserving school system.

Although Winston underwrites the grant, we aren’t part of the selection process. Our SNF partners choose from the applicants. It’s an open and unbiased process.

Watch a few of the past recipients of the Winston Foodservice Annual Equipment Grant. And watch your email for details on the next grant.

No Vent Hood! CVap Doesn’t Need a Vent Hood.

Winston-Foodservice-No-Vent-Hood

Space. It’s a precious commodity in any commercial kitchen. Particularly space under the vent hood. Most food codes require certain equipment to be placed under the hood. Winston Foodservice recently had our CVap® RTV Retherm Oven tested by Intertek, an independent testing and certification company. Our goal was to definitively determine whether CVap commercial ovens require a vent hood. The results? The CVap oven passed FDA Method 202 testing with flying colors. Both the Winston CVap RTV Retherm Oven and CHV Cook & Hold product lines gained approval.

Winston-Foodservice-No-Vent-Hood

No Vent Hood CVap Benefits

  • Save Space – Chances are, if there’s already a hood in the kitchen, there’s already equipment that requires it. Adding CVap ovens to the lineup won’t require a game of musical chairs with existing appliances. Save that valuable hood space for the stuff that needs it.
  • Save Money – Let’s face it; hood systems cost out the wazoo. They require thousands of dollars in hardware and infrastructure, to the tune of $1,000 a running foot. Eliminating the hood saves money, both on the hood system and on the power it requires.
  • Expand Your Menu – CVap ovens offer versatility that few other ovens can match. Bake, roast, steam, CVap® Stage, braise, retherm, “bagless” sous vide (with or without a bag) – all in one footprint – a footprint that DOESN’T REQUIRE A HOOD!

Of course, local codes may vary. Check with local officials before investing in CVap ovens, or any other commercial restaurant equipment. Need proof that CVap ovens don’t require a hood? Here’s the full report. Need to take a nap? Here’s what the EPA has to say about Method 202.