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


  • 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.




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


  • 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

Hot Breakfast for the Whole Crew

winston crew lines up for breakfast

Sharing a meal together is something we all enjoy. It’s a tradition as old as civilization itself. Winston has a long-standing tradition of regularly sharing meals together. Of course, that tradition had to be paused during the depths of the pandemic. But as things have slowly gotten better, we wanted to sit down together once again over great food. We took precautions – face masks, pre-portioned disposable containers, and social distancing. But it was good to come together again to share breakfast together.

Not content with doughnuts and coffee, we wanted to serve a fresh, hot breakfast for our 200+ team members. Chef Sam took advantage of our CVap equipment’s ability to bulk cook, then stage hot food ahead of time. She single-handedly fed all our Winston crew (with just a little help from a few other folks in portioning, serving, and cleaning up).

The menu included a variety of breakfast quiches, baked apple oatmeal, freshly proofed and baked cinnamon rolls, and fruit cups (along with a few pre-packaged sides). Although the menu had lots of variety, we’re only going to detail the preparation of the scratch dishes.

winston crew lines up for breakfast


Settings – CHV or RTV 05 ovens

  • Cook Time: 70 – 90 minutes
  • Vapor Temp – Cook: 200°F
  • Air Temp – Cook: 350°F


For Two Hotels Pans – Quiche Base
  • 5 Cups Bisquick
  • 10 Cups Milk
  • 20 Large Eggs
For 12 Hotel Pans
  • 30 Cups Bisquick
  • 60 Cups (3.75 gallons) Milk
  • 120 Large Eggs
Mix all the ingredients together, thoroughly. Distribute equally between number of pans you’re making.

Flavors – Small Batch:

We tested the product a week prior to our team breakfast and used ingredients we already had around; sausage, cream cheese, and a few veggies. If you are using fresh vegetables, it is advantageous to pre- or par-cook them to release some extra moisture, condense the flavors and to tenderize texture. On the two-pan batch we sauteed the veggies. But for the larger batch to feed the masses, we CVap roasted the veggies (Vapor 200°F/Air 350°F).

For the team, we made a variety of quiche, to suit all palates.

  • All Pork – sausage, bacon, and ham with Monterey jack
  • Smoked Brisket – with sharp cheddar and zucchini
  • Krab & Cream Cheese – with onions and peppers
  • Veggie – with cream cheese and cheddar, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes & spinach
Sam prepping breakfast
Sam making breakfast
uncooked quiche for breakfast
quiche for breakfast
breakfast quiche

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Settings: CHV or RTV 05 Ovens

  • Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Vapor Temp – Cook: 200°F
  • Air Temp – Cook: 350°F


For Five Hotels Pans
  • 45 Cups Old Fashion Oats
  • 1T + 1t Salt
  • 2/3 Cup (10T) Cinnamon
  • 2/3 Cup (10T) Baking Soda
  • 5 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 30 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups Olive Oil
  • 1 Gallon (16 Cups) Milk
  • 8 Cups Applesauce
  • 10 Cups Apple Juice
Mix all the ingredients together, thoroughly. Distribute equally between number of pans you’re making. Bake as directed.

Overall, the results were fantastic. The quiche was rich, savory and loaded with premium ingredients. And the baked apple oatmeal was as familiar and comforting as it was moist and flavorful. Whether you’re feed ten or 230, CVap ovens make it possible to crank out lots of food, with minimal labor!

mixing oats for breakfast
breakfast batter into pan
Oatmeal in pan
baked apple oatmeal breakfast
Fruit Cup

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


  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.

Sous Vide Pork Chops – Thick or Thin, a Flavor Win

Sous Vide Pork Chops

Did you know that CVap® ovens can also do sous vide? In this session, we staged pork chops using the sous vide mode, and finished them on the grill, for a quick serve out. The results we wanted to demonstrate were a superior food product, and tremendously reduced ticket times.

If you were to ask 100 chefs for their definition of sous vide, you’d get 100 different answers. In traditional French terms, sous vide means under vacuum. Beyond that, it’s really about low temperature paired with precisely controlled water cooking. When cooking with immersion circulators, you’re basically cooking in a tightly temperature-controlled water bath. It’s a beautiful method of cooking, with many benefits; reduced risk of contamination, improved flavor, and the impossibility of overcooking are just a few. Sous vide is a method that proves beneficial for any chef to use from time to time and benefits foods across the spectrum, from proteins, to starches, to vegetables.

CVap technology matches the precision of sous vide cooking, without immersing food under water.  Remember, CVap stands for controlled vapor; the cabinet itself acts as a larger water bath. But instead of utilizing water as the cooking medium, CVap uses heated water vapor, creating an atmosphere that mimics an immersion bath. Thus, food can be cooked, sous vide-style, with or without the use of bags. 

We wanted to demonstrate this by preparing thick dinner chops and thin breakfast chops in the same oven, at the same temperature, at the same time, achieving sous vide precision without having to prepare two different water baths. Using CVap Sous Vide Mode at 145°F, we cooked cook the chops to that base temperature, then removed for quick sear on the grill, to simulate an expedited service.

The Process

Preheat the CVap oven to Cook Vapor Temperature 145°F, using the sous vide mode, which is an option when setting the Cook Air Temperature. In this case, we set the oven using the CVap Programming app, and waving the phone near the oven’s NFC sensor (available on Series 7).

Start with a whole boneless pork loin. Trim any extra fat, then slice into chops. We sliced some thick, and some thin, to serve as dinner and breakfast chops. The dinner chops were approximately eight ounces each. Breakfast chops were about four ounces each.

Place chops on sheet pans. For best results, chops should sit atop cooling racks, to elevate them above the pan surface. Place racked chops into the preheated oven.

Cook time was approximately 45 minutes. We pulled the chops just prior to doneness temp, as they would continue to rise in temperature for a few minutes while resting on the counter. All measured around 142°F when removed from the oven.

Most proteins cooked in CVap’s sous vide mode will not brown, because the temperature isn’t high enough to achieve the Maillard reaction, so you’ll want to finish sear on a grill, griddle, sauté pan, or however you see fit.  This technique is considered “reverse sear” or “reversed staging.”

We patted dry the surface moisture from the chop, and seasoned both sides with salt and pepper. It only took about two minutes, total, to get beautiful grill marks.

If holding cooked chops, this translates to two minutes from the time the ticket comes into the time the plate goes out. Compare that to cooking from slacked, where you’d likely be looking at a 20-minute prep time for an eight-ounce chop.

CVap ovens cook uniformly, with no bullseye, undercooked, or overcooked areas. In this session, both the thin and thick chops were beautifully done, tender, and juicy. With CVap, you’ll never overcook pork again.

Final Thoughts

One of the best things that ever happened to pork happened about ten years ago, when the USDA determined it was safe to cook pork to 145°F. This is an ideal temperature for pork, especially for lean cuts like loin chops.  Prior to this decision, the accepted method was simply to cook the hell out of pork to assure safety. The lower temp simply results in a better product. Ten years have shown the decision to be the correct one.

Sous vide, as we utilized with this session, is one way to prepare pork. A lot of chefs, as they get more accustomed to CVap technology, will begin to play with the settings, to come up with their own twists on base settings. It’s yet another way to make recipes their own. CVap ovens are capable of so much more than just prime rib.

One caveat to keep in mind when using sous vide mode in CVap. Our sous vide settings top out at 150°F. But that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve higher sous vide temps in the ovens; we’ll be glad to walk you through higher temperature sous vide methods that meet your needs.

Our staff of culinary experts here at Winston are happy to work with you, to help you achieve the settings and methods that work best for you. Need advice? Click the button below for our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

Recipe Recap

  • Whole Boneless Pork Loin
  • Pinch Salt & Pepper

Trim excess fat, then slice into chops (thick or thin, depending on preference – approximately 4 to 8 ounces each). Pat chops dry with a paper towel, then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Program CVap RTV7-05UV-ST Retherm Oven as follows:

  • 145°F Vapor Cook Temp
  • SV (Sous Vide) Air Cook Temp
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Convection: On
  • High Yield: Off

Preheat the oven. Allow 45 minutes to preheat. Place chops on sheet pans. For best results, sit chops atop cooling racks, to elevate them above the pan surface. Place racked chops into the preheated oven. Start cook cycle.

Check meat temperature just before timed cook completes, as most meats will continue to rise in temperature after removal from oven.

Most proteins cooked in CVap’s sous vide mode will not brown, because the temperature isn’t high enough to achieve the Maillard reaction, so you’ll want to finish sear on a grill, griddle, sauté pan, or however you see fit.  This technique is considered “reverse sear” or “CVap staging.”

Multitasking with CVap

CVap controls make multitasking easier
CVap controls make multitasking easier

pan into the cvap

We often brag about the versatility of CVap® equipment. But any kitchen professional will tell you, a kitchen tool that only does one thing really isn’t very useful. CVap ovens are the kitchen equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. Sure, CVap ovens can bake and roast. But they can also braise, stage, retherm, steam, poach, even sous vide and confit. CVap ovens can also function as holding cabinets, saving valuable floor space. Likewise, eliminating the need to transfer product from an oven to a holding cabinet saves labor. CVap simply excels at multitasking.

CVap Multitasking Helps Your Everyday Prep

Delayed Start – Get your equipment pre-heated and ready to roll the moment your crew clocks in. CVap equipment can be set to preheat up to 24 hours in advance. When your crew arrives, CVap will be hot and ready.

Overnight Cook – The overnight cook feature is particularly useful for large proteins. It works while you’re not working. Simply load the ovens in the evening. Food will be perfectly cooked and ready to serve in the morning. Because CVap ovens automatically transition to hold mode at the end of a cook cycle, it won’t matter if the cook cycle concludes in the middle of the night. CVap maintains food at just-cooked quality for hours. Our school customers have frequently mentioned how much they appreciate this feature at Thanksgiving. Perfectly-cooked turkeys are ready when they arrive in the morning, ready for their students’ special holiday meal.

Bagged burgers in a CVap oven are an example of multitasking
Burgers and fried prepared in CVap oven - multitasking is easy

It’s All in the Programming

Programmed Channels – CVap Series 7 and 5 equipment feature eight pre-programmed channels, covering the most popular settings. Need custom settings for your operation? No problem! All eight channels can be reprogrammed via the control board, an Android device (Series 7), or a desktop app (Series 7 and 5). And the settings can be locked, eliminating the hassle of someone playing with the controls and messing up the day’s menu.

Righteous Retherming

Slacked or Frozen, CVap Can Handle It – If your operation serves lots of slacked or frozen foods, CVap Retherm Ovens retherm quickly and safely. They’re ideal for schools, healthcare, hospitality, concessions, ghost kitchens, commissaries, or satellite feeding sites – anywhere that serves a lot of food in a short amount of time.

Staging for Success

Staging – Staging involves par-cooking food to reduce the serving time. CVap ovens are unrivaled at staging. Food can be cooked to a precise temperature just below doneness, then quickly finished and served. Imagine holding an oven full of steaks or burgers at 135°F. As orders come in, food goes from the oven to the pan or grill for finishing. In less than five minutes, your patron has a perfectly-cooked, tantalizing meal.

Multitasking Helps You Save Time

You can literally turn tables three times faster by staging instead of starting from scratch. It’s another example of how multitasking with your CVap equipment helps streamline your kitchen operations.

Barry was a master at multitasking

Cooking in the Kitchen with a CVap® RTV Retherm Oven

Chef Sam shows what RTV Retherm Ovens can do.

School Menu Items in a Retherm Oven

Watch as Chef Sam cook a variety of menu items in a retherm oven. CVap RTV Retherm Ovens are versatile. This video features some of the more popular school menu items, such as pizza, breakfast corndogs, and tater gems. Chef Sam also offers tips to get the best results.

You’ll also see how CVap ovens can utilize a probe for highly accurate cooking. Both thin and thick-cut pork chops and other proteins can be prepared in the same oven, with consistent results throughout.

Our Reputation is at Steak!

Perfectly seared steak in less than two minutes flat! Yep, I said it. Seared to perfection, and melt-in-your-mouth texture, all from staging. How do we do it? Start with a CVap® Cook & Hold Oven. Cook the steak to a perfect 130°F and just let it hang out in the CVap oven. The amazing part of the process is when the steak reaches temperature, the oven won’t overcook the steak. During the busy service rush in your restaurant, don’t worry about checking the CVap Oven. The oven does the work and the steaks won’t overcook. CVap Technology will hold to perfection. Think of it as sous vide re-engineered. It’s similar to immersion circulators, with one added advantage; volume. CVap can cook a large volume of food – up to ten hotel pans in our smaller CVap ovens. Set the CVap Cook and Hold at 130°F vapor, 131°F air. Cook time will depend on the type of steak and the amount of steak you are cooking.

Marinate steak with your favorite marinade. I’m loving chimichurri sauce right now. Vacuum seal the steak. Place in preheated CVap oven and press start. Then walk away! Once the cycle finishes, pull steaks as needed for orders.

Heat your grill pan on high heat for ten minutes. Pat steaks dry on both sides. Season with Himalayan salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Sear on each side for 30 to 45 seconds. Pull off and let rest. Slice and serve the seared steak.

Want to watch a quick, quirky video about staging in CVap? Click here