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.

Essential Equipment for Cloud Kitchens

cloud kitchen
cloud kitchen

If 2020 showed us anything it is that cloud kitchens are here to stay. Consumer habits have shifted.  For example, app services like DoorDashGrubHub, and UberEats are more popular than ever. The public’s reliance on food delivery is unlikely to fade. Thinking of starting a cloud kitchen? Consider what equipment you will need. Maximize space, efficiency, and food quality in your kitchen.

WHAT IS A CLOUD KITCHEN?

A cloud kitchen (or ghost kitchen) is a professional food preparation facility set up to prepare delivery or takeout meals only. They do not include a storefront or seating for customers. It is not a restaurant brand in itself. For instance, one kitchen space could be home to multiple brands.

Cloud kitchens can work within brick-and-mortar restaurants or function as standalone facilities. Without the overhead of a physical location, cloud kitchens can save money on property expenses, labor, and maintenance. Maximizing the functionality of this small space is important because the average cloud kitchen typically operates in just a few hundred square feet. Winston Foodservice offers three essential equipment lines that would benefit any cloud kitchen.

Winston-Foodservice-CVap-Holding
MAXIMIZE YOUR SPACE

With a limited workspace, this kind of kitchen equipment must be compact and mobile. Winston’s CVap® Cook and Hold Ovens fit the bill. For example, CVap ovens do not require a vent hood*. Vent hoods are very expensive to install and operate. Since CVap ovens don’t require hoods, they can be placed anywhere in a kitchen with sufficient power. CVap ovens are versatile and can be used for multiple cooking techniques. There are many other benefits that CVap ovens provide. Click here to learn more.

*Check local codes.

FRY, FRY AGAIN

Serving fried food? No cloud kitchen that offers fried products is complete without a good fryer. Whether you offer chicken, fish, or potato wedges, Winston’s Collectramatic® fryers are the fryers you need. Collectramatic fryers have a 50-year track record of providing trouble-free performance and consistency. They cook all day with little filtration, therefore saving you on labor and oil. They have an industry reputation for cooking superior foods. Available in open and pressure configurations, there’s a Collectramatic fryer to suit any cloud kitchen.

ghost kitchen food
LP46-Fryer-Open-Shadow
HBB5D2-Left-Shadow
KEEP IT WARM, KEEP IT FRESH

Need the accuracy of CVap holding, but limited on space? Our warming drawers are what you need. Winston offers a variety of CVap Hold and Serve Drawers. If you need to keep products crisp or moist, then you need CVap. You can place the drawers under or on top of counters for easy access. Because these drawers are available in wide or narrow configurations, you can rest assured that there’s a model that’s perfect for your space. They include single and double drawer models. Because of their versatility, you can hold a multitude of foods. Whatever you need to keep warm and fresh, from bread to soup, as well as eggs and chips, CVap has you covered. Having hot and ready food can keep deliveries flying out the door.

In conclusion, every operation is unique. Having the right equipment in your cloud kitchen will help your operation function efficiently and profitably. Our team of representatives can guide you to the best equipment to suit your individual needs. Please contact us today to learn how Winston’s products can set your kitchen up for success.

Carnitas in CVap®

events carnitas
events carnitas

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

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

carnitas ingredients

Let's Make Carnitas!

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

carnitas in bag
Carnitas in CVap®

Carnitas CVap Cook and Hold Oven Settings:

Legacy CVap

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

New CVap

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

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

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

carnitas pork frying
carnitas meat

Cooking Rice in CVap Ovens

Placing rice in CVap oven

Traditionally, rice is boiled or steamed. But cooking rice CVap ovens is very easy. CVap’s dual heat technology helps to avoid overcooking. Winston has several large chain customers who use CVap equipment to prepare and hold their rice. Rice can be held hot for up to 24 hours in CVap equipment, with no degradation in quality.

Rice is one of the most widely consumed cereal grains in the world. As an agricultural commodity, it ranks third globally (just behind sugarcane and corn). Rice provides more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

In this cooking session, we tested five different types of rice, in the same oven, cooking simultaneously.

  • Brown Rice
  • Enriched Long Grain White Rice
  • Par-Boiled Long Grain White Rice
  • Basmati Rice
  • Short Grain Sushi Rice

For most of these, the ratio of water to rice is a simple 2:1. Sushi rice is the exception, its ratio is 2.5:1.

The Process

  1. Pour premeasured rice and water into a hotel pan. We used a 4” deep, half hotel pan.
    – If cooking brown rice, use boiling water.
    – If cooking sushi rice, rinse prior to cooking, per instructions.
  2. Cover with both parchment and foil.
  3. Place in a preheated CVap oven. Our settings were 200°F Vapor temp, 350°F Air temp. The oven in this case was an RTV7-05.
  4. After the cook phase, allow the rice to rest or “cure” for a few minutes before removing parchment/foil lid and fluffing with fork.

Different rices have different cook times. Sushi rice cooks fast – about 15 minutes. Enriched long grain, par-boiled long grain, and basmati rice all took about 25 minutes to cook thoroughly. Brown rice takes a bit longer, approximately 40 minutes.

Cook time can vary, depending on the size and depth of pans used, and the size and type of oven utilized. We encourage you to experiment to find the optimum settings for your operation.

The Results/Observations

  • Brown Rice
    • As a whole grain, the brown rice took longest to cook, even with using hot or boiling water.
    • After 40 minutes, the brown rice was fully hydrated, tender, and fluffy.
  • All Long Grain White Rice Varieties:
    • Were fully hydrated, tender, and had great integrity
  • Short Grain Sushi Rice:
    • Sushi rice is easy to overcook. We pulled this sample after about 15 minutes. Gotta watch this stinker.

A Word About Rice and Food Safety

Cooked rice can contain bacillus cerus spores, which can produce a toxin if the rice spends too much time in the temperature danger zone (40°F to 140°F). If storing rice for use the next day, rapid cooling is advised.

A safer alternative is to hold the rice hot in a CVap oven or holding cabinet. CVap can keep the rice safely above 140°F, with no degradation in quality, for up to 24 hours. Read more about how to hold rice safely for hours in this blog.

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

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

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. 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.