Part 2: Upgrading to the New Genre of Combi Ovens

To summarize the first two parts of our technology refresh conversation, we first assessed the value of your POS and the “hows and whys” associated with replacing or upgrading, so you can derive a better ROI for your pocketbook and for your employees and guests. Then last month, the conversation moved to some compelling points regarding the technologies of Digital Menu Boards (DMB) and Kitchen Display Screens (KDS).
The other game changer, which we will review and detail this month, is the new genre of ovens that utilize computer technology. These ovens — and there are a good number of them by several manufacturers — combine the various heating aspects we are accustomed to and draw their best characteristics by using computer technology to make them more efficient, thereby providing superior solutions to age-old kitchen issues.

The Next Generation
Let’s first look at a class of ovens that are considered the “next generation” of microwave ovens — combi ovens — which combine convection and impinger. Forget what you know and dislike about microwave ovens. As a chef, I would never think to use a traditional microwave for cooking, and neither would you. Food cooks unevenly, gets dried out — all the things that make it the wrong oven for cooking. But now — aha! We take that oven and make the cavity a 500-degree convection heat-generated oven, infuse the impinger qualities of heat directed at food, wrapping it in hot air (think speed and browning capabilities), and add the speed of microwave cooking. The product that comes out of that oven is, well, perfect.
The product is not only consistently perfect, with the same coloring, doneness, and tenderness you would expect from your top chef, but at up to 15 times the speed. Read my lips (or my words): tender, juicy, delicious chicken breasts, pizzas, steaks, and crab cakes every 2-3 minutes.

Seeing Is Believing
I was the doubting skeptic, and you, too, are likely reading this with doubt and wonder. However, viewing a demo will change your mind. Your kitchen will be faster, better, more consistent, and with less labor on your cooking line. Now that is serious ROI.
Such combi ovens are less for quick production cooking, though they are faster and better than what you use now. But the strength of combi ovens is that they create moisture around what they are cooking. For high volume Friday and Saturday nights, for catering, and lots of other situations, they will help produce the highest quality fish, chops, steaks, chicken, vegetables, and starches, even with line cooks who may not have the skill set to produce such outstanding quality results. Think of your middle-of-the-road, good volume restaurant or carry-out putting out steaks, crabcakes, and ribs that rival the most expensive dishes a high-end restaurant can produce. That is more than just ROI — it is a game changer. Make no mistake, the best restaurants in the world have been using combi ovens for more than a decade. But, with the price of technology dropping year after year, these once too-expensive-for-me ovens are now in reach, and again, reduce your labor, improve your quality, improve your guest service, and provide ROI over and over again.
I fully understand the quantum leap of faith it takes to embrace the thinking behind moving your business to a new level of technology, particularly in the kitchen. Though, as with the other items discussed in this article series — POS, online ordering, etc. — the benefits are game changing, important, and will provide the next level of growth that is always desired.
Hopefully, the ideas presented in this series have been of value, and that they enable you to make the improvements necessary to help your restaurant businesses. If you would like to discuss the topic presented above or any other topics that affect your hospitality business, please feel free to reach out to me at the phone number or e-mail address below.

About the Author

Henry Pertman is Director, Hospitality Consulting at CohnReznick LLP, located in the firm’s Baltimore, Md. office. He can be contacted at 410-783-4900 or

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