Combi Ovens Made to Banquet
Are you searching for a new Combi Oven for banqueting season?
We have put this guide together to help you understand what a Combi Oven is, the considerations you need to make, and of course, some leading ovens on the market today.
The combination oven is one of the most popular and versatile pieces of equipment in the commercial kitchen used by a range of venues, from takeaways to fine-dining restaurants and banqueting venues!
What is a Combination (or Combi!) Oven?
A Combination Oven (commonly known as a Combi Oven or traditionally a steamer) is a highly advanced piece of catering equipment which cooks food using steam, convection, or a combination of the two.
These impressive machines can often be the largest, and the most expensive bit of equipment in your commercial catering kitchen. The right Combi Oven will complement your existing menu and transform how you and your kitchen brigade work.
So, it is essential that you choose the right Combination Oven that best suits your operational requirements.
Regeneration Cooking Features
Maintaining consistency in every plate of food that you want to serve during a banquet can become stressful!
Having a Combination Oven with a regeneration cooking feature will allow you to prepare meals ahead of time by cooking, then using a blast chiller to rapidly cool the food down. After this, the food can then be plated and stored in a refrigerated room/cabinet.
Shortly before serving, bring all the plates back up to serving temperature using a regeneration or finishing cooking feature on your Combi Oven. You can protect the finished plates from heat loss by using thermal trolley covers which can keep plates warm.
Regeneration programmes are usually already installed on most ovens, all you need to is to adjust the time for the product. Many Combi Oven manufacturers will help you to “engineer” your plates to ensure all foods regenerate at the same time without losing quality!
Finishing Systems for Banqueting
Finishing systems for banqueting combine all the essential accessories that you need for regeneration.
These include a mobile plate rack, thermal cover and a transport trolley to provide a really efficient hot holding solution! Some trolleys allow you to store up to 120 plates for finishing! With most brands, thermal covers help to keep your food hot for up to 20 minutes.
This helps to get plates as close to the servicing location as possible (often the kitchen is quite a distance from the main banquet or events area) without losing heat or food quality.
Remember it is key that you don’t mix your old/new trolleys with your old/new combi ovens!
What you should consider before buying?
You want to choose the right Combi Oven for you, because this will save you time, energy, space, and money! However, purchasing the wrong one could be costly.
Here are five important considerations you should bear in mind when buying a Combination Oven:
1. Why do I need a Combi Oven?
Having a Combi Oven in your kitchen will allow you to cater for more covers, even when you can’t expand your kitchen footprint! They are a great asset to any kitchen; they allow you more flexible cooking, convenience, consolidate your equipment, and save you money within one piece of equipment.
2. What power supply do I have?
Most models will require a three-phase electrical connection. Three phase tends to be the most popular compared to single phase. A few Combi Ovens can work on a 13-amp 3 pin power supply, they are often smaller in size and have limited functionality which may not be right for your menu.
3. Do I need extraction?
Extraction is a legal requirement, meaning you will need a canopy or ventilation system with 600 mm of overhang to go above your oven (current Industry Regulations 2022). Combi’s can produce a lot of steam and heat, so it is important to have sufficient overhead extraction. Some combination ovens have extraction hoods as an optional accessory, but this will be an additional charge! However, they may be more cost-effective than a full-sized extraction hood.
4. What space do I have available?
Combi Ovens can range in size, from as little as compact 1/2 GN trays*, all the way up to huge roll-in models which can hold around 40 1/1 or 20 2/1 full-sized GN pans.
All models, apart from mini Combis, can take full-size bakery trays. Whilst wanting a larger oven for your kitchen means a higher capacity, it might not be best suited to your kitchen! The right size Combi Oven will depend on your menu, the number of covers you need to accommodate and how quickly you need to serve your customers.
* GN trays (Gastronorm) are a European standard size of kitchen trays and containers that are commonly seen around commercial catering operations.
5. What controls will make my life easier?
Controls are usually either manual or can be programmable via intuitive touch screens. We would recommend to any client that comes to us, that the easier the controls, the better!
Modern programmable models have large touchscreen panels which can often be connected to your phone, making your life in the kitchen easier. The other benefit of touch screen Combination Oven models is that menu items can be pre-programmed, so the oven takes care of all the cooking at the touch of a “button”.
This is ideal when staffing numbers are limited, or you are in the process of training chefs.
In need of a Combi Oven? Your journey starts here!
Combi Oven brands compared…
There is no shortage of Combination Ovens to choose from. We have identified a handful of Combi Ovens, highlighting some of the key selling points, so you don’t have to! They are from leading manufacturers Rational, Convotherm, Electrolux, Unox and MKN.
Rational iCombi Pro 20-2/1
Rational are the leading manufacturer of combination ovens on the market today. These iCombi Pros are highly intelligent pieces of kit any kitchen could benefit from!
It allows you to replace several conventional cooking appliances while only taking up 1 m2 meaning you can cook anything from meat to fish, poultry, vegetables and baked goods. It’s even ideal if you’re an a la carte operation, not just banqueting.
The iCookingSuite learns as you cook meaning it knows the desired cooking results and adapts the air speed, humidity, and temperature automatically. And for busy banqueting operations, the iProductionManager can help you to plan and cooking in the most efficient way possible.
Finally, the iCareSystem looks after your machine with automatic cleaning at the touch of the button.
The Rational iCombi Pro is the Combi Oven standard that all ovens are compared to.
- W x D x H: 1082 mm x 1117 mm x 1807 mm
- Weight: 336 kg (electric version)
- 120 plate capacity
- The most popular & common Combination Oven in the UK market
- Widely available Install & Service Partners
- Widely available parts & accessories
- No need for a separate water softener (if cleaned properly!)
- Size and model to suit any kitchen!
- Lead times are currently extended beyond normal, with current lead times of delivery by early 2023!
- Not a self-dosing cleaning system; requires the operator load a tablet
Convotherm 4 deluxe easyTouch 20.20
These Combi Ovens are extremely easy to use, especially because it features a 9” LCD display and their functions are entirely customisable too, giving you more flexibility.
These are the only ovens on the market that have a disappearing door, meaning the door slides along the side of the appliance. Making more space for staff to load and unload the oven as well as lowering the risk of getting burnt from the heat inside the oven door. Ideal for busy banquet or batch cooking environment such as schools!
Automatic cooking and baking can be achieved with quick selection buttons, meaning perfect cooking results thanks to Natural Smart Climate™ in the closed ACS+ system.
The Combination Oven also features a fully automatic ConvoClean cleaning system with four cleaning levels and three cleaning modes.
- W x D x H: 1135 mm x 1020 mm x 1942 mm
- Weight: 386 kg (electric version)
- 98 – 122 plate capacity
- The patented disappearing door is useful when loading the oven, making it safer and quicker for your chefs
- With ConvoSense, it will recognise what foods have been loaded and cooked automatically, with no operator input
- It uses approximately 41% less water than the Rational iCombi Pro
- Cleaning chemicals come in larger 5l containers, and the machine is self-dosing, removing operator error and daily plastic waste associated with tablets or cassettes
- The option for a spritz-only model is ideal for baking where steam requirements are limited (no expensive boiler to descale & maintain!)
- Each model actually holds 1 more GN tray than standard Combi Ovens because of the shelf pitch, so a 6.10 and 10.10 is actually a 7.10 and 11.10!
- All Convortherm Combi Oven models require a separate Brita water treatment unit which takes up additional space.
- The cleaning chemicals take up additional space below the oven, where you would normally store trays and other cooking utensils.
Want to invest in the latest energy-saving Combi Oven?
Electrolux SkyLine Premium 20 2/1 GN
These Skyline Premium Combi Ovens are made to deliver outstanding performance with smart technology and human-centred design!
Designed to reduce running costs in the kitchen, the goal of this combi oven is to provide a comfortable working environment, reducing around 75% in sick leave and 25% increase in productivity.
It features a high-resolution touch screen interface and colour-blind friendly panel. A built-in steam generator for highly precise humidity and temperature control and Lambda sensor core probe to automatically recognize the quantity and size of food for consistent quality results. The model also have a 6-point multi-sensor core temperature probe for maximum precision and food safety.
SkyLine Premium Combination Ovens can directly communicate with the newly launched SkyLine ChillS range of blast chillers, meaning the oven and blast chiller (or vice versa) will synchronise settings based on what is being cooked.
What’s more, all data from running costs through to recipe programming can be remotely monitored 24/7 via Electrolux’s One online portal!
- W x D x H: 1162 mm x 1067mm x 1794 mm
- 200 plate capacity
- Direct communication with the SkyLine ChillS range of blast chillers means seamless operation from frozen to cooked or vice versa
- Their cleaning chemicals needed for the combi oven are the cheapest on the market and require no direct touch handling from the operator
- Cleaning chemicals are individually wrapped, meaning more plastic wastage
- A separate water softener is required
- The cooking complete alarm does indicate which shelf is ready; it’s a timer only
Unox CHEFTOP Mind.Maps BIG PLUS 20 GN 2/1
Made for large kitchens, hotels and banqueting facilities, this trolley Combi Oven has the highest rate of productivity and reliability from the Unox Combination Oven range.
The BIG PLUS uses the latest technology to support your work. This oven offers you flawless cooking results in all load conditions thanks to 6 high-performance close pitch reversing fan motors and fully saturated steam production in the cooking chamber.
Unox boast it can cook 100kg of steamed potatoes in 35 minutes, 200 pork chops in 7 minutes and 180 bacon slices in 6 minutes. When it comes to banqueting, thanks to the Artificial Intelligence built into the CHEFTOP.MIND.Maps™ BIG:CLIMALUX™, this Unox Combi Oven can regenerate 51 plates to the perfect 65°C in 12 minutes.
- W x D x H: 892 mm x 1018 mm x 1875 mm
- Weight: 386 kg (electric version)
- 98 – 122 plate capacity (20 x 1/1 GN)
- It heats from 30°C to 300°C in just 270 seconds (that’s just 4.5 minutes!)
- Unox provides unique sizing and slim line models of Combination Ovens, meaning that are better suited for awkward and tight spaces.
- Perfect oven for any start-up operation, providing all the features you would ever need to use.
- They offer a fantastic support system.
- Their operating interface can be more complex to use
- For cleaning, the oven is self-dosing, however, the detergent drawer only has a 4l capacity which needs manually refilling with 1l UNOX.Det&Rinse Plus bottles (so 4 bottles to completely fill)
- The UNOX.Pure water filter is required (although it is built into the machine!).
Need to review your Combi Oven cooking?
Which Combi Oven should I buy?
We have tried to highlight all the pros and cons with our selected models of Combination Ovens. Of course, there are many more brands and models available. As an independent distributor, we’re able to work with you to specify the right oven from all major manufacturers.
If you are on the hunt for a new Combi Oven, we can help you through the entire process. We can even help when it gets round to servicing your equipment with fully trained engineers on most manufacturers’ equipment. And with the busy banqueting season fast approaching, it’s crucial that you have the right Combi Oven in the optimum working order.
Contact us today to see how we can help with new machines (that we might have in stock!) or our maintenance and repair services.