For the second in our series about modernising your small business – whether that’s a restaurant, cafe or bar – today we’re looking at developments in kitchen technology that can seriously benefit your brand. Specifically, we want to talk about how to choose a rapid cook oven, and the pros and cons of high speed ovens. These are a new wave of ovens that combine different cooking techniques to offer super-fast food that tastes and looks great. The main brands making rapid cook ovens are Merrychef and Turbochef, but there are other great companies out there.
The kitchen can be a hot, pressured environment. If you’re thinking about how you could improve cooking times, increase the volume of food you produce and make life easier for your staff, here’s the lowdown on high speed ovens, plus the story of how a rapid cook oven helped one local business.
What is a rapid cook oven?
Using a combination of microwave, convection, impingement (forced jets of hot air) and radiant (or infra-red) functions, a rapid cook oven allows you to select the optimum method for the type of food you’re creating. They can reduce cooking times by 5 -20 times, meaning you can produce more, and get it to your customers far more quickly. You can cook any type of food in a high speed oven that you’d normally cook in a conventional oven, but they are particularly popular in places serving pizzas, hot sandwiches and meats. Some will even clean themselves overnight, leaving your staff free to serve customers and prepare even more delicious food.
Pros of using a high speed oven
- Great for small spaces as they will fit on a countertop, plus they are stackable if you need multiple units
- Produce high volume of dishes in much shorter time
- Programmable so you can work out the optimum cooking times and heats for each dish
- Offers consistent cooking across your venues thanks to digitalised programming
- No external or additional vent necessary with high speed ovens that have internal catalytic converters
- Easy to use programming so your staff can store recipes and cooking times, and can plan ahead for busy times
Cons of a rapid cook oven
- Capacity may be smaller than a conventional or pizza oven
- Need to carefully select the right model for the type of food you’re producing
- High energy usage (though many have an idle setting to conserve energy between uses and still heat up quickly)
How to choose a high speed oven
If you’ve decided to try a new oven to update your restaurant or cafe kitchen, you need to consider several things before you buy:
- Power: the higher power rating the quicker the oven will cook, so choose the model that has the right amount of oomph in the specific area your kitchen needs.
- Size: the interior design and layout of your kitchen will of course determine the size of your oven, but you also need to factor in the amount of dishes you need to produce. These ovens sit on your countertop, so make sure there is sufficient depth, and height if you are stacking them.
- Electricity: you may need to have your rapid cook oven hardwired in by a professional as they can use a lot of electricity
- Extraction: many models have integral vents, though they are confusingly called ‘vent-free’. This just means that they have a catalytic converter that removes the need for a separate vent or overhead extraction hood
- Door: do you want a drop-down or side opening?
A modern kitchen in Lewes: Caccia & Tails
(Photo credit: Leigh Simpson)
We are delighted to have a case study for you that shows the impact of a high speed oven on a small food business. Caccia & Tails is a small independent cafe on Station Street in Lewes serving incredible street pasta dishes and New York Italian-inspired cuisine. Director and brains behind the business, Elisa Furci, creates delicious food like surprising upside-down focaccia genovese, moorish ricotta and marscapone cannoli, meatball subs and cauliflower and saffron pasta. You can catch up with Elisa on Instagram and see pictures of her amazing food @cacciaandtails.
The Caccia & Tails kitchen is small, and Elisa opted for a rapid cook oven to match the size of her venue and the demand for quick, take-away dishes that still retain their fresh, homemade taste. Here’s what she told us about her choice of a Lincat Combi Master oven:
– Why did you choose that type of oven?
We were looking for an oven that could cover all our requirements, which were fairly complicated. We needed to bake focaccia well, which would normally be done in an oven similar to a pizza oven, but also needed a general oven and one that could re-heat fast. The Combi covered everything!– How has it influenced what food you serve?
It has ensured we can serve all the food we set out to serve, which has been vital to us sticking on brand.– What are the advantages of a high speed oven for a small business?
Fast service all the way! We pride ourselves on serving high quality restaurant quality food at grab & go speed and prices.