Nowadays, combi ovens are pitched as the one appliance that can perform almost every cooking process a professional kitchen would need.
Key to this is a cornucopia of accessories, which can re-create techniques such as grilling, smoking and frying. But how can dealers leverage this multitude of possibilities to ensure equipment sales?
At sector leader Rational, UK MD Simon Lohse believes: “Specialist accessories, such as smoking units, increase the multifunctionality of the combi oven. All the accessories supplied by Rational are manufactured to complement the cooking processes and to work seamlessly with the SelfCookingCenter.”
These include the VarioSmoker, which allows food to be cooked and smoked at the same time, as well as griddles, trays, trolleys and cabinets. The manufacturer has also just launched an accessory pack, available for each model of combi oven, containing a mixture of specialist trays and fry baskets.
Lohse added: “Rational offers accessories that are designed to replace traditional pieces of equipment such as wood-fired ovens. Traditional equipment may have a long preheat time, large footprint, and energy efficiency issues. By using Rational’s accessories, chefs are able to offer a range of flexible menu choices without purchasing additional equipment.”
He advised dealers: “Rational showcases its accessories at free SelfCookingCenter Live events; dealers should recommend their customers attend these. Rational’s sales team works closely with dealers and supports them in making informed choices about the type of accessory that would be most appropriate for their customer.”
Over at Welbilt, UK and Ireland sales director Steve Hemsil summarised: “With combi oven manufacturers now offering a greater range of accessories, the multifunctional capabilities of each unit continue to grow. For example, the ConvoGrill accessory available with the Convotherm 4 allows operators to grill various foods, in addition to baking and steaming, all whilst managing the grease that is given off during the cooking process.
“But it’s not just accessories to enhance cooking capabilities that can extend the multifunctional capabilities of a combi oven. Enhancements to the aesthetic appeal of each unit can be fundamental, hence the launch of our brand new black Convotherm Mini. The stylish matt black coating is also highly practical, helping to eliminate fingerprints, meaning the oven retains its clean and elegant appearance.”
While he acknowledged that combi ovens will continue to develop in a way that allows for a broader range of accessories to be utilised, he cautioned: “The industry has also recently seen a move towards accessories becoming included as standard within many combi ovens. However, the danger with this is that users could be paying for accessories that they are not going to use.”
Elsewhere, MKN’s UK head of sales Wayne Bennett encouraged: “Smokers and grill plates should be used to compliment and maximise the investment in using the combi oven and should not be replaced. For instance, if a site is using it for smoking all day every day then it should purchase a smoker, however if there are only one or two products on the menu that require smoking, then this is really getting the best ROI from the unit.”
MKN’s smoker has four different smoke intensity levels, and the user can save details of the smoking function when compiling cooking programmes. The brand can also offer the FlexiRack cooking chamber concept inside the oven which can double the capacity when using the chicken spits.
“The dealer should specify accessories with combi ovens to really get close to the customer and upsell and add,” said Bennett. “In the near future, there will most likely be an increase in both accessories that will become available to purchase with combi ovens and also with the amount of features that will be built into the appliance. This will allow the user to maximise their investment.”
While Middleby Group brand Hounö’s development chef Edwin Adkins had this advice for dealers: “The dealers need to ask questions such as: what oven size and how many does the chef need? What are they cooking and which accessories can optimise the cooking results in the oven? Which untapped potential can they exploit with combi oven cooking and accessory use?
“Then the dealers can better match the needs of the customer and provide a solution, meaning a combination of a Hounö oven and the right accessories, which is tailored to the customer’s requirements.”
Furthermore, the company’s accessories have a patented aluminium alloy, which gives heat transferring abilities, optimally absorbing, storing and releasing heat. “Unlike traditional stainless steel trays, where some parts of the tray get hotter than others, the heat will be evenly distributed across a Hounö tray. This enables consistent and better cooking and baking results,” said Adkins.
“Combi oven accessories can certainly achieve equally good cooking results as compared to dedicated equipment. Perhaps end users will even find the combi oven end product to be better, as they can add humidity to the cooking process.”
At Certa Catering Equipment, it supplies the Eloma combi oven brand to the UK market. Director Dan Loria believes: “Accessories make combis more versatile and reduce the need for numerous single purpose machines. This, in turn, reduces the amount of floor space occupied by equipment – a key objective in the everlasting struggle with the limited space available in modern commercial kitchens.”
He further detailed: “With premium combi ovens a lot of R&D work goes into developing accessories that will allow the units to be used in such a way that the quality of the end product mirrors that produced by the piece of dedicated, standalone equipment that it seeks to replace. This is becoming more achievable thanks to better quality control processes which are resulting in increasingly advanced accessories.”
Loria revealed that Certa can provide advice and training for dealers to improve their knowledge of cooking processes and the part that accessories can play in this. “Dealers also need to investigate the specific requirements of the end user in relation to what is on their menu, as well as offering them advice on how they can use accessories to capitalise on any current trends,” he added.
For Tunbridge Wells-based rexmartins, it has opted to provide a simple solution for combi ovens. “The array of accessories, options and built-in features in some combi oven ranges can be quite bewildering to the end user,” said commercial director Nick McDonald. “We offer dealers a limited number of combis across a range of specification levels starting with the low-priced, simple-to-operate Easy series. For end users who would benefit from a higher level of sophistication, we offer our Bistrot Star 2X and Gourmet Star 2X models, optimised for bakery and gastronomy, respectively. These can be specified with Classic manual touchscreen control or Vision intuitive control.
“We believe that accessories such as hand showers or automatic cleaning, should be optional, allowing customers to benefit from a lower price for the combi itself if they do not really need the extras.”
McDonald predicted: “I think it is likely that manufacturers will continue to introduce new specialist accessories as they vie with one another to catch the eye of buyers. It is less likely that such features will be built in, as price is still so important in the buying decision.”
Elsewhere, Retigo’s non-executive director Radford Chancellor detailed: “In a combi oven you can carry out 90% of the cooking processes you need or want in a modern kitchen, and the accessories are key to supporting this and will help deliver the best results. Without the accessories, it is harder to get the perfect result the chef desires.”
The Czech brand has the Vision Smoker, which is compatible with all Retigo combi ovens. “When using dedicated equipment, often chefs are locked into a dedicated function which makes change and development harder,” said Chancellor. “With the Retigo Vision Smoker, the user can cook and smoke at the same time using just one appliance.”
With Chancellor’s background as a foodservice consultant, as well as six UK-based development chefs, Retigo feels it is well placed to help support dealers with accessories and sales.
“Dealers should ensure their sales staff are trained in the product they are selling and understand the accessories available. Also, dealers can put together ‘package deals’ for different sectors such as a ‘Schools Pack’, a ‘Bakery Pack’ or a ‘Banqueting Pack’ to make the most of specifying accessories with combi ovens.”
British manufacturer Lincat provides re-badged Rational combis as part of its portfolio. Marketing manager Helen Applewhite believes: “Accessories can help chefs deliver on taste and presentation – just as specialist equipment would. For example, grilling grids provide authentic branding marks and colour, and smokers give food a distinctive, aromatic wood-smoked flavour.
“Like a traditional wood-fired smoker, Lincat’s VarioSmoker can be filled with wood chips or pellets, to flavour meats, fish and vegetables. Different woods and spices can be chosen to produce subtly different flavours.”
She further detailed: “Accessories themselves are also multi-functional. The grilling and pizza tray accessory, used in conjunction with the option for individual temperature probes, allows chefs to cook and monitor three core temperatures to produce perfect rare, medium and well done steaks.”
According to Applewhite: “It’s important that dealers educate end users on the full capabilities of combi oven accessories and how they can make a difference to their applications, to make sure they are maximising their investment.”
Over at Universal Foodservice Equipment, its UK dealers and consultants receive continual information upgrades on all new combi ideas for the Baron brand it supplies, through the firm’s sales force, marketing support and Baron’s website. In fact, new member to the Universal FSE team, Stacey Locke, has joined with the primary task of promoting the range of Baron combi ovens and accessories.
Tony Aris, Universal’s UK sales director, stated: “The use of combi oven accessories both enhance and extend the capabilities of the ovens way beyond the realms of traditional convection and steam cooking. For the oven to accurately mimic the cooking effects of different dedicated pieces of equipment it is essential to use the correct accessory for the job.
“The use of these specialised accessories coupled with Baron’s ‘drag and drop’ touch technology for recipe selection and multi-level cooking means it couldn’t be easier for the chef to prepare multiple trays of different foods in various styles all at the same time.”
Another imported brand is proving to be multi useful for chefs, that of Lainox, supplied by Falcon to the UK market. The brand’s sales manager Paul Bayer revealed: “The Lainox Speedy Grill and Speedy Chicken accessories allow chefs to use their Sapiens or Naboo combi ovens to accelerate the cooking times of steaks, chickens and other grilled products without any loss of quality.”
He predicted: “As the demand for improved capability increases and chefs demand more from their combination oven, the need to include additional features will rise.”
Furthermore, Bayer advised dealers: “While upselling is a vital part of the exercise, it is important also to realise that occasionally customers will be satisfied with a basic unit.
“Accessories can offer the operator significant benefits, such as: non-stick surfaces, 1/1 or 2/1 gastronorm compatibility; portrait or landscape design; easy to clean; less oil required during cooking, thus healthier options on menu; and very good end product quality, consistency and colour.”
Euro Catering has the Giorik brand under its umbrella. Sales director Justin Towns revealed: “Whilst many combi oven manufacturers offer smoking attachments/accessories for their ovens, Giorik goes one better, giving the operator the opportunity to perform ‘cold smoking’, which infuses the smoked flavour without cooking the item. For example, a Camembert cheese can be smoked without being melted.
“Many other manufacturers need to catch up with Giorik’s innovations, so it will probably take a few more years before we see a big increase in sophisticated accessories, as the core functionality should be a bigger priority.”
He cautioned: “Dealers need to understand the mindset of the individual head chef and their menu vision, no matter where they sit within the catering spectrum. Combi ovens provide many benefits, but the accessories have to suit a particular purpose and deliver an option that a chef is actually seeking. The key to being able to suggest that an accessory be bought alongside a combi oven will be that of having confidence when it comes to explaining what it can offer over and above what the standard combi oven will bring to the menu.”