The fast-paced combi oven world is always at the cutting edge of foodservice equipment technology, so Catering Insight is taking an in-depth look at the latest advances being brought to market.
Rational iCombi Pro
Rational’s latest combi steamer, the iCombi Pro, is designed to increase productivity by up to 50%, while shortening cooking times and lowering energy consumption by 10% respectively. The iCookingSuite function regulates the cooking process, which should ensure consistent results. For instance, if conditions change during cooking, such as temperature, the iCookingSuite should intelligently adjust the process. The new iCombi Pro has extra fans, and is also said to deliver optimised cooking cabinet geometry and higher dehumidification performance. iDensityControl, the intelligent climate regulation, should make sure that it all works smoothly.
Another technology to improve productivity is the iProductionManager, which can intelligently control and monitor meal production sequences, including with different foods.
Simon Lohse, MD of Rational UK, said: “Workforces may be limited during the CV-19 crisis, with some staff self-isolating, and the iCombi Pro can help. That’s because its artificial intelligence is like having extra commis chefs helping in the kitchen.
“And hygiene is even more of an issue during the pandemic. The iCombi Pro’s intelligent iCareSystem is an automated and highly efficient cleaning system. It works in as little as 12 minutes for an ultra-fast interim clean.”
Rational has also embraced new technology to offer virtual meetings, online training programmes and webinars. Lohse concluded: “These ‘live’ events allow dealers and their customers to interact with our chefs as they demonstrate the cooking systems. We are as flexible as possible with demonstrations and training – we will offer them at a time to suit the dealer and their customer, whether that’s online or face to face (where it is safe and we are able to follow government guidelines).”
The new Squero range of combi ovens from Italian manufacturer Venix is exclusively available in the UK through Jestic Foodservice Solutions.
The appliances include a three phase motor, a bi-directional fan system, digital water injection regulation and a Clima Extraction System to deliver results, including with full oven loads. A three-point probe should allow for accurate temperature control, whilst halogen lighting in the cavity showcases the foods being cooked. Self-clean technology is designed to ensure cleanliness with minimum consumption of chemicals, water and energy.
The Squero lines are available in 5, 7, 12 or 20 grid options and can fit both full size gastronorm and bakery trays. In addition, ovens can be stacked in a variety of configurations to suit operators’ precise needs and to maximise available kitchen space. The ovens come loaded with 200 cooking programmes and 150 recipes which can be accessed via the 5-inch touchscreen with Android operating system, and a control dial which allows chefs to make precise adjustments.
Lee Cogger, Venix brand manager at Jestic Foodservice Solutions, said: “The Squero meets the demand for high performance, advanced, yet easy to use combis which can grill, roast, fry, steam and even vacuum cook, to reduce the number of appliances required in a kitchen to free up space and improve workflow.
“Jestic’s experienced sales team can work with dealers to advise them on all aspects of choosing a Venix combi oven and can also provide personal demonstrations at our Kent or Manchester development kitchens, menu advice and on-site training tailored to suit the operators’ precise needs.”
Welbilt brand Convotherm introduced the industry’s only artificially intelligent range of combi ovens, powered by ConvoSense. Developments include product recognition and automatic program controls, to increase process reliability and food quality, without the need for an operator to press any button. The only aspect of manual work that the operator needs to do is to place a tray full of identical food items into the oven, shut the door, and wait for the ConvoSense’s algorithms to take control of the cooking process.
Said to function in a similar way to the human brain, the algorithms are formed by three elemental capabilities: recognition, understanding and acting. The recognition element of ConvoSense is achieved through an optical sensor which scans each individual load as it is inserted into the oven, whilst the understanding element is achieved through prior customer-specific intelligence training which allows ConvoSense to identify each type of load in real-time. Finally, the acting element of the ConvoSense refers to its active assistance system whereby it automatically chooses the appropriate cooking program depending on the type of size food items, and if necessary, instantly warns of inadmissible mixed loads.
Steve Hemsil, sales director UK and Ireland, Welbilt UK, commented: “ConvoSense models are ideally suited for restaurant chains and supermarkets that are not only looking to ensure food consistency across their sites, but are also looking to reap the extensive benefits of artificially intelligent catering equipment.
“With anything as ground-breaking as ConvoSense it is crucial that dealers witness the product in action first hand, in order to understand the benefits and functionality that it can bring to their customers. This can either be offered within one of our many development kitchens across the country or as an online training session.”
Retigo Orange Vision Plus
In response to the recent Covid market situation and lower customer buying power, Retigo has just launched its Orange Vision Plus model. The new Orange+ sits between the manufacturer’s existing fully programmable Blue Vision range and the Orange Vision range.
Retigo believes the addition will be competitive in its class, and features a 7” quick response touch screen, HACCP on the main screen, programs as standard and LAN connection interface. Retigo believes the controls are intuitive and simple, and that the model has a good price to value ratio.
Orange Vision Plus includes what is said to be an advanced steam generation system, which uses an integrated heat exchanger system with minimal demands on water and power consumption. The triple-glazed door glass solution and 50mm-thick thermal insulation should reduce cooking costs to a minimum. The automatic Retigo Active Cleaning system is also designed to minimise water and detergent consumption while ensuring cleanliness, while the waste water system is designed to require a negligible amount of water for cooling the exhaust system.
All boiler-type Retigo Vision Combi ovens are also equipped with a direct injection system that should ensure problem-free operation of the combi oven in the event of an unexpected boiler outage.
The Retigo brand is represented by Commercial Catering Products (CCP) in the UK. Retigo’s export manager Aneta Halamíčková explained: “Part of the CCP business model is gaining specification of Retigo and driving sales through their distributors. CCP has an extensive client list; they will be proactively contacting end users promoting the new product additions to Retigo and taking any enquiries back to Retigo distributors.”
All Retigo products are listed on the AutoQuotes, configure/price/quote platform.
MKN’s new SpaceCombi combi steamers have been developed to fit into small kitchens while offering diners diverse food options. The range is designed to save space, be easy to operate, energy efficient and simple to clean. Despite their width of 55cm they are fully featured professional combi steamers offering GN 1/1 capacity without compromising any of their technical features. For example, the new MKN Guided Cooking concept is said to deliver a higher degree of automation and technical intelligence to navigate the operator through the whole process.
Plus the SpaceCombi Team can ensure maximum variety with minimum space, as two separate cooking chambers are constructed as one single appliance. The SpaceCombi Magic Team variant with an integrated extractor ‘magic hood’ is suitable for sales points where there is insufficient technical infrastructure, for example the QSR sector.
Other features include LED lighting within the door for an aesthetic finish, while the door itself includes triple-pane glazing for ease of cleaning and robustness. Hygiene is considered with the option to lock the operating screen for regular sanitation without any control knobs to clean around. Plus MKN believes the WaveClean automatic cleaning system is a lifetime protection system.
Wayne Bennett, MKN head of sales UK and Ireland, detailed how the manufacturer can help dealers to sell the range: “We provide lots of support via different channels for example with our online digital events.
“We present live videos on our Facebook and Instagram channels and webinars on various dates. Our sales professionals and consulting chefs will be reporting on MKN equipment, various cooking methods and individual food products.”
Hobart Bonnet range
Hobart’s latest combi oven development is of its pricing structure rather than a technological update. It reduced the prices of its entire range, including the Bonnet Equajet, Precijet+, Combi Tower, Minijet, and Hobart-branded Chef Mate. The move is aimed at simplifying the specification process for both dealers and end users – which Hobart believes is pertinent considering the market has seen marked price increases from other manufacturers.
Tim Bender, sales director – Hobart Equipment Division UK, said: “For obvious reasons, operators are placing much greater emphasis on getting the most out of their cooking equipment. That’s where more multifunctional pieces like combi ovens come into their own. We’re also being asked to look into different designs and workflow structures, so that those in the kitchen can safely distance from one and other – by way of segregated cooking sections – without impacting the overall operation too greatly.”
He added: “Covid or not, the arguments for buying new to replace old in terms of greater efficiency and productivity still apply. Some operators may be sitting on some very old equipment that was struggling pre-lockdown, so it’s better they put their money into something new, now. We understand that operators may be more protective over capital so our advice would be to spread the cost by using something like our new Complete Package offer.
“Available exclusively through catering equipment distributors, The Complete Package offers a piece of equipment on 24-month interest-free finance with delivery, installation and a 2-year all-inclusive service plan for less than the published price of the machine itself.”
Blue Seal Turbofan EC40
Blue Seal UK has recently re-launched the Turbofan combi series. The Turbofan EC40 range is designed to present the market with a quality range of ovens to suit the majority of medium volume concepts such as primary schools, coffee shops, deli counters, butchers and restaurants.
National accounts manager David Chesshire explained: “The intention is to give dealers a solution to supply these establishments, offering practical function for their kitchen requirements, reasonably priced against the expensive big brand combi manufacturers, maintaining the steadfast power/performance and reliability of the Blue Seal brand.”
The stainless steel surround ‘Safe-Touch’ vented oven doors feature low-emissivity heat reflective coated inner glass that should limit heat absorption and the amount of heat being transferred to the outer surface of the glass panel. The venting door design allows any heat to further dissipate as it approaches the second glass panel.
Turbofan combi ovens feature full size GN 1/1 capacity oven chambers within a 777mm x 835mm footprint. The new style units are designed aesthetically, equally suiting kitchen or front of house siting.
The range is available with a simpler manual control panel offering the basic requirements and modes for general purpose combi cooking, as well as a more sophisticated digital control panel offering what are designed to be convenient features to the operator.
The digital models offer the Ecospeed system which calibrates power levels based on the amount of food being cooked, optimising heat delivery while minimising waste; all the while ensuring temperatures remain constant throughout. The digital models also feature an automatic cleaning system with replaceable liquid detergent cartridges.
Unox Cheftop Mind.Maps Big Plus
The new Unox Cheftop Mind.Maps Big Plus is an intelligent 24-hour combi oven packed with features to enhance performance. As the latest addition to the Mind.Maps range, it promises high levels of production and intelligent performance for data-driven cooking with complete control. Chefs can monitor and analyse the consumption of energy, water and detergents, record cooking times and even count the number of minutes the door is open. They can also manage HACCP data to ensure maximum transparency and safety within the kitchen.
The oven is capable of going from 30°C to 300°C in 270 seconds, and is designed to offer suitable heat distribution on every tray, as well as optimising air flow for the most efficient cooking. The Unox Cheftop Mind.Maps Big Plus is said to be able to carry out any type of cooking, fully loaded, 24 hours a day, with consistency and quality.
Gary Nunn, UK MD at Unox, said that whether it is to drive efficiency, help reduce waste or improve the speed of operation, tapping into ‘big data’ is the most significant technological development in commercial kitchen equipment.
“This level of insight allows caterers to get more from their equipment and increase productivity – and we all know the positive impact that can have on the bottom line,” he commented.
“We call it Unox DDC – data driven cooking – and we have incorporated this advanced technology into the Mind.Maps range. It gives chefs the ability to collect data, process information such as water and energy use, analyse the modes of use and produce daily reports. They can also connect to the internet to send recipes to other sites and download HACCP data.”
Additionally, the Big Plus can store up to 384 cooking programmes and manage 10 concurrent cooking processes, all at the touch of a button.
Electrolux SkyLine Premiums
New innovations include OptiFlow, an air circulation system which is designed to enable uniform heat distribution and constant temperature within the chamber; as well as a new Lambda sensor to provide precise, real-time humidity control across 101 different settings.
Cooking times should be improved thanks to a T-Xcelerator control which delivers rapid pre-heating, while a Dry-Xcelerator quickly switches from humid to dry cooking conditions. A triple glass door minimises energy loss during the cooking process, while a new eco-cooking mode can further cut running costs.
A new touchscreen user interface is also included on the SkyLine Premiums. Operators are able to select from manual, pre-programmed and automatic cooking modes; while the most commonly-used functions can be grouped together on the new SkyHub homepage on the interface for fast access.
The new ovens also include the SkyClean feature, designed to deliver fast, efficient and flexible cleaning technology; while also allowing operators to choose the best chemical solution for their needs, from a range of solid, liquid or a new ‘green’ 85% biodegradable enzymatic options. A built-in Green Spirit mode can also reduce water energy and chemical consumption by 30%.
Stuart Flint, training and demonstration manager at Electrolux Professional said: “The SkyLine combi oven’s most striking feature is its comprehensive connectivity, with the innovative SkyDuo function providing seamless, self-intuitive communication with the SkyLine Chills blast chiller. This enables the combi oven to automatically alert the blast chiller to prepare for chilling, or vice versa.”