Everything You Wanted to Know About Combi Ovens.

What if you had one piece of equipment that could cook steak and chicken to a perfect doneness without losing moisture, bake muffins and rolls with crusty outsides and soft insides, and steam vegetables without turning them to mush? You can do all of that and more in a combi oven.

Today’s combi ovens are easy to program, allowing you to cook customized menu items with the touch of a button.

Understanding Combi Ovens.

You hear about them all the time, but still don’t quite know how they work. We got you! Here is everything you wanted to know about combi ovens, but didn’t know who to ask.

Combi Oven 101.

Long considered a workhorse of the foodservice industry, combi ovens are often equated with hotels, casinos, and military bases—places where large amounts of food are made at each meal service. But fast-casual and independent operations also are reaping the benefits. With a combi oven, you can:

  • Reduce shrinkage. The combi oven’s ability to cook with high heat and humidity eliminates waste from dried up or burnt food.
  • Cook consistently. Pre-program menu items so anyone can cook like a chef.
  • Improve productivity. Combi ovens are easy to use and their speed in cooking leads to time and labor savings in the kitchen.
  • Save space. A combi oven’s power to perform multiple functions means one piece of equipment can do the work of a convection oven, steamer and proofer.

How Combi Ovens Work.

Combi ovens use three different modes—convection (dry heat), steam (moist heat) or a combination of the two. The ability to introduce steam to the cooking process not only adds another capability to the equipment, the moisture increases the relative humidity inside the oven, allowing food to cook at a high heat without drying out or burning up.

Learning the correct levels of heat and humidity to use with each different type of food, whether it’s meat, fish or vegetables, can be a daunting process. Luckily, today’s combi ovens are easy to program, allowing you to cook customized menu items with the touch of a button.

The RATIONAL iCombi Pro takes the guesswork out of combi oven cooking. A touch-screen display lets you choose the food you want to cook, the parameters (light to dark coloration) and the doneness (rare to well done). Or for a simple, quick approach, use the iCookingSuite navigator to choose a specific item (for example, hamburgers or oatmeal cookies) and the oven will start right away following the preprogramed parameters to cook the item.

The iCookingSuite uses intelligent sensors to monitor the oven’s contents, including the size, amount and condition of the food. During the cooking process, the system adjusts

key parameters, such as temperature, cooking cabinet climate, air speed and cooking time, to ensure the desired result. Roast a chicken one day, and the next day, put in 25 chickens to roast with the same parameters and the oven will automatically adjust the settings based on the load size.

The iCombi Pro also allows you to make adjustments during the cooking process, giving you the ability to add products in the middle of a cooking cycle and have more control over the final result.

Set Up for Success.

From choosing a model to installation, RATIONAL’s team of experts helps you every step of the way to make sure you’re on the right track. Your local dealer will conduct a pre-site survey to ensure specifications are met before installation but here are some other things to consider when choosing your RATIONAL combi oven.

Size it right.
Consider what menu items you will produce in the combi oven and in what volumes when choosing a model size. Combi ovens come in a variety of sizes: 4, 6, 10 or 20. The number denotes the amount of pans the oven will hold. For example, a 6 full-size unit will fit six sheet pans or 12 hotel steam table pans. The 6 half-size unit fits six hotel steam table pans.

Consider the space in your kitchen as well. The iCombi Pro can sit flush to the back wall, and needs two inches of clearance on each side. Allow clearance on the left for service, or put it on casters for easy access. If installed near a heat source on the left, consider purchasing a heat shield to protect the control panel.

Covering exhaust.
Combi ovens need a hood to capture condensation, grease and smoke from cooking, but they can share space with other equipment under a Type I hood. Don’t have space under an existing hood? The UltraVent and UltraVent Plus recirculating hoods from RATIONAL offer a ventless option for operators who want to expand their services without investing in a new hood or for cooking in nonconventional areas.

Power and water.
Once you’ve chosen your combi oven, you’ll be given a specification sheet with the water and gas or electric needs. Your local dealer will conduct a pre-site survey to ensure specifications are met before installation. RATIONAL combi ovens will need one water line and a specific water filtration system.

Put It To Work.
Once a certified technician installs the combi oven, you’re ready to start cooking. A properly trained team marks the best way to ensure you get the most out of the equipment.

Day one:
A local manufacturers’ rep will deliver initial startup training upon installation. The rep will teach the basics of using the combi oven and review how to keep it clean for peak performance.

Two weeks later:
Once you’ve gained some familiarity with the combi oven, a corporate chef will come for half a day to work side by side with employees. The chef will help customize menu items and make sure everyone feels comfortable using the combi oven to its full potential.

Continued support:
RATIONAL offers a variety of ways for continued customer support to help keep new employees up to date on training. The RATIONAL ChefLine lets you call or video chat with a chef for step-by-step instructions. You also can take advantage of the RATIONAL Chef Academy, which provides online and hands-on local training sessions for owners of RATIONAL equipment.

Maintaining your combi:
Proper cleaning and maintenance keep a combi oven working efficiently for many years. Most RATIONAL iCombi Pro models offer a 12-minute interim cleaning cycle for a quick clean in the middle of a busy day, so you can go from roasting chicken to steaming broccoli without flavor transfer. At the end of the day, the system recognizes how many hours and the type of cooking that was done and recommends the appropriate cleaning cycle, from light to strong, with an “Eco” cycle option to conserve water and energy.

Regular maintenance by a certified technician also keeps the combi oven working at optimal efficiencies. And RATIONAL brand combi ovens come protected with a standard two-year parts-and-labor warranty and a five-year warranty on the steam generator.

Easy to use and simple to clean, combi ovens add versatility and excellence to any foodservice operation.