A Commercial Oven Can Supplement Your Cooking Equipment
Unless you opt for heavy-duty, modular cooking equipment, chances are good the commercial range you order will come with a restaurant oven below it. If you’re new to the foodservice business, this may seem like a perfect fit because you get two things in one. However, if you plan to do much more than some limited warming, there’s an equally good chance you’ll come out ahead by opting for a commercial oven beyond the one below your range. Here’s why.
Greater Capacity & Even Cooking
While that range oven may look like a convection oven and may even go by that name, you should not be fooled by its clever disguise. It’s not going to be as functional as a separate restaurant oven.
While that cooking equipment may be fine for some light-duty work like cheese melting or rethermalizing food, it’s not meant to take on the diversity of dishes that most restaurant kitchens produce. Even in models that do have a convection fan, these are more likely to have issues with achieving even heating. Some of them even have thermostats that control the heating elements at the top of the cabinet’s interior, while the elements themselves are at the bottom. That means the bottom of the box may get much hotter than the temperature you need, which could mean you burn your bread.
These below-the-range ovens are typically smaller than stand-alone commercial ovens and may have less than half the capacity of that type of cooking equipment. That means your production will be limited. It also means you may not be able to fit the full sheet pans you ordered for baking into your range oven, which could be a big problem.
Issues with Access
Even if you can think of ways to make one of these ovens useful in your restaurant, there’s no guarantee you’ll think it really is once you actually get cooking. The problem is, using a commercial oven requires opening the cabinet doors, which means you have to have access to them. If you’re doing small jobs like melting cheese, rethermalizing frozen items, or finishing steaks throughout the day in the range oven, it could get tough on your knees. But that’s not the most complicating issue here.
You’re likely to use your range at least as much as you do your commercial oven. That means there will be someone working on the cooktop while you’re trying to get dishes into and out of the oven. The two of you will have to do an intricate dance all day long if this is your only cooking equipment. Since this type of restaurant oven is lower than the typical stand-alone convection oven, all those door openings will constantly assault your cook with heat. It will also contribute to a hotter kitchen in the areas where people work.
The all-in-one nature of this type of cooking equipment can also be problematic because if an issue arises that causes it to shut down, you could be without any way to heat your food. If the range oven is flying solo, your kitchen could be out of commission for as long as it is. If you have a separate oven in addition to the one below your cooktop, you have one to fall back on if there’s an issue.
Convection Ovens for Heavy-Duty Cooking
We’re certainly not trying to disparage the ovens that do come with some ranges. They can be a great complement to a restaurant kitchen’s cooking equipment and can provide a much-needed fallback when a convection oven goes down. However, they’re not given the same capabilities that make a stand-alone oven such a great addition to your operation.
For instance, some don’t have the coved corners that make modern convection ovens so easy to clean. They also likely will not offer as many rack positions, have add-on options like temperature probes, or offer comparable BTU levels.
The Range Oven & Convection Oven Partnership
The moral of the story is, don’t shy away from the restaurant oven below your range, particularly if you don’t need the heavy duty build of a modular unit. At the same time, don’t expect that cooking equipment to function at the same levels as a separate commercial oven.