A restaurant convection oven may well become the most important piece of cooking equipment in your kitchen, so it's critical to know what you're getting. Use our Guides & Advice on the left-hand side of this page and the literature on the models you're considering to ensure it meets the needs of your kitchen. For now, here are some tips on selecting the right one.
Pluses and Minuses in Baking
The even heating benefits of these convection ovens make them especially useful in baking. If you'll be making bread, convection ovens with a steam, moisture, or humidity option can provide prefect brown crusts. For things like cookies, you'll get perfectly gooey chocolate chips without scorching the bottom.
However, it's important to know what you'll be cooking, because some things don't bake well with that air circulation. Crème brulee and cake batters can be splattered around the oven or develop ripples, while light items like croissants and puff pastries may be pushed around the baking sheet by the moving air.
To address that issue, look for a model that offers a two-speed fan, with a high setting for meats and potatoes, and a low one for more delicate foods. Alternately, having the option to turn the fan off can help with this. For pastries, use the fan early when they have more moisture in them and are heavier, then turn it off as they bake. Batters do better by switching that around, keeping the fan off early in the process, then turning it on as they firm.
Choosing the Right Doors
Though it may seem like a simple thing, getting the right doors can make a huge difference in your kitchen. Your choice is between dependent and independent, and each has its benefits and considerations.
Only one door has a handle and pulling it opens both doors. That means you only need one available hand, which is great since you'll typically be carrying a pan in one hand when you need to open the doors. That eliminates the need to set the pan down to open the doors, which means faster load times. Having both the doors open every time you need access can mean heat loss, though. Also, the construction of this type of door can cause them to sag over time and they may not completely seal after years of use.
Typically, commercial convection ovens with independent doors are more economical. They also allow access without heat loss from the whole cabinet and hold up better to years of regular use. Having a handle on both doors also makes closing them easier. Obviously, independent doors don't allow the ease of access that dependent ones do, which means you'll likely need both hands to open them.
You'll notice we offer two options for the interior – stainless steel and porcelain. Neither one is likely to affect the ability of the oven to heat evenly. Still, it's important to understand what this option is about and why you might choose one over the other.
A stainless steel interior will stand up well to years of use and models with it are likely to be economical. Be aware that grease, crumbs, and spills can be burned to the steel surface, making them quite hard to clean off.
A porcelain interior can be fairly easy to clean thanks to its smoother surface. These models are also more likely to have coved corners, rounded joints that are easier to wipe clean, and don't harbor spills and bacteria.
Regular Depth vs. Bakery- or Deep-Depth
The typical convection oven has a cooking cabinet that is about 29-inches wide and 24-inches deep. That allows room for a single full-size pan (18x26) or two half-size pans (18x13) on each rack. Most commercial kitchens will do fine with those measurements.
For certain uses, there's a need for even more air flow than can be provided by a standard depth model. That includes some types of baking, which is why the deep-depth convection ovens have also been dubbed bakery-depth. Their cooking cavities typically measure around 29-inches wide and 28-inches deep, which allows for a full-size pan to fit side-by-side or front-to-back. For the best air flow, bakers can alternate pans side-to-side and front-to-back, which provides for an especially even bake.
One thing that's important to consider when you're shopping for a deep-depth oven is whether local codes will allow one in your kitchen. If you're switching from a standard depth to a bakery-depth unit, your existing hood may not be deep enough to accommodate it. Since health department rules typically require the hood extend beyond the front of cooking equipment, you may need to extend your hood to fit one of these deeper models. That can be hugely expensive, a cost that could be prohibitive for some kitchens.
A Leg to Stand On
Some convection ovens will come with their own legs that attach directly to the unit's body. That allows for easy installation because you don't have to find space for your convection oven on an equipment stand. Models without legs can free up floor space by sitting on an existing equipment stand or chef base. They also can be stacked several units high, which increases your cooking capacity without taking up more floor space.