How the CVap Oven Changed the Foodservice Game


While most foodservice equipment is designed to transform food in some way, either by cooking it, warming it, or cooling it, the Winston CVap oven was developed to change food as little as possible from "just cooked." Winston Shelton, the founder of Winston Industries, has devoted his life to engineering and refining equipment to keep food in that state, with the goal of giving operators flexibility in when they can prepare and serve food.

Traditional food-holding equipment is notorious for drying food out, altering its taste and texture in ways that render perfectly-prepared food inedible. Since food is mostly water - lean beef is 75 percent water, while some foods, like fruits and vegetables, owe over 90 percent of their mass to water - the importance of maintaining the natural moisture in foods cannot be overstated. While food is cooking, some degree of evaporation is usually desirable because it is essential to browning, caramelization, and other processes that create the flavors we love in our foods. But when operators need to hold food until it's served, evaporation is the enemy.

It is with that knowledge that Shelton began developing his oven. He knew that for centuries, cooks had developed methods of preserving the moisture content of foods to produce a more succulent, appetizing end product. That practice includes methods as broad as casserole cooking, sous vide, and even wrapping foods in leaves before roasting them in the embers of an open fire. Shelton's challenge was to build a piece of equipment that could consistently replicate those results on a commercial scale.

The science behind the equipment is fairly simple, based on the common understanding that moisture begins to evaporate when the air surrounding it is warmer than the water itself. The key is to create an environment where the moisture in the air is at equilibrium with the moisture content of the food, so that water is not lost or absorbed as food is held. That balance allows food to be held for hours in that golden "just cooked" state until it is served.

Modern Winston CVap cook and hold ovens take that control even further by giving operators the ability to precisely control the moisture in the air, as well as the temperature of the air itself. That means food can be cooked and even browned, then held using the same piece of equipment. Controlling moisture not only results in a more tasty and visually-appealing product, but produces more yield per pound versus traditional methods that dry the product out and shrink it.

4 Time-Saving CVap Methods that Can Revolutionize your Kitchen

  1. Staging - Operators that do high volumes of one particular item - burgers for example - can take advantage of CVap staging. Rather than cooking each burger individually to order, this method allows cooks to heat big batches ahead of time, keeping them hot but still rare and juicy. As burgers are ordered, cooks finish them one by one on the broiler or the griddle, getting them done and ready to serve in a fraction of time it would take to heat them from cold. The same process can be applied to everything from steaks to chicken.
  2. Sous Vide - Literally "under vacuum", sous vide is a technique wherein foods are vacuum-sealed in a bag and traditionally cooked in a water bath that's held at the precise temperature cooks need to achieve their desired results. These ovens give you the same results using a method that's much easier to scale, so heating two dozen steaks to a perfect 135 degrees F is precise and repeatable batch after batch.
  3. Fermentation - From kimchi to charcuterie, fermentation is a technique that's on the minds of many chefs these days. It's a process that generally takes days or weeks and involves a number of difficult-to-control variables, but fermentation can be accelerated and made easier in a CVap oven. Chefs across the country are developing fermentation techniques using these ovens.
  4. Eggs for Everything - Part of what makes the egg so incredible is its versatility. A mere 30 degrees F makes the difference between a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg, and that's why it can be so difficult to achieve the perfectly poached texture that a cook has in mind for his recipe. This equipment makes that precision control easy, allowing cooks to dial in the precise temperature they want and cook their eggs not a degree higher. This equipment also negates some of the fussiness of custards and cheesecake, too, and the moisture means no cumbersome water baths to contend with.