Five Tips for Managing Commercial Ovens

Your commercial oven can be seen as the engine, or powerhouse, of your establishment. Through its construction, you are able to provide your guests with well-cooked and delicious entrees. Therefore, managing your commercial oven is vital for keeping your restaurant running efficiently and productively. Inform yourself and your staff of the best practices for maintaining your commercial oven.

1. Knowledge is Power. In your selection process, you must be knowledgeable about the basic styles and their benefits:

  • Standard Commercial Ovens: These ovens are built to be quickly heated and provide even cooking throughout. They are especially appropriate for baking and preparing large dishes, from lasagnas and casseroles to cakes and pies...
  • Combination Ovens: This equipment is built to also provide convection ovens and steamers. These ovens are desirable if vegetable preparation is important, including well-controlled sauteéing.
  • Pizza Ovens: These “oversized” ovens are built for success for large dishes including a variety of pizzas, sides of beef or large pans of desserts.
  • Broilers: These specialized ovens cook food with short bursts of heat. They are especially helpful in browning dishes and in the melting of cheeses.
  • Grills: The construction of flat-top and charbroilers simmer meats, poultry & burgers to perfection.
  • Fryers and Fryolators: Homestyle and deep-fried foods are best achieved with fryers and fryolators. This equipment handles tempting fries, onion rings, and wings with ease.

2. Select with Confidence. Now that you have done your research, you are ready to make your selection. Your main style drives your choice of commercial ovens and equipment. Be sure that your selection is most fitting for your needs.

The top commercial brands on the market today are Hobart, Viking, and Vulcan. Any of these three choices are made to handle the volume and intensity of use that is inherent with a professional kitchen. If you cannot equip your kitchen with a new commercial oven, consider selecting a gently used one rather than one that will not make the grade.  

By making a well-researched and careful decision in your style of the oven, you have already alleviated many problems that are experienced in professional kitchens today.

3. Learn your machine. This seems like an obvious step, but you would be surprised by what a small percentage of restaurant owners truly understand their equipment. Invest in the time it will take to thoroughly know the construction and mechanics of the oven. Study your owner’s manual and ask questions of your suppliers. Your supplier will know all of the faults and replacements needed with your specific type of oven. Gain all of the post-purchase information you can.

4. Fix it Before it Breaks. There are certain parts of your oven that will need regular maintenance. Do not skimp in this area at any time. Parts to continually monitor and maintain include:

  • Oven doors: If your kitchen staff begins to experience longer cook times or if heating costs rise, your oven door could be at fault. Look for loosening hinges. Test the security of the door by attempting to slide a paper between the door seal. If you can accomplish this, a gasket or hinge may need to be replaced.
  • Thermostat: Efficiency is compromised if a thermostat is not working properly. Calibrate your thermostat every three to four months. Use an internal oven thermometer and compare it to a set temperature. Recalibrate or replace oven controls as needed.
  • Calibrated programs and buttons: Pre-programmed buttons or features such as a “ten-minute bake,” will tend to become badly calibrated over time. Regular maintenance of all preprogrammed features is instrumental in keeping the kitchen running efficiently.

5. Cleaning is key. 

Avoid performance problems including flavor reduction and smoking. Clean spills immediately so that they will not negatively affect all aspects of the kitchen. Clean daily with appropriate cleansers. (Again, know your service manual.)Deep clean periodically by removing all racks and doors. 

When considering the need for keeping your kitchen as clean as possible, consider self-cleaning ovens. The investment will pay off in saved labor costs. This will only be part of your cleaning solution, as the wear will outpace the self-cleaning feature. Look at it as a partner feature that can work for you. Review your type of oven and its specific needs, from grease removal to cleaning of food particle buildup. Become an expert at removing food waste that will stand in the way of preparing the best meals possible.

By making the best selections of equipment, using all tools that are available to you, and following a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule, your commercial ovens will serve you well for many years to come.