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How to choose the right oven for your commercial kitchen

By: Grant King, HospitalityHub Writer
26 February, 2016

Let’s face it, your customers or staff are unlikely to say, "That was superb, you must have a very good oven." And they’re probably not going to say, "Compliments to the stove."

Ovens slave away in your kitchen with little or no recognition. They're the silent achievers... when things go right. When things go wrong, get burnt or overcooked, they’ll be blamed for everything. So let's make sure your ovens are the silent achievers of your commercial kitchen. Here are some tips to ensure you choose the right ones.

Commercial ovens as a range

For a start, they're very different to domestic ovens – they're bigger, more powerful and more precise in their heat control. They also need more venting and fire proofing due to the more intense heat generated. Commercial ovens come in either gas or electric and in seven distinct breeds. Accelerated cooking ovens combine microwave and traditional technologies for very fast, even cooking and are generally smaller than other commercial ovens. While not as fast, convection ovens use fans for fast, even cooking and are larger than accelerated ovens. Steam ovens use hot steam to keep food juicy and tasty. With combination ovens you get both convection and steam. Pizza ovens are, well, pizza ovens. Conveyor ovens are great if you need to cook small to medium meals continuously. Toaster ovens cook food top and bottom. And finishing ovens are great for browning or melting layers of cheese.

Which oven do you need?

Each oven cooks food in different ways and at different speeds. So you may well find you need more than one type of oven to cook your entire menu. Work through your desired recipes and give the oven required a tick for each meal application. If you end up with eight ticks for one, six for another and two for a third, you might want to consider adjusting your menu rather than outlay for an expensive extra oven with a low workload. Or, depending on your most popular dishes, you may need two of one and one of the other to manage at capacity.

Gas or electric? New or used?

The answer to the first question will probably come down to personal preference. You may feel you have more control with gas or you may feel safer with electricity. New or used is slightly more complicated. A used oven will obviously cost much less and, in general terms, do basically the same job. It may, however, be higher maintenance than a new oven. Buying a new oven also means you can invest in all the latest technology to get the jump on competitors and create masterful dishes.