Combis Pile the Heat on Traditional Cooking Methods

Combi ovens are providing healthy competition for traditional oven ranges in commercial kitchens. That’s the message from the UK’s largest independent catering supplier, JLA, who’ve carried out independent nutritional analysis that put their own Inspire combi’s to the test against more familiar range oven methods.

Development chef David Wardle rustled up a dish that’s served as a favourite in care homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces across the country – a hearty Cottage Pie. One batch was cooked separately using a traditional range oven with a hob for boiling the veg, while the second batch was all cooked together in a JLA combi…which meant the 8-in-1 appliance took an early lead in the convenience stakes.

At the heart of the analysis was nutritional integrity – particularly important in healthcare and educational environments. Flavour and quality of food will of course always be the first measure of a catering establishment. After all, taste is tangible. But health is understandably at the top of the agenda for owners, managers and chefs where diet is increasingly scrutinised following high profile work done by Jamie Oliver and others over recent years. Now, more than ever, those responsible for mealtimes demand food that not only looks good and tastes good but is good for the person eating it too. With proof of performance coming from a market-leader like JLA, the evidence shows that they can meet that demand with a combi oven that offers ease-of-use, flexibility and cost-efficiency into the bargain.

Here’s how the combi compared against a conventional range oven:


64% more protein

30% more dietary fibre

13% more Vitamin C

30% more Vitamin E 

(Research has shown that regular intake of Vitamin E can slow down functional decline associated with Alzheimer’s)

Cottage Pie

26% less fat

7% less saturated fatty acids

Roast Potatoes

31% less fat

29% less saturated fatty acids

The tests, which were carried out independently at Beverley Analytical, also showed that less food was wasted, and maximum yield was achieved in the combi batch. Broccoli didn’t shrink or break away as it did during conventional pan-boiling and the colour remained a vibrant green. The cottage pie itself was evenly cooked with no burnt edges, and the roast potatoes stayed fluffy with a golden crisp exterior.

With multi-method versatility that allows users to roast, pot roast, bake, braise, boil, steam, poach or stew, the combi oven really does simplify the conversion to healthy eating in a commercial setting. Surely then, it’s no longer a question of ‘how’ but ‘how soon’ businesses will make the jump and modernise the way they cook on a daily basis.

Indeed, CESA (Catering Equipment Suppliers Association) backs up JLA’s test findings. As ‘the most versatile piece of equipment any professional kitchen can have’, combi ovens clearly make cooking large volumes of good food easier all round – whatever ingredients are on the menu.

Foodie facts for those considering the move to combi cooking

Up to a third of the weight of a piece of meat can be lost during dry roasting through loss of water. Combi ovens prevent this by circulating steam during roasting.

Steaming in a combi is ideal for cooking fish – a delicate ingredient that may shrink and dry out or break in a conventional range oven.

By cooking vegetables using steam in a combi instead of boiling water, they keep more of their nutritional value and natural colour.

Baked goods are evenly and crisply cooked in a combi, and a slight injection of steam can also make foods such as bread tastier and more spongy for added flavour.

Food which has been pre-cooked and correctly chilled in advance can be regenerated rapidly in a combi oven, so there’s no need to keep food warm for long periods and risk it drying out.

Once you move to combi cooking with JLA, you’ll get dedicated development chef support which includes user training and free recipes to enhance your menu and ensure you serve food that’s as healthy as it is delicious. To find out more about JLA Catering combi ovens, contact us to speak to a member of the team.

Independent tests carried out Feb 2014