Ten things you didn’t know you could do with a combi-steamer (and a few things you should NEVER do!)

cropped-combi-paulThe modern combination oven is a sophisticated and versatile tool. Models such as the Lincat Opus SelfCooking Center are capable of so much more than just roasting or steaming. Here are ten uses for a combi-steamer which might not be immediately obvious – and also a couple of things you should NEVER, EVER try…

  1. Grilling – because humidity levels can be accurately controlled, it is possible to grill steaks and produce full English breakfasts. You can even chargrill using an optional oven grid which imparts authentic char marks to meat products.
  2. Pan Frying – advanced temperature and humidity control systems allow you to prepare pan fried dishes, such as trout, without even needing to turn the product during cooking.
  3. Toasting – again, efficient removal of excess moisture allows you to toast with crisp results. As well as bread and teacakes, you can also toast coconut, nuts, and a whole host of other ingredients, for patisserie work.
  4. Regeneration – many chefs will steer clear of regeneration, having suffered recurring nightmares of the dried out or soggy food of the past. But the unique Finishing mode in Lincat Opus SelfCooking Centers brings pre-cooked food back to perfect serving condition. Inbuilt automatic monitoring means that this mode can be used for plated banquets, a la carte dishes and also bulk food production in GN containers.
  5. Poaching – being able to combine steam with low temperatures (30°C – 99°C) enables you to gently poach fish, fruit, etc.
  6. Proving – precise control of both temperature and humidity means that a Lincat Opus SelfCooking Center can be used as an effective prover for bread and other yeast products.
  7. Overnight Cooking – fully automatic control means that food products can be cooked to perfection overnight, totally unsupervised. Slow roasting minimises shrinkage and produces a wonderfully succulent and tender result. Lincat have a Delta-T mode, which is perfect for cooking cured meats such as hams.
  8. Frying – deep-frying in a combi oven? Absolutely. Again, accurate control of temperature and humidity, together with a Lincat special CombiFry basket, allows bulk production of fried potato and breaded products – and with minimal oil, which is an obvious added benefit in these health conscious times.
  9. Drying – removal of excess humidity and gentle air circulation means that the Opus SelfCooking Center can be used to dry meringues, fruit slices, tomatoes, etc.
  10. Hog Roasts – using the optional spit attachment, whole pigs or lambs can be roasted.

There are some things, however, that are impossible even in an Opus SelfCooking Center. That’s not to say that one or two of Lincat’s more “imaginative” customers have not tried. One attempted to clean the pan supports from his six-burner range using the Lincat CleanJet self-cleaning function.

Another tried to use it as a clothes dryer – to dry out his tea towels. Our favourite, though, was the chap who placed a pan of lit oak shavings in the bottom of the cooking chamber, intending to impart a delicate smoked flavour to his meat. Unfortunately he forgot about the fan, which whipped ash to every corner of the oven.

The Busychef team would like to thank Paul Hickman, Development Chef at Lincat Ltd, for his contribution to this blog.

Eight Things That Chefs Would Never Admit To!

1. Chefs are fussier than you think

picky eater

You might think chefs need to eat everything to get new ideas for their wonderful new creations, but the truth is most chefs are not willing to eat EVERYTHING. The top 5 foods that chefs hate most are liver, sea urchin, tofu, aubergine and oysters, of all things. Only 15% of the chefs said they ate anything.

Avoid pasta and chicken when eating out

chicken pasta

Why? These dishes are not worth the prices on the menu. Pasta and chicken dishes are easy to make at home, and chefs said that if they are paying £15 for a dish, they want something they don’t usually make, or at least is not that easy to make.

Chefs love fast food, TOO!



You may think chefs would avoid fast food but actually most of the chefs claim they love fast food. The favourite chains among chefs’ votes: KFC and McDonalds.

Chefs work hard for low pay


Chefs usually work between 60 to 80 hours a week and almost all of them work on holidays. 65% reported making less than £25,000 per year, compared to waiters taking home an average of £600 per week.

Specials are usually experimental dishes


You may think that special menu items usually are the popular dishes, but the truth is that specials are just a chefs’ way of using old ingredients to try out new ideas or serve seasonal ingredients. Only 5 chefs admitted that they try to empty out the fridge with nightly specials.

Don’t order fish on Sunday


Several chefs warned, “We don’t get fresh deliveries on Sunday.” So if you order seafood on Sunday, you might have the food less tasty/fresh.

Does 5 seconds rule work?

food on floor

Yes, 25% of the chefs surveyed said they’d pick up food that dropped on the floor and cook it. So the 5 seconds rule works, at least for the chefs.

Restaurants mark up wine by A LOT more than you might expect

drunk restaurant

A lot of chefs said that the wines on their menu costs 3 times what the same one costs in a supermarket.

With thanks to Al for his contribution – and my wandering mind which made most of this up.