Foodservice Equipment Reports

SPECIAL REPORT: Dual-Tech Microwave Oven Gallery

Greetings, dual-tech lookers, and welcome to a roundup of the latest models in a relatively young and exclusive category. Check out the five models here, and for more information straight from the factories, go to the websites indicated. Or, as always, help yourself to information on all kinds of equipment through our Buyers Guide. For the story covering the dual-tech models, click here.–Ed.

Don’t let the ACP throw you—it’s the new label for Amana Commercial Products. The model here, ACP’s Menumaster Commercial  MXP22, uses microwaves, forced convection and infrared radiant heat for speed, browning and flexibility. Touchpad operation gives you consistent results, lets you store as many as 360 menu items and offers four-state cooking when needed. The unit comes with a USB port that’s compatible with standard flash drives so you can update programming in seconds. The MXP22 can be stacked without a kit and uses 80% less energy than conventional ovens, says ACP. Additional features include an integrated, recirculating catalytic converter that allows for ventless cooking, and the ability to use standard metal pans. The door drops down below the oven rack to provide full access to the interior, and the bottom-mounted infrared elements tilt up for cleaning.

Introduced in December 2011, the Merrychef eikon e2 speed oven utilizes new and patented planar plume technology to provide the right combination of airflow, convection heat and microwave energy for optimal cooking efficiency. Heated air is directed into planes that collide above the surface of food to create sheets of air, which then wrap around the food product to deliver quick heat transfer and high-quality cook performance. Merrychef’s easyToUCH technology features an icon-driven touchscreen that enables instant menu management with archive capability, operator training, self-diagnostics and USB memory stick compatibility. Plus you get a standard, built-in catalytic converter with full protein capability. The eikon e2 was honored with a 2012 Kitchen Innovations Award from the National Restaurant Association.

From Panasonic comes the Sonic Steamer. It’s a little different from the other units in this category, mostly because it doesn’t add another component to the microwave process. But the way Sonic Steamer can be used sets it apart from traditional microwave ovens. Specially outfitted to put the emphasis on steam, the Sonic Steam accepts two full-size, 4”-tall pans with covers, and you can add any type of liquid to each pan so that when covered, the unit steams evenly, quickly and in larger volumes than traditional microwave ovens. And the steaming process is flexible; you can add any flavored liquid to the steam pan, including fish fume, white wine, lemon juice, chicken stock or vegetable stock, to infuse product with more flavor. Features include eight programmable memory pads, five power levels and three-stage cooking. Panasonic says the unit is a reliable alternative to traditional steamers.

The R-8000G brings together high-speed convection and microwave energy to cook quickly while retaining natural juices and flavors. Features include 60 preprogrammed settings and several manual options that include high-speed grilling without microwave assist, normal convection and express defrost. A three-line, 30-digit lighted display shows you all the steps needed to choose your cooking method. You get a double/triple quantity feature that provides optimum cooking times for additional servings; you just adjust the multiplier for up to three servings, and the oven does the rest. And there’s an oven ready on/off that allows you to program the oven to maintain 300ºF for 1 hr. to 8 hrs. to shorten preheat time. As for performance, Sharp says the Basic Cook options take foods from raw to cooked two to five times faster than conventional ovens.

TurboChef brings a new product to this group, the Encore rapid-cook oven introduced in March 2012. Utilizing side-launched microwave, high-speed air impingement and radiant heat, the Encore cooks rapidly without compromising food quality. Features include an integral, recirculating catalytic converter for ventless operation; independent bottom temperature offset; and a menu system that’s capable of storing as many as 256 recipes. You get built-in self-diagnostics for monitoring components and performance, and the unit accepts metal pans. Encore is designed to be stackable, but you need a stacking kit to complete the job. The Encore accepts USB memory sticks and Smart cards for menu data transfer.

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