Microwaves: the machine that doesn’t stand still


THE commercial microwave continues to evolve and offer greater functionality to licensed premises, writes John Whitehouse of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).

OK, so the traditional microwave oven is no longer the only super-fast, compact cooking appliance in town – but a lot of the new kids on the block use microwave technology to a greater or lesser extent to achieve their speed. 

What most of them add is cooking quality. Microwave ovens are great for reheating and defrosting, and good for some prime cooking processes, such as steaming. But we like our food browned and textured – which microwaves don’t do, without help. Hence the combination microwave, which adds, for example, grilling or convection cooking to the appliance, and the range of other hybrids which use various technologies to deliver great quality hot food, fast – usually in single portions. 

Most of these combined cooking appliances are relatively compact and are designed for just a few portions – which is ideal for the back-bar, where customers want feeding quickly, often eating on the hoof. Plus, they are programmable – so staff simply have to push the right button to cook the food, allowing them to get on with serving the customer. 

• John Whitehouse is chair of CESA, which represents over 190 commercial catering equipment firms.