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CAMBRO questions

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I'm new to this and am grateful to be able to ask questions to professionals.

My cambro questions:
1. When preheating a cambro (one about 24" tall), I'm familiar with the hot water method. But it seems that makes a steamy interior. Are there other methods that you use? Can you put a lighted sterno in there to heat it up? (That sounds like a dumb question to me because I think it will either burn out, or burn up the cambro. Will it)? What do you all do?
2. When you put pans of hot food in, such as baked casserole-type dishes, or even meat, do you put foil over the food?
3. If the temperature inside the cambro stays as warm as the food, does the food (especially meat) continue to cook and raise the internal temperature? If so, is there a method for calculating how long you want to leave meat (such as prime rib) in there so it doesn't get to "done"?

Thanks for your responses,
post #2 of 14
I'm not sure that I understand what piece of equipment you are speaking of. In a pro kitchen, cambro is the brand name of plastic storage containers, not a thing to hold foods at temp in. The names of equipment meant to keep food at serving temperatures would be chaffers (the pans with sternos under them that you would see at a buffet) and cook and hold ovens, sometimes referred to as alto shaams (the brand name of the most popular type of ccok and hold oven). Describe more in detail what you are asking about (what material it's made of, shape, etc.) and we can better answer your question. :)
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Sorry that I didn't use the right word. Told you I was a novice!!

This thing I'm talking about is a box of hard molded plastic with a door that swings open and has clasps on the side to hold it shut. When you take your food out of the oven in hotel pans, you slip the pans in the box along preset ridges in the box which holds the pan, and keeps the food warm till serving time. I've only heard it referred to as a "hot box", but I've seen such a box on the Cambro website, so I assumed this is what you all called a cambro.
What do you all call it? I really appreciate your answers, and am happy to learn something new.

post #4 of 14
I've used cambros a lot. In general, the food stays very warm in the cambro. I've never had to preheat it with hot water. I've never ever used a cambro to transport prime rib either so I can't answer that question. Your biggest challenge with a cambro is the loss of moisture. The food will dry out eventually. The trick is to make sure everything is ready to go and fire the food at the last minute. The catering staff normally brings a food warmer and should have it plugged in on site already.

Sometimes I use foil, sometimes not. But I always use a lot of plastic wrap using the set the pan on top of the wrap and wrap it over technique. I do this at least twice. There's nothing like taking a sharp turn and having the sauce spill all over the inside of the cambro. You never discover this until you're ready to plate :)

Good luck!

post #5 of 14
Your initial post was all to correct.
Your question was fine, it had all the information needed (especially if your familiar with the product as I am).However the answers I give can apply to almost any brand of plastic thermal containers)
Yes you can hold food of temp in a CAMBRO that is what they are designed for.Infact you can hold hot and cold in the same box (depending on the modle ) The ones I own are you can slide in a divider that creates two compartments,one for hot one for cold

You can use a Sterno, or whichever fuel source you use for your Chafing Stands
I have placed one of these in a 4 inch 1/2 incert pan, more for safty in transport, to keep this lit you have to have O2, open the pressure release cap( the white plastic cap found on the front of the door, this will give you a O2 sourse)
Yes meat can continue to cook inside a CAMBRO(actually any product will) Depending how long that the meat is in the cambro its own radiant heat may take it a degree or more.
You can cook your veg on the way to a function by covering the raw product with a boiling liquid(stock water,whatever) and say with in a 1/2 hour cooked perfect and not mushy
Cover or not, keep your roasted potatoes uncover and place at top to maintain the crispness and avoid anything spilled on them(cross contamination)In fact if you put two layers of plastic wrap over a pan then use the plastic wrap as a cord and tie the coveing on under the lip of a incert you will not spill anything(We have had a cambro fall over on its side in transport with sauces inside and only lost 1/4 to a 1/8th of the liquid)
Generally though I wrap everything tightly to hold the heat on the product and not wasting in the heating in the compartment.
It is the smartest thing to do to preheat the cambro(or any plastic storage container)why lose heat from your product to heat the surrounding cabinate to the same temp befor t cabinate prevents heat loss. Instead bring the cabinate up to the same temp or near,this holds your product longer. This is especially important when using the coffee containers.

I hope this is of assistance to you
Greg Sheridan
Sans Souci Special Occasion Catering :)
post #6 of 14
Sans Souci, in my environment (a la carte restaurant), a cambro is kitchen slang for plastic storage containers which range from 2 qt to 22 qt in capacity. They are manufactured by cambro. They are not designed to hold food hot; rather the opposite. Apparently, the slang in catering is different. After Henry's clarification, I knew perfectly well what he was talking about, but left the question for others to answer, as catering is not my area of expertise. And others did answer, all of them without the tone of superiority I'm getting from your post. As far as I know, Cheftalk is a place to learn; not a place to show how right you are. Although the pros that frequent this board come from different facets of the industry, we should be trying to build one another up, not take one another down.

[ June 29, 2001: Message edited by: Greg ]
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #7 of 14
Greg my post was not to offend but let Henry know I understood what he was asking .I found your post demeaning to him and offensive therefore don't throw stones from glass houses and reread your post.Come on now "In a Pro Kitchen"
I was not being arrogent but supportive, trying to help, and not attack anyone personally. So take your own advice & keep it professional :confused: :confused:
post #8 of 14
"In a pro kitchen"? Just what else am I suppose to call it? I also don't understand how asking for clarification of a question in order to better answer it is demeaning. As a matter of fact, as a moderator on this site, I consider it part of my job. It is not, however, part of my job to start or get involved in flame wars. In that interest, how about we chalk this up to a misinterpretation of intent on both our parts and let it drop? :cool:
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #9 of 14

Sans Souci Chef,

I too was looking for some clarification on the CAMBRO hot boxes and your reply was just what I was looking for. Thank you for taking the time to be so helpful.

Note to Mark, you may be a great chef, but your people skills could use some work.


post #10 of 14

Easy everyone...

This is my first post.

Isn't Cambro a brand name? I also associate cold liquid storage with that name - as far as I know it is an equipment brand.

The hot boxes I learned to call Buxtcos (I apologize for spelling) also a brand name, and cooking over sterno in them IMO is a well- developed off-premise skill.

You can hold in them but it depends on what you hold, warmers are convenient and easier to control. 

post #11 of 14

Cambro is indeed a brand name but sometimes the brand name becomes synonymous with the function and sometimes replaces it. My examples are probably outdated, but then so am I, think xerox, kleenex, and thermos. To me, if someone says to grab the cambro, I immediately think of an insulated transport device.


Also to answer to the original question, even though from over 10 years ago, bricks warmed in the oven and then placed in the boxes will preheat them nicely without moisture.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #12 of 14

That's what I did, always had a few bricks wrapped in foil in the Garland oven ready.


But-tummm.....ah, well... I just don't understand about this moisture thing.


Cambros ARE sweat boxes, sure you can't preheat them dry, but once you have hot food in there, you will get condensation.  They are great ffor many dishes, but not for dry stuff like anything deep fried, or gratinated. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #13 of 14

Hi Sans Souci,

I have a question about holding salmon in a cambro.  I will be preparing salmon for 75 guests in a seperate kitchen and then will need transport it to an event.  The salmon will not be served for at least 2 hours after it comes out of the oven.  My concern is that it will continue to cook in the cambro.  I will be serving the salmon  from a chafing dish.  What is the best way to handle this?

Thank you for your help,


post #14 of 14

Hi Henry!

One of my most popular catering requests is indeed prime rib. The key is to make sure that it is completely rested before putting into the cambro, for prime rib I give it at least 20 minutes, 30 minutes is even better - I always carve on site. I have never, ever had a problem with carry over cooking by doing this. I experience carry over only when I haven't let the prime rib rest properly.

As far as heating the cambros, I have used both methods - steam will occur either way though as soon as you put the food in there - it's the hot food that creates the steam even if you've used a sterno to preheat the cambro. I have never myself transported with lit sternos. I only use them to preheat the box and find that perfect for my needs. I always put an empty insert on the top rack just to protect any possibilities of warping the plastic roof from the sterno heat - whether you do not need to do this, I've never felt brazen enough to experiment with it as I have never been willing to chance additional expenditures on new cambros. Honestly though, 95% of the time I just use hot water and it works just perfectly for me.

I also use a full wrap of the pan as many here do to keep the food hot and keep it from spilling. All sauces, I keep in separate inserts and sauce on site.


Hope that helped!

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