Keeping food hot and fresh has always been a challenge, especially for caterers. There are many diverse options available for operators to accomplish this, though typically in the catering industry, intelligent operators are capitalizing on mobility and versatility. This buying guide will focus on choosing the best mobile food warming units for your business.
Warming, proofing and holding cabinets
Heated holding & proofing cabinets are some of the most common pieces of warming equipment used in catering, buffet, and banquet operations. These cabinets are the standard for keeping large quantities of food warm, however there are several factors that need to be examined before choosing the right box for your needs.
Size & Style
There are a variety of different heated cabinets, in both size and style, but picking the right one isn’t as difficult as it may seem. The main three styles of warming cabinets are built to fit sheet pans, hotel pans, or individual plates. Each style comes in a number of different sizes, however larger operations may need to invest in a number of cabinets for adequate holding space.
Often cabinets are needed for off premise events or are consistently being moved. Most cabinets operate on electricity and are designed to hold temperature even when unplugged, however there are some that require portable fuel solutions such as “canned heat” (Sterno) or portable electric heaters to be taken to a catering site. Traditionally, larger units have a variety of voltage options which can help operators save on electricity.
Insulated vs. Non-insulated
Insulated cabinets hold heat in more efficiently than their non-insulated counterparts, but also require more raw materials to produce resulting in heavier more expensive units. A customer needs to consider this before choosing the right option. If the unit will be transported regularly or operated mainly in a warm environment, an insulated cabinet might not be the best fit.
Depending on the type of product to be stored in the cabinet, end-users can decide whether or not humidity control is needed. Typically as simple as a water pan with a heating element, this feature offers the customer the capability of controlling the internal temperature of the cabinet. This can aid in keeping biscuits moist or minimizing shrinkage when holding roasts and turkeys. If the items being held are to be wrapped or need to stay crispy, this might be an unnecessary feature.
Insulated Food Transport
For decades, Caterers have relied on industry stalwarts like the Carlisle Cater-aide and the Cambro Camcarriers to transport food for off-site events and vending. Specifically designed to securely hold industry standard size pans securely, these items have well designed handles for carrying as well as stacking. Some options recently added to this category include:
- Plug in heated units for extended warming capabilities
- Expanded product lines to include multiple sizes to fit any requirement
- Redesigned handles to be easier to carry and stack
- Optional dollies for ease in transporting single or multiple stacked units