10 Tips For Choosing The Right Food Warmer For Your Commercial Kitchen
From holiday comfort food to year-round sauces, a quality food warmer is a key item for a busy kitchen. To keep your restaurant efficient and fast, you'll need a good one.
Despite a simple concept, there are a lot of little details that go into a food warmer. Picking up one with the wrong capacity or awkward material can cost you big.
No need to worry, we have a lot to help you with all your commercial kitchen equipment. Here are 10 items you must consider before you purchase your next food warmer purchase.
1. The Right Capacity
The biggest draw and main purpose of a food warmer is to be able to serve up your sauces and dishes all day long without needing to make every plate to order. The way they do this is efficient space and good heat.
For the space factor, you need to measure how much of each item you will serve at any time. If you have a popular dish that you serve all day long, a large container for that dish will be good. If that same dish is only for dinner, a smaller one works.
Each kind of food warmer will be different setups and come with different slots. For a large variety, a multi-space setup with fractional pans can work. For smaller items, round inserts may be a better way to go.
2. Thermostats Versus Rheostats
The second most important item for food warmers is, of course, the heat. It can be a bit more complicated than turn on and go.
The two types of controls over the heat are thermostats and rheostats. Thermostats have ranges on the temperature itself and you can adjust them at a gradual level. Rheostats use only output, so they have low, medium, and high settings.
Most prefer thermostats as they have more control. When a dish is running low, you don't want to burn it so the temperature needs to change as space in the container grows.
As well, avoid outdated technology like heat lamps. They work fine for a few minutes, but the concentrated heat has a similar effect to the rheostat. You want an even distribution of heat to avoid burning and cool patches.
3. Extra Dispensing Options
The common dispensing option is a simple ladle. It's simple, but it can be awkward to handle. Dinner rush will only make this worse.
While you can always add additional utensils, some food warmers even add other methods of dispensing. Some can interface with pumps, with others have lids and extra containers to give out proper portions.
4. Location and Mobility
Food warmers are often set up at a particular part of the kitchen and left there. For many, this works fine. For some, you might need other options.
If you rent out a kitchen or need to change your setup often, you want a food warmer that is mobile. This can even be its own station on wheels.
On the other hand, you may want to go with a small setup and have a portable food warmer you can lay on any counter and plugin. The size will matter!
5. Efficiency in Electricity
A food warmer will be on from cooking start to cooking end. As such, it can drain a lot of electricity.
Several makes and models may have some power saving options. Some can store up the heat and sustain it while turned off or they may have an efficient battery.
Look for the Energy Star certification. It is a national certification showing that the equipment is at least 70 percent more efficient than standard models.
6. Induction Power
A simple plug and heat is only one form that a food warmer can take. There are a few other options. One of the big ones that have been gaining popularity is induction.
Induction has great natural energy efficiency. It converts all of 99 percent of the energy it makes into heat used for your food warmer.
7. Rethermalizer Certification
The worst problem with a food warmer is not heating the entire container. If a portion of the food gets cold, you may not notice until you serve it. This is both a service and a health nightmare.
Look for an authentic NSF-certified rethermalizing warmer. This handy addition can help spread and maintain the heat throughout the container. With this, you can get into the safe zone of 165 degrees.
8. Material Cleaning
When all has wound down and the day finishes, cleanup can be a pain. The less worry you need during cleaning the better, and quality material in your food warmer containers can help with that.
Stainless steel is a clear winner here. Able to withstand high heat and be easy to clean, the material lives up to its name.
Make sure you warmer has pure stainless steel. The cheaper versions may have lower-quality materials.
9. Glass Containers
Glass can be another material that can help you use your food warmers well. Quality glass can take heat well and with the right prep and care can be fine to clean.
The biggest boost a glass container can give is transparency. Keeping an eye on the food warming is an absolute necessity. You must ensure that the temperature is right. It is easier to avoid too cool or too hot food if you can watch it.
Even a simple glass door or lid can help check on the warming station with a quick glance.
10. A Quality Warranty
The last thing you will want to check is the warranty. Buying used can be dangerous as wear and tear can be rough on a food warmer. A brand new food warmer will also come with a nice warranty.
Lots of hectic things can happen in a kitchen. What could be a simple accident could be serious damage to your food warmer and without a warranty, that can be a tragic expense.
Keeping Your Food Warmer Hot and Your Kitchen Fresh
Whether it is finding the best food warmer or perfecting a recipe to wow your customers, there is a lot that goes into crafting a perfect restaurant. Foodservice is a constant push to provide the best you can deliver.