Commercial Heated Holding Equipment Buying Guide
A Quick Overview….
How do you hold your food product, while keeping it sanitary and fresh for your customers? Some form of holding the food is necessary for most cooking establishments; and many establishments without warm food holding equipment could benefit from them. From baking and holding bread, to serving hot and fresh food to customers. Heated holding can range from short term countertop holding with heat lamps, to transportation across long distances for longer periods of time.
With whichever holding type is used, heated holding can provide quality, fresh food to every customer who walks into your venue. There are several types of heated holding, with a large portion being available with casters for transportation (countertop units excluded). Keep reading…
1. Heating Holding Basics
While there are many serving/holding options for storing warm/hot food product, heated holding in its most basic form is in the highest demand. This is due to many factors, and because of these many factors, heated holding should be considered for all establishments.
Heated holding is already found in most venues, and has been used almost since the dawn of electricity. From buffet lines, to hospitals, to fast food establishments, you’ll see heated holding everywhere.
Typically, heated holding carts are used at buffet lines, where products sit in a moist/hot environment while waiting to refill the food bays on the buffet. They are also used to transport food long distances and are normally found in cafeterias, hotels, and hospitals. However, these cabinets are not always found behind the front counter which constantly relies on reaching to the kitchen.
Countertop versions of heated holding cabinets are available. Due to their size, it is far easier to find space for them. They are typically placed close to a front counter or buffet, in order to provide easily accessible food product or faster service.
There are merchandizing options available as well. These range in size and shape. For example, a gas station may use self-serve heated merchandisers in order to provide quick service for customers; whereas a heated merchandizer behind a counter may be used to display food product while limiting the customers’ access. Not only do they have glass doors for letting the consumer see the product, but they may come with automatic product rotation (such as the automatic lazy-susan) and customized LED displays for quality control.
3. Cook and Hold
Cook and Hold cabinets/equipment are probably the second types of heated holding in circulation, and it is often overlooked or not considered as a heated holding type of equipment. This is due to it’s ability to cook or almost act as an oven. Although food product should not be initially cooked in a cook and hold cabinet, browning and finishing can be done in the cabinet. Such as “crisping the chicken” or “browning the biscuits.”
Cook and Hold cabinets are best suited for close-to-counter work. They range in size from countertop units to full-size carts (over 70” tall). Food product can be pre-seared or browned before being placed in the cabinet to keep complex or abundant flavors. The product can be kept until the customers are ready to be served.
4. Drawer Warmers and Chip Warmers
Chip warmers are just as they sound. They are designed to keep chips (and similar products) crisp, moist, and fresh. They are stored in convenient-to-access equipment and are filled/depleted when necessary. Oftentimes, dine-in establishments serve chips on a table directly from a pan that was (when in the kitchen) used as a cooling bay.
Using a drawer style warmer is a better option that will ensure the product’s freshness/moistness. This also creates a more seamless operation, from creation to serving. Not only dine-in restaurants, but fast casual and fast food restaurants can benefit the same since any establishment who seeks to expand their customer count when viable storage options are needed.
Proofing can refer to two different steps in bread making. It can either be the initial dissolving of the yeast and water; but more commonly, proofing is referred to as the last rising of the bread. This last step typically happens to the already shaped loaf and can happen once or twice in the baking process.
Thanks to proofing cabinets, the speed of this part of the process is greatly increased and the quality is kept. The correct temperature and humidity levels for the bread are optimized and under control of the baker. Not only o they speed things up, they can do so in larger quantities. This means that proofing cabinets will support mass production of bread products.
6. Additional Info
Keeping the product closer to the counter. Even the proofer cabinet which will be radiating with the smell of fresh bread. Keeping things close to the counter means cutting out a lot of leg-work for people who shouldn’t turn their backs to the customers. This is a commonly over-looked place which could greatly benefit from the convenience.