The following information is provided
courtesy of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
Hot Holding Equipment
food such as pies or sausage rolls or keeping food which has
been freshly cooked at serving temperature needs careful food
safety handling and the right equipment. It is not just about
maintaining the heat to help keep the food safe to eat, but to
keep it in a fresh condition.
will keep food warm, but if the food is susceptible to drying
out, then dry heat will over a period of time fail to deliver
food items in the best condition. Foods with have a high
moisture content such as pasta dishes, or a high fat content
such as pies and sausage rolls, will keep well in dry heat
cabinets. Food items such as cooked chicken will hold over a
short period of time in a dry heat display cabinet, but are
better stored in a cabinet that has a humidifier that injects a
small amount of moisture in the cabinet to prevent drying out,
but not induce sogginess.
also be held hot in serving dishes using underneath heating
units or in the traditional chafing dishes which use spirit
lamps for heat. These are some of the ways in which food can be
not just warming cabinets, but merchandisers, so the food being
held must appear attractive in order to assist sales. Apart from
an attractive cabinet with good all-round vision, lighting in
the cabinet will add to the appeal of the food. If the cabinet
is fitted with a humidifier, the foods in the cabinet will stay
fresher and moist for a much longer period than in a dry-heat
can be something as simple as a built-in water trough which
causes water vapour to be released into the cabinet. The more
sophisticated models will have atmospheric as well as
temperature automatic control. Check to see if there is a
feature on the unit which prevents misting up, preventing the
food from being properly viewed. Doors on two sides can be
useful in self-service situations, with food being loaded from
the back and the customer taking from the front.
traditional way of serving hot food at a self-service buffet.
They should be gastronorm compatible to allow for a full tray of
food to be inserted over the water bath. A spirit lamp
underneath the unit keeps the water hot, but it is possible to
get electrically heated chafing dishes. These are potentially
safer, but there is less mobility with the need for a power
chafing dishes will have lift-off lids, which are awkward for
the customer. Better units will have a roll-over lid allowing
the customer to hold a plate with one hand and a serving spoon
with the other.
flat pads with an electric heating element inside. The base
should be insulated to prevent undue heat loss, but it may still
be necessary to place a protective mat underneath if the pad is
sited on wood. The advantage of them is that food that has been
prepared in an oven dish such as fish pie that cannot easily be
transferred into a chafing dish can be on the menu.
standard electric heating elements are the norm, it is now
possible to get heat pads which work using induction heating.
While the heat can be set high for theatre cooking in front of
the customer, some have a hold-only mode which just emits a
Traditionally, these would be fixed units in the kitchen into
which plated hot meals would be placed in stacks separated by a
plate ring with a top cover on top to help prevent drying out.
hot cupboards are still widely available, they are much more
versatile if they are on castors with a brake mechanism. The
shelving arrangement can be flexible, with many shelves to take
single plates or to use the stacking system. Gastronorm size
compatibility is useful for keeping batches of food warm.
The top can
be a solid work surface or have dry or wet heated bains marie so
that things such as saucing, gravy or custard can be added at
the point of delivery to prevent skinning.
cleaning is very important, as food debris not wiped up is a
serious food hygiene risk. There is often a range of accessories
for hot cupboards, including tray slides, sneeze screens and
digital temperature display.