Whether providing meals for hungry disaster relief workers at remote locations or bringing revenue-building retail outlets to highly trafficked areas, mobile foodservices require specialized equipment packages to serve customers safely.
The challenge of feeding firefighters battling forest fires in remote locations, rescue workers responding to a disaster or even guests at a large-scale special event is the foundation of business for the OK's Cascade Co. From humble beginnings as a catering company over 30 years ago, OK's Cascade, while still based in Bellevue, Wash., now owns fleets of mobile-kitchen trucks in numerous locations all over the country. These vehicles can be mobilized within four hours to designated event sites or disaster areas, and the company has provided mobile services over the years to locations in more than 30 states. Capable of providing large-scale mobile kitchens able to produce meals for thousands of people, OK's Cascade will also provide mobile refrigeration, showers and laundry services as needed.
Kitchen trailers that provide the company's mobile foodservices exist in many different sizes and configurations to correspond to the numbers of meals that may need to be prepared, held and served, but all are equipped with an impressive battery of restaurant-quality E&S. Equipment is purchased through local dealerships and modified in-house (when necessary) to accept propane or electric power, according to Wade McIntyre, vice president and general manager, OK's Cascade Co. Key equipment pieces found in these mobile kitchen trailers include convection ovens, griddles and grills, tilting skillets, steam kettles and high-powered stockpot ranges. “Initially, our mobile kitchens were outfitted only with conventional ovens, but adding convection ovens has proven to be a good decision for us. Convection units can perform with greater speed and better accommodate the large-scale preparation we provide,” explained McIntyre. Other items found in OK's Cascade's mobile kitchens include roasting ovens located under griddles and hot-top burners, fryers, half-size reach-in refrigerators, hot food-holding wells with drop-in pans and service utensils (which are located along the service-window side of kitchen trailers), a hand sink and a three-compartment sink. “Since our meals are served on disposable tableware, the only washing-up chores staff in our mobile kitchens need to take care of are cleaning the pots and pans used for food preparation,” McIntyre pointed out.
Other key company resources include trucks and trailers that can be made up into a “pod” that might travel to, for instance, a firefighters' service location. Foodservice support equipment in this instance would include a combination refrigerator/freezer storage trailer, a dry goods storage trailer and two refrigerated food-prep trailers. These mobile units are used to hold items needed to prepare lunches and salads, among other meal selections. Equipment supporting prep work in the trailers includes worktables, electric slicers, mixers and blenders, a reach-in freezer and handwashing sinks. In a remote location, electricity needed to power light fixtures, kitchen ventilation fans, convection oven fans and light equipment is provided by large generators located on the tractors that pull the trailers.