Consultant Q&A: Marcin Zmiejko, senior associate, William Caruso & Associates, Denver
FE&S: What are the most common applications for food wells?
MZ: Food wells remain a very popular way to serve hot food, especially in school cafeterias. This equipment also is often a part of buffets, although many operators are now moving into utilizing heated shelves.
FE&S: What types of food wells are specified?
MZ: Food wells can be divided into wet or dry operation. The wet style utilizes water and has an insert pan to hold food. This type requires plumbing hookups and draining capabilities.
FE&S: What should operators consider when choosing between wet and dry food wells?
MZ: Both types present certain challenges. Wet food wells are not as mobile, since the plumbing needs to be disconnected in order to move the unit. The biggest complaint with dry wells is that some menu items may dry out quicker, affecting food quality. Recently, a number of manufacturers have developed dry food wells with updated technology that have taken care of this problem. Although this equipment costs more, it provides added versatility.
FE&S: What should operators consider when specifying this equipment?
MZ: An operation’s menu always dictates how many wells are needed as well as the quantity of food or number of people being served.
FE&S: Where are food wells typically used in an operation?
MZ: This equipment can be used in the front of house for full- or self-serve applications and in the back of house.
FE&S: How versatile is this equipment?
MZ: There are units available that can be switched from hot to cold wells as needed. This accommodates different types of meals, such as hot entrees and sides, in addition to lighter cold items, like fruits and parfaits.
FE&S: Describe the aesthetic considerations with food wells used in the front of house.
MZ: The preferences depend on the designer. We prefer to specify sandwich units and hot wells from the same manufacturer so the components match. It’s not only preferable visually, but also is easier from a service and warranty standpoint.