Prior to specifying temperature-controlled food holding equipment, assess the operation’s menu and type of service.
Will the cabinet be used for high-volume bulk food holding, with much of the items prepared beforehand, held and then dispersed as needed? Or is the main goal to expedite service by freeing up cooking equipment by utilizing a heated cabinet for more short-term holding? Also, operators need to determine if the cabinet will be stationary, transported off-site for catering or moved to another kitchen location when not in use.
Evaluate food holding requirements before selecting a unit, too. Menu items like chicken nuggets may hold up best using convection heat, while barbecue chicken may require a humidified cabinet to retain product quality.
Determine the approximate holding times when considering cabinet heating systems. Radiant cabinets can hold food longer in some applications since the air in convection units can dry out some food types quicker.
When looking at cabinet capacity, determine the types and quantity of pans that will be used. Consider pan spacing and the dimensions of the unit, too.
Operators looking for space-saving versatility should consider stacking two half-size cabinets. Units that will function as banquet cabinets need to be less than 36 inches wide to fit through doorways. For stationary applications with varying volume and food holding needs, consider cabinets with universal angle interiors that hold both steam table and sheet pans.
Assess the kitchen’s electrical layout and capacity to ensure it is wired properly for the cabinet’s location.
Specify wheels or casters on mobile units to match the appropriate use. The larger the wheel, the easier the cabinet will be to push. Operators should consider the floor surface and wheel density to ensure easy transport.
Dutch doors can help increase energy efficiency since one door can be opened at a time, reducing heat loss. Insulated units also are more energy efficient.
One common mistake is not taking into consideration holding times. Depending on the product, food quality can be compromised if held longer than two to three hours. Extensive holding times can result in moisture loss.
Not assessing transport needs can lead to mobility issues. Cabinets used for catering will require stronger frames, casters that work on various floor surfaces and flush handles.