A good set of food wells or in-counter warmers can be great for your restaurant business. Here are some of the important things to think about as you’re choosing this kind of food well commercial restaurant equipment.
Why Use Food / Soup Wells?
Different people use different terminology for these types of heated trays and containers. You may hear people talking about fractional warming trays, (or soup kettles, for soups and stews) that are built into a hot water system to keep the food at desired temperatures.
The biggest reason to use these items is that keeping food in heated trays or containers preserves the food at safe temperatures, which is critically important for inspections, quality of service, and not getting people sick!
Besides that, you can use these trays and containers anywhere, at the front of the house or the back of the house, and since they’re designed to be level with the counter after placement, nobody has to reach up with a ladle or other utensil to get inside. That’s one of the major differences between using hot pots and a range, or investing in warming trays that can be built into a table space for ergonomic purposes.
How Many Compartments Do You Need?
When choosing what kind of food well equipment to buy and how many compartments you need, think about your menu.
If you’re specifically running a small menu operation with a few carefully designed dishes, you’ll need fewer of these trays and warmers. On the other hand, if you’re running some sort of food operation where you need two separate lines, you’ll need double the number of containers that you would otherwise need. Soup or liquid kettles, as cylinders, are often measured by the quart, where rectangular food warming trays are measured by their three dimensions.
Different Kinds of Controls
With these types of equipment, you also choose between an infinite heating type of control that uses something called a rheostat, and a conventional thermostatic control.
The difference is that the thermostatic control will keep the food at a specific temperature over time. The rheostat is a different kind of analog control that just has settings, for example, low, medium and high. This can lead to problems with overheating and drying out food, so think about which of these you need for your restaurant operation. Another great tip is to include a digital thermometer for either of these types of systems, so that you can see exactly what temperature food is kept at, at any given time.
Drains and Drainless Food Wells
Also, think about whether the system has drains to make it convenient to empty out the hot water that heats the food trays. If not, you’ll have to find some other way of conducting water in and out of these systems, which can be either expensive or lead to a labor-intensive process.
These considerations can help you get the best food well warmers for your business. Talk to Chefs’ Toys, where we are “for chefs, by chefs,” and we have actual kitchen experience that we use in helping you make the best choices.