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The Ultimate Catering Guide: Appliances Edition

27 Oct 2022, 4:47 PM

The Ultimate Catering Guide
Appliances Edition

Whether you're setting up a new catering business or looking to improve your current operations, you might be wondering which catering supplies to invest in.

In this guide, we'll outline the key types of catering appliances that are required by most catering businesses and highlight some of the most important appliances you're likely to need.

1. Refrigeration Appliances

Storing food at appropriate temperatures is essential for maintaining safe food hygiene standards, so refrigeration should be one of the first things to consider when buying catering appliances. Simple fridges and freezers are suitable for storing a variety of produce and prepped ingredients, and they are a versatile option for most catering businesses.

If you'd like chilled food to be on display to diners or customers, look for refrigerated merchandisers which have either glass or open fronts to make the produce visible and easily accessible. If you need to cool prepped foods quickly in readiness to be served later, a blast chiller is a great option.

2. Food Preparation Machines

Food preparation machines can make prep simpler and more efficient by reducing the amount of man-hours required to get ingredients ready for service. Vegetable preparation machines can automatically peel, chop, grate or chip potatoes or vegetables. Slicers, food mixers and food processors can all make food preparation faster and more consistent.

Some food preparation equipment can allow you to prepare specialist dishes or food. For example, pasta machines can allow restaurants to make their own fresh pasta instead of using dried pasta. Mincers are often used by burger restaurants or grill houses. Bakeries often require specialist baking equipment to aid in the proper preparation of dough.

3. Cooking Appliances

There's a huge variety of cooking equipment to choose from so consider the types of food you'll be making carefully. Ranges have both an oven and a hob which makes them very versatile and suitable for frying, boiling, roasting and baking foods. However, if you'll be preparing large batches of food in an oven consistently, it may be better to choose a standalone oven with a large capacity, some of which have combination functions that allow you to pre-programme cooking processes and speed up production.

If your catering organisation specialises in a specific type of food, you might want to invest in specific appliances to optimise production. For example, fast food businesses that prepare lots of fried foods will benefit from having a purpose-built fryer instead of frying in a normal pan on a traditional hob. Other popular cooking appliances include crepe and waffle machines, kebab grills, chargrills, pasta boilers and pizza ovens.

4. Reheating Appliances

It's common practice for catering businesses to prep food in bulk in advance and either reheat it later or keep it warm in readiness for serving. Cook and hold ovens are ideal for this, as they're designed to reheat and keep food warm so that it can be served as soon as it's ordered. Some of them can also cook the food too, as long as it's something that is suitable for low and slow cooking, such as roasted meats set to be served in a carvery. Bain maries are also frequently used for reheating or maintaining the temperatures of foods, predominantly vegetables or sauce-based dishes like stew, curry or chilli.

Microwaves are an integral part of many catering businesses due to their ability to quickly reheat food items. Some of them are programmable to allow them to easily heat a wide range of different dishes to perfection with minimal effort, which is ideal for chain restaurants that require consistency in the quality of the dishes. Microwaves are not capable of browning which means they're not suitable for all types of foods, but they can help to speed up preparation of food by partially reheating or cooking food which can then be finished in a normal oven.

5. Food Service Equipment

Most catering businesses require service equipment to keep food warm until it's served. Heat lamps are used in a commercial kitchen's service area to keep plated dishes warm until they're transported to the dining area. Holding cabinets allow large quantities of plated food to be stored and transported, and kept warm in the process, which is ideal for banqueting occasions. Appliances like potato ovens and heated merchandisers allow prepared food to be displayed and kept warm at the same time.

For businesses that offer buffet-style dining or self-service, heated wells and heated display bases are often used to keep food warm until it is ready to be served. Lowerators, also known as mobile plate dispensers, simplify plate storage and are ideal for self-serve buffets, or for meal assembly in catering businesses where dishes are plated up in large quantities.

6. Beverage Machines

Coffee machines, kettles and water boilers are all popular pieces of catering equipment, particularly for businesses that offer self-service. Juicers are ideal for businesses that want to offer high quality fruit juices. Ice crushers make the preparation of cold drinks and cocktails more efficient, and drinks mixers are useful for businesses that serve things like milkshakes and iced coffee.

It's also important to consider the storage of beverages when providing canned or bottled drinks. Cooler cabinets with glass doors allow drinks to be kept on display to help customers choose and help staff identify drinks when serving. Refrigerated drinks dispensers are also useful for serving chilled water or other cold, non-bottled beverages.

7. Warewashing Catering Appliances

Washing dishes, cutlery and glasses can be a time-consuming aspect of providing catering services but the right appliances can streamline the process. Dishwashers are a much faster and more reliable method for getting dishes and cutlery clean and sanitised than hand-washing. Glasswashers are more gentle than commercial dishwashers in order to clean delicate glassware safely. Cutlery polishers are ideal for large restaurants or banqueting businesses because they handle very large quantities of cutlery with minimal manpower.

It's also important to consider laundry when buying catering appliances. Tablecloths, dishtowels, cloths, rags, aprons and reusable napkins all require laundering after every use. Large, durable and reliable commercial washing machines and dryers are therefore a necessity.

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