Suppliers have been debating the merits of various types of hot holding equipment.
For instance, Foodservice Equipment Marketing’s (FEM) marketing and sales manager, Mark Hogan, believes: “It’s essential to look for models with heating systems designed to preserve the integrity of the food while it is being held, so that the food’s moisture and nutrients are retained, increasing product holding life and reducing shrinkage.”
FEM supplies Alto-Shaam cook and hold ovens which use a heating system called Halo-Heat, said to surround the food with controlled, uniform heat. This is designed to evenly cook and hold the food, without it drying out or burning, and is claimed to reduce shrinkage by up to 18%.
The ovens are designed to have low energy consumption, low emissions and, in most settings, do not require oven hoods or outside venting.
Meanwhile, induction technology is suitable for a range of hot hold applications. For example, FEM offers Vollrath heat and hold soup kettles to provide a claimed energy-efficient way of heating and serving soup. “They have a colourful retro style that looks good front of house, enhancing soup presentation. Their energy efficiency, speed and good looks make them a popular choice,” commented Hogan.
“There is plenty of room for expansion in this market, as innovative manufacturers develop induction for different applications. Examples include the Vollrath soup rethermaliser and the new range of Vollrath linkable buffet induction warmers.”
The induction warmers are designed for front of house display and up to three can be connected together. Designs are available in natural or black, with LED indicator lights and a black glass top.
FEM also offers a range of holding bins, manufactured by Prince Castle, designed to allow operators to prepare menu components in advance and store them until an order is received.
The Prince Castle holding bins use Reli-A-Temp infra-red technology to provide consistent heat, with the temperature in each cavity independently controllable via solid state digital controls. The heater is designed to spread heat evenly over the entire holding area, with no drop off at the edges.
As the heat generated by the bin is said to be gentle, steam isn’t required for keeping food in peak condition, meaning the unit does not have to be plumbed in. [[page-break]]
At Jestic Foodservice Equipment, product director Michael Eyre says that: “Hot cabinets help to ease the pressure of cooking large quantities over a short period of time and maintain the quality of the food, while also resulting in significantly less wastage throughout the day.
“When used correctly, hot holding cabinets should not have any disadvantages; however, incorrect usage can result in food becoming overcooked. When choosing a holding cabinet for a catering provision, the key is in reliability and consistency, therefore selecting a brand renowned for both these aspects while also offering a comprehensive after-sales package is essential.”
Jestic supplies the Henny Penny brand, which, while it is well known for its fryers, also manufactures a range of hot holding cabinets in a choice of different sizes. The models feature operator controlled temperature and humidity settings, and each tray has an individual countdown timer.
“The Henny Penny SmartHold humidifying holding cabinets are able to maintain the optimum conditions for a wide variety of foods for an extended period of time,” said Eyre. “All of our equipment offers the highest standards of quality and consistency while backed by an outstanding after-sales package and a national network of engineers.”
Gamble Foodservice Solutions’ national account manager Holly Francis acknowledges that there are many options in the hot holding equipment market, saying: “For example, heated drawer warmers from Hatco have the ability to hold a variety of different products in independently controlled drawers. The unique individually insulated drawers have the capability to hold products with or without humidity.”
She advised: “Humidified hot holding cabinets can be a good ‘in-between’ for different products, but this tends to have an associated cost implication. Whereas chafing dishes have no variable temperature but they are a budget option for some operators. There are a lot of stylish portable solutions available now that are simple and effective plug and play, like heated black glass shelves.”
Gamble supplies equipment from Hatco and FWE, both American manufacturers that specialise in hot holding solutions. “Every site and market is different and thus has different requirements, be it space volume or product offering. There is continuous evolution in trends and service, for example the growth in QSR.
"To meet these demands we offer drawers, radiant bulk holding cabinets, portable cabinets, countertop merchandising display cabinets, heated glass shelves, food chutes, cook and hold soup wells and cook and hold or built in GN style hot holding wells,” explained Francis.
The supplier is in the process of launching FWE low temperature cook and hold smoker cabinets which run on a 13A power supply.
Francis commented: “These offer great tasting products and due to the cook style and times they offer increased yield on lesser cuts or joints of meat. With this appliance you can cold and hot smoke whilst holding your product at the correct serving temperature for up to 12 hours.”