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Keep Food Hot on a Buffet | Catering How-To with Chafing Dishes
Catering Dish - Chafing Dishes
This is a simple catering how-to involving how to serve and keep your hot foods hot at a home party, wedding or any event. Chafing dishes are one type of catering dish can give you the ability to keep your foods at a safe serving temperature as well as look elegant on your buffet table or, as we call it in the business -- buffetscape.
While the décor and set-up is important to creating a beautiful buffetscape, keeping the food at proper serving temperature to safeguard your guests should be the number one priority. Here, we will look at what is available to keep foods hot and look stylish at the same time.
The Food Danger Zone
Bacteria multiply best at temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. This is referred to as "The Danger Zone". To avoid illness, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Cold foods should be held at a temperature below 40 degrees F
- Hot foods should be held at 140 degrees F or above
- Cooked foods should be brought to a minimum temperature according to the list below:
- Beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts, and chops may be cooked to 145 Â°F.
- All cuts of pork to 160 Â°F.
- Ground beef, veal and lamb to 160 Â°F.
- All poultry should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 Â°F.
- When reheating foods, you should bring the internal temperature to 165 degrees F.
Additionally, casseroles, sauces and custards should be brought to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
Image Source: FDA.gov
Proper Holding Temperature
for Hot Foods is
140 degrees F
(60 degrees C) or above.
Winware 4 qt Round Chafing Dishes - with Gold Accents
This 4 qt chafing dish is perfect for any event at home or a rented venue. It comes with food pan, water pan, fuel holder and chafer stand and dome lid. Suprising how very affordable it is.
This is a gorgeous addition to the buffet table. By using Sterno Fuel, your food will stay at proper holding temperature.
Where's Your Food Thermometer? - An Essential Tool of the Kitchen
An essential tool in any kitchen, especially if you host a buffet. Check to make sure your guests are safe as they partake from your buffet foods and that your catering dishes are doing their job.
Putting bricks in your oven and heating them up and then sticking them under your hot food dishes is NOT going to keep the bad bacteria at bay. The bricks will not get hot enough (in a conventional oven) to begin with and start cooling immediately. You have to keep the food on a constant heat source.
Round Chafing - Catering Dish - This One is MY Favorite! Used it for Years!
This is a 4 quart chafing dish. Most caterers and restaurants use the 8 quart size, rectangular shaped chafers to feed lots of people but this small chafer is perfect for home use or smaller parties.
I love this design. The clear glass lid makes it easy to check on the level of food and for guests to see what's there without letting all the steam out. And, if you want the lids up during serving, simple place the glass lid on the lid holder. Simple!
It comes with the stainless steel chafer stand, water/ice pan, food pan, tempered glass lid, glass lid holder, and fuel holder with lid.
Soup, Stew or Gravy Chafing Dish
This is a great catering dish! You can serve chili, vegetable soup, beef stew or sausage gravy to a crowd and not worry about the temperature of the hot food. It's made of stainless steel and holds 7 quarts.
Included are the chafer frame/stand, lid, fuel holder, water pan and food pan. You will use this again and again! No need for electricity like a crock pot. Just use the canned fuel below.
Chafing dishes use a fuel canister to keep the foods hot. To set one up, you place water to the water level mark in the deep water pan and the food in the shallower food pan. Then, place the food pan into the water pan. The fuel canister is placed in the holder and then lit.
The fuel heats the water to a boil and the steam created allows the food in the food pan to stay at proper serving temperatures (though you should verify with your food thermometer throughout the party).
Did You Know...
There are 76 Million cases of Foodborne/Food Poisoning illness occur annually
in the USA
What's Available on eBay - For Keeping Food Hot While Serving
Lots of Restaurant supply and catering equipment companies as well as individuals will auction off unneeded chafing dishes. This can save you some money sometimes and is worth checking out!
Alternatives to Chafing Dishes
Crockpots/slow cookers are an alternative to chafing dishes for keeping hot foods hot. They allow for cooking and serving in the same dish.
Or, choose your own favorite designed CrockPot/Slow Cooker.
They do present some problems, however. You need to make sure there is a power source close enough to use, ensure that cords are safely tucked away and that other buffet items aren't too close to the sides of the Cropckpot since they do get quite hot.
The newer Crockpots usually have a "warm" setting that is designed to keep your foods at an acceptable holding temperature which is quite nice. However, always verify this by using a food thermometer.
Slow Cookers as Catering Dishes - Alternatives to Chafing Dishes
The Hamilton Beach Stay or Go slow cooker is great for transporting and serving hot foods. It uses a clip tight, seal lid to make sure there are no spills. It's also attractive enough to use on a buffet. The 6 quart size is great for gatherings!
Damask Pattern Crock-Pot - Stylish Chafing Alternative
I love the damask pattern on this original Crock-Pot brand slow cooker. It is 4 1/2 quart in size and comes with lots of recipes for you to try at your next party!
Self Catering Resources
- Buffet Ideas
Yes, buffets are part of your décor plan -- or they should be. It is a table or tables that are one of the centers of attention at your wedding or event. Capitalize on this!
- Jazz Up Your Buffet Table -- 10 Ideas to Help
Do you want your food table to be different? Tired of just lining the food up and moving people through? Below are 10 ideas to jazz up and give some life to your buffet table. In the catering industry we call it building a buffetscape.
- Food Ideas for Self Catering Your Party
Keeping in mind that most homes don't have chafing dishes on hand to keep food at proper serving temperatures, or refrigerated salad bars, you should be selective with the food choices. Anything on the menu with mayonnaise or dairy based can go bad w
KitchenAid Slow Cooker - With Flip Lids to Keep Food Hot
Excellent piece to cook and serve from. The flip lids allow the food to stay piping hot during serving times. This one is on my wishlist!
Chafing Dishes How To
Using Chafing Dishes to keep Foods Hot
Now you know how the professionals do it! This simple catering how to shows you how to use a catering dish to keep your foods at a safe serving temperature.