Choosing a Display Cabinet
Display counters and serveries are actually variations of the same unit. They are generally merchandising units which allow food to be kept at the optimum temperature for the best taste and excellent food safety. Display counters and serveries are available either heated, chilled or ambient. Counters are fixed units and serveries mobile.
Fixed Countering Units
This is the sort of thing you commonly see in cafeterias, staff restaurants or motorway service areas. It combines units for everything from tableware to hot food, chilled food and a pay point. These units can be constructed to meet bespoke requirements - where every aspect is specifically built to suit the installation - or modular, where the unit is built from various pieces fitted which are then fitted together.
Mobile Food Serveries
Mobile serveries are very useful in situations where serving space is limited, in multi-use or if food and drink service is only needed at certain times of the day. Examples of this might be at a hotel where they an extra service area is required for breakfast or a hotel conference suite used for lunch or dinner service.
Heated Display Points
Environments where the 'just-cooked' atmosphere needs to be maintained, under dish heating can be supplied from dry heat contact plates.
Foods with a large sauce content such as curry, boiled and steamed vegetables and pasta dishes can be kept warm most effectively through the use of bains-marie filled with very hot water. A gently steaming atmosphere actually prevents such foods from drying out.
Quartz lamps are another effective method of keeping food hot. Typically used in conjunction with a gantry, these lamps are popularly used to keep roasted meats hot, perhaps in a carvery display unit.
Refrigerated Display Points
Refrigerated service units are essential where for food safety reasons, products have to be kept chilled. Three different refrigeration systems may be incorporated into servery display units:
- Dole-well - This is static chilling where there is a recessed area in the counter with a steel base which has under-counter refrigeration. Ideal for drinks and salads - generally only the bottom part of the product is chilled
- Gravity chilling - Most often seen as an upright cabinet holding items such as sandwiches. Cold air comes out of the vents at the top of the unit and as cold air naturally falls, the food is kept chilled. Works best when the unit is enclosed and with glass doors for optimum food presentation
- Blown air chilling - This is the preferred method where chilled foods are put on display for a long period. As the chilled air is blown, the chilling is very even and thermostatically controlled, essential for food safety