Catering Supplies That Will Make Your Life Easier

Last updated on May 13th, 2024 at 01:56 pm

For professional and amateur caterers, catering success is measured by your guests’ satisfaction. But what if you could cater a great event that leaves guests raving without the stress?

The key to a low-stress catering experience? The right catering supplies.

We broke it down into three categories to make sure you have everything you need:

Summer is filled with celebrations, from weddings and graduation parties to holiday get-togethers. If you run a catering business, this could be your busiest time of the year.

But, whether you’re planning a family event, or preparing to cater to hundreds of guests, the catering equipment will make or break your experience.

In this blog, we’ll give you all the info you need to choose the right catering equipment for your next event. From serving supplies to food holding and storage, we’ll cover all the bases, so your next event is a catering success!

Catering Supplies to Transport Food Safely:

If you’re catering an event, chances are, you’ll need to transport food. Getting your food from the kitchen to its destination doesn’t need to be stressful. Choose the right equipment for food transport based on what type of food you’re serving, and how far it needs to travel.

Insulated food carriers are perfect for keeping food hot while driving from point A to point B. To hold food items on site, heated and cooled options make sure everything stays at the right temperature.

Tip: When transporting food, always use separate carriers for hot and cold items to prevent temperature cross-over. This ensures each dish maintains its ideal serving temperature, guaranteeing freshness and taste upon arrival.

Food Carrier Bags:

To get your food from the kitchen to the venue, you’ll need to have a safe way to control temperatures. Whether you’re serving hot or cold food at your event, food carrier bags extend the time that foods hold their temperature. That means you can get to the venue with hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. It’s not just important for taste and quality, but also for the safety of your guests.

Remember, according to CDC guidelines, hot foods need to be 140° or hotter, and cold foods should be 40° or lower. If your food items are outside of safe temperatures for more than two hours, they shouldn’t be served. Insulated carriers ensure you can get food to the venue safely, even if it takes more than two hours.

Food Pan Carrier Carts:

Once you’ve arrived, the journey isn’t over. As many caterers know, you’ll need to carry food and supplies into the venue, which could be quite a walk. Even if the venue is in-house, food will need to go from the kitchen to your guests. To help get food to its destination safely and quickly, you’ll want to have a food pan carrier cart.

Different types of food pan carrier carts to help you choose the right catering supplies

Electric food pan carriers: You can plug these in to maintain temperatures longer once you arrive. This is perfect for caterers who need to set up and refill a buffet over a longer period. Choose from heated, or versatile heating and cooling options.

Insulated food pan carriers: If you don’t need to hold food for an extended amount of time, an insulated model may be right for you. Hot foods will retain heat, cold foods will stay cooled.

Whichever option you choose, you’ll love the extra storage and mobility these units provide.

Single or double-deck options, casters, and easy-to-read thermometers give caterers ease of mind.

Other Food Carts:

Adding food carrier carts to your catering setup is all about mobility. Catering supplies and food add up quickly, and the last thing you want is to be struggling to get everything to the venue on time.

With a mobile tray cart, you can transport supplies, store items during the event, and even dispense silverware.

Food carrier dollies like this one from Cambro, fit with stackable food carriers to help transport large volumes of food.

Catering and Buffet Supplies for the Perfect Spread:

Every successful buffet begins with thoughtful planning and the right supplies. It’s about understanding the nuances of each event and anticipating the needs of your guests.

Whether it’s ensuring your soups stay warm in chafers or your salads remain crisp in coolers, every piece of equipment plays a crucial role.

But it’s not just about functionality; it’s also about creating an inviting atmosphere. Our insights will help you choose catering supplies that meet the practical demands of catering and add to the aesthetic appeal of your spread.

Let’s dive into the essentials of buffet setup, making sure your next event is as enjoyable to host as it is to attend.

Beverage Dispensers:

Beverage dispensers are essential for efficiently serving drinks at large gatherings. Opt for dispensers with easy-to-use spigots that can accommodate a variety of beverages, from iced teas and lemonades to fruit-infused water.

Choose models with clear containers to showcase the drinks and entice guests. These dispensers often allow guests to easily serve themselves, freeing up staff to focus on other aspects of service.

  • Insulated beverage dispensers: These beverage dispensers are perfect for maintaining the temperature of hot or cold drinks for extended periods. They’re ideal for outdoor events or venues where access to electricity for heating or cooling is limited. Insulated beverage dispensers come in various sizes. They’re typically made from durable materials like stainless steel or heavy-duty plastic.
  • Coffee urns: Coffee urns are a must-have for serving hot coffee to large groups. They keep coffee hot for hours and allow for easy self-service. When selecting a coffee urn, consider the capacity, brewing time, and ease of cleaning. Some urns come with additional features like built-in filters, water level indicators, and temperature controls.
  • Decanters and carafes: Decanters and carafes add an elegant touch to any catering setup. Decanters are particularly useful for aerating wines, and enhancing their flavor and aroma. Carafes offer a practical and stylish way to serve cold beverages. Both come in various shapes and sizes, with glass being the most popular material for its clarity and elegance.
  • Cup and lid dispensers: Clear up your serving space and allow guests access to self-service cups and lids. These dispensers keep drink cups and lids neatly arranged. It’ll be easier for guests to get what they need, and free up staff for other duties. Reduce the chance of spills by decluttering with a cup and lid dispenser.

Buffet Equipment:

Hot / Cold Buffet Stations: For a mobile solution to serve a full buffet or food items, these stations have room for several food pans. Often outfitted with sneeze guards, lighting, and counters, these buffet stations keep buffet lines moving smoothly, and food items safe.

Hot buffet stations are incredibly versatile and designed to maintain safe hot-holding temperatures. This is crucial for maintaining food quality and adhering to food safety standards.

Cold buffet stations are perfect for salad bars, topping stations, or cold appetizers. Consistent cold temperatures keep cold foods crisp and fresh.

Drop-In Food Wells: For caterers with an in-house venue, drop-in hot or cold wells may be the right option. These food holding stations are built directly into existing countertops. Sleek and easy to clean, they come in hot or cold options, with remote or built-in power sources.

Countertop Buffet Equipment: This one could mean a lot of things. Maybe you need heat lamps to maintain heat and crispness on fried or battered foods. Carving stations and sandwich grills provide an interactive element to your buffet since guests can watch their meals being made. Other countertop food warmers are designed for soups, sides, or smaller applications.

Chafing Dishes:

For small to large catering operations alike, chafers are a tried-and-true way to keep hot foods hot during service. They’re incredibly versatile and come in many different configurations.

Whether you’re shopping for the perfect aesthetic to take your catering setup to a whole new level, or looking to hold more foods for a greater selection, chafing dishes are a great option. Remember, the right chafer not only maintains the ideal temperature for your dishes but also complements the aesthetics and efficiency of your catering setup.

Consider these common features to help you pick the right chafer.

  • Shape: When it comes to chafing dishes, shape plays a crucial role in both presentation and functionality. Rectangular chafers are ideal for larger items like cuts of meat or big casseroles. Round chafers, on the other hand, offer a more elegant display perfect for soups, sauces, and side dishes. Remember, the shape of your chafer can complement the theme and style of your event, adding to the overall dining experience.
  • Size: Choosing the right size chafer depends on your menu and the number of guests. Standard full-size chafers typically hold between 8 to 9 quarts, suitable for serving a larger crowd. For smaller gatherings or more diverse menu options, half-size or even third-size chafers allow for variety and flexibility in your serving options.
  • Heating Type:
    • Electric: Electric chafers are a convenient option with precise temperature control and consistent heat. They’re perfect for indoor events where electrical outlets are readily available. The key advantage is their safety, as there’s no open flame involved. Plus, they’re often seen as more environmentally friendly, reducing the need for disposable fuel canisters.
    • Induction: These chafers require an induction burner to heat, but provide a sleek, flameless heating solution. Their efficient heat distribution and small footprint make them ideal for upscale events.
    • Fuel: Traditional fuel chafers are versatile and portable, making them a popular choice for both indoor and outdoor settings. They use gel or wick fuel canisters to provide heat, allowing for flexibility in setup locations.

Condiment Stations:

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

If you’ve ever been to a catered event, you’ve probably experienced this: you gathered your utensils, made your plate, and started to dress your salad, reached for the spoon and it’s covered in ranch dressing. Yikes.

Avoid backed-up lines and messy spills with a condiment station like this one. With a special case that dispenses condiments easily, you won’t have to worry about slimy utensils and unfortunate spills.

Serving Supplies & Utensils:

What’s a catered event without the right serving supplies? First, it’s clear that without utensils, neither you nor your guests can serve or enjoy the food.

But there’s more to it than just functionality. The choice of serving supplies and utensils can significantly impact the guest experience and should be tailored to the nature of the event and the preferences of the attendees.

For formal events like weddings or corporate dinners, guests will expect high-quality, elegant serving utensils. This could be silver or polished stainless steel. If the event is more casual, your focus may be on durability and ease of use. That means melamine, plastic, or bamboo.

By carefully selecting and customizing serving supplies and utensils, you can significantly enhance the catering experience, making your service stand out while ensuring comfort and satisfaction for your guests. Remember, the key is in understanding the event’s nature and your guests’ preferences, and tailoring your choices to meet these needs.

Waste Management and Hygiene:

Just like the right serving supplies and utensils are crucial for a successful catered event, effective waste management and stringent hygiene practices are equally important. These elements are not just operational necessities; they reflect your commitment to the health and safety of your guests.

Here are some actionable items to help you be prepared and stress-free during service:

Safe Food Handling: Adhere to strict food safety guidelines, including proper handwashing, wearing gloves while serving, and using separate utensils for different dishes to avoid cross-contamination.

Access to Hygiene: Set up hand sanitization stations for guests and staff, particularly in buffet settings. This simple step can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs.

Spotless Setup: Maintain a regular cleaning schedule throughout the event. This includes wiping down serving areas, regularly changing serving utensils, and ensuring that the dining environment remains spotless and inviting.

Educating the Team: Ensure that your catering staff is well-trained in hygiene practices. Regular briefings on the importance of hygiene and how to maintain it should be a part of your operational routine.

By integrating waste management and hygiene practices into your catering operations, you can provide a cleaner, safer, and lower-stress dining experience. This not only enhances guest satisfaction but also elevates your brand as one that values its guests.

Food Storage Solutions to Keep You Organized:

In the catering world, staying organized hinges on having the right food storage solutions. Especially if you’re moving food from one location to another, you want to know what’s what, so nothing gets left behind.

Organizing and labeling your food products properly ensures the best experience for your guests. Think beyond just containers; imagine a system where every ingredient has its place, freshness is locked in, and every item is easily accessible. And keeping food safety and quality at the forefront.

With the right food storage equipment, you’ll have the highest food quality and lowest stress levels.

Tip: Incorporate transparent, stackable containers with standardized sizes for your food storage. This allows for easy visibility of contents, efficient use of space, and quicker setup and breakdown at events. Remember to use shallow pans for catering to ensure even heating throughout the event.

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