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What Is a Buffet Food Warmer?

A buffet food warmer, also called a chafing dish, is an indirect heat stove. Heat is generated by canister-contained fuel in gel form, a liquid form, or gas. Burning fuel heats a tray of water. The heated water heats a pan of food above it. Food warmers are perfect for heating buffet food. Fuel packs are available with variable burn times, from two to six hours. Buffet food warmers are affordable, portable, convenient, and a reliable way to keep food warm for an extended period. Food warmers are just that, food warmers. They are not used for cooking food. The food is cooked elsewhere.

The Parts of a Food Warmer

A buffet food warmer is made up of several components.

  • Lid: The lid is used to retain heat. The lid also keeps steam close to the food, ensuring it remains moist during the serving period.
  • Food Pan: The food pan, as the name implies, is where the food is kept. The pans are available in a range of sizes. The food pan is not used for cooking. Chefs cook food in the oven, then transfer it to the food warmer.
  • Water Pan: The water pan is usually deeper than the food pan. This allows the food pan to sit in the water pan. The food is kept warm by the steam that comes off the water as it heats.
  • Stand: All the elements of a buffet food warmer sit on a stand. The stand includes a rim to hold the water pan and also holds the fuel securely.
  • Fuel and dampener: Food warmer fuel comes in cans. The cans have various burn times, from two through six hours. The fuel is gas, gel, or liquid. Some chafing dishes are designed to rest on an induction heating plate. For this to work, the food warmer must have iron content.

A buffet food warmer is the perfect way to ensure food is kept at the right temperate at an event. They are a vital part of caterers’ equipment.