Freshly cooked food that is served cold no longer looks appealing, especially if they are vegetables for they soon look wilted and overcooked and gravies begin to congeal. What is meant to be served hot must do exactly that and allowing foods to drop to room temperature makes it an unappetising meal for many people, not to mention the potential of acquiring bacteria when foods fall below 60°C. Therefore, hot food tables are essential at self-service operations as diners can come at different intervals and still enjoy warm and safe food.
The economical solution for many eateries is a steam table version or in some cases known as bain maries. These tables usually work when a small amount of water is heated in the open well of the table before the tray of hot food is inserted into the well. These are easily available from stainless steel fabricators and comes either gas or electric operated. As heated water evaporates over the hours, staff must add more water into the well. At the same time, if food is too densely packed, not stirred or did not enter the steam table at a suitably hot temperature, the warmth from the steam under the well may not distribute evenly or bring the food up to the correct temperature.
Whereas in hotels or restaurants, a stainless steel counter with steam emitting would not be appealing. In return, many uses individually electrically heated plate that is built into granite counters or marble tops or plates with heated lamps placed above.
For heated plates, the use of these heated plates gives a nice impression while still keeping the food warm which would be better than placing them in GN pans like those on the steam table. As it is not dependant on steam, it is often thermostatically controlled more accurately and the heat distribution is even and throughout the plate. There are also units that can support the use of nice decorative pots and pans on these plates.
For those with lamps overhead, it is normally used as a car ving station with a cutting board for food presentation of roasts on a buffet line. However, note that leaving cuts too long under these lamps can sometimes dry out the food. As food is displayed in a row, tr y to incorporate sneeze guards whenever possible as to keep food clean and free from contamination. There are also options in the market that are mobile to push around to be placed in banquet halls.