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Buying Catering Equipment - What to Know | Chef's Deal

Buying Catering Equipment – What To Know

What do you mostly talk about while turning back home from your best friend’s wedding reception? Initially, there will be a few catchy words about the bride’s dress, hairstyle, how she tossed her bouquet, and the lucky girl catching it. Sooner or later, the topic will move to food and drinks served at the reception. The selection of the venue, its decoration, catering equipment, and the overall quality of catering services will start flowing from mouth to mouth. Some will sniff the raw meat, and others will kick up a fuss about toasting without ice.

The same will happen in the aftermath of a business reception. Following some introductory comments on the speeches delivered, words will spread about the catering services. Maybe the quaint hotel was an excellent choice as the event venue, yet the catering equipment used was poor with filthy food display cases and melting ice bins. The quality of the catering will invariably attract many positive or negative comments from the attendants. Therefore, it would be fair to note that catering equipment and supplies mark the difference between a successful event and a flop. 

Why Do You Need Exclusive Catering Equipment?

Delivery of food and services either on-site or away from your premises was a luxury reserved for the wealthy. Yet, as the middle class expands worldwide, catered events such as corporate meetings, graduation parties, and wedding celebrations are increasingly becoming popular. As the catering industry grows, it’s evolving into a more versatile form, with all the event planning expected from the catering company. A little creativity, talented chefs, and, of course, carefully-selected high-quality catering equipment can help you organize fairytale-like post-elopement parties or host memorable bridal showers.

Electric Hot Food Serving Counter, Cadco - Catering Equipment- Chef's Deal

Catering has lured many restaurants, hotels, and bar operators into buying catering equipment and supplies. Catering helps facilities in the foodservice and hospitality industry to reach customers fast, and a well-organized catering can ensure a steady revenue stream for restaurants or hotels. If you know how to please crowds, even one catering event can boost your market recognition. Catering gives you a great opportunity of advertising your culinary delights and services. Considering how words spread after special events, a jaw-dropping catering performance means promoting your products without spending extra bucks on the advertisement.

Catering is a lucrative business also for entrepreneurs. If you love food and rejoice in creating blissful faces, catering can be promising for you. The market size of the catering industry has exceeded 15 billion dollars, with approximately 140,000 caterers in the US. The increasing urban population in America and their busy lifestyle are primary positive factors influencing the market growth. Most companies in the industry have their catering equipment and vehicles to prepare food off-premises and transport it to event venues. Especially demands from conference planning, trade shows, and business luncheons seem to contribute to more upward trends in event-based food services.

People in cities crave staggering organizations when they throw a birthday party, graduation ceremony, or baby shower. However, they don’t want to worry about all the planning. Plus, their hectic life is already a considerable challenge. If you manage to host a mind-blowing event, people will be grateful to you. You can leave guests hypnotic with palatable food provided with premium catering equipment. Besides social events, the professional world is also a significant growth opportunity for the catering industry. More and more corporations are contracting on-the-go foods providers as dining in the office becomes popular.

7 Types Of Catering Equipment

When Robert Bogle pioneered the professionalization of the catering industry in 1840, he started an encouraging trend. First, restaurants added mobile food services to showcase their signature dishes in social events. Then, independent catering specialists followed in their footsteps, and today, full-service catering companies benefit from advanced catering equipment and supplies. They agree to take on all the tasks involved in event hosting, from cooking and transporting food to designing a dashing décor in the event venue.

Portable Bar Unit, FWE

Have you captured a niche in the catering market? If you’re already in the foodservice business, you’ve decided to take a leap and grow your restaurant by serving off-site events. Then, the first thing you need to consider is a complete set of catering equipment. Once you do that, you’re ready to contribute to the most memorable day of newlyweds or share the excitement of college graduates by catering their events. A catering menu with unique flavors isn’t enough for a successful organization. You can combine inspiring menus with professional service with cooking and catering equipment innovations.

The type and number of catering equipment will vary according to the volume of cooking needed, number of guests, and venue. You may, of course, start with some essential equipment and then get more as you grow your business. There are some items which you might consider renting rather than buying. You can also purchase specific pieces of catering equipment each time you make a contract. However, purchasing such items in bulk can be less costly with a financing plan if you have storage space. Here is a checklist of the catering equipment you will need in this profitable business.

1. Transport – The Backbone Of Catering Equipment

Caterers primarily deliver pre-cooked foods at distant locations. When outfitting your premises with catering equipment, you’ll first need vehicles to carry everything to the event venue. Once you arrive at the site, you’ll need equipment to transfer food between stations. The correct selection of transport supplies is the heart of the catering business. There are two significant concerns: food safety and temperature. Certain food items can be highly prone to spoilage. Plus, all the guests will naturally wish to eat hot food hot, and cold things cold.

Cooking cart, Lakeside - Catering Equipment- Chef's Deal

Your transport supplies will also carry silverware and glassware. These items can be very delicate, too. Who would like to open utensil boxes and see all the plates and glasses shattered into pieces? Transport equipment should be well-insulated to ensure peace of mind about these critical issues. Given the hustle and bustle during the event, your commercial kitchen equipment will be subject to dumps and crashes. Therefore, all transport supplies should be remarkably durable. Your top priority is a commercial vehicle to accommodate all your catering equipment. You’ll then need the following to transport food and tools to their destination:

  • Insulated Food And Beverage Carriers: Hot food boxes or food carriers are the centerpieces of this category because they hold food at safe temperatures for transport. They also help keep food hot until mealtime.
  • Dinnerware Storage and Transport: You’ll need utensil holders, flatware organizers, bus tubes, and bus boxes to carry and hold your dinnerware. It’s advisable to choose lighter items with handles for ease of transport.
  • Trucks and Dollies: Hand trucks, utility dollies, platform trucks, and the like are among the catering equipment that streamlines the movement of oversized and heavy items during the catered event.
  • Commercial Carts: Cooking, food prep, serving, beverage, or other carts increase the mobility of items and operations in the event location.
  • Storage Racks: You can hold your utensils within the easy reach of staff in an organized way with portable racks for your trays, plates, pots, pans, and more.

2. Food Holding and Warming Equipment

Once you carry all your food and catering equipment to the event location, it’s crucial to keep hot-served items at ideal temperatures. Cooked food can quickly lose heat during transportation. If the event is outdoors, heat loss will be even faster. Equipment to reheat the food and hold it warm is essential for the overall success of your catering service. Equipment in this category also helps you display and serve your food items and create an eye-catching look for the guests. Therefore, the lighting of the interior and portability matter.         

 Heated Cabinet, Mobile, FWE PHTT-10-CV - Catering EQuipment | Chef's Deal
  • Countertop Warmers And Display Cases: Bain Marie heaters are almost synonymous with catering, so your catering equipment will be incomplete without them. You can create excellent self-serve stations with buffet warmers and serve soup hot with soup kettles.
  • Holding Cabinets: Heated cabinets and proofers of different sizes and styles can keep especially your pastry and pizza boxes hot until you start serving them.
  • Steam Tables And Food Wells: With hot food serving counters, you can keep and serve food hot on the go, creating an attractive display.

3. Cooking Equipment

Catering has evolved into an art. Catering artists are expected to create beautiful decors, arrange dining tables in a way to encourage warm talks, and, of course, cook mouthwatering foods. Often customers will ask you to cook food off-site to serve everything hot and fresh. The appetizing aromatic smell of grilled meat or baking pastry will be tempting for guests. Your chefs will have an excellent opportunity to exhibit their artistic culinary craft. In choosing the catering equipment of this category, suitability for outdoor use and portability should be your priorities.

Gas Restaurant Range, Comstock-Castle, 60''
  • Commercial Ranges: Any catering equipment should be as compact and multi-functional as possible. Most ranges are designed with a griddle to boil, steam, sauté, bake, and grill food on the same unit.
  • Commercial Grills: The best way to satisfy mouths, eyes, and noses in an outdoor event is to cook with grills. Meat sizzling on BBQ grills would hypnotize guests.
  • Gyro Machines: Even the image of slowly rotating meat on a rod is enough to please crowds of all sizes. As the smell of gyros spread, you can be sure that you’ll have many loyal customers.
  • Induction Cooktops And Cookers: These compact and portable cookers are ideal for any catered event. They don’t create ambient heat, so they are suitable for indoor organizations, too.
  • Combo Kitchens: You won’t need more than a kitchenette for events with fewer guests. A combo kitchen housing a freezer, range, sink, and storage areas can save the day.

(You can also take a look at our blog posts about essential restaurant cooking equipment and commercial kitchen ovens for detailed information about cooking equipment.)

4. Beverage Equipment

Gaggia Espresso Machine, 3 Groups - Catering Equipment | Chef's Deal

Toasting is a long-established American tradition. You should have suitable catering equipment to fill all the glasses before the first toast is proposed at a wedding reception. Most attendees will want to quench their thirst the moment they arrive at the event venue, whatever the occasion is. Plus, everybody would expect the relief of coffee or tea after eating to comfort their nerves, muscles, and minds. Therefore, hot and cold beverage supplies should be on your truck, too, before you head for the event location.

  • Coffee Brewers, Espresso Machines, Tea/Coffee Dispensers, And Juicers
  • Bar equipment for holding, displaying, and serving cold drinks

5. Ice Machines and Transport Supplies

Ice Maker-Water Dispenser, Hoshizaki, DCM-751BWH-OS

The trick to creating happy faces in an event with delightful and refreshing drinks is ice. Commercial ice machines are indispensable pieces of catering equipment. You can size your ice machines based on the daily production and storage volumes you might need for different organizations. With ice and beverage dispensers, you can let guests easily reach and self-serve ice in their drinks whenever they want. You can also get portable ice bins and ice caddies to accelerate and mobilize the ice delivery. Sturdy construction and insulation should be your top consideration in buying your ice equipment.

(You can read our commercial ice machines article for more details.)

6. Commercial Refrigeration Equipment

When launching a new catering business, you need to consider everything necessary to set up a commercial kitchen. Some catering equipment is always on the stage, attracting hungry eyes with the food they cook or display. You may not often have to carry your refrigerators to the event location, but you can’t serve good food without them. Depending on the volumes of food you need to store cold and frozen, you can have reach-ins, walk-ins, and bar refrigeration of various sizes. There is also refrigeration equipment you can use off-site. Portable refrigerated prep tables help you keep ingredients at safe temperatures while preparing customized sandwiches, pizzas, or salads.

7. Smallwares And Tabletops

Countertop Organizer Condiment Caddy, Nemco 9020

You’ve transported all the catering equipment, foods, and drinks to the event location. Now, you need to use your creativity to design an eye-opening look before the guests start flowing in. Tabletop supplies, smallwares, and decorations should be in place. It would help to have enough serving utensils to meet the demands of a high-paced event. Guests would be delighted to see the tables with neatly placed dinnerware, glassware, flatware, and paper napkin dispensers. With compact condiment holders and cold food well units, you can set up self-serve stations for your chilled treats.

Invest In Catering Equipment

The catering equipment list here cannot be all-inclusive. The type and number of catering equipment rest on the event you will cater to and the details of the contract you make with your customer. Food, its presentation, and serving can create an event dreamlike or ordinary. Carefully selected furniture and a dashing décor would also help plan an unforgettable organization. Therefore, what catering equipment you need is up to your creativity. One thing is sure, though. Catering is a rewarding business, so you can blindly invest in any equipment that might back you up on your way to becoming a professional caterer.

Other Related Articles:

  1. https://www.chefsdeal.com/blog/frozen-drink-machines
  2. https://www.chefsdeal.com/blog/commercial-bar-equipment-and-supplies
  3. https://www.chefsdeal.com/blog/walk-in-refrigeration-units

Ray Hunter has been on the content management team of Chef’s Deal since 2021. With a deep insight into foodservice equipment and content writing dynamics, Ray has produced informative content about equipment, methods, and trends in the industry. He focuses on generating category and product content and also blog posts that achieve a fine balance between SEO optimization and user-friendliness to reach and address commercial kitchen operators’ wide-ranging needs and queries. With a special interest in novel technologies used in food service machinery, Ray works vigorously to remain up-to-date about emerging market expectations and advancements addressing them.   

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