How to Use Chafers When Catering Thanksgiving Dinner
If you are a restaurateur, chances are that you are considering staying open on Thanksgiving to take advantage of the opportunity to get lots of extra business. Some restaurants will open their seating areas, while others will only supply food for catering to keep costs down. If you plan on catering a Thanksgiving dinner, then you will need to keep the food hot and that can be done successfully using chafers. Here are some important facts you should know about using chafers.
Keep the Food Warm
The main purpose of a chafer is to keep the catered food warm. This is essential because Thanksgiving gatherings tend to be long and if you are catering a party, it can be even longer. Certain food items, such as turkey, can cool down quickly if not heated properly and if this happens, it will not taste good, leaving you with disappointed customers. That is why so many caterers use chafers. They are simple to use and can be placed out of the way, yet still keep the food at the desired temperature.
Keeping the food you cater for Thanksgiving dinner is not only a matter of taste; it is also a matter of safety. Even after the turkey and sides are already cooked, they are at risk of developing bacteria once they enter the “danger zone” which is anywhere between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower range applies to refrigerated items whereas the higher range is for hot items, such as those that you will be serving to your guests. Using a chafer allows you to ensure that the food will remain out of this danger zone and keep an internal temperature of close to around 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is ideal for poultry.
How to Use a Chafer
If your restaurant has not catered a meal before, or even if it has, it is important to review the proper use of chafers before catering Thanksgiving dinner. If you do not use your chafer correctly, the food may cool down too much or burn, or even worse, you can create a potential fire hazard. First, you should always place the chafer on a level surface, away from flammable objects. Second, open the fuel tin and place it in the correct location beneath the chafer. Before lighting the chafer, you should always make sure there is liquid inside, preferably an inch of water. You can then light the flame and put the food inside the water pan, making sure not to spill any water. Always use the food pan that comes with the chafer.
Buffet or Service
When most people think of using chafers for catering Thanksgiving dinner, they will picture lining them up in a buffet setting. However, it is always important to ask your client how they want their buffet service. Some will prefer a buffet where guests can choose what they want; others will prefer a service buffet where each guest walks down the buffet line and tells the staff what foods they want; yet others want a full-service sit down meal. If this is the case, the chafers can be placed out of sight in another room, and be used to keep the food at the right serving temperature until the guests are ready to be served their Thanksgiving meal.
If your staff is not familiar with using chafers, you should always review some safety guidelines with them to avoid accidents. Advise them that the area under the lid can get very warm so they should always open it away from guests to prevent burns. When using a chafing pan, it is important to distribute the food evenly and stir it occasionally, just like one would do in stove top cooking. If your staff is not careful about this, the food can accidentally become burned. It is also crucial to make sure that there is always water in the larger chafing pan as this prevents damage to the metal, as well as to the food. When used correctly, chafers are a great way to ensure that the Thanksgiving party you are catering goes smoothly and the food inside stays safe, warm and most of all, delicious.