They’re the unsung heroes of almost every foodservice business. While the big-ticket appliances typically get most of the attention, make no mistake. Prep tables are the engine rooms of an efficient commercial kitchen. Whether you’re slicing and dicing, storing and pouring, stacking and packing, plating up or wiping down, chances are your prep area will be right there in the thick of it all.
Of course, like most of the equipment in your kitchen, all prep tables are not created equal. So, what are the things to look for?
Safety and cleanliness is non-negotiable, your whole reputation depends on it. That means stainless steel is, by far, the best option. Not only does it offer the most hygienic and food safe working surface for a busy commercial kitchen, it’s also strong, durable and easy to clean. It’s reasonably lightweight too. Many modern prep tables also feature handy removable cutting boards which, again, helps with cleaning. Also, think carefully about where you’ll locate your prep tables. You want them to be easily-accessible – certainly not tucked away in a corner – but not too close to your cooking or washing areas.
There’s an amazing variety of prep tables available these days, offering a wide choice of shapes, sizes and storage configurations. Which is best for you will, likely, come down to the type of food you’re preparing. For example, will you need to store lots of produce and ingredients close to the work surface? What about utensils, plates and pans? How big does the cutting board area need to be? Do you require under-counter or display-style refrigeration, and if so, what will you need to keep there – and at what temperatures?
One thing almost every chef would love is more space! Choosing prep tables with under-table refrigeration and/or storage drawers can really help to optimise your available space. In certain kitchen layouts a free-standing model will be the ideal choice, while in others you may prefer a model that can be attached to an existing bench or piece of equipment. If versatility is important, you may want to consider models with castor wheels, allowing the prep table to be easily wheeled from position to position as required.
Just as the type of food you prepare is important, so is the volume. To avoid a constant state of chaos, you need enough prep space to efficiently and safely prepare what’s on your menu for each service – without getting in each other’s way or cross-contaminating courses. Think about how many customers you’ll be serving and how many kitchen staff are likely to be using the prep table area at once. Longer prep tables are generally a much better choice when you’ll have multiple employees working at the same time.
These are just some of things to look for in a modern prep table. If you’d like to explore the best options for your commercial kitchen, be sure to get in touch with one of the experts at True Refrigeration today.
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