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Chafing Dishes

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    We cover everything you need to know about renting chafers, including setup, operation, and cleaning. If you have more questions, we’re always here to help.

    Keep your food hot and serve it in style with rented chafing dishes.

    If you do not know much about chafers, here is your opportunity to learn all about the variety of chafers available for rent. Although a rental store may not carry all types of chafers in its inventory, you probably will find one that will work for you. If not, do not be timid about asking the rental store if it would be willing to add a new chafer to its inventory to suit you.

    • Chafers. Rental chafers hold buffet food and keep it at the correct serving temperature. Chafers consist of a water basin, a heat source and a food pan. The heat source heats the water in the basin to create steam, which keeps the food in the food pan warm.
    • Heating element.Rental chafers usually run on solid fuel, liquid fuel or electricity. Disadvantages of using solid or liquid fuel as a heat source include having an open flame and possibly higher fuel costs. Whereas, electric chafers offer heat without a flame, but require an electrical source, which may not be available. They also have cords that could trip someone.
    • Lids. Generally, rental chafers have either a roll-top or a lift-off lid. When space is limited, roll-top lids tend to work best because they retract into the chafer allowing wedding guests to open the chafer and then serve themselves using one hand. They also allow people to serve themselves from both sides of the table. If the chafer has a lift-off lid, wedding guests need space on the buffet table to set down either the lid or their plates in order to serve themselves. Lid holders that attach to the chafer can provide a convenient place to put the lid.
    • Size. Full-size rectangular and round chafers usually hold 8 quarts of food, while smaller and half-size models hold 3 to 6 quarts.
    • Shape. Rental chafers come in a variety of shapes. Although the most common shape probably is rectangular or oblong, other shapes include round, oval, square and serpentine.
    • Material. Rental chafers can be made of a number of materials including silver, silver plate, stainless steel, copper, chrome or teakwood. Some rental chafers have accents in gold, brass or wood to create a two-tone effect. Others possess mirror finishes. Sometimes chafers have bases made of copper or wrought iron.
    • Food pan.This part of the chafer usually is stainless steel.
    • Accessories. Chafer accessories like dual pans for serving two dishes in one chafer, risers, wind guards, spoon rests and lid holders, make chafers more versatile in meeting individual needs.
    • Special chafer features. Some of the latest innovations in chafers include drip-free, induction and glass-lid models. Drip-free chafers catch condensation and return it to the water basin to prevent dripping. Induction chafers offer precise temperature control. Finally, chafers with glass lids allow diners to see what is inside without lifting the lid.

    Tips

    Before you use this equipment, please review the tips below and read all manufacturer warnings and instructions. Your local, ARA-affiliated rental store professional can provide you with complete instructions.

    • If your rental chafers use canned fuel, make sure that you stock up on enough of it to keep food warm as long as your wedding buffet lasts. One can of solid fuel usually lasts about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
    • If your rental chafers use an electric heating element, make sure all electrical cords are out of the way to prevent trips.
    • To keep your wedding buffet looking its best, remember to rent matching serving pieces, such as spoons, salad tongs, meat forks, ladles, etc., as well as matching coffee urns and soup or gravy chafers.
    • Rent extra food pans for your chafers to prevent holdups in the buffet line caused by people waiting for fresh food.
    • Rent risers to lift some chafers off the table, enhancing buffet presentation by offering some vertical relief to side-by-side chafers at one level.
    • Put food in rental chafers while it is still hot to keep food tasting its best.
    • Preheat the water in the chafer’s basin before adding food to the chafer. Otherwise, the food could get cold before the water gets hot enough to do its job.
    • To protect your table linens or serving surface, always rent an underlying tray when using rental chafers with burners.
    • Place stainless-steel food pans — without plastic or wooden handles — in holding ovens to keep food hot until time to place in rental chafers.
    • Use rental chafers to serve cold foods by filling their water pans with cold water.
    • To avoid rental damage fees, make sure to protect rented chafers from scratches during transport.

    Best practices

    Before you use this equipment, please review the tips below and read all manufacturer warnings and instructions. Your local, ARA-affiliated rental store professional can provide you with complete instructions.

    Canned-fuel chafer operation.

    • Use only canned fuel in a canned-fuel chafer burner.
    • Do not use rental chafer without water in the water pan. Be sure to fill the water pan before lighting the burner and always maintain sufficient water levels while using the burner.
    • For operation:
      • Fill the chafer’s water pan with hot water.
      • Pry open the lid of the canned-fuel container and place container in heat cup.
        WARNING Always attend an open flame.
      • Light fuel and adjust the lid of the heat cup so that it is about half open.
      • Use a low flame to maintain proper heat.
      • Check water pan during chafer use and add water as needed to maintain sufficient water level.

    Alcohol chafer operation.

    • Use only alcohol in the chafer burner unit.
    • Do not use lighter fluid, gasoline or kerosene in the burner unit.
    • Do not use rental chafer without water in the water pan.
    • Be sure to fill the water pan before lighting the burner and always maintain sufficient water levels while using the burner.
    • For operation:
      • Fill chafer’s water pan with hot water.
      • Fill chafer’s burner with alcohol, but do not overfill it. Wipe burner dry.
        WARNING Always attend an open flame.
      • Turn burner up to “full” and light.
      • Keep wick extended no more than ¼ inches to create a low flame sufficient for maintaining proper heat.
      • Check water pan during chafer use and add water as needed to maintain sufficient water level.

    To clean the chafer, scrape and wash food pans of rented chafers in lukewarm water using mild detergent. Never use harsh abrasives.

    Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products and services to meet your wedding chafer needs. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above.

    Event Food Service Rentals: Chafing Dishes, Cooking Equipment, Ice Cream/Frozen Drink