This equipment is available in a number of variations. Countertop versions can be placed on virtually any worktop where there is space that has an appropriate power supply. Work tables and counters can easily be transformed into stations with these models. The basic construction of a countertop model is a carving board and an integral heat lamp mounted a foot or so off the food area. Some include two lamps, and some have a heated base. They may have legs or they may simply have rubber feet. Many offer a drip pan or a drip trough to collect juices as they run off from the meat.
Drop-in units can offer a streamlined appearance to your serving line. They sit flush with the counter and provide a more comfortable working height for the operator. These may be added to a chef's table or a buffet without taking up much extra space.
Floor model units come mounted on stands made of aluminum or wood and often include casters, making your prime rib carving station easily mobile. They allow you to change up your presentation for different dayparts or days. That means you can carve fresh roast beef at the front of your line for lunch sandwiches, then move the station to end of the line to serve prime rib at dinner.
Number of Lamps
You may opt for one lamp for heating a single slab of meat or two for keeping multiple meats warm or for keeping different cuts at two different temperatures.
When choosing the appropriate station for your needs, it is important to consider which material you'd like your board to be made of. Wood boards are long lasting and easy on your knives. Maple is the recommended wood for cutting boards because it is soft but durable. While bamboo is an eco-friendly choice, it is harder than maple and may dull your knives more quickly. Composite boards are easier on knives and tend to be less expensive, but they may leave residue behind. Stone carving boards can be temperature controlled and provide a fashionable finish to your display. Stone would also provide an added benefit in that it can convert to a cold station for cold roast beef and dessert items. Stone, however, is a hard surface and can quickly dull your knives.
- Adjustable heat lamps allow you to place the heat source just where you need it, depending on the type and size of the dish you're using it with. They generally come on flexible arms and are available in a variety of finishes, such as nickel, brass, and aluminum.
- A heated carving area will allow you to keep meat warm on the top and the bottom. While heat lamps do keep the surface of the meat warm, heated carving stations underneath can potentially warm thicker meat all the way through—a feat heat lamps can't tackle alone.
- Decorative carving stations can prove to be the focal point of any buffet and make a nice addition when catering weddings or other formal events. They gain their fashionable appearance through the use of decorative finishes on the heat lamps, stone cutting boards, and upscale trim.
- Most carving stations have drip trays that prevent juices from running all over the station. These are often removable for easy cleaning.
- A meat spike will help prevent meat products from sliding across the carving station, making it easier slice and avoiding wasted food and messes.
- Infrared lamps emit intense heat to help keep thick cuts of meat warm and ready to serve.