As you shop for new equipment in this category, there are few things you should keep in mind that will help guide your selection. First, decide how many pieces of equipment you'll want to use on top of your chef base, then add the dimensions of those together to get a rough idea of how wide you need your new equipment to be. Then, determine what foods and ingredients you'll want to store in the compartment beneath the worktop unit. Finally, decide exactly where in your kitchen you'll install the cabinet.
To do its job effectively, the refrigeration system must have ample room to breathe, and should not be obstructed by outside objects. Different models intake and exhaust air from different locations. Because you'll probably have one specific location in mind for installing your new equipment, it's important to pay attention to the location of the refrigeration system, as well as its air intake and exhaust vents. Make sure those areas will have plenty of clearance to provide sufficient air flow, which will keep the unit holding proper temperatures and extend its useful life.
- Side-mounted compressors circulate air from either the left or right side of the unit and are good when your equipment will be installed at the end of a lineup, where no other equipment will be installed next to it.
- Center-mounted compressors are located right in the middle of the equipment, with air intake and exaust through a split vent in the front. They're good in close quarters, where the unit will be surrounded on three sides with other equipment or walls.
- Back-mounted compressors are situated in the rear of the unit, and should only be installed with plenty of clearance from walls and equipment behind the unit. Most manufacturers recommend at least 6 inches of space, but check spec sheets for more in-depth advice.
Independent Temperature Controls
For maximum adaptability or if you need to be able to thaw foods before cooking, choose a refrigerated chef base with independent temperature controls. This feature lets you easily switch each compartment between cooling and freezing, so you can change your equipment's function as your needs change. This is especially helpful if your menu changes, and you find yourself cooking different types of foods from month to month or season to season. It's also great for kitchens that cook a lot of frozen foods as they can be used to hold, then safely slack those items so they're ready to use.
A marine edge is the raised edge of a countertop that's designed to contain liquid, keeping it off the floor and helping you maintain a safe, sanitary work environment. They're available on many types of restaurant equipment, and they're especially useful if you're prepping a lot of foods with natural juices that tend to make a mess.
HACCP Record Keeping
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a set of guidelines that aims to help foodservice professionals decrease the risk of foodborne illnesses and injuries. Many local and state governments are beginning to introduce HACCP guidelines into the laws concerning restaurant regulation, and some of the guidelines include keeping a record of the temperatures that food is stored at, keeping a log and making it easy to identify when food may have entered the 'danger zone' where foodborne pathogens might develop. If your business is required to keep such records, or if you want to be prepared for future changes, select a chef base with automatic HACCP record keeping technology.