Cooking carts come in a wide assortment of finishes and veneers, from colorful laminates to rich mahogany. Because some units have a more utilitarian appearance while others are more ornate, it is important to consider the function of the unit and its surroundings.
Induction cooktops are ideal for these carts because they do not heat the cooking surface or surrounding areas, only the cookware, thus reducing the likelihood of burns to observers and operators. These burners use electromagnets to stimulate iron molecules inside the cookware, creating heat to cook items. They cannot be used with aluminum, copper, or ceramic cookware; only induction-ready, steel or iron vessels.
Infrared burners, on the other hand, can be used with any sort of cookware, but they are less energy-efficient. These cooktops are the expected norm, so they may be more user-friendly than their counterparts. Their no-fuss design makes them suitable for cooking virtually anywhere.
Models with a flambe´ option provide the opportunity to impress your clients with show-stopping fare for such dishes as bananas foster, steak diane, and crêpes suzette. Bringing the added touch of fire to the tableside can make for an entertaining and interactive experience for your clientele.
Number of Burners
Carts vary in the number of burners they offer. A single-burner cart may be better for table-side demonstrations, while those with two or three burners may be better for omelet or stir-fry stations. Some single-burner units have a workspace beside the heat source, which gives the operator room to finish the dish before serving.
Carts typically have 5-inch casters that are made of polyurethane, chrome, or stainless steel. Often, at least two of the casters will have brakes, and most have quieting and non-skid qualities. Some models come with recessed casters for a sleeker look, but these can make moving the unit a bit more difficult if you have to go over different surfaces, like tile and carpet.
The heat source is a critical consideration when determining which cooking cart will best suit your needs. While electric models can provide more space underneath for storage, you must consider that you will need an outlet and cords will need to be moved out of the way or taped down to prevent tripping hazards. Gas units will need to have propane tanks placed underneath the cooktop. This will minimize storage capabilities, but the gas flame will allow for the flambé capability many chefs prefer.
- LED controls illuminate the cook and temperature functions of the unit.
- Down-draft systems help to remove grease, smoke, and particulates from the air. This helps to eliminate harmful vapors, odors, and unsavory residue that can accumulate since these units are not used underneath vents.
- Display shelves can add a certain flair to these carts. They provide added showcasing ability without taking up work space on the cart.
- Bottle holders keep condiments, sauces, and wine upright and in their place while in transit, then provide easy access while stationary.
- The work tops on these carts can come in a variety of looks and materials. Solid resin tops are heat resistant and easy to clean, as are stainless steel tops. Laminate and stone tops provide a more decorative look, but they may not be as user-friendly. Laminate tops can scratch and aren't as heat-resistant as stone. Stone, if not sealed properly, can stain over time. Stone tops can also make the carts more expensive. Some work tops will have built-in eutectic containers that will keep perishable items cool.