TSSU vs. TPP vs. TFP: Choosing a True Prep Table
The naming convention for True prep tables can be a bit confusing since TSSU, TPP, and TFP all sound very similar. In general, the stations are named after what they're designed to accommodate. TSSU stands for True Salad/Sandwich Unit, TPP stands for True Pizza Prep, and TFP stands for True Food Prep. Since efficiency ultimately lowers operation costs, it's important to find the right True food prep table for your business. This guide will help you sort through the different types and specifications of True prep tables so that you can select the most efficient one for your concept.
About True Prep Tables
The TPP has a deep prep space for large-diameter pizzas, while the other two models offer prep areas that are better suited for smaller items like sandwiches. However, all True prep tables have two main features: a refrigerated space to store ingredients and a cutting board that doubles as a prep area. This setup keeps food fresh while it's being prepared and saves space by integrating ingredient storage into the workspace. The tables also provide refrigerated storage space underneath the counter for whatever ingredients you need to keep on hand, including dressings, sauces, and other meal components. Refrigeration and food covers work in tandem to prevent spoilage, wilting, and potential bacteria buildup in food, which in turn enables you to serve your customers an appetizing and safe meal.
Prep Counter Depth
The most significant difference between the True sandwich prep table and the True pizza prep table is the depth of the cutting board prep space. Because the TPP is designed to be used for pizzas, it has a much deeper preparation surface than the sandwich tables. True sandwich prep tables typically have a prep surface around ten inches deep, while the pizza prep tables measure double that at about twenty inches.
The TFP line is the most recent line of True sandwich prep tables and typically parallels the TSSU in size. However, it is only available as a Megatop unit, which is a style of prep table with additional storage in the top compartment. All three lines feature a tough polyethylene cutting board that can easily be removed for cleaning.
Whether your business serves both pizza and sandwiches or has neither on the menu, consider what you'll be using the prep table for and what size cutting board you'll need for those products. Keep in mind that as your prep space grows, the size of the ingredient rail on the top of the unit will likely shrink.
Summary: Aim to match the prep counter depth to the product you'll be preparing. An oversized prep space may mean employees have limited access to ingredients in the top compartment.
The number of food pans you'll need to accommodate depends on your business. All True prep tables are built to fit standard-sized food pans and often include sixth-size pans, but most are adjustable to fit fourth- and half-size pans as well. More storage sounds good, but empty pans and empty space only serve to waste power. Stocking more food than you will use in the table will cause the unused portion to lose some of its freshness and potentially spoil. TSSU, TPP, and TFP units all come in a variety of sizes and depths, so calculate how many pans you expect to use during your busiest dayparts and get a table that matches.
You also need to look at the width of each unit. True's selection runs from a compact 27 inches to an expansive 119 inches, with different options for total food pan storage, small appliance space, and cutting board dimensions.
As a side note, many True food prep tables have extra space at one end because their pan rails don't run the full length of the table. This space gives you room to store dry materials or small appliances, such as a panini press.
Summary: Estimate how much space you will actually use during a particular daypart. More is not always better in this case.
Cold-wall or Forced-air Cooling?
True units always use one of these two technologies to keep products above the table cool. Forced-air cooling distributes chilled air across the products, wicking heat away and keeping food fresh. This method works best with light products like vegetables. Cold-wall technology is typically used in the True pizza prep tables because it is best suited for cooling dense products like meats and cheeses.
Summary: Get a forced-air unit for vegetables and lighter products. Get a cold-wall unit for denser products like cheeses or meats.
Door or Drawer Base?
True offers both door and drawer configurations for the refrigerated base. The drawers fit standard food pans and enable the operator to easily replace empty food pans from the top section without losing valuable time. Door configurations offer adjustable shelves that fit large or bulky items, such as jars of sauce or dressings. Some models offer a combination of doors and drawers for operations that could use both.
Summary: Drawers enable you to store extra food pans, while doors give you shelves for jars, bottles, or other necessary items.
Air Intake and Exhaust?
The best air intake and exhaust system for your kitchen depends on where you're going to put your prep unit. If you know you'll have room to vent on the back or either side, the system won't make much difference. However, if your prep table is going to be pressed into a corner without room for ventilation, make sure you choose a front-venting model.
Summary: If the table will be tucked in a corner or surrounded by other equipment, get a front-venting unit. Otherwise, any system will work.
Refrigerated foods on a prep table need to be covered so that they maintain an appropriate temperature. True offers sliding or lift-up covers on its prep tables. Sliding covers are best used in front-of-house preparation so that your customers can watch their food being prepared. Lift-up covers would obscure the view, so they are best used in back-of-house settings where customers won't be watching. Some units are available with see-through, lift-up cover options.
Summary: If you're going to put the table out front where the customers can watch, get sliding covers. If not, go with lift up.
True pizza prep tables can be equipped with overshelves that are large enough to hold a pizza. This setup is handy in getting the finished product to the customer or for letting a pizza cool before serving it.
Summary: If you want overshelves, look at the TPP units.
Which Prep Table Should You Buy?
True's three lines of food prep tables are similar in many ways, but each has different sizes and options. The TPP line is designed for preparing pizzas, so if you're a pizza place, the TPP is probably the way to go. Its deep cutting board, optional overshelves, and optional topping catcher accessories make preparing pizza quicker and easier than it would be with other models.
On the other hand, if you aren't preparing large items like pizzas, the TFP or TSSU will serve you best. The narrower preparation surface/cutting board leaves more ingredient space in a smaller table. Although the TFP and TSSU are very similar, the TFP is taller and only comes with the Megatop option, which has space for three pans on top instead of two. If you're working with small food items on a budget, the TSSU is probably the best table for you.
Summary: If you're preparing larger items or want extra workspace, look at the True Pizza Prep (TPP) units. If prep space isn't an issue, consider a True Salad/Sandwich Unit (TSSU) or True Food Prep (TFP) unit instead.