Salad, Sandwich, & Pizza Prep Tables Buyers' Guide
Food prep tables are a necessity for any foodservice operation that needs to assemble its final products. All food prep tables come equipped with a refrigerated base and a flat workspace area, removable cutting board, and cold pan storage section on top, but which type of table you get will depend on what you need to prepare. Whether your menu calls for an assortment of pizzas or a variety of salads and specialty sandwiches, KaTom will have the right style and size food prep table to fit your needs.
Food prep tables are divided into two main categories: salad and sandwich prep tables and pizza prep tables. Because salads and sandwiches can be prepared in a smaller area, the width of these types of prep tables can range from 27 inches to 72 inches, and they can have a cutting board depth of 8 inches to 20 inches. However, pizza prep tables, which are designed to let pizzas slide from one end of the workspace to the other, can be between 44 and 119 inches wide, with cutting board depths ranging from 16 to 20 inches.
The refrigerated base on a prep table is designed to keep additional ingredients cold for extended periods of time. Bases come equipped with doors or drawers, or a mix of the two. Storage areas with doors are equipped with adjustable wire shelving, which can allow you to keep jars of toppings, jugs of dressing, and other packaged products nearby. Bases with drawers are only designed to hold extra food pans to replenish what gets used up in the assembly area, which can be a time-saving asset during peak business hours.
The cold storage area behind the prep table's workspace is designed to hold the food pans that employees will pull from when assembling food and can have one or two rows. Generally, these are configured to hold a certain number of 1/6-size food pans, but can be configured to hold other size pans as well. The number of pans that will fit in the cold storage area depends on the size of the unit and can range anywhere from eight to 30. Choosing a mega-top unit will allow you to fit a third row of pans in the cold storage area, but will also cost you a few inches of cutting board depth.
Most prep tables utilize self-contained refrigeration systems and will be able to store ingredients at temperatures between 33 and 41 degrees F. These refrigeration systems can be side-, front-, or rear-mounted, so you'll need to consider how that will impact the equipment's placement in your kitchen. For example, a side-mounted system may not be able to be placed beside other equipment or flush against a wall, while front-mounted systems can expel hot air against the legs of kitchen staff. When placing your prep table, also consider the necessary electrical connections and vertical clearance needed for the cold storage space lids to properly open.
Many prep tables are constructed from stainless steel, but might also have galvanized steel, aluminum, or ABS plastic parts. This equipment might also be mounted on casters that make them easier to move, either for cleaning or rearrangement.