Chef Bases Buyers' Guide
A chef base is an ideal addition for virtually any foodservice operator who wants to create a better work flow for kitchen staff. The refrigerated equipment stand is designed to hold equipment on its heavy-duty worktop counter, which is attached to a base with refrigerated drawers for holding chilled products and ingredients. This setup makes it easy to keep cold ingredients properly stored and conveniently available for use, rather than leaving them out at potentially unsafe temperatures. There are a number of points to consider when deciding which chef base is right for your kitchen, including commonly available features, overall size and drawer capacity, and the placement of the unit's refrigeration system.
The interior construction of these units varies between stainless steel, aluminum, or ABS plastic, but the exterior, including the worktop, is usually constructed out of stainless steel. Because the worktops are so heavily used for food preparation, they come standard with a marine edge to contain any spilled liquid or juices. The chef base can be mounted on casters, which will make it easier to move the equipment around your facility, or on adjustable legs that help ensure your equipment stands are installed level and at the right height for the cooks using them.
Size and Drawers
Chef bases are available in widths ranging from 34 to 120 inches, but the size you need will depend on two major factors: what equipment you want to set on top and how much cold storage space you need. Refrigerated equipment stands can be used to hold griddles, charbroilers, fryers, and other cooking equipment. When planning what size chef base you need, account for your equipment's dimensions, as well as the clearances it might require on the sides for proper installation and use.
Drawers are included in every refrigerated base, but the unit's overall size dictates the number of drawers it has. Drawers are sized to accommodate full-size food pans that measure 12 by 20 inches, but accepted pan depth varies. Some drawers come standard with the ability to accept pans that are 6-inches deep, but others only accommodate 4-inch-deep pans.
Most refrigerated chef bases use a self-contained refrigeration system, but units with remote systems are available. You can read our in-depth look at the pros and cons of self-contained and remote refrigeration if you are unfamiliar with the two types.
The self-contained system on a refrigerated chef base will have each component built into the unit. Some models are front-breathing, which allows for flush installation against walls and neighboring equipment, but most will have a left- or right-mounted system and rear evaporator. These will require a certain amount of clearance between the side of the unit and adjoining equipment or cabinets. When making your purchase, it's important to consider the size of your chef base, the location of these parts, and any additional clearance the unit needs, which will help you avoid installation issues.