When hosting a party, food is often one of the greatest concerns for the host and the guests alike. When the food aspect goes bad, people will remember little else about the party. The type of food served and its presentation can have tongues wagging either positively or negatively long after the event. To create a positive impression on the guests, one should consider a buffet kind of serving presentation and must therefore learn how to use chafing dishes.
Chafing dishes (or chafers in short) can help keep food warm for a long period of time while not emitting so much heat as to cause the food to char. Food chafers are a great convenience since the guests not only have the flexibility of serving themselves without worrying about the food getting cold but they also get the opportunity to interact with other guests at the event. But knowing how to use chafing dishes correctly will ensure you make maximize of this great piece of kitchen ware.
The first step in learning how to use chafing dishes is to familiarize oneself with the components and structure of the dish. All food chafers are made up of 3 basic components – the flame, the water compartment (or pan) and the cover or lid. The water pan holds the hot water that is used to warm the food indirectly in form of steam. That way, the food can retain the same level of warmth from the start of the party to the end.
The next step on how to use chafing dishes is setting up the chafing dish. The dish should always be placed on a flat surface to ensure its stability. Put hot water into the water pan until it is about 2 inches or A� full. You should always ensure that the water compartment has adequate water as long as the heat source is on to prevent equipment damage and to also prevent the food from charring.
The next step is to fix the sterno burners in their rightful place, at the round openings located in between the ‘legs’ of the unit. If the dish does not have a slot to hold up the burners, use a sheet pan to hold them up instead. This protects the surfaces on which the burners are placed.
Once the burners are in their correct position, you can now light them. Use the food chafers manufacturer’s specific instructions to make sure you regulate the heat correctly. The ideal is to use medium intensity. Alcohol burners usually have a wick that is pushed in or pulled out to adjust the heat while the modern sterno burners usually have lids that are used to regulate heat by either opening or closing. With the heat source on, you can now place the food pan in its proper place on top of the water compartment.
When you learn how to use chafing dishes well, they can be that silent but invaluable enabler of your successful house parties.