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What is a Hot Cupboard?

By Janis Adams
Updated May 16, 2024
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Keeping food that is freshly cooked and warm is often a difficult task for a chef, so hot cupboards were developed. A hot cupboard is a heated storage unit that allows food to be kept at the right serving temperature while maintaining healthy safety standards. A hot cupboard prevents food from cooking further, though it is still kept warm, and it aids in keeping food at a consistent temperature so that bacteria does not develop.

There are many different types and sizes of hot cupboards. Sizes and styles vary largely depending on intended use of a hot cupboard and if it will be moved from place to place, like those used by caterers, or will basically remain stationary, as those used by restaurants would be. A hot cupboard is measured by not only traditional standards of length and width but also the number of heated dishes that it will hold. Hot cupboards are used not only for the storage of a prepared meal, but they are also used to store dishes so that the food can be set on a pre-warmed dish.

Many a hot cupboard will come with removable shelves, as it makes it easier for the cook to place and removed dishes. It also makes it more convenient for storing large foods such as an entire turkey or a tray of food rather than simply just plated meals. A hot cupboard may also feature castors, which are lockable so that the hot cupboard can be firmly stationed. A push bar is often an option on many varieties as well so that it can be moved to make serving easier. Some push bars are removable, providing additional serviceability.

While some hot cupboards appear just as one would imagine, like a cupboard, there are those with heating lamps that shine above an open warming tray for food. The traditional hot cupboard would then be beneath the warming tray. These warming trays can be plain top, with only the heating lamps providing warmth, or they can be dry well heated. Hot cupboards are often used for buffets in restaurants, and they are a handy appliance for those who run catering businesses, as many clients do not have adequate provisions for keeping the catered food selections warm and ready for guests. For cooking and serving large numbers of meals, hot cupboards are a handy device.

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