Top 10 Essential Catering Equipment

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Whether you're catering an outdoor wedding or indoor corporate event, there are certain catering supplies you’ll consistently use because they are versatile and functional. Since every catering event requires a lot of planning, it can be challenging to keep track of all of your equipment. This is why we created a list of the most essential catering equipment to keep on hand to ensure you're ready for any event.

1. Commercial Catering Vehicle

The most popular type of catering vehicle is a cargo van. It typically has plenty of space for kitchen equipment, tables, and food storage. When shopping for a catering vehicle, keep in mind how much space you need. The size of your vehicle will depend on the equipment you are taking and if you need space for staff. Before making a purchase, research the permits you will need to operate this type of commercial vehicle.

2. Insulated Food Pan Carriers

When catering an off-site event, you should consider transporting ready-to-eat dishes in insulated food pan carriers. These food pan carriers guarantee your food stays hot or cold for several hours. The last thing you want is to serve cold and flavorless food. Caterers love food carriers because they can fit pans of different sizes and many can be stacked on top of each other, making it easy to transport numerous meals to events.

3. Countertop Induction Cookers

Nowadays, there is a big trend amongst caterers to set up chef action stations to show guests how the food is cooked. Action stations add an element of showmanship to presentations and allow you to show off your skills to customers. With countertop induction cookers, you can set up a cooking station in no time and prepare food at lightning speed. Not to mention, these cookers also come in handy when your venue doesn’t have a kitchen.

4. Chafers & Chafing Dishes

Chafing dishes and catering go hand in hand because they are the go-to containers for serving and presenting prepared food. Pair chafing dishes with chafing fuel to ensure hot foods remain at the right temperature throughout the event. There are reusable chafing dishes made from stainless steel, and disposable chafing dishes made from aluminum foil. The material you choose should depend on the level of formality your event calls for. There are a variety of sizes for different portions or dish types. Chafing dishes are also stackable and some come with lids for easy transport.

5. Tables/Chairs/Tablecloths

When catering events, you will likely need to provide clients with tables, chairs, and tablecloths. Table settings need to be functional and should also be decorated and appropriate to the event. The type of event you're catering greatly influences the table settings you need to provide. For example, knowing the number of guests attending will determine how much seating you need, and the type of tables you use depends on whether the event takes place indoors or outdoors.

6. Serving Equipment

One of the most important tools in the catering industry is serving equipment. Having all the right serving equipment ensures that your staff has everything they need to efficiently serve guests. Here are some examples of serving equipment you should always keep handy:

7. Hand Truck

While hand trucks may not be the first item that comes up when you think of catering, you will be thankful for having one when packing up large items. As a caterer, you will find yourself transporting heavy loads of food or seating equipment. With a hand truck, the attached wheels distribute the weight of heavy objects, making it easier and more comfortable to transport oversized supplies.

8. Dinnerware

There are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right type of dinnerware for an event. No matter what kind of dinnerware you choose, make sure their design matches the theme of your event and that they are of good quality. Plates and eating utensils that you’ll be reusing should be strong and sturdy to ensure they don’t easily crack or chip. Disposable dinnerware is excellent for informal or large events to make cleanup easier.

9. Outdoor Coolers

Whether you're catering an indoor or outdoor event, you will want to have an outdoor cooler if you don't have access to refrigeration or need to transport food. Industrial outdoor coolers are heavily insulated, and some are designed to keep ice frozen for days. You can keep your beverages cooled or keep premade foods chilled to preserve their freshness. Industrial coolers are more spacious than your typical coolers and stay tightly sealed in the face of harsh weather.

10. Insulated Beverage Dispensers

When transporting hot or cold drinks, you’ll need insulated beverage dispensers to keep drinks at a constant temperature. Plus, they make setting up beverage stations and serving guests much easier. Keeping beverages at the right temperature is critical, and the type of drink you serve should help determine which dispenser you decide to purchase. For example, if serving coffee at an event, you’ll want to have coffee airpots or coffee chafer urns.

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