The Many Benefits of Plate Retherm

Content sponsored by: Alto-Shaam

What if a foodservice operation could ensure food quality, consistency and the exact portions needed while increasing speed of service using less labor?

These are the many benefits of plate retherm, which is a controlled process of producing food, chilling, plating and retherming that reduces mistakes, staffing and food costs.

chef Rocky RockwellChef Rocky Rockwell

“With plate retherm, food is cooked and chilled exactly how it will be served,” says Rocky Rockwell, corporate chef at Alto-Shaam, Inc. “For example, barbecue salmon is seasoned and seared, then cooked in a combi oven and blast chilled to stop the cooking process and lock in the flavor. It is then brought back to temperature by retherming prior to serving, just like it was cooked fresh.”

The food quality, including its appearance, flavor and texture, is identical to a meal that’s created, cooked and served immediately.

Less Labor Required

When there is downtime in a catering or restaurant operation, it is the perfect opportunity to cook, chill and plate food for banquet events. Not only does this reduce the number of trained cooks needed, but the entire staff can be involved in the process as well.

Consequently, the plate retherm process — also known as a cook-chill process — promotes a team mentality in the kitchen with staff working together to efficiently plate meals during off hours.

With the plate retherm process, there is less stress on the staff because all of the work happens ahead of time. Portions are perfect since the hectic task of splitting food for different plate-up lines is eliminated.

“With plate retherm, instead of one person taking 45 minutes every day to prepare plates, a team of people can take an hour and a half on one day to make meals for the week,” says Rockwell. “It saves time, ensures the food will be ready when needed — and the amount of stress it takes off the staff is immeasurable. Plate retherm completely changes the climate in the kitchen.”

The process includes Alto-Shaam’s fully integrated rack management system. Food is first cooked in Alto-Shaam’s CT PROformance Combitherm oven, which saves time due to more effective use of labor. Operators can steam, bake, roast or poach in bulk with a roll-in pan cart and a programmable option that simplifies cooking to the push of one button. Food is then rolled into the Alto-Shaam Quickchiller blast chiller to rapidly chill before rolling into the walk-in cooler. When it’s time to serve, Alto-Shaam’s CT PROformance retherms plated meals to proper serving temperatures in minutes without drying, overcooking or leaving condensation on the plates. The plated meals are rolled directly into a companion warmer that holds food at a precise temperature until service. It doesn’t matter if photos run late or a speaker exceeds the time limit — the food will be warm and ready. 

Time-Saving Systems

Time and labor savings are the hallmark of an efficiently run commercial kitchen and the biggest benefits of rack management systems.

Alto-Shaam racks are interchangeable and are designed for high-volume food production. The system utilizes roll-in carts to transfer pans or plates of food from station to station.

“With these systems, pans of food don’t need transferring to different carts, which is extremely time-consuming,” says Rockwell. “Instead of spending half the day moving pans back and forth, rack management systems roll right into the next piece of equipment, which reduces labor costs and stress on the staff while ensuring food safety with less pan handling.”

Alto-Shaam’s Halo Heat roll-in warming cabinet accommodates up to 480 pounds of food in 40 full-sized hotel pans or 10 sheet pans. Working seamlessly with Combitherm racks, the warmers keep food hot and fresh with gentle heat and no added moisture. The interchangeable design also allows for integrated rack management or plated retherm.

Cost Savings

Foodservice operations also can save money with the plate retherm process, which significantly reduces the 10 percent to 15 percent of extra food typically factored into the catering count due to inaccurate portioning.

“Preparing more food to accommodate over-portioning adds to the food cost budget each time,” says Rockwell. “Plate retherm provides the ability to hold food for up to four days, so operators can focus on garnishing or upselling plates that are already perfectly cooked and ready to go.”

Instances of over- and under-portioning in banquet situations are eliminated since plate retherm ensures consistency and uniformity for all meals. This results in higher customer satisfaction, the goal of any foodservice operation.


With food, labor and energy costs on the rise, Alto-Shaam provides versatile, consistent and efficient system solutions that are essential to profitable foodservice operations around the globe. Experience a Taste of Alto-Shaam. Schedule a demo today.

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