Refrigerated Prep Tables: An Overview

Although refrigerated prep table ratings are for 1/3-size pans, these units can hold different configurations of various pan sizes.

For many commercial kitchens refrigerated prep tables serve as a vital piece of foodservice equipment for ingredient production. Staff prep components for salads, sandwiches and pizzas and hold them in these units prior to meal assembly.

These units are generally classified into three table types. Sandwich prep tables have a flat top configuration where pan inserts are sized by the number of 1/3-size pans the units can accommodate. Mega-top units are similar to sandwich units, but have a larger top configuration that houses three 1/6-size pans from front to back. Pizza prep tables are larger with a bigger base and distinguished by an elevated pan platform. These units typically hold 1/3-size, 1/6-size, half or full pans front to back.

Sandwich and mega-top units typically include a 10-inch cutting board, while pizza prep tables provide between 17- and 19-inch cutting surfaces.

Although manufacturers offer a variety of prep table sizes, the most common dimensions are 27 to 28 inches wide in lengths of 3 to 6 feet.

The number of 1/3-size pans a unit can accommodate in the rail determines its capacity. For example, prep tables between 43 and 48 inches long can hold six 1/3 pans.

This equipment provides either forced-air cooling using one coil that cools the base and rail zone or wrapped-wall conductive cooling systems, which utilize copper lines wrapped around the tank or pan opening.

Refrigerated prep tables have a variety of finishes. While most units feature stainless steel exteriors on the sides and tops, the interiors may be aluminum, anodized aluminum or stainless steel.

Options include single and double overshelves, pull out drawers, crumb trays, exterior thermometers, door or drawer locks, double-sided cutting boards and sneeze guards for units used in the front of house.

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