Tag Archives: food pans

Buying Guide: Food Pans and Layouts

Food pans are essential to the foodservice industry. They start in the food prep area then make their way to display in a steam table, hence their other name: Steam table pans. Each food pan manufacturer has different construction types and benefits to best fit your foodservice establishment.

Pan Sizes

There are a variety of food pan sizes to best fit your current table’s configuration which all depends on the types of food you are serving. In some instances, it is beneficial to use a full size pan, while in others, you may want to break things up and use multiple food pans in the same well. With Central’s selection, options are endless.

Below is a diagram to show the different food pan size offerings from Central:

Food Pan Sizes

When dividing up a steam table, you will need to use adapter bars. Adapter bars enhance the steam tables presentation but more importantly, eliminate gaps that may cause steam loss. They also reduce energy consumption.

Below is a diagram to show the different ways adapter bars can be used with multiple sizes of food pans in the same well:

Food Pan Sizes

Adapter Bar Key

Adapter Bar Color Key

  • Blue: 20″L — Model# 101-002
  • Red: 12″L — Model# 101-001
  • Green: T-Shaped — Model# 913-V17


From stainless steel gauges to reinforced corners, there are many factors to consider when shopping for a food pan.

Steel Gauges

Stainless Steel Gauges

When choosing a gauge size, keep one thing in mind: The lower the gauge number is, the thicker the steel will be. So, for instance, a 22 gauge food pan will be thicker than a 24 gauge. Foodservice operations that depend heavily on using food pans may want to consider a lower gauge for durability.

Pan Corner


If you have had to get a food pan out of a steam table before, you know at times it is not the easiest task. Many food pans now are “anti-jamming” or have a tapered or angled ramp on the corner for easy lifting. Others include coved corners for easy serving or pouring.

Pan Edge


Food pans with a flat edge will keep the pan tight in the well and promote easier handling with a larger gripping area.

Decorative Pans

Decorative Pans

Food pans are not just limited to rectangles and squares. Today, manufacturers have different shapes, such as Vollrath’s Super Pan® Super Shapes that are designed to fit in existing food pan wells but liven up the presentation with unique designs or shapes. These decorative food pans also have their own adapter bars.


There are many accessories you can add to your food pan purchase to make things easier or more efficient for staff that include:

Disposable Pan Liner
  • Wire grates: Ideal for draining, cooling and more
  • False Bottoms: Hold food above the pan bottom for draining
  • Disposable Pan Liners: Perfect for easy clean-up and can be used in both hot and cold settings
  • Disposable Pan Covers: Plastic that fits over a pan and shrinks once put in an oven for a tight-fit
  • Lids: Available in a variety of options from hinged and flexible to one that can be used with different food pan sizes

Ready to shop? Browse our wide variety of shapes and sizes on our website or call one of helpful product consultants for one on one assistant at 800.215.9293!

Tip of the Day Tuesday: Steam Table Pans

A steam table is a versatile and effective piece of equipment for serving hot foods to hungry customers. But a steam table is only as good as the pans and configurations you use.

Luckily, today’s Tip of the Day includes a link to our buying guide for steam table pans. This buying guide includes a helpful chart of each configuration you can do in your steam table, as well as information about adapter bars, pan construction and more!

Click here to access our steam table pans buying guide. And when you’re ready to shop, Central has what you need! Choose from over 1000 different pans to fit your usage.

Polar Ware’s Corner Strength Test Demonstration Video

Sometimes less is more, and that’s why this week’s video really speaks for itself.

Polar Ware’s corner strength test for steam table pans demonstrates what happens when seven pound weights are dropped on the edge of various pans, both from Polar Ware and their competitors.

At the end of the video, see what happens when the same weight is dropped on Polar Ware’s Edge™ steam table pans.

Click here to watch this week’s video.

Buying Guide: Plastic Food Containers

Need help making a purchase? Central has you covered with a library full of buying guides you can conveniently find on our website. Today’s buying guide will cover plastic food containers.


Easily taken for granted, plastic food containers are a staple supply in any food service operation and it’s beneficial to take the time to become familiar with the main types, materials and sizes. By paying attention to these attributes, you could save money in both the cost of the container and also in the reduction of food waste through a more efficient operation.

When shopping for plastic food containers, it is important to know which type of container you need and what the container is made of before making a decision.



“Food Pan” Food Containers: The Workhorse of Plastic Food Containers

  • Come in sizes designed to fit in food wells, transports, chafers
  • Available in various materials that allow for a large temperature range
  • Can go from prep, refrigeration, cooking, warming and serving
  • Lids available for different applications—serving, storing, holding temperature

Food Storage Boxes: Designed for Bulk Storage

  • Largest capacity
  • Stackable design for efficient storage
  • Sliding lids available for one handed operation
  • Good for replacing the original packaging after receiving

Food Storage Containers: Smaller Shapes and Sizes Suited for Food Rotation

  • Smaller sizes allow for batch prep work and quick retrieval from refrigeration
  • Round shape for easier stirring and mixing
  • Square shape for more efficient use in storage space
  • Lids designed to preserve food integrity



Polycarbonate $$

  • High impact resistance and rigid construction
  • Clear construction for great visibility
  • Highly stain resistant
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +212°F
  • More expensive than Polypropylene or Polyethylene

High Heat Polycarbonate Plastic $$

  • High impact resistance and rigid construction
  • Usually in see-through Amber or solid Black construction
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +375°F
  • More expensive than Polypropylene or Polyethylene

Polypropylene $

  • Impact resistant and sturdy construction. More flexible than Polycarbonate and high heat but not quite as flexible as Polyethylene
  • Translucent in appearance, but can be colored for different applications
  • Average temperature range of 0°F to +230°F (not ideal for freezing)
  • Recyclable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe
  • Less expensive than Polycarbonate or High Heat Polycarbonate Plastic

Polyethylene $

  • Impact resistant and sturdy construction, most flexible
  • Usually white in color, but can be colored for different applications
  • Recyclable and dishwasher safe
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +180°F (not ideal for cooking)
  • Less expensive than Polycarbonate or High Polycarbonate Plastic


For more information, view this Plastic Food Containers buying guide. The buying guide on our website includes additional information and charts to help you make a purchasing decision.

Don’t forget to check out all of Central’s buying guides.