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Seafood Holding…Without Ice, by Randell

By Lee Davis, CFSP


Fish Files have long been the solution for high volume fish holding. Stacks of refrigerated drawers, with perforated bottoms, allow melted ice and fish juices to drain off. Each layer of fish must be covered by a layer of ice. Ice levels must be maintained throughout the day and completely removed for end-of-day cleaning. Weep holes must remain unobstructed and a floor drain is necessary. Water from spilled ice and clogged drains can accumulate on the floor, and give rise to potential slip-and-fall conditions. And then there is the water, energy, labor costs, and lifting associated with maintaining an ongoing supply of ice.


With the help of Unified Brands, a major New England seafood chain, and others, recently made the switch to ice-free fish holding. The Randell FX Series operates without ice and is designed to hold temperatures precisely where you set them. It can hold seafood at a constant 32°F, maximizing shelf life, food safety, and freshness. That can’t be accomplished with a traditional walk-ins and reach-ins because they operate at 38°F to 41°F degrees and are subject to considerable swings in temperature during heavy use.


How does the Randel FX Series work? Each FX drawer is built around a generously insulated “tub” that keeps food cold. Hot air rises, so when a traditional refrigerator door is opened, cold air spills out the bottom leaving the refrigerator compartment filled with warmer replacement air. That doesn’t happen with FX refrigerated drawers. When you pull a drawer open, food remains blanketed in cold air with a minimal rise in temperature. Drawers can easily be divided into compartments for different types of fish, and there are no drain holes or perforations where clogs, bacteria, or corrosion can accumulate. Drawer interiors are easy to clean, and drain odors are eliminated.


Randell’s FX Series is ideal for holding fish, but it’s also great for dialing in the best temperatures for other cold food holding. Red meats should be held at 41°F for safety, but depending on the fat content, moisture content, and intended method of cooking, colder holding temperatures may produce better results. FX gives the operator control. Gelato should be held at slightly warmer temperatures than ice cream. You can set your FX to hold Gelato at an optimal 8°F. Products to be finished in pre-programmed speed ovens can be held at consistent preset starting temperatures to ensure the same results from one order to the next. The FX is even great for holding delicate appetizers.


FX drawers can be installed in counters, sauté stations, breading stations, sushi bars, or chilled prep units. They can also can be stacked two high to create work surfaces, or three high for maximum storage and ultimate flexibility. Many operators have seen a significant return on investment by going iceless with Unified Brands and the Randell FX Series cold holding system. Learn more about it at