Kitchen Biz Search

Soup’s On – Warmers vs. Rethermalizers

By: Lee Davis

Everywhere you go these days, you see those cute little pot-bellied stand-alone self-serve kettles full of soup, stews or chili. They’re usually black, but some are copper or plain stainless. They range in size from about 6 quarts to 12 quarts capacity. You see them at convenience stores, grocery stores, salad bars, cafeterias and buffets. They all do the same thing: keep soup hot. Right?…Wrong!

Mike Hebden, Senior Product Manager at The Vollrath Company, recently clued me in on Soup Kettles and why there is confusion about the various brands and function. “You’ve got to know whether your customer needs a soup warmer or a soup rethermalizer,” Hebden said.

Different manufacturers may use different terminology, but at Vollrath, a “warmer” holds already heated food at a temperature above 150F. The operator must heat the product first, and then transfer it into the warmer for holding and serving.

In contrast, a “rethermalizer“ heats up chilled food for you, then holds it above 150F. The operator need not pre-heat the product. You can take prepared food right out of the refrigerator, put it in the rethermalizer, turn it on, and be ready to serve in 90 minutes. No other appliances or pots are needed.

Rethermalizers require a larger heating element, use more wattage, and typically cost a bit more, but for many operators the one step set-up saves time and labor. The application will dictate which is best, just be sure you know whether your customer needs a warmer or a rethermalizer. Click here for a Vollrath “Warmer vs. Rethermalizer” chart.