BEST PRACTICE: Nisbets reveals the secrets to kitting out a mobile catering operation

Mobile catering

From gourmet burgers to continental cuisine, we’ve witnessed a street food boom in recent years. This new wave of on-the-go diners and food festival fanatics is opening up a potentially lucrative mobile catering market. Here are catering equipment supplier Nisbets’ top tips for setting up a kitchen in a mobile catering operation.

Decide what type of food you’ll be offering

Before you can start setting up your kitchen, you’ll need to decide what kind of food you’ll be offering. If you’re already an established food retailer, this may be an easier decision to make, as you may choose to simply offer a sample of your regular menu. You can only start setting up your kitchen once you decide on the kind of food you’ll be preparing. Failing to do so could result in you using up valuable space in your mobile unit with equipment that will largely go unused.

Space versus demand

When you’ve decided on your menu, you can create a list of all of the equipment you’ll need. However, before you invest, you’ll need to consider the available space in your mobile unit. Typically, mobile catering units offer limited space. The solution? Smaller equipment. While shrinking the size of your essential items like fryers and griddles may help you fit more into the unit, cooking capacity is reduced. This could be problematic, especially during busy periods where demand is high. After all, long queues and slow service usually results in lost custom.

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Likewise, full-size equipment can take up a lot of room and make carrying out tasks difficult due to a lack of workable space. They can also use up a lot of energy, which can be problematic depending on the type of gas or electricity supply you have. Work out which pieces of equipment you’ll need to use most frequently and invest accordingly. You also need to consider air flow to ensure anyone working is kept safe from smoke and fumes. Extraction maybe required depending on your menu.

Gas, water and electricity

As we’ve already mentioned, you’ll need to work out how to power your kitchen equipment. There are two main options: gas and electricity. Gas bottles are a popular choice, as they are more convenient than a fixed mains supply, which may not be available in every location you set up in. If you do plan on using this method, make sure you have enough bottles to see you through the duration of your trading period and always have gas-powered equipment professionally installed. Electricity is another essential.

It’s often more convenient to have your own generator rather than rely on the supply where you pitch. This means you’ll always have enough power to supply your equipment. Of course, to ensure the safe preparation of food, you’ll need a source of fresh water. This is an important factor to consider and shouldn’t be ignored.

For more top tips on setting up a mobile catering operation, including non-equipment based advice, visit www.nisbets.co.uk/HowtoSetupaMobileCateringBusiness

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