'Tis the season for food fests, fairs, outdoor concerts, farmers markets and more—all opportunities for restaurateurs to get their food in the hands of new potential customers, as well as bring in some extra revenue. But being outside of the kitchen means taking cooks out of their comfort zones—and away from the equipment they typically rely on.
Of course, operators preparing for such events will bring the necessary utensils, food packaging, thermometers and staff. But we asked restaurateurs experienced in off-site service to tell us what items, beyond the obvious essentials, they won’t leave the restaurant without.
1. Cloud-based POS system
Yes, fewer people carry cash, but Square and similar systems also provide a little more security and minimize cash shortfalls at day’s end, says Emily Dickens, director of sales and events for 50 Eggs, the Miami-based operator of Yardbird and Spring Chicken.
2. Cash box
Even if you take electronic payments, cash isn’t dead, and technical difficulties happen, so have a backup cash box ready. “It’s still a very effective, very easy thing to do, and everybody understands the rules,” says Chef Dan Pancake of Autre Monde in Berwyn, Ill.
5. LED lighting
Daytime events can run late, as Pancake’s team discovered when they suddenly had to plate using their car headlights. Now, he packs LED-powered lights. Traditional task lighting may be the natural choice, but portable LEDs “use much less power; you can run them off batteries instead of searching for an electric source,” he says.
7. Induction cooktop
With diners looking to be entertained as well as fed, Pancake uses induction equipment to draw a crowd. “We did a demo on a decent-sized plancha cooktop that was induction,” he says. “Being able to deliver that experience in a portable fashion is unique.”
8. Immersion circulator
Yardbird and Spring Chicken use an immersion circulator for dishes such as mac ‘n’ cheese, says Dickens. The items are cooked ahead and vacuum-sealed in bags—easing both transport and sanitation.