Food safety is a great concern for those preparing and serving the meal for wedding guests. Keeping hot foods at the required serving temperatures and cold foods at the cool enough temperatures to keep from spoiling can be achieved through the use of chafing dishes, which can be purchased for continued use or rented from a wedding supply company.
Place your chafing dishes on the buffet table.
Pour hot water into the bottom portion of the dishes that will hold hot foods.
Remove the caps of your Sterno fuel canisters.
Place the fuel canisters underneath the hot-food chafing dishes.
Light each canister with an extended lighter or long matches.
Allow the water to heat up, then place hot food in the chafing dish.
Fill the bottom portion of the chafing dishes that will hold cold food with ice and water.
Place the food-filled chafing pans in the designated racks right before inviting guests to the buffet.
Hot foods should have an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit; while cold foods should be kept at a temperature no warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, for best results.
Some foods can be kept cool by placing their serving platters in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours prior to being filled with food.
For outdoor wedding receptions, try to keep cold foods out of direct sunlight.
Keep the food hot in the oven or cold in the refrigerator until right before serving.
Foods have a 2-hour window before becoming unsafe for consumption or storage for future use.
Do not overfill chafing pans, as the ice and Sterno fuel cannot cool or heat food that does not have contact with the ice or steam within the chafing racks.
- What's Cooking America: Food Safety Hints and Tips -- Buffet and Party Safety
- RD 411: Food Temperatures: Keeping Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold
- Minnesota Department of Health: Keeping Food Safe During Buffets or Picnics
- NSF International: Food Safety Fact Kit -- 9 Tips For Keeping Buffet-Style Food Safe