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Award-Winning Flameless Catering Product Makes Serving Hot Food Simpler, Safer & Faster
An Interview with Sterno’s VP of Marketing, David Amirault
Since 1914, the name ‘Sterno’ has been synonymous (and eponymous) with keeping food at an ideal and safe serving temperature. As one of the most recognized brands in the foodservice industry, Sterno is dedicated to offering products that demonstrate superior quality, unwavering reliability and failure-proof confidence.
To meet the needs of the current catering landscape, Sterno Products recently launched SpeedHeatTM, a flameless, water-activated system that produces high-heat steam, with zero ramp-up time. It is considered by many in the catering industry to be the most innovative portable heat system since the introduction of Sterno chafing fuel more than a century ago. Industry press has echoed this opinion--SpeedHeat recently took top honors in Foodservice Equipment Reports Magazine, 2018 Tabletop Competition. Caterource Magazine called the product a ‘terrific innovation’.
As part of the development of this product, Sterno’s Marketing VP, David Amirault and his team spent time in the field with high volume caterers of all stripes, including social, corporate, chain restaurants, and food management companies, testing prototypes and refining the design to get to the best possible flameless, food warming & serving product. ‘Our number one takeaway’, said Amirault, ‘was that our customers wanted a buffet-style fameless food serving option that was quick and easy to set up and made the whole process safer, simpler, and faster’.
Foodservice Equipment Daily News recently spoke with Amirault for an interview about this groundbreaking product.
FEDN: What was catalyst for the development of this product?
Amirault: A product like this has been top-of-mind in the catering industry for years. Up till now, the challenge for caterers has always been how to keep hot food at an ideal serving temperature in an environment or location that isn’t necessarily designed for serving food, or in places that have open-flame restrictions.
FEDN: Who should be using this product?
Amirault: Any foodservice operation engaged in off-premise catering. SpeedHeatTM allows the operator to provide and serve hot food if the safest, simplest, and fastest way possible.
FEDN: Is Sterno getting out of the ‘canned heat’ business?
Amirault: Absolutely not. Our legacy line of portable warming products is Sterno’s foundation. We will continue to develop and innovate in this arena. With the introduction of SpeedHeatTM, however, we are able to offer our customers a product that allows them to serve high-margin hot menu items in venues and/or at occasion where up-to-this-point was just not possible or practical. For example, at an historic landmark with an open-frame restriction, or for quick-serve corporate catering lunch with a 20-minute service window.
FEDN: Is SpeedHeatTM the perfect product for any catered event?
Amirault: SpeedHeatTM is ideal for events where food will be served within 45 minutes. All of our research shows that this is the case with many events -- corporate drop-off breakfast and lunches are good examples of this. However, there are occasions and venues that require something more—formal weddings, high-end receptions, extended-service grazing buffets. Of course, Sterno has a full line of traditional warming products to service these types of events, as well.
FEDN: How does the the SpeedHeatTM system work?:
Amirault: With a simple process that involves two water-activated heat packets and an included base & tray that replaces the traditional water chafing pan, SpeedHeatTM has zero ramp-up time and starts producing high-heat steam right away to keep food at the ideal temperature for the ideal length of time.
FEDN: IsSpeedHeat a ‘single-use’ product?
Amirault: There are two version of SpeedHeat. Our Recyclable line is designed for use with disposable aluminum half pans, and can be used up to three times. There are eight complete units to a case. Refill SpeedHeat packets are sold separately. The SpeedHeat base & tray are fully recyclable; the spent heat packets go into everyday trash. The Reusable line, SpeedHeat HD features a durable, universal base and accepts 1/3, ½, and full food pan sizes (disposable or durable), and will provide the same durability you’d expect from a traditional chafer. Refill SpeedHeat packets are sold separately.
FEDN: Can the SpeedHeat heat packets be used independently from the SpeedHeat system, with a traditional chafer, for example?
Amirault: No, the SpeedHeat packets must only be used with the SpeedHeat system. Using the SpeedHeat packets counter to instructions will not provide satisfactory results.
FEDN: Any final thoughts?
Amirault: If you’re reading this interview and you plan to be at NAFEM 2019 be sure to stop by booth #418. We’d love to demo this incredible new product for you!
SpeedHeat has zero ramp-up time and starts producing high-heat steam right away to keep food at the ideal temperature for the ideal length of time.