When choosing a heat lamp for your quick-serve or to-go operation, there is much to consider. Here’s one more to add to the list: how you wrap or contain what you put under the lamp can make a huge difference on hold times, as well. Should you use paper wrappers, aluminum foil, or boxes? If your desired hold time is only a few minutes, you can decide on looks or cost. However, if there is a possibility of holding your food under a heat lamp for more than that, the wrapping material makes a huge difference.
As it turns out, paper is the reigning champion of wrapping material – that is, if you are using a heat lamp (like Hatco’s decorative heat lamps,) and if it is practical for your restaurant’s fare (I’ve never seen paper-wrapped soup in a successful operation.)
So what were the other contender’s downfalls? Foil reflects radiant heat, so putting the food under a heat lamp is much less effective. Boxes contain heat and moisture, which is great, but a heat lamp will not contribute to this very much. If your food requires a box or aluminum foil, convection heating is the best method to keep it warm.
In short, if you use a heat lamp, try wrapping your food in paper whenever possible.