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Coolers Incorporated

Prep Tables, Chef Bases, Worktops – What’s the Difference?

When searching for the right refrigeration for your commercial kitchen, it can quickly become overwhelming with all of the options available. Not to mention, the added pressure that refrigeration can be one of the most important components when it comes to the efficiency of your kitchen makes it all the more important to select the right types, sizes, and configurations that fit the needs of your chef and the space of your kitchen.

Although there are many types of commercial refrigerators to discuss (walk-ins, undercounters, display, open-air, merchandisers, and more), today we are focusing on refrigerators specifically designed for food-prep and creating additional workspace.

So… prep tables, chef bases, and worktops – what’s the difference and which one(s) is right for you?

Prep Tables

Beverage-Air Prep Table

There are two categories of prep tables (1) pizza and (2) salad/sandwich prep tables. A bit self-explanatory, but the main difference here comes down to the size of the cutting board. For pizza prep tables the cutting boards are at least 19” deep so that a full-size pizza has enough to room lay flat for proper cutting. Salad and sandwich prep tables come with cutting boards ranging from 9-12” deep allowing enough space to prep bowls of salad and sandwiches on different types and sizes of bread.

Pan Rails

Prep tables typically come standard with two rows of pan rails that fit 1/6 size food pans.

For kitchens with more extensive needs, a mega-top pan rail may be necessary. This adds an additional row for more food pan storage space.

Refrigerated Cabinet – Doors or Drawers?

Prep tables can have refrigerated cabinets with either doors or drawers.

Doors allow for shelving to hold ingredients that are frequently used such as sauces or salad dressings. While drawers are intended to store additional food pans. In some cases you can get a unit with both doors and drawers depending the model.

Chef Bases

Chef bases are best suited for busy commercial kitchens. These units are designed with a worktop surface and refrigerated base that helps to improve kitchen workflow. The refrigerated base allows chefs to keep perishable but frequently used ingredients such as meat, vegetables, dairy, etc. within reach of their actual cooking space. Chef bases can even accomodate cooking equipment, such as fryers, griddles, and large mixers.

No-Drip Edge

Chef bases typically come standard with a no-drip edge meaning it has a raised edge along the sides of the workspace to keep fluids from spilling over onto the floor.

Refrigerated Base – Doors or Drawers?

Chef bases usually always come with drawers rather than doors.

Depending on the model, the drawers can have independent controls allowing one chef base to store both refrigerated goods and frozen goods.

Worktop Refrigerators

Worktops are typically used to create additional food prep space. They include additional countertop space above the refrigerated base. This creates a freestanding work station. Unlike the chef base though, these units are not designed to handle heavier cooking equipment.


Backsplashes are available on most units to promote cleanliness and keep food items or tools from slipping behind the unit (never to be seen again!).

Refrigerated Base – Doors or Drawers?

Worktop refrigerators can come with either drawers or doors.

Drawers are used with food pans, so are best suited for pre-chopped or previously prepped ingredients. Whereas doors are suited for items that are stored in other types of containers, such as jars or jugs.

When it comes to the configuration and sizing of each type of refrigerator you’ll need to first consider the space available in your kitchen and then the amount of product you’ll need to store throughout the day.

*Images shown are all Beverage-Air products.

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