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I like using diagrams to help me with a few things.  First, when placing small wares orders it really helps me know how many pans and utensils (tongs, spoons, ladles, etc.) to order.  Second, it’s a great training tool for folks who need a road map to setting up a hot or a cold table for the first time.  Lastly, it also helps me create production sheets once I can see the items that I will need to execute a menu in front of me laid out in the table.

Let me pause for a second… I have to give credit where credit is due.  Shout out to Chef Ron Sabatini (if you haven’t heard his show, you should, right here), he initially showed me this format years ago and I have used it ever since.  Now back to our discussion…

Attached is example diagrams/templates that I use when creating concepts for clients.  I pretty them up by adding their logo, pictures of products in the specific pans and giving a little more detail when I’m creating a training manual for a client, but this is where I start.

To use this for doing a small wares order, I would suggest the following:

Hotel/Storage Pans

  1. Make a list of the items that you need to store on the hot or cold line.
  2. Think through the best size of container to hold each item. For example, if you go through a lot of mashed potatoes, you probably want to hold those in a larger container like a six-inch third pan or even a half pan, depending on:
    1. How much you will go through (using larger pans for higher volume items will make it so that you don’t have to change pans as often)
    2. How much room you have (if you only have two hot wells but have 10 items that need to fit in those wells, you want to make sure you distribute space accordingly)
  3. Once you have determined what items you need to store in those spaces and in what pans you will store them, think about how many backups of each item you will need based on your anticipated business. For example, you will probably only need 1-2 back up pans of herbs for garnish if you are averaging 50-60 covers per meal period, but you may need 3-4 backups of fresh salsa if that is a freebie for each table.
  4. Now that you have an idea of what pans you will need and how many of them for any one service period, I would suggest ordering about 2-2½ times what you need for a single meal period. This will allow you to have enough pans without running out or having an overabundance that never get used.


Same idea goes for utensils.  Determine what utensils or portioning tools you will need for each item in each pan and order 2-2½ what you need.  With these items you only want to put one at a time out into circulation and keep the rest as back up in a secure place like a locked drawer in the chef/manager’s office.


Because anyone who has ever managed a kitchen knows that items (especially utensils) have a tendency to disappear.  They can break and the person who broke it doesn’t want anyone else to know that they were the one that broke it so they bury it deep in the garbage or otherwise “dispose” of it in a mobster-like fashion and have no recollection of ever seeing it in the first place.

Or (my personal favorite) people feel like the tool is so effective that it should go home to their house with them when they leave. Sometimes those items even come back to work with the person, but by this point they have been “claimed” and become the unofficial/unspoken property of said person.  So now they are the only ones that can use that item (so don’t even try).

Or of course the item(s) get dropped behind or under something making it not easily accessible.  Human nature is to take the easy road-all the time, in every situation. Because of this it’s always easier to go get a new item (if it’s readily accessible that is) than it is to spend 30 seconds getting on the ground, reaching behind or moving a table or piece of equipment to get it and then have to wash it properly before using it again.

How do you avoid these scenarios?  Give them exactly the amount of tools they need to be successful, not wasteful or lazy.

Chef Duane Keller said it best in a recent episode when talking about controlling food cost (listen to that here), to paraphrase what he said… It’s like a bottle of shampoo, when you first get it and there is a lot of it, you use too much.  When you get down to the end and there isn’t as much left, you only use what you need because there isn’t an overabundance of it.

…Think about that one for a minute…

Hopefully this helps you in creating your small wares orders and training/setup diagrams.  They have been hugely helpful for me and I have used them for years in restaurants, hotels, hospitals, senior living centers, grocery stores, etc.

Try these out.  I attached a few different examples for you to check out. I hope it helps you too.

Lunch and Dinner Steam Table Example

Lunch Dinner Hot Steam Table with cold well Example

Salad Station Set-up Example

SB Output 03 150x150 - Diagrams

About the author, Shawn

Chef Shawn has worked in almost every segment of the foodservice industry. He holds business degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism Management, Accounting and Professional Sales. He is Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a Certified Culinary Educator (CCE) through The American Culinary Federation. A Certified Culinary Professional (CCP) through the International Association of Culinary Professionals. He is the author of The First Timer’s Cookbook and The First Timer’s Bakebook. His work has been recognized nationwide as well as being a regular contributor to numerous food service publications and outlets and is the recipient of numerous awards-most recently the 2015 Culinary Educator of the Year through the local American Culinary Federation’s chapter-Beehive State Chef’s Association.

He the owner of multiple food service businesses and currently the host of the Business Chef Podcast.

1 Comment

  1. […] Want a way to systematize your small wares ordering, or layout a line? Want the tool that we discussed in the episode? Check it out here. […]

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