Commercial-Grade Prep Tables — A Chef’s Version of ‘Counter Space’
Commercial kitchens don’t really use the term counter space when referring to ‘work’ space in the kitchen. Essentially all work in a commercial kitchen is handled over the range, grill, fryer, prep station or work table. Depending on your needs, work tables can be topped with either wood, plastic (called Poly Tops), or just use the gauged stainless steel as the top. Work tables are available in multiple sizes, to fit into specific spacing constraints of busy kitchens. Let’s look at prep tables based on their worktops. Work tables are helpful for kitchens to decrease the possibility of cross-contamination on shared surfaces. Because you will be able to use many different surfaces, opportunities for contamination from different types of food, raw food, etc. will lower significantly.
The cost and quality of a stainless steel work table is chiefly dependent on the gauge of stainless steel used to make the table and the overall size of the table. Some additional accessories, like back splashes, undershelves or adjustable undershelves, can also increase cost, but also improve usage.
Stainless Steel Type
- 304 grade
- 18% chromium
- 8% nickel
- 18/8 (the standard we see in cookware)
- Corrosion / Rust resistant
- Easy to clean
- 430 grade
- 17% to 18% chromium, depending
- 0% nickel
- 18/0 (the standard we see in cookware)
- Not corrosion/rust resistant (stains easier than 304 grade)
- Easy to clean
Stainless Steel Gauge
- 14 Gauge Stainless Steel
- Great quality
- Very durable
- Excellent for heavy usage
- Good for butcher shops, meat carvers, kitchens where heavy pounding is required
- High end cost
- 16 Gauge Stainless Steel
- Good quality
- Perfect for professional commercial kitchens for multiple uses
- Reasonably priced for your budget
- 18 Gauge Stainless Steel
- Reasonable quality
- Durable for light duty items, like salad making or sandwich prep
- Should consider this gauge for a general work table
- Budget minded pricing
Good for most any food prep tasks, wood top work tables are favorites of bakers, meat carvers and anyone who is doing a lot of chopping prep work. Hardwoods, like maple, are the choice for wood top work tables, as they are not porous and are easy to clean and sanitize. Not only can wood-topped work tables be used for storage, they can be used as-is as a cutting board! These work-tops are safe to cut on, just as you would use a cutting board. This eliminates the need for yet another piece of kitchen equipment. Look through our wooden-top worktables to find the wood type and finish that’s right for you.
The poly topped table is perfect for prepping tasks that require a great deal of slicing, chopping or cutting. A major advantage to the poly top is cleaning. The entire top can be removed for easy cleaning and sanitation. Poly-top tables can also be used as cutting boards, just like the wooden-top tables. These are really great for vegetable and sandwich-station prep tables, and they are very easy to clean!
Commercial kitchen work tables are available in just about any size you need, from very small to very large. Work tables that range from 24” to 120” wide and 24” to 36” deep can be purchased. If your needs are such for larger work tables, edges can be placed together to form larger work areas.
Popular Manufacturers of Prep Tables