A chafing dish (from the French chauffer, “to make warm”) is a kind of portable grate raised on a tripod, originally heated with charcoal in a brazier, and used for foods that require gentle cooking, away from the “fierce” heat of direct flames. The chafing dish could be used at table or provided with a cover for keeping food warm on a buffet. Double dishes that provide a protective water jacket are known as bains-marie and help keep delicate foods, such as fish, warm while preventing overcooking
This is what mine looks like.
In history, these types have been used to cook rather then warm. The reason is due in part to the type of heat used as well as the style of chafing dish. The hotter & higher the heat source, the more likely you will be able to “cook” with it.
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