When hosting an event where a large amount of food is prepared to serve, a buffet style set-up is a convenient option for guests. To stack a buffet table you will need a disposable table cloth, dinnerware, serving utensils and enough chafing ensembles to hold the number of dishes you are serving. Chafing ensembles can be purchased from restaurant supply vendors on the Web and in stores. The ensemble will include a food pan, a cover, water pan, fuel holders and stacking frames.
Place your disposable table cloth over the table to avoid the potential spills onto the surface of the table.
Set up the stacking frames from your chafing ensemble about an inch or two apart from each other onto the table. Leave enough room to set up the dinnerware at the beginning of the buffet or set up the dinnerware on a separate table next to the buffet table.
Fill the pans from your chafing ensemble with about two inches of water. Light the fuel holders and place underneath the water pans in the middle of the stacking frames. Depending on the size of your food pans, you may use two fuel holders--one at each end--to keep a large pan of food heated for serving. Place the cover over the water pan to contain the heat.
Transfer the dishes from cooking vessels into the food pans from the chafing ensemble. After your water pans have been heating for 15 to 20 minutes, they should be prepared to keep the food you place on top at a warm serving temperature.
Place the food pans carefully over the heated water pans. Arrange the dishes in the order in which your guests will eat. Salads and appetizers first, main and side dishes next and desserts last. Cover until you are prepared to serve.