"I went to this restaurant last night that was set up like a big buffet in the shape of a Ouija board. You'd think about what kind of food you want, and the table would move across the floor to it."Steven Wright
Buffet-style dining is fantastic for a crowd, but if your Sterno blows out, the food gets cold. Here’s a nifty solution: WindBlocker is a portable chafing dish frame that blocks wind while allowing some air under the food and water pans to keep the fuel lit. When used indoors, one lit Sterno is enough to keep the water pan at the desired temperature because the flame and heat are contained beneath the chafing dish. For use outdoors in the wind, two Sterno cans will get the job done.
Each WindBlocker is a lightweight aluminum one-piece unit, weighing about one pound. Simply place your fuel cans inside, light them, then place a filled chafing dish in each Windblocker chafing dish frame. The frames come in either black or white and fold completely flat for easy storage and transportation. A small fuel can housing and supports are permanently attached and folded inside. Six standard-sized (50.8” x 31.75” x 21.59”) units fit in a convenient heavy duty, padded and reinforced, 6-compartment, zippered, polyester shoulder carrying bag.
These chafing dish frames are extremely easy to set up and use. After your event, tear down is a cinch. The units may seem pricey, but they beat the closest competition by a mile. A similar fold-away product that’s roughly the same weight costs more than double the price. I understand the Windbocker is so sturdy that the company CEO sets one up on the floor at trade shows, and then stands on the unit in a hotel pan inserted into the top as he makes his pitch to prospective buyers.
I tested the Windblocker on my back deck, where the photo was taken, on two separate occasions. On the first day, the wind was 12 to 17 mph (per local weather service). The second day saw some wind gusts of 23 to 26 mph. The sternos stayed lit on both days. While the flames waved a bit during wind gusts on the second day, the fire did not come close to being extinguished. For comparison, I tested my standard chafing dish frame alongside the Windblocker. I used two Sternos on both days, and on the first day, one of the Sternos blew out twice, even after relighting. On the second day, which was windier, both Sternos blew out and would not stay lit.
While we did not subject the Windblocker chafing dish frame to a laboratory controlled wind tunnel, we feel confident that the unit’s solid performance in our real-life tests have earned it a Gold Medal Award.