Title:
Portable food warmer
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An insulated, portable, hot food container maintains the temperature of cooked foods. The container has an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and an insulated removable cover. The insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base. The insulated removable cover having grips to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base. The insulated base having grips to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover. A support carrier is inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids.



Inventors:
Guyn, Jane (Minnetonka, MN, US)
Elliott, Victoria (Solvang, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/151611
Publication Date:
11/12/2009
Filing Date:
05/08/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/771
International Classes:
B65D81/38; B65D25/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark A. Litman & Associates, P.A. (7001 Cahill Road, Ste. 15A, Edina, MN, 55439, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An insulated, portable, hot food container comprising: an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and an insulated removable cover; the insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base; the insulated removable cover having at least one grip to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base; the insulated base having grips to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover; and a support carrier that can be inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids.

2. The container of claim 1 wherein the support carrier nests within the insulated housing and when nested in the housing provides manual gripping capability above the base and away from the walls of the insulated housing.

3. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one grip on the cover comprises a single handle on the top of the cover.

4. The container of claim 1 wherein the at least one grip comprises two slots or handles on opposed sides of the cover.

5. The container of claim 1 wherein an insulating liner is present within the insulated housing and is positioned between the insulated base and the support carrier.

6. The container of claim 1 wherein the support carrier comprises a metal and the raised edges extend up at least 1 cm above a plane of a support surface on the support carrier.

7. The container of claim 1 wherein an inner surface of the insulated carrier has a non-stick surface coating thereon.

8. The container of claim 1 wherein an inner surface of the insulated carrier has a metal surface thereon.

9. The container of claim 1 wherein the insulating housing comprises a polymeric material.

10. The container of claim 9 wherein the polymeric material is a foamed polymeric material.

11. An insulated, portable, hot food container comprising: an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and a removable cover; the insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base; the insulated removable cover having at least one grip to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base; the insulated base having grips to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover; and a support carrier that can be inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids.

12. The container of claim 11 wherein the removable cover comprises a metal cover that is not insulated.

13. The container of claim 11 wherein the removable cover comprises a metal cover that has insulation thereon.

14. The container of claim 11 wherein the at least one grip on the cover comprises a single handle on the top of the cover.

15. The container of claim 11 wherein the at least one grip comprises two slots or handles on opposed sides of the cover.

16. The container of claim 11 wherein an insulating liner is present within the insulated housing and is positioned between the insulated base and the support carrier.

17. The container of claim 11 wherein the support carrier comprises a metal and the raised edges extend up at least 1 cm above a plane of a support surface on the support carrier.

18. The container of claim 11 wherein an inner surface of the insulated carrier has a non-stick surface coating thereon.

19. The container of claim 11 wherein an inner surface of the insulated carrier has a metal surface thereon.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to portable devices and systems for maintaining the temperature of recently cooked or recently heated foods, especially solid foods, and most particularly solid foods such as meats cooked on a grill or open fire pit.

2. Background of the Art

Cooking of food on open heat cooking systems such as grills, fire pits, hibachis and barbecues is a popular way of preparing food, especially meats and fish. It is a simple way of preparing food that has a significant social aspect to it. There are numerous problems with the provision of foods from such open heat cooking systems. One of the more difficult problems is that portions for different individuals may require different cooking times and different seasoning. Often, more than one type of food may be cooked on the open heat cooking system, and after one course is done, there may be significant time left for the completion of cooking of other courses. The chef is faced with the logistics of overcooking one course, undercooking another course, or allowing one course to cool while awaiting a final course to finish cooking.

A common way of attempting to address this problem is to put the first cooked food on a plate and cover the plate with metal foil. This is actually counterproductive. Although the metal foil will help retain moisture around the cooked food, it is a heat conductor, and will assist in allowing the cooked food to cool rapidly.

A system that can be carried to open heat cooking systems, help maintain temperatures in cooked food, maintain moisture in cooked food, and be readily cleaned.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An insulated, portable, hot food container maintains the temperature of cooked foods. The container has:

an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and an insulated removable cover;

the insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base;

the insulated removable cover having grips to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base;

the insulated base having grips to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover; and

a support carrier that can be inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 shows a side view of the container.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the container with the top removed and the support carrier exposed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An insulated, portable, hot food container maintains the temperature of cooked foods. The insulating material used for the construction may be any food compatible structural material that can sustain contact temperatures of at least 300° F. (180° C.). The material may be selected from such commonly available materials such as plastic (especially thermoset resins and phthalate-free and Bisphenol A-free polymers), ceramics, coated paper or coated fiber board, and composites. Preferred polymers include acrylic polymers, polyurethane polymers, silicone (polysiloxane) polymers, epoxy resins, polyesters, polyamides and the like. The insulation effect may be provided by the physical properties of the material itself, and/or structure provided to the materials, such as insulating spacing between layers, foaming of the material, insulating layers between non-insulating layers, and the like. The container has an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and an insulated removable cover. The shape of the container is optional, although the insulated base is preferably flat. The walls may form a square, rectangle, circle, oval and the like.

The walls of the container are preferably vertical or sloped outwardly to provide increased ease of entry by user's hands and inserts into the container. The walls are preferably resistant to absorption of organic vapors that can be released by cooked foods, especially fats and oils hat may volatilize from cooked meats or animal fats (e.g., butter). A liner may be provided within the walls (covering only he walls or the walls and the insulated base) to absorb the organic vapors or oils and prevent them from being absorbed onto the walls (and/or base), add further insulation capability and be disposable to assist in cleaning of the container. The cover sheet or liner may have a liner that sits against the walls and base, and an absorbent insulating (e.g., fabric) material that faces the inside of the container. A removable liner may also be present inside the cover.

The insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base. This can be accomplished by properly fitting and engaging the top of the walls and the bottom of the cover. This can be done by tongue and groove engagement, fitted ledges, edges of the base of the cover overlapping the top of the walls (e.g., a groove in the base edges of the cover), top edges of the walls having a groove therein to receive the cover, and the like. Clips and locks are not necessary because of the temporary nature of the coverage by the container, but may assist in preventing spillage or securing complete insulation of the interior of the container from the exterior environment.

The insulated removable cover should have grips (handles or slots) to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base. The insulated base should have grips (handles or slots) to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover.

A support carrier can be inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids. The support carrier is preferably an easily cleaned surface structure, especially an upper surface that will support the cooked food between the raised edges that surround the support surface. Smooth metal surfaces, non-stick polymer coated surfaces, non-stick composite surfaces and the like are preferred. The surface may be smooth or may have ridges and valleys to provide a drip catch surface within the support carrier. The support carrier may have a nesting site within the base of the container to reduce slippage of the carrier. In any case, the support carrier should be easily grippable from within the container. This may be enabled by having the lip (or at least two opposed edges) of the support carrier extend above any nesting configuration in the support base, or by providing handles or grips extending above the support carrier on opposed edges. The support carrier may be metal, metal coated substrate, ceramic, ceramic coated substrate, polymer or combinations thereof. The preferred material is a metal support carrier, such as stainless steel or non-stick coated metal.

An alternative construction within the practice of the present technology may include an insulated, portable, hot food container having:

an insulated housing having an insulated base, insulated enclosing walls, and a removable cover;

the insulated removable cover engages the insulated enclosing walls to resist movement parallel to the insulated base;

the insulated removable cover having at least one grip to enable lifting of the insulated removable cover from the insulated base;

the insulated base having grips to enable the container to be lifted and support both the insulated base and the insulated cover; and

a support carrier that can be inserted into and removed from the container, the support carrier having a base support surface and raised edges circumscribing the base support surface to restrict horizontal flow of liquids.

The removable cover may be a metal cover that is not insulated, or a metal cover that has insulation thereon. The at least one grip on the cover may be a single handle on the top of the cover or two slots or handles on opposed sides of the cover. An insulating liner may be present within the insulated housing and may be positioned between the insulated base and the support carrier. The support carrier may be a metal structure and the raised edges may extend up at least 1 cm above a plane of a support surface on the support carrier. The inner surface of the insulated carrier may have a metal or non-stick surface coating thereon.

Recourse to the Figures may provide a further understanding of the present invention and its various embodiments.

FIG. 1 shows a side view of the container 2 with an insulating housing base 4 and a cover 6. The cover 6 is shown with a single handle 8 and the base 4 is shown with a pair of opposed slots grips 10 on the exterior of the insulated container 2. A removable support carrier 12 is shown in a nesting area 14 within the housing base 4.

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of the container 2 with the cover (not shown) removed and the support carrier 12 exposed. Grips 16 for the support carrier 12 are shown.

Although specific examples are given of dimensions and materials, one skilled in the art would be aware of the various alternative dimensions, materials and constructions that are within the generic scope of the present technology. The size of the container may be for small portions and have length and with of at least 30 cm, or may be for much larger serving needs and be 50-100 cm in width and/or length.