Chafing dishes: Buffets, caterers or anybody that wants to keep their hot food in a display can us a chafing.When looking for a new chafer, consider the shape, where it will be used and the fuel type. Chafing dishes are used at buffet's and banquet hotels. All Dining Supplies - Chafing dishes come in oval, rectangular and round shapes. The shape you want depends on your preference and needs. Most main courses are served from oval or rectangular chafers while sides and desserts are served from round models. Another thing to keep in mind when selecting chafing dishes is heat type; they can use either electricity or canned heat. Canned heat produces a chemical-based flame that is placed on a special holder underneath the dish. Canned heat is ideal for caterers or other event planners that do not have electrical outlets near their buffet table, and is more portable than electric heated versions.