An apparatus for storing, refrigerating and heating food items in serving containers including a rethermalization cart including a plurality of shelves. Each of the shelves support one of a plurality of food trays thereon. Each tray has a plurality of food compartments and openings for supporting one of the serving containers. Each serving container containing food to be heated includes a cover. Each shelf of the cart has at least three heating pads conforming to the openings of the tray when the tray is inserted in the shelf. The cart also includes a plurality of individual switches each controlling all of the heater pads of each tray shelf as a set. Each switch is provided within a channel recessed from the exterior surface of the cart. The cart may also include a hinged work station attached to the exterior surfaces thereof which is movable between a first position, wherein said station extends outwardly from the cart so that each tray can be placed thereon for food preparation, and a second position, wherein the station is closely confined to said cart.