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Archive | 2013

Stainless Steel Gauge and Series

Stainless Steel Food Service Equipment

Looking for a stainless steel work table, and need help deciphering between the gauge and series assigned to the tables? Don’t feel lost; some people say that stainless steel is magnetic, while some say it’s not. The truth is, both statements are correct, but it depends on what series the equipment was made with.

The series of a stainless steel work table refers to the type of material that was used to form it. 300 series tables are composed of nickel and chromium, which make it one of the most durable and corrosion resistant series. While the 300 series is not magnetic, it does account for 50% of the world’s production of stainless steel. The 400 series is composed of low carbon steels, making it less durable than the 300 series. However, it is magnetic and resistant to corrosion (although not as resistant as the 300 series). When you’re shopping for work tables, like  Elkay’s, you’ll see the 300 and 400 series most commonly. Don’t be mistaken though, there are 5 major classes of stainless steel, which are then broken down even further into 250 different grades.

The gauge of the stainless steel identifies the thickness of the metal – the larger the gauge, the thinner the metal. For example, a 22 gauge will be thinner than an 18 gauge. A 16 or 18 gauge steel is generally appropriate for a commercial kitchen working table, while a 22 or 23 gauge table will be easily damaged and dented.

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Stay Safe With Tucker BurnGuard Oven Mitts

Tucker Burnguard Oven Mitt

You’ve likely thought everything through when it comes to ensuring you and your staff’s safety in the kitchen. More often than not, however, one of the easiest protective pieces gets overlooked.

Cotton oven mitts are not a sufficient barrier from the likely perils of a commercial kitchen. They do not protect from liquid and vapor burns, they are not NSF certified, and they do not offer thermal protection. In a commercial kitchen you need these qualities in an oven mitt and that’s why we recommend  Tucker’s BurnGuard mitts. They are built to last 10 times longer, and because they’re more durable than cotton mitts, they will definitely save you money in the long term.

Tucker BurnGuard Oven Mitts

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Lead Free Standards Now in Every State

Needs to be lead free now.Since January, 2010, there has been a nationwide push to make more and more states require low lead levels in plumbing and piping products that come in contact with water for human consumption.  California and Vermont jumped right on board, and two years later, Maryland and Louisiana followed suit. Now in 2014, with a new year, comes new change.

As of January 4, 2014, all states are required to implement the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. This means it will be illegal to sell or install plumbing and piping products that exceed 0.25% lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures. Wetted parts include meters, expansion tanks, backflow preventers, flexible connectors, strainers, and
assorted gauges, fittings, valves, etc. The good news is that most plumbing and piping companies were prepared for the changes and adjusted their product lines accordingly. Krowne, for example, has gone ahead and marked their lead free products as NSF/ANSI Standard 61-G. Identifying the products that meet the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act can be tricky, so we’d suggest visiting our blog post “Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?,” to learn more about going lead free in 2014, or call us at 888-388-6372 to chat with our team.

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Talking to Customers Through Signage

Amy's Cold Heart Restaurant Sign

If you haven’t done a search lately for funny restaurant signs, you’re missing out on a goldmine of restaurant humor.  From chalkboard sandwich boards to tabletop tents, restaurants are expressing
their messages to customers with a bit of comical tone. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all signage needs be humorous. The key to effectively communicating with your customers is to stick
with your brand’s voice and a clear message. Check out our selection of signage to help deliver your message – some of our favorites come from American Metalcraft, who has been in business for more than fifty years.

P.S.  Join us on Facebook or Twitter for #FRSF (Funny Restaurant Sign Friday).

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How a $200 Tip Exposes an Unfair System

Above, you have a classic feel-good Internet video, the kind that fills up email inboxes and Facebook newsfeeds the world over: Two random guys visit random restaurants and tip their servers $200 each. They capture the resulting jubilation and stunned disbelief on video.

The video goes viral and hearts are warmed everywhere.

Nonetheless, this warm-fuzzy montage indirectly exposes the cold reality of restaurant-server compensation: utter dependency on the kindness of strangers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tips often represent 50 percent to 90 percent of a waiter’s income, making them extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in their customers’ generosity.

In the U.S. there are two separate minimum wages: tipped and non-tipped. Most restaurant workers are paid according to the federal tipped minimum wage, which is $2.13 per hour.

If that figure sounds low to you, that’s because it is. And it has been low for a while. The federal tipped minimum wage has remained stagnant since 1991—back when the USSR was in its last throes and C&C Music Factory was churning out Billboard hits.

Federal law requires restaurant workers to be paid at least $7.25 once tips are divvied up. If wages fall short of that, restaurant owners must make up the difference. Leaving aside whether $7.25 is sufficient to live on, you still have a situation in which hardworking servers must rely on the whims (and basic math skills) of their customers.

Videos like the one above are powerful because we know, often from personal experience, what it means to work for tips. According to the National Restaurant Association, half of all American adults have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives, and a third got their first job in a restaurant.

So let’s applaud these filmmakers for their generosity. But why stop there? Let’s show our respect for hardworking Americans by making sure their hard work means something.

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DayMark Food Labels

DayMark Labels Flowchart

You may be familiar with First In, First Out (FIFO), an organization system for keeping food at its freshest, but did you know that a big part of FIFO is making sure to use food rotation labels?

DayMark is well known for providing safety systems to help businesses maintain a healthy work environment, and with their different labels (ToughMark, DissolveMark, MoveMark, CoolMark, and DuraMark), they help ensure food safety in varying temperatures, locations, containers, and moisture levels.


When trying to decide on the right food label for your business, make sure to look into the benefit of each of the labels:

  • ToughMark – Great for reusable containers that are placed in the freezer and around high moisture.
  • DissolveMark – Also great for reusable containers, but better for containers that are placed in the cooler and have low moisture levels.
  • MoveMark – The last of the bunch used for reusable containers, but best used in dry storage.
  • Freezable Adhesive – Perfect on disposable containers that are placed in the freezer.
  • DuraMark – Theses types of labels can be used on disposable containers as well, but are better paired with containers that are placed in a cooler or dry spot.
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Repairing an Edlund Manual Can Opener: Blade & Gear

Edlund Can Opener

Edlund has multiple manual can openers that all vary slightly, however, when it comes to repairs, DIY is fairly similar between all of them. There are approximately 15 parts for each can opener, but the most requested parts are the knife and gear – each of which takes less than a minute to replace, and cost much less than buying a new can opener.

To Replace the Knife

Raise the handle of the can opener, remove the grenade pin (in model #S-11) and remove the knife holder. Unscrew the thumb screw, and you’ll disengage the knife. If you haven’t already done so, turn the knife over to use the other edge (the knife has two blade edges to use), or if both sides are worn, it’s time to replace the knife.

To Replace the Gear

Place can opener in its base, and turn the handle counter clockwise to remove handle (for some models, you may have to use a screwdriver to stop the gear from turning, as you turn the handle counter clockwise). When you can lift the handle off of the can opener, you have officially disengaged the gear. Take out the gear, and replace with a new gear. You’ll know which way to put the gear back in, because Edlund writes “Up” on one side of the gear.

For a full list of Edlund can opener parts, visit our site to see breakdowns, diagrams, and parts for your exact can opener.

Edlund Can Opener Troubleshooting

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Top Back Burner Posts of 2013

Top Posts for 2013 on the Back Burner

We had a lot of changes here at Tundra during 2013, including a brand new website, new videos, and tons of fun content that ranged from crazy outbursts in the restaurant to products in action.  As we pulled together our list of top blog posts for 2013, we didn’t expect to see such a diverse mix of favorites, but nonetheless, you have proven that there’s nothing better than a good green chili recipe and getting your hands dirty with a little bit of DIY.

Without further ado, here are our top blog posts for 2013.

  • Amy’s Baking Company: What a Disaster

    If it wasn’t Amy’s tirades, it was Samy’s complete lack of recognition for anyone other than his wife.  Amy’s Backing Company showed us exactly what not to do when it comes to being on television and back-lashing in social media – we’re still not sure if we’ve regained our composure from this one.

  • Recipe Measurement Converter and Equivalents

    A late comer in the year (as it was posted in October), the Recipe Measurement Converter and Equivalents chart made quite an impact with shares, favorites, tweets, and views; no wonder, it’s an easy cheat sheet for any cook’s kitchen!

  • 6 Tips for Better Plating and Presentation

    When we came up with the idea for this post, we thought that the majority of you would have it down, and that only a handful of you would appreciate a quick list of plating and presentation tips.  But we were wrong – you loved the list!  We can’t blame you either, those food pictures are yummy!

  • 10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

    It’s not just the big brands that are making sure they’re building an online presence, but with it becoming easier and easier for even Ma and Pa shops to jump on board, restaurants that aren’t updating their site are falling behind rather quickly.

  • Green Chili Recipe

    Green chili is a Colorado recipe favorite, and when fall starts getting closer, it’s hard to subdue the craving for a big ‘ole bowl of this chili.  Including how to roast your own chilies, this was our top recipe for the year.

  • From Trash to Treasure: How to Repurpose Old Restaurant Supplies

    We were happy to see that this blog post made the list, because it means that a lot of you are mindful of re-purposing things that could easily be tossed out.  We loved a lot of these ideas, but some of our favorites were those wire whisk lights – beautiful.

  • Kitchen Tricks: How to Cut and Save an Avocado

    It wasn’t so much the slicing and dicing of avocados that we thought would hit home, it was storing the avocado without it turning brown.  Chef Chris Tavano was surprised by the reaction he received on some of our videos this year, because what he saw as “simply chef tricks,” got a lot of us interested in watching more of his videos.

Alright, now it’s your turn to sound off.  What do you want to see in 2014 from the Back Burner?

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Safely Avoiding the Temperature Danger Zone with Soups, Stews & Hot Liquids

San Jamar Cold Paddles

One of the many challenges for a restaurant is avoiding the dreaded food temperature danger zone. When your team is in crunch-mode working on their prep lists, one of the best ways to be
more efficient is to get out of that danger zone faster. In order to prevent the growth of bacteria, soups, stews, broths, and other hot liquids cannot remain between 41°F (5°C) and 140°F
(60°C) for more than two hours. Trying to get foods below that 41°F mark quickly, however, can be tough without the use of cold paddles. FDA directives for chilling foods calls for the
use of cold paddles, and  San Jamar’s Rapi-Kool cold paddles are the perfect way to get hot liquids in the safe zone. San Jamar’s paddles can be filled with water and frozen ahead of
time. They also help reduce waste, because they’re constructed of a smooth material that helps food easily slide off. Bonus – the cold paddles can also be placed in the dishwasher.

A final tip — you can place the hot liquid container in the walk in cooler or an ice bath, to get to the safe temperature zone sooner. Where the cold paddles cool the soup from the inside out,
the walk in cooler or ice bath will help cool from the outside in. Remember that until the soup reaches the temperature safe zone, temperatures need to be recorded hourly.

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What are the Differences between Commercial and Residential Food Service Equipment?

KitchenAid Commercial Series

Great question and one we get more often than not.  The glaring fact is that there are definitely different price points, which encourages residential customers to stick with residential equipment, and tempts restaurant owners to do the same.  We get it, it’s about keeping money in your pocket, but the truth is that there’s more than just price that sets residential and commercial equipment apart, and in the long run, you actually get more for your money with commercial equipment.

When looking to make an investment in a piece of food service equipment, you’ll need to compare apples to apples.  Look at storage space, how it would hold up to being used in a commercial kitchen (vs. in a home: the equipment may only be used a few times a week, or month), size of product, if it complies with FDA and NSF regulations, thickness of the electrical cords, warranties, motor options, electrical options, etc.  Where a regular KitchenAid may work in your home, in a restaurant you’ll likely have to step it up to a much larger mixer to withstand the wear and tear of back of house.  Make sure you know all of the differences between the pieces of equipment you’re shopping for and know if it will hold up to your cooking needs.  Besides, paying less in the short term doesn’t always mean greater savings in the long run – if a machine breaks down because it is overloaded, you’re looking at repairs, or worse, replacing the machine altogether.  Of course, if you ever need help, just let us know, we’re happy to help.

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