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Archive | April, 2013

Some Like It Hot

Get some pit gloves for pork pulling

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders with Coleslaw The pig, when prepared well, is an animal whose meaty bits provide a wide array of scrumptious goodness. While some less-than-appealing parts of this magic meat machine (like the feet, intestines, ears, or jowls) are still eaten around the world, it’s putting pork to the barbecue or slow cooker that causes most meat munchers to salivate on the spot. One favorite method of serving and enjoying a side of swine is pulled pork.

That said, an interesting dividing line between some pork pullers seems to be the temperature of the meat as you’re pulling. While it can be argued that you should be able to pull pork with your bare hands, with no fear of finger burns, many cooks prefer their pork to be nice and hot as they tear it apart. If you’re one who just can’t stand to have cold pulled pork it’s essential to find yourself a nice pair of pit gloves to pull with.

High temp pit glovesHigh temperature pit gloves are the perfect way to handle and mangle freshly cooked meat of any kind without having to play hot potato. Whether you’re separating boiled chicken from bone, flipping a full rack of ribs, or digging your digits into some hot pork butt having gloves that are maneuverable and heat resistant is a must. Find a pair of gloves with a high temperature rating and never again worry about singeing a knuckle or burning a fingertip on hot fat.

With summer just around the corner it’s safe to say the barbecue season will soon be in full swing. If you’re more than the casual cook, and find yourself in front of the grill or elbows deep in a restaurant’s barbecue pit on a daily basis, having a quality pair of pit gloves is a godsend. Buy a pair or two that will last you a few years instead of a pair that just doesn’t do the job.

Mouth-watering, dissolves-in-your-mouth pulled pork is a delicious dish, and methods for pulling and preparing pork can be a hot topic from one establishment to the next. Any good barbecue joint will have a preferred madness to their pulled pork method, whether it’s secret rubs or precise cook times, and finding your own sweet spot in terms of what works and tastes best takes dedication. There are countless resources available for dialing in that perfect practice, so mixing and matching on your own time is an excellent way to create something unique.

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Menu Calorie Count Debate

Calories Menu

Suns out, guns out – beach bods unite!

Now, more than ever, guests are noticing their calorie intake and diet rituals because swimsuit season is right around the corner. But do menu calorie counts truly affect consumer eating habits while dining out?

Menu Calorie Count Law

According to the FDA, menu calorie counts will soon be required. They are supposed to help the USA’s obesity problem, considering Americans eat 1/3 of their meals outside of the home. The proposed rules would require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, as well as bakeries, grocers, convenience stores and coffee chains to post the calorie count for every item on their menu – additional nutrition info would have to be readily available if requested. However, the law does not apply to businesses like movie theaters, bowling alleys, airplanes, or any other business where the primary focus is not food.

Will this new law affect buyer behavior?

So, the question stands, will consumers pay close attention to calorie counts and will they affect food choices? Well, not really.

New York’s chain restaurants have been posting calorie counts on menus since 2008 and several studies have indicated that they have no effect on buyer behavior. The International Journal of Obesity surveyed and collected receipt data from adolescents in low-income areas in NYC and Newark, NJ (for a comparison) before and after the labeling law went into effect.

Conclusion: Low-income adolescents noticed calorie info, but were slightly less responsive than adults. There really wasn’t any evidence showing that the labeling influenced food choice or parental food choices for children in the tested population. They later released a similar study in Seattle, which has comparable results. Many people actually see more value in meals with more calories than not – Yikes!

What should restaurants do?

Until consumer demands change through purchasing habits and educational messages about nutrition are considered, counting calories may not change the score when it comes to counting calories in the USA. However, that doesn’t mean restaurant’s should be out of line with their portions and non-nutritional offerings. News reporters are already slamming restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory and Chilis for inconsistent calorie counts and insane calorie loaded meals. So, here are my suggestions:

  • Post accurate calorie counts – If you’re 100 calories off on your menu it could mean 10 extra pounds packed onto your customer(s) by the end of the year – WOW.
  • Let’s face it, it’s embarrassing to post high calorie items on menus. No one wants to see anything in the quadruple digits. So, my advice is to offer splitting the dish between two or more people or recommend a to-go box and encourage eating ½ the meal at home, rather than all at once. It should be engrained in the server’s head which dishes are served in generous portions.
  • Create a low-cal menu – Having offerings for everyone, including the health conscious, will not only create more business, but positive word-of-mouth advertising too. Get support groups, like Weight Watchers, on your good side!
  • Have options – If you offer a burger and fries on your menu, perhaps it’s a good idea to have beef substitutes like turkey, black bean patties, portabella mushroom caps, or buffalo burgers to lighten the calorie load. You can also offer fruit, salad, or sweet potato fries instead of the typical house fries.

At the end of the day, nutrition does matter and although it’s known many fast food and chain restaurants are unhealthy, the FDA will continue to fight against obesity in American and restaurants are an easy target. Stay ahead of the political debate and offer healthy options.

Measuring Calories With Exercise

Finally, as this topic gains speed people are going to be focusing more and more on the calories in the food, but I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to post something on your website or in the bathroom to remind people that, yes, counting calories are important, but so is exercise.  If they do make a choice to pick a higher calorie menu item, then a nice walk afterwards would do the body good.

After all, who doesn’t want to see chiseled beach bods and bombshells at the beach this summer?

Update: After concluding this post, I found a blog post titled “We Should Measure Our Food In Exercise, Not In Calories,” which was based on a study done that showed consumers choosing to eat fewer calories when given a menu showing how much exercise they should be doing after consuming the said calories.  The study showed that when people were shown a menu item with listed calories, and the amount of time it would take to walk-off the calories, people often made smarter choices when it came to choosing what to eat.

Inline Labels That Translate Calories Into Walking Distance

Goes to show that sometimes it’s more than just calories that consumers need to be reminded about to make healthier choices.

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A Visit With Ice-O-Matic

Flake Ice

Some of my co-workers and I recently had the privilege to tour the Ice-O-Matic factory in Denver, Colorado.

Now don’t go running off just yet, let me get one thing said up front: I know that factory tours, or even ice for that matter, aren’t exactly at the top of the list for must-do’s, but I think each of us learned something during that tour.  Not only did we learn more about ice in general, but we also learned that Ice-O-Matic is filled with passionate people that love to share that passion with others – yes, even over ice – and believe that investing in an ice machine is more than just another piece of equipment in your kitchen.

Okay, So What’s With the Ice?

Of course we had to start the tour with a run through of ice and how the machines work.  Among other facts, I think my biggest take-a-way was that I’ll never look at ice in my cup the same way anymore – cleaning and sanitizing is crucial with ice machines because ice is considered a food.

As a germ-a-phobe myself, I told our presenter that now I have yet another phobia to add to my list of foods to be scared of.  He of course laughed and said, “Well, as long as that machine stays clean and the water is filtered, consumers of ice should be just fine, and the life-span of the ice machine is greatly increased.”

But it wasn’t just the cleanliness of ice that I was able to walk away with; we also learned a slew of information about the frozen water:

  1. Cube Ice: Bars typically prefer to serve up bigger ice sizes because it makes the beverage look more appealing – some bars even buy blocks of ice so they can cube it themselves.  This style of ice is also preferred in hotter climates because it takes longer to melt.  75% of Americans prefer cube ice.
  2. Flake Ice: Schools, Universities and Healthcare facilities prefer flake ice because it can also be used for packing around injuries.  Grocery stores prefer flake ice to showcase seafood because it helps prevent the meat from bruising, and it can be formed into shapes – think waves of ice.
  3. Pearl Ice: Known by most consumers as Sonic Ice, the food service industry loves this type of ice because it’s chewable and takes the flavor of the beverage.  And believe it or not, 7 out of 10 people like to chew ice, and this is the preferred type to chew.  This ice is also commonly used for merchandising and displays.

But What Does That Have to Do With My Business?

Buying an ice machine isn’t just about choosing the right type of ice.  Our presenter was very insistent on making sure that each establishment looking to invest in a new ice machine was matched up with the right ice machine for them.  It’s not about the biggest, or most expensive; it’s about ensuring that the average ice usage per day is met, while leaving room for future growth.

Sizing the Ice-O-Matic Ice Maker

Okay, I’m listening, what else?

It’s also about knowing warranty details, like using a filter (and regularly changing it) can extend the ice machines warranty by 7 years!  And because water taste, hardness, chemicals, etc. vary in different parts of the country, having a filter is crucial to ensure the safety of the consumers. And the good news is that Ice-O-Matic will send out reminders for when your filter should be changed – you’ll have to make sure to register the warranty though.

After our presentation, we were then taken to the factory where we were able to see exactly how each of Ice-O-Matics ice machines were made.  Here’s a great video from the show “How it’s Made” so you too can see how they’re made:

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Let’s Take a Bite of our Favorite Comfort Foods

Inventive cuisine has its place, but sometimes all you want is a hearty meal of your favorite comfort foods. There are certain feel-good foods Americans reach for when we need to be comforted – from creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese to a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, even a quick and easy peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and of course an indulgent chicken pot pie.  Here’s a look at where these staple dishes originated from and why they have outlasted food trend after food trend.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Sky High Strawberry-Banana Peanut Butter and Jelly

We seem to be an in a food obsessed era, it’s no wonder we sometimes reach for foods that remind us of simpler, less stressful times. Earlier this month was National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day, which led me to wonder how did this simple, inexpensive sandwich earn its own dedicated day?

This childhood favorite was first introduced in the early 1900’s as a delicacy that was only served at the finest of tearooms. It wasn’t until 1986, when Good Housekeeping magazine published an article urging homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread it onto bread did the sandwich start entering everyday American homes.

PB&J sandwiches are extremely popular with children; in fact, a 2002 survey revealed that the average American will have eaten 2,500 of these tasty sandwiches before graduating high school.

Macaroni and Cheese

AKA, mac and cheese, might be the ultimate comfort food. It’s hot, gooey texture, and delicious taste has even debuted on many, fancy restaurant menus.

Whose to credit for this American classic? Mary Randolph first released a mac and cheese recipe in her 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife. Mass production of the main ingredients made this dish affordable, accessible and easy to make. Fast forward a few generations and packaged mac and cheese variations hit the market with great success. The United States gave mac and cheese its own day just like the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Mark your calendar, July 14 has been branded “National Macaroni and Cheese Day!”

Chicken Pot Pie

The chicken pot pie is an American classic. Its rich, savory filling of chicken and vegetables makes this baked dish the perfect meal. When you take that first bite it provides a warming feeling that really satisfies an empty stomach. The pot pie is completely enclosed with a flaky crust and baked in a pie pan to support its shape. The chicken pot pie certainly isn’t the healthiest dish on our list, but this dreamy pie sure does hit the spot for many Americans.

It’s unknown when the dish was introduced to the United States but similar dishes date back hundreds of years in England and other parts of Europe.

Chicken Noodle Soup

A savory broth simmering with chicken, vegetables and noodles has been a classic dish for hundreds of years. Chicken noodle soup may remind you of a time when you were sick or surviving yet another cold winter day, but this all-time American classic has long been touted to help treat the common cold so it’s a perfect pairing.

In the 1930’s the Campbell Soup Company released a condensed version of this soup that helped it make it into millions of American households. Nutritionally chicken noodle soup is by far one of the healthiest comfort foods.

What do all of these foods have in common? All of them are modest, homemade, and in most instances, provide a warm, good feeling! Adding to that, it’s comforting to know that with all the trendy foods being introduced, and fad diets that are marketed, these foods remain the same year after year, generation after generation. We can all feel good about that!

And in case you didn’t notice, you can click on each of the photos above to be taken to the recipe that matches the photo – happy cooking!

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Tundra’s Waste Management System

Going Green Carbon FootprintLast April we put in place our own waste management
system, which evolved after studying our not so healthy
trash habits around the office. The result of this had us cutting down on our trash and ramping up our recycling and composting efforts. First, we installed composting bins to capture paper towels in the restrooms. Then we added recycling & composting bins next to the trashcan in our break room as well as smaller recycling cans at each cubical in the office. Finally, we educated our employees on where our trash is going and what can and cannot go into the different bins with the help of visual aids. Needless to say, the new green initiatives were well received by the staff at Tundra.

See our last blog post on our waste management efforts, or for more green tips, see our other blogs posts on going green.

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Food Waste by the Numbers Infographic

Our last infographic was fun and shared information on just how many wings we consume in a year – especially around the Super Bowl.  However, this infographic is taking a completely different approach and showing the reality of how much food is wasted around the world, in the US, and in restaurants.  It’s quite alarming to know that 1/3 of all food in the world is wasted annually when there are an estimated 925 million people in the world that are suffering from hunger!

Food Waste by the Numbers Tundra Infographic

Want to see more infographics like this one or our last one? Let us know what data you’d like to see visualized in the comment box below.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

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The Juiciest Trend This Season

Fresh Orange Juice & Half OrangeJuicing has become more and more popular and at an average of $8 per drink, there’s big profit in adding juice to your menu. But why are consumers willing to spend such a high price for these drinks?

First off, consider the price of a decent juicer or blender and what it would cost a consumer to begin juicing from home. Unfortunately, the appliance is not cheap, because the motor of a standard household blender can’t take on the power needed
to ground up the rinds and seeds used in whole juicing.

There’s also a big difference between the final costs of organic, local ingredients for a restaurant versus a consumer. Once the consumer is done hitting up the natural market for all of those fruits and vegetables, their final price is well over that $8.

Juicing is a total meal replacement, and when it comes to choosing between spending that $8 on a fast-food meal or healthy juice, consumers are quickly making the health conscious choice. In fact, juice bars are reporting profits of more than 19% year over year.

Check out just how fast the J80 Ultra Juicer by Robot Coupe can add revenue to your bottom line –

Save With Robot Coupe J80 Ultra Juicer

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From Trash to Treasure: How to Repurpose Old Restaurant Supplies

Recycled Spoon Coat RackGetting Organized

  • Any type of cup with a handle can be mounted to the wall and with an S-hook attachment can become a unique utensil holder or flatware organizer.
  • ƒƒ There are multiple uses for Cambro food storage containers, most of which keep you and your staff organized. Check out our recent blog post to learn how: 100 Ways to Use a Cambro Storage Container!
  • ƒƒ Need hooks to hang pots and pans in the kitchen, a coat rack in the dining room or for personal belongings under the bar? Try serving spoons & flatware! Just bend the utensil into the desired shape.
  • ƒƒ Having trouble finding the correct o-ring for your stick mixer? Muffin tins are perfect for keeping track of replacement parts! By labeling each tin & educating your staff, quick & easy repairs can be made in a flash!

Chalkboard Wine BottleUpcycled Decorations

  • Repurpose old wine bottles by turning them into table tents. All you need is chalkboard spray paint! This creative flair is sure to get people talking!
  • Cups and glasses are perfect centerpieces on tables for floating candles or displaying fresh cut flowers!
  • ƒƒFunnels, sieves and other containers were also found to make beautiful plant holders – think about growing fresh herbs too.
  • ƒƒPots worn out? Clean and then spray paint them for a cost effective way to make buffet risers, wine buckets & beverage tubs!

Wall Made Out of Pallet WoodBold Walls, Ceilings & Bars

  • Saved up all of those wine corks, but have no idea what to do with them? Frankly Wines in Tribeca, New York decorated an entire wall out of them.
  • Use wooden crates? That wood makes amazing wall art, but more importantly, can be used to cover entire ceilings, walls and even floors! That’s right- create a small stage out of wooden crates and start hosting occasional live music!
  • Glass is probably the most popularly reused item for walls, ceilings and bars. The bonus? They help with acoustic sound!
  • Plastic? You bet! One of our favorite walls was made out of water bottles. That got us thinking about all of the other plastic wall possibilities – hmmm.

Pallet Wood ShelvingSpeaking of Pallets

  • Pallets can be cut down and stained to make a beautiful wine rack. Bonus, the shelving is low enough to still show off those enticing wine labels.
  • Take out some of the slats and hang the pallet on the wall for shelving. This is a great way to showcase the history of your restaurant starting with the first framed dollar spent in your establishment.
  • Stained different colors, and cut into different sizes, we found beautiful wall art that would look great in any restaurant.
  • Indoor gardening goes well with pallets, and helps restaurants bring in the outdoors, while adding to the décor.

Whisk LightsUnique Lighting

  • Make light fixtures out of old glassware, including chandeliers, track lighting and pendant lights.
  • Think about using old wine bottles and beer bottles for setting the mood at your tables. Flower vases are also an effective way to repurpose the colorful glass!
  • ƒƒHow about an old sieve, funnel or whisk, we found some very interesting light fixtures repurposing these kitchen items.
  • Did someone say wire guard? Not only does this protect your globes from breakage, we’ve also seen restaurants use them as modern light fixtures throughout the dining room and in bathrooms where maximum light is desired.

PinterestWant to see how others have pulled these ideas together, plus many more like these?  Visit our Repurposing Restaurant Supplies board on Pinterest!

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Saving the Environment: One Scrap at a Time

Compost; Organic RecycleComposting is often overlooked in restaurants; in fact, when it comes to talking about food waste, the majority of restaurant owners and operators say that the first thing on their list of priorities is honoring the chef’s culinary skills and making sure the freshest ingredients are being served. Food waste came in last on the list.

We get it; it’s easier to throw food in the garbage. That way the back ally attracts more vermin and the landfills fill up with an overwhelming amount of food waste (which produces an alarming amount of dangerous methane gas). But what if we told you that many cities now offer offsite composting and all you have to do is make sure you separate trash from food waste! Whether it is the trash company, your local school district, or a local farm, there are more and more businesses willing to return your food waste to the ground.

Why take action? The soil that is produced from composting helps build nutrient rich gardens and flower beds. When we look at our local surroundings here in Boulder, CO and take into account the numerous flower beds and gardens from Pearl Street to the University, local elementary schools and surrounding family owned farms, we realize what a difference your “trash” could make on their bottom line and for the environment.

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