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Archive | 2013

How Much Should Restaurant Workers Be Paid?

Pay for restaurant workers. It’s an issue that manages to unite us and divide us at the same time.

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.

Most of us, in other words, can sympathize with the plight of low-paid restaurant workers because we’ve been there ourselves at some point, or have a friend or relative who struggles to cover basic needs while working full-time in a food-service position.

Divisions emerge when we stop to consider what, if anything, to do about it. Should we raise the minimum wage? Should we abolish tipping altogether? Should we pressure owners to pay their employees a living wage? Or should we let “the market” sort itself out and avoid potentially messy policy intervention?

Traditionally, many restaurateurs at our country’s 980,000 food-service establishments argue that forcing proprietors to pay their workers more will simply result in either less hiring or worse: layoffs. Further, they say that paying workers more would result in higher prices for patrons, who might decide to stay home and cook.

The counter-argument, one that I agree with, is that modestly raising pay standards to keep pace with inflation and other cost of living metrics is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but will have the added benefit of stimulating more economic activity overall, because compensation isn’t’t a zero-sum game.

After all, folks who work in restaurants like to eat out as much as everyone else! If they’re paid a decent wage, they’ll have the means to patronize local restaurants once in a while.

What’s more, there’s the issue of fairness. Consider the situation in New York City, where nearly two-thirds of restaurant servers live at or below the poverty line. How is this situation OK? This strikes me as a classic example of a market failure ripe for correction.

In the meantime, whether you support change or the status quo, we as patrons can make sure our servers are tipped well, because tips aren’t simply bonuses paid on top of good wages. Without tips—heck, even with them—the far majority of restaurant workers wouldn’t be able to make ends meet.

And if you’re not convinced that your tip makes a difference, check out this powerful video.

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How to Maintain a Roundup Variety Steamer [Video]

If you work in a kitchen with one (or several) of these steamers – you know how easy they can make your life – as well as how much harder they can make when they brake down or aren’t working efficiently. Here, Chris Tavano shows you how to conduct routine cleaning, as well as how to troubleshoot common problems to ensure that your steamer is always up to the job!

Find your replacement parts here!

Looking for something else? Find all our Roundup parts here.

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Food Service Industry Giving Back to the Community

When it comes to the holidays our hearts start to fill with the gift of giving, and we’re a little closer to our philanthropy side.  We see those on the streets in need of blankets, gloves, shoes, and socks, and the next time we rummage through our closets, we think of them before dropping our used things off at the thrift store.  Something as simple as a blanket can give a small glimmer of hope to someone living on the street and warm your heart. 

We thought it would be nice to see what businesses in the food service industry do to give back to the community.  We found that plenty of you offer free meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but what we didn’t expect to find was these two particular companies that give back year around.

La Trobada | Terrassa, Spain

La Trobada is a restaurant located in Terrassa, Spain that recently opened to the public.  When you think of giving back, this restaurant got it right.  Instead of charging diners for their meals, they offer a fair trade: work one hour cleaning or serving, and a three-course meal is provided for free. 

And with a down economy, patrons of La Trobada have been grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a nice, warm meal and not have to worry about money woes for once.  In fact, about 50% of the restaurant’s patrons are part of the work to eat program.

United Methodist Church | Providence, Rhode Island

Food Service Industry Giving Back to the Community

We’ve heard lots of stories about churches giving back to the community and helping the homeless population get back on their feet – even if it’s just a pair of shoes.  But we really liked the concept that the United Methodist Church of Providence, Rhode Island took.

Homeless people are invited to breakfast that includes heaping piles of yummy bacon, eggs, and pancakes, in exchange for helping to cook and serve the food.  What started off as a small program, has grown immensely and now the breakfast group easily has 40 volunteers every morning.  The program is said to do more than just serve up a warm meal, it helps give the homeless population that volunteer a sense of hope and kindness.

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Product Spotlight: Vollrath Food Prep Equipment

Product Spotlight: Vollrath Food Prep Equipment

Jacob Vollrath started the Vollrath Company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, over 135 years ago, manufacturing pots, pans, plates, cups and other kitchenware by coating cast iron with ceramic glaze.

Since then the company has switched to stainless steel and grown into a major manufacturer with a fan base that spans the globe. And despite their size, the family-owned company has stayed true to its Sheboygan roots, with a commitment to craftsmanship and innovation that chefs, managers and proprietors everywhere know they can rely on.

Food Prep Equipment for Every Task—Small, Large and Industrial

With Vollrath in your kitchen you can slice, dice, chop, mix, whisk, wedge, shred, grate, core, grind, cube, agitate, extract, scrape, and vacuum seal on a professional, take-no-prisoners scale. Whatever you need processed, from apples to zucchini, Vollrath lets you work with an efficiency that Henry Ford would admire. Plug it in or crank it by hand—it doesn’t matter: their equipment motors through tasks just the same, making your kitchen quicker and your establishment more profitable.

Redco Manual Food Processors

Vollrath’s food-prep line features industry-leading Redco Manual Food Processors, which offer exceptional value and help your business bring more to the table. Redco slicers and cutters are prized for their ability to boost kitchen productivity, improve consistency and reduce food waste, giving you more time and energy to focus on delighting your customers and providing value.

Durable Products That Stand Up to Daily Abuse

Keenly aware of the needs of busy restaurants and the exacting demands of professional chefs, Vollrath has designed their line of food-prep products to withstand heavy use (and abuse) day in and day out, without complaint and without any loss in performance. With the support of strong materials and precise engineering, restaurateurs and chefs know that an investment in a Vollrath is an investment in the success of their business.

Dedicated to Your Success

Vollrath’s commitment to the food service industry is legendary, and that commitment is evidenced by their vast library of free resources for buyers and owners. Whether you’re looking for a product attachment or tips on streamlining your kitchen operations, the Vollrath University website is a fantastic resource to keep at the top of your bookmarked sites.

If you’re looking to provide a better experience for your customers while streamlining your back-of-the-house operations, you really can’t go wrong with Vollrath.

Shop all Vollrath food prep equipment at eTundra.com »

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Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs

Gift giving for chefs can sometimes be hard, because the majority of them get the things they need, when they need them, but don’t walk away just yet.  We asked a few of our chef friends what types of gifts they’d love to receive (even if they already had it), and we were able to narrow down the list to a few top contenders.  From the foodie in your life to top chefs, here are our favorite food lover gifts.

 1. Pocket Thermometers

Top 10 List of Gifts for ChefsEvery chef needs a pocket thermometer, and extra on-hand at that.  Why you ask?  Temperatures of food are everything for a chef – it keeps their patrons safe and the health inspector happy.  Thermometers that are small enough to fit in a side chef jacket pocket and can give fast digital readings are preferred, especially when they have accuracy within 1⁰F.

Our Favorite: Comark Waterproof Digital Pocket Test Thermometer – $24.90

 2. Wine Keys

Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs

Whether it’s for the chef in your life or a bartender, for some reason or other, wine keys always seem to disappear.  Corkscrew sets are helpful for wine aficionados; in fact, any of the Front of House team would find a new wine key useful!

 3. German Knives

Top 10 List of Gifts for ChefsA knife is at the top of the list for best gifts to give food lovers, but there’s a catch.  Most chefs would prefer to hold their knives before making an investment.  They fall in love with the feel of the knife before they do the actual make of it.  That is, until it comes to German and Japanese knives.  German knives are the most widely used and favored of chefs.  You can basically get any type of German steel knife (boning, paring, slicing, etc.) and your foodie will be happy.

Our Favorite: Wusthof 10” Cook’s Knife – $32.00

 4. Stocking Stuffers

Top 10 List of Gifts for ChefsStocking stuffers are always great, inexpensive items that any chef would adore.  A few that were on our list of favorites included: apple corers, peelers, needle nose pliers, micro-plane graters, cherry/olive pitter, fish spatula, garlic press, offset spatulas, bar mats, bar caddies, 1-9 pans, and squeeze bottles.

Our Favorite: San Jamar Dome 3 Quart Garnish Center – $36.49 (may have to get a bigger stocking for this one though)

5. Mandolins

Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs Mandolins are often an overlooked accessories that (as one of our chefs put it), “You don’t realize how much you need it until you look over and there it is, and you think, “Geez, I’m glad I have that.””  It may not be the center piece of kitchen must-haves, but they’re definitely helpful for getting precise, consistent cuts.  They’re also great for any budget, because they range from $6 to $150.

Our Favorite: Jaccard Safe Hands ABS Mandoline – $36.95

 6. Knife Bags

Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs What’s a better gift for knife enthusiasts than knife accessories?  Our next items on the list are knife bags.  If they’re spending the money on nice knives, they also know that it’s worth it to protect their investment, and that’s where knife bags come in.  There are different sizes, depending on how many knives your foodie needs to tote around, but a simply knife roll that holds at least 5 knives will do just fine.

Our Favorite: Mercer Cutlery 10-Pocket Knife Roll – $43.20

 7. Chef Apparel and Clothing

Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know how yucky clothes can get for those working with the food, which is why you can never go wrong with a set of new chef coats, beanies or pants.  Make sure you know the color and fit they prefer, because some restaurants are strict on color and some chefs have preference different sleeve length, other than that, prices vary from $5 to $100, so there are a lot of options to fit any budget.  Our chefs noted that they could never have enough pants and coats on hand, so this is definitely a winner!

Our Favorite: Chef Works Monte Carlo Chef Coat – $82.92

 8. Japanese Knives

Top 10 List of Gifts for ChefsJapanese knives are a different story.   These knives are handmade and are fit for the best of the best cook out there.  The caveat is that these are the type of knives that most chefs want to hold and get a feel for before making a purchase. But, your chef can always exchange the knife, and if they’re a Japanese knife newbie, they’ll love you for being able to experience the beauty of these handcrafted knives.

Our Favorite: World Cuisine 6 ½” Deba Japanese Sushi Knife – $58.05

 9. Dutch Ovens

Top 10 List of Gifts for Chefs If you haven’t ever invested in a Dutch oven, you’ll be surprised at how pricey they can be, and also why they’re a great gift idea for food lovers.  Investing in a great Dutch oven, is like investing in a great set of knives – you collect them overtime, but they last forever.  Any cook that has cooked with a Dutch oven will tell you that the way they cook and keep their heat is unlike any deep bottom pot you’ll ever cook with.  Prices range from $50 to $360, and there are tons of difference sizes and colors to choose from.

Our Favorite: Lodge Red Enameled 6 Quart Cast Iron Dutch Oven – $69.86

 10. Knife Sharpeners, Steels, and Stones

 Top 10 List of Gifts for ChefsDon’t worry, if you don’t know the difference between knife sharpeners, steels, and stones getting any of these will make your chef happy.  The difference between getting a countertop, handheld, or manual version is completely up to what your chef is interested in, but you definitely can’t go wrong with a sharpening stone with coarse, medium and fine stones.

Our Favorite: Mundial Course/Medium/Fine Sharpening Stone – $145.59

Click to for a video on how knife sharpening works.

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How to Measure and Replace a Vent Hood Filter [Video]

Vent hood filters are incredibly simple in their design, and as long as you check them for grease build up weekly or monthly and ensure thorough cleaning, they should last quite a while. However, if you’ve bought a new vent hood and need filters for it, or if your old filters are just getting too worn and corroded, replacement and installation in quick and easy. Chris Tavano (and his No-Shave-November Handlebar) show you how to make sure that you order the correct size and material for your application.

Note: “Height” is measured by the direction of the baffles Actual height and width are 1/2” shorter than nominal dimension.

Get your hood filter replacements here.

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and in this episode I’m going to show you how to properly measure your hood filters for replacements.  So here with these hood filters we have two different types of material.  We have a galvanized and we have a stainless steel, they also make aluminum.  You’re going to want check with your local health code and health department to see what kind of material you are allowed to use in your restaurant.

If you have a showroom kitchen that you’re going to want to use a nice shiny displayable stainless steel for your public, you are going to want to check that every single day for grease build up.  However, if you do not have a showroom kitchen or an open kitchen, you want to check the frequency build up of your grease probably at least once a week if not monthly.

From there, you can discern whether you need to replace them or clean them.  So keep in mind when you’re measuring and installing your baffles or your hood filters. The baffles are always going to go vertical.  That is very important, otherwise the system is not going to work correctly.  Here’s how you measure them.  You’re always going to see two dimensions in the model number.  For instance, 16-25 and what that means is a 16 inch by 25 inch.  The first number is always going to be the vertical dimension, keep in mind that all of these dimensions might be off by approximately half an inch.

This particular baffle is a 16-25 so that means it’s going to be a 16 inch vertical dimension with a half inch room of margin.  So next you’re going to measure horizontally on the filter, this one comes up to just short of 25 but that’s the 25 you’re going to see in the model number, meaning that it’s 25 inches wide.  If you don’t have an old existing hood filter or baffle to measure and you just have the open space within your hood just be sure to add an extra inch to the vertical dimension, the height, so that way there’s room for the baffle and the filter to sit inside the ledge of the hood cavity itself.

I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply, here’s to a better mise en place!

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Product Spotlight: Sharp Commercial Microwaves

Product Spotlight: Sharp Commercial Microwaves

Did you know that Sharp Corporation started in Japan in 1912 with a line of groundbreaking mechanical pencils?

Over a century later, Sharp is still on the technological vanguard, and their stellar lineup of commercial microwaves is a perfect illustration of their pedigree and enduring commitment to innovation.

Combining reliability with power, simplicity with sophistication, Sharp commercial microwaves have earned fans in high-output restaurants and home kitchens.

Large Capacity, Compact Design

Sharp microwaves manage a paradoxical feat: they have a small footprint AND a roomy interior. How do they pull it off? With clever design, Sharp microwaves deliver evenly cooked food without the space-wasting turntable of domestic ovens, allowing every inch of space available to be used.

What’s more, without the usual merry-go-round to complicate cleanup, the inside is easy to keep sanitary.

Two Grades to Choose From

  1. Sharp Heavy-Duty Series microwaves, ranging from 1200 to 2200 watts, are the workhorses of the bunch. They’re great for big jobs requiring maximum efficiency and output. Choose from models with up to 11 power levels and 20 touch-pad memories.
  2. Sharp Medium Duty Series microwaves, each packing 1000 watts, offer the durability and simplicity of a stainless steel interior, with a tough handle that will endure a lifetime of abuse. Whether you choose the spartan R-21LCF or the feature-rich R-21LTF and R-21LVF models, you’re going to enjoy rock-solid durability and peak performance.

Efficiency-Boosting Controls

Streamlined programming means streamlined kitchen operations. What’s more, Sharp offers models with Twin Touch capability, an innovation that features dual control panels on the top and bottom so the buttons can be reached wherever the microwave is placed, making it easy to use in small places.

Sometimes you need options, but other times they just get in the way. Whichever camp you’re in, Sharp has a microwave for you, from a pared-down model with just one power level and handful of memories to an all-the-bells-and-whistles-included model with 11 power levels and even more pre-programmed memories.

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Happy Black Friday!

Happy Black Friday!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s that special time of year when we chase deep discounts and spend with wild (yet savvy) abandon!

Online vs. Offline? No Contest

The best thing about shopping in online, of course, is you don’t need to wake up at 4am and camp out in the bitter cold before the store opens, or wrestle with rabid deal-seekers for the scraps.

When you shop on the web, you don’t even need change out of your pajamas.

You can be a bit more—how do you say—civilized in your Black Friday shopping. Why not eat some turkey leftovers while you peacefully click with your cursor and find what you need? Forget getting in the car. Just check your email: the deals will have come to YOU through a series of tubes leading to your computer. Magic.

That’s how holiday shopping should be, right? Why make this more difficult than it has to be?

Black Friday at Tundra

Here at Tundra Restaurant Supply, we’re celebrating this high holy day of commerce with a humongous site-wide sale:

Take 15% off any order, no minimum purchase. Just use the code NOVBLK2013 at checkout.*

So whether you need a shiny new piece of equipment or a small yet essential spare part, today is a fantastic time to pick it up. Shop our thousands of sale items and make your savings go even further.

Don’t Miss It!

Alas, Black Friday can’t last forever, so don’t wait too long to enjoy deep discounts on Tundra’s extensive menu of restaurant equipment, supplies and parts, because the savings end tomorrow at 11:59pm MST.

Here’s what to do now: make yourself a nice leftover turkey sandwich, put on some Vince Guaraldi, do a few quick cursor-finger exercises and click over to eTundra.com. (Careful not to get any cranberry sauce on your keyboard.)

Then, after you’ve saved some money on your holiday shopping, sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Happy Black Friday, everyone.

*Max. savings $150

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Kitchen Tricks: How to Cut Bell Peppers [Video]

Bell peppers are an extremely versatile vegetable, but cutting them can be very difficult. In this video, Chris Tavano shows you two easy ways to quickly cut down any shape or size of pepper.


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Transcript:

Here in this video we’re starting off with a couple ways how to cut bell peppers.

Here we’re using our Mercer Genesis Forged High Carbon Steel Santoku Knife, seven-inches. The first method I’m going to show you is your pretty much you quarter each side, and then we’re going to get out the nice pith and inner. Then we’ll just julienne these green peppers into little strips. Great for fajitas, great for salads; again, making nice, fluid motions with the knife, constantly going forward and back. Nice julienned strips for fajitas.

We’re going to show you the second version on a bell pepper. Cut off the top like a little cap. Cut off the bottom, make a little slit; we can just roll it out like a little wheel. Some peppers are easier than others. Nice one, giant strip and then right here we can get a nice little smooth julienne for nice fajita peppers, again for salads, making nice forward motions with your knife. Nice little green pepper strips.

That’s another episode of Knife-Know-How Kitchen Efficiency Tricks. Here’s to a better mise en place!

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