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Archive | 2013

Learn About Different Knives & Cuts [Video]

Do you know the difference between a Chef Knife, Santoku Knife, Paring Knife, and Slicing Knife?  We found out that a lot of you are confused on what knife you should be using when making certain cuts, which is exactly why we had Chris make another video for you!  Chris not only walks through what each knife is used for, but also shows you helpful cutting tips for tomatoes, onions, oranges, and meats.

Special thanks to Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn.

List of Products Used in Video

Video  Transcription

Chris: Hello.  Welcome.  I’m Chris Tavano and this is another episode of Tundra Restaurant Supply Do-It-Yourself Knife Know-How.  Today we’re in the kitchen of Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn in Boulder.

So today we’re going to talk about knife essentials in the kitchen.  We’ve got a wide range of your honing rod, your slicing knife, a serrated bread knife, a santoku, or a chef’s knife, we’ve got both, as well as a paring knife.  We’re going to start off with a chef knife and a santoku knife and talk about the differences within them.

We’re using some quality cutting surfaces, an NSF certified plastic polyurethane cutting board or a nice wood butcher’s block that is oiled and cured for food safety.  Briefly I want to talk about the anatomy of a knife that every blade and every knife has is the tip, the blade itself, as well as the cutting edge which goes into the heel which goes to the bolster, easier to see on here, which goes into the tang, and the tang is something that goes throughout the handle.  The difference with the tang between the forged and stamped models, the best way to think about that is a stamped model is much like a license plate manufacturer whereas the forged is much like a blacksmith.

This is probably the most versatile knife in any kitchen could be used for many purposes especially if you are short on any other kind of knife.  Right here we are using a Victorinox stamped eight inch chef’s knife.  The best one I like to think of is holding it in the middle of these two fingers.  If you like to play drums it’s much like holding a drumstick, and you’re going to put that right where the bolster meets the handle, and you’re going to just lightly wrap your index finger around that, and then from there you can get any kind of chopping motion or slicing motion appropriate to whatever food you’ll be working with.

The first versatile piece of fruit or vegetable in the kitchen for a chef’s knife would be the tomato.  I’ll show you two ways on how to slice and dice this.  Be sure to keep your blade as sharp as possible.  We’ve demonstrated that in a different video, Sharpening vs. Honing.  Big thing here is you do not want to go straight down on the tomato.  It’s got a very sensitive skin so you’re going to want to be pushing forward as you go down.  What you do from here is take all those slices that you just had, stack them up nice and high, and from here we’re going to get the nice little dice.  Then rotate it 90 degrees.  Then you’ve got it going the other way.  Be careful you don’t stack too high and it slips out of the bottom, and then you’re going to get a little imperfect dice.

So some recipes call for tomatoes being seedless so I’ll show you how to do that now using a cored tomato that I’ve already prepped.  Start cutting it into quarters, and then from there we take out the seeds much like you will a pepper.  I’ll show you that in a minute, and just set those flesh pieces right off to the side.  So now that you’ve got all your flesh pieces just want to slice these into little julienne strips, and then from there you just take all your julienne strips and then go the opposite direction.  Try and get a nice quarter inch dice.

Next, we’ve got the santoku knife, the Mercer Genesis high carbon German steel blade is what we have.  It is also very comparable to a chef’s knife, very versatile and used for many applications.  This particular santoku has a granton edge often called a fluted edge or a hollow edge, but the technical term is granton, and basically this creates air pockets between the blade and the food so that way it’s easier to come off the blade after you’ve made a cut.  Here is just one of two cutting techniques on an onion that we typically like to use.  Save this piece for your scraps, your stockpots and whatnot.  Peel the first layer of skin back on the onion.  Keep the root intact because that’s going to come in very handy for a various reasons.  We’re going to do a dice here, and probably make about a quarter inch slice all the way through different layers of the onion applying a little bit of pressure on the top to keep it in place and don’t go all the way through like I had just done.  Come back the other way with the tip of your Santoku, and we’re going to make little slices all the way about three quarters of the way through down to the root  so that way theoretically it would all stay intact, and then from here you can make nice slicing motions on the onion and you’ve got your great quarter inch dice.

So next we’ve got the paring knife.  Here I’ve got a four inch Victorinox paring knife.  Paring knives are great for when your chef’s knife or santoku knife doesn’t quite get the job done as far as accuracy, precision or detail or creating that nice fine cut that you need.  So right now we’re going to use that Victorinox paring knife on an orange and show you how to segment citrus.  So I like to hold it like the drumstick again in your fulcrum right at the bolster, and then use the tip of your index finger near the tip of the blade so that way you get that nice precision accuracy.  And you can use that to core certain stuff.  I’ll show you here as we segment, but we’re going to segment this orange.  We’re going to slice off the tops and bottoms, and then from here I’m just going to do a nice rounding pattern to get this pith out of here.  So here you save the scraps great for incense, great for candles, soaps, etc., etc.  Now, here you can see the orange.  You can see the individual segments themselves so you’re going to take your paring knife and just go on the inside of one of those pith areas and create a little V and you’re going to cut out that segment, and on to the next one.

All right, next we’ve got a slicing knife.  Here we’re using the Mercer Millenia series.  It’s an eleven inch granton edge slicing knife.  So here we’re going to slice this beautiful, rested and seasoned pork chop that came off the grill.  Here instead of going down and making your slices, we want to cut on the bias so you’re going to rotate your blade down and just cut off that first nice little edge, and then from there about a quarter inch back every single time putting firm pressure on the back of the chop so that way it doesn’t slide away from you, and try and get full slices of the blade forward and then back.  Forward through the meat, and as you come back you should be in contact with the board cutting the chop all the way down through the bottom, forward and back.  So other applications for the slicing knife specifically is that way you’re not sawing through your meat.  Again, slicer knives are mostly for proteins.  Any kind of chef knife, paring knife, or boning knife, filet knife, you’re not going to get that nice smooth cut from front to back on your protein.  Again, you want to stay away from any kind of sawing motions when using a knife, and having a nice long slicing blade is going to allow you to do that in a large piece of protein.

There are other variations of a slicing knife as well.  There’s what is called the serrated edge.  A lot of times you see this slicing knife for bread something that is a little bit more hard or crusty on the outer surface so that way you can actually get through it.

One other point to mention though is always be sure to properly take care of your knives when washing and storing them.  Be sure that you’re always hand washing your knives.  Never put them in a dishwasher because the temperatures are way too high especially for the handles, and if you have a wood handle it’s just going to destroy it.  We’ve got these nice little blade guards from Mercer, and they’re great for protecting your knives’ honed and sharpened new blade steel.

And that sums up another episode of Knife Know-How from the kitchen of Bar Lilly at the Broker Inn in Boulder, Colorado.  I’m Chris Tavano from Tundra Restaurant Supply and to better mise en place!

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Why Dry Ice Burns

An acute form of frostbite, see why dry ice can burn you.

You’ve probably either heard of this strange phenomenon or experienced it yourself: ice that can burn you. While this may seem initially counter-intuitive, dry ice can indeed burn your skin, but probably not in the way that you think.

When you think of ice, what probably first comes to mind are the cold opaque cubes produced from your freezer or ice machine. Dry ice though is actually quite different from this kind of ice and is rarely found hanging around your average kitchen.  Commercially, dry ice is mostly used to preserve foods that need to be kept at a low temperature without the use of a mechanical device; for example, an ice cream cart uses dry ice to keep temperatures low enough to keep the product in a solid frozen state and to avoid the need for electrical output.  But dry ice must be handled properly and with adequate protective gear or you can get a nasty and painful burn.

A burn from dry ice is not like a burn from a fire or a stove-top; instead, a dry ice burn is actually an acute form of frostbite. It quickly freezes the skin, and can cause damage just from a mere moment of contact.  This is due, in large part, to the fact that dry ice is a solid form of the semi-hazardous chemical carbon dioxide. Since dry ice is made of CO2 and not water, its freezing point is lower than that of H2O, allowing it to become much, much colder than your typical water-based ice. While it’s not strictly considered a dangerous substance, you must go to certain lengths to protect yourself from the potential harm of dry ice. Avoid direct contact and keep in a well ventilated area so that when the dry ice sublimates into CO2, you don’t run the risk of asphyxiation.

In the last hundred years, dry ice has become primarily a synthesized  substance, created in laboratories for commercial and industrial reasons, but dry ice is actually a naturally occurring substance – and not only on Earth.  Photo-optics on Mars showed that polar ice caps consist partly of dry ice. While we once believed the ice caps found on Mars primarily consisted of carbon dioxide based dry ice, we’ve learned that the dry ice is more like a layer on top of water, preserving the liquid treasured beneath.  Another example of naturally occurring CO2 based ice on Mars is dry ice storms. Much like our own thunderstorms, dry ice storms blow freezing carbon dioxide about in a thrashing blizzard that would be deadly to any exploring astronaut.  While thoughts of terra-forming Mars are still centuries away, hazards like dry ice storms keep us thoroughly at bay from the thought of settling the red planet anytime in the near future.

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Gmail Tabs… Don’t Panic!

Annoyed by the new Gmail tabs?  See how to organice them.

On May 29th, Google announced the roll-out of their new email tabs. In a nut shell, these tabs organize your Gmail inbox for you. There are 5 tabs, but only 3 are enabled automatically.


1. Primary Tab – Person-to-person conversations and messages that don’t appear in other tabs, e.g. emails from family, friends and acquaintances.

2. Social Tab – Messages from social networks, media sharing sites, online data services, and other social websites, e.g. notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Foursquare, Linkedin, Yelp, YouTube, etc.

3. Promotions Tab – Deals, offers, and other marketing messages, e.g. emails from online retailers, restaurants, services, etc.

Need to be Enabled

4. Updates Tab – Personal, auto-generated updates including confirmations, receipts, bills, and statements, e.g. order confirmations, invoices, shipping confirmations, bank statements, etc.

5. Forums Tab  – Messages from online groups, message boards, and mailing lists.

Initially, I wanted to thank Google for rolling out the tabs, because it gave me one less thing in my life that I needed to organize. But after a few weeks of having the new inbox, I was less than pleased. I’d forget about the tabs and miss out on smokin’ deals and promotions at my favorite eCommerce sites, I was late to get back to social notifications, and I panicked when I couldn’t find the order confirmation for my Dad’s birthday present when it was simply hidden in my “Updates” tab.

Okay, so I might be a little dramatic, but the tabs really did cramp my style. So what did I do? I found this YouTube video that changed my Gmail life.

“They” say change is a good thing and perhaps “they” are right, but at least this video shows Gmail users everything they need to do in order to receive the emails they care most about in their primary tab. And if you like the new tab setup, GREAT! Google must have had you in mind when making this new design.

One more thing…

If you are a restaurateur and your restaurant has email marketing (I highly suggest it if you don’t), make sure you inform your readers how to easily find your emails and highlight the advantages of being on your restaurant’s email list.

For example, the advantage of being a Tundra VIP is that you will receive:

  • Exclusive deals & promotions
  • Industry news & trends
  • New product updates
  • And much, much more!

Show your customers the value of your email program and how to easily disable the tabs in their Gmail inbox to ensure they see your emails right away. Heck, if you’d like, just link to the video above like we did!

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Knife Sharpening [Video]

Welcome back to our series on knife sharpening and honing.  This week Chris Tavano will cover how knife sharpening works by taking a look at different types of knife sharpeners.  If you don’t know if you should be sharpening or honing, we’d suggest starting with the first video on honing, then come back here if you’re sure that sharpening is indeed what you want to do.

Video Transcribe

Chris Tavano: Good afternoon.  Welcome to Tundra Restaurant Supply.  I am Chris Tavano and today we’re going to talk about a little bit of knife care and maintenance.  So keep in mind if honing did not quite do the job you were looking for and you’re still having difficulties cutting through your tomatoes and onions, you might want to think about starting to sharpen it with a sharpening stone.  Again, some recap, the difference between honing and sharpening is very drastic.  Honing is going to restore your edge while sharpening is going to recreate a new edge.   Honing also reshapes the metal blade; whereas, sharpening grinds a new blade.  So honing doesn’t remove any metal, but sharpening removes a lot of metal from your blade.

Alright, so once you’ve honed your knife and you’re still not seeing the results that you would desire, it is time to sharpen your knife.  Now this is where things get a little bit hairy and a little bit more confusing.  Here we have sharpening stones.  This is a tri-stone right here, again, not to be confused with dry stone.  A tri-stone means that there are three different phases; coarse, medium, and fine, and then in this basin you’re going to want to have oil.  Again, you don’t want to use just any kind of oil, or cooking oil, or vegetable oil because that will ruin the porous texture of your stone itself.  Instead you’re going to want to use a sharpening stone oil which is essentially a mineral oil.  Now that’s what you’re going to want to have in your basin so that way it’s a nice lubricant for your abrasive to grind a new edge.

There’s also whetstones not to be confused with wet.  Whet is whet meaning sharpening.  Again, there are other stones out there as well.  There are ceramic stones that are pretty non-porous and they don’t need any lubrication.  That is probably the closest thing to a dry stone that you can get, dry stone.  Also, there are diamond-plated stones which is basically a brick of steel with diamond studs within it.  Again, that could be considered a dry stone because you don’t need lubricants for those two kinds of surfaces; however, any other kind of abrasive stone other than ceramic or diamond, you are going to want to use some sort of mineral oil lubricant.

Again, there are also some water stones out there, and those you’re going to have to soak the stone itself.  They take special instructions, and you’re going to want to soak that stone for a half hour before you actually start grinding on that.

Alright, so now we’re actually going to sharpen our knife via this whetstone we have here.  Again, I have my mineral oil.   We’ll just lubricate this stone a little bit so that way it gets nice and lubricated.  It’s nice that this nice stone has a particular gasket to keep it in place on the table itself.  Again, when sharpening on a stone same thing like the honing rod, two things you’re going to want to worry about is the angle and the abrasiveness.  The abrasiveness on this particular stone has two kinds of grit.  Think of it like sand paper.  You’ve got a 400 grit and a 1,000 grit,  So you’ve got coarse and fine. 

And again, from there just like the honing rod, you’re going to want to make consistent strokes simultaneously across the stone as well as simultaneously across the blade itself.  Again, we’re trying to create a beveled edge.  So you’ll put it here, press firmly, and with your fingers you’re going to want to keep that blade intact with the abrasive surface, and push forward as you slide across the knife.  Obviously, this stone is a little bit short for me and I didn’t quite get all the way across my blade.  And again, you should alternate each time between front and back. 

So now that we have our newly sharpened knife, grinded a new blade and a new bevel, we should be able to dice right through this tomato much easier just like that. 

Again, that was knife maintenance and care with Chris Tavano at Tundra Restaurant Supply.  Thank you and come again.

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7 Tips to Help Tackle the School Summer Cleaning Rush

Mop bucket in the closet - time to clean!

It may be summer break for the kids, but that doesn’t mean that the school closes down for the season; in fact, for custodians and janitors, it’s the time when they can be the most productive.  The kids aren’t around to continue to clean-up and sanitize after, and there’s a big empty building waiting to be cleaned.

However, the truth is there’s a lot of space and rooms in a school and without planning things out, it can be overwhelming.  Here are a few tips we thought may help you organize the school summer cleaning rush.

1. Know the School.  How many rooms are there?  What are the square feet of each of those rooms?  How many custodians are able to help?  With this information, you can at least write down how many classrooms you have, how many bathrooms, and how many larger rooms there are.

2. Know the Rooms. Each room type is going to have its own needs – some rooms have tile, some have carpet, some need to be waxed, some need to be stripped, etc.  So when cleaning the rooms, you’ll want to know exactly what you need to bring along so you’re not lugging around more than you need.  After you know what each of the rooms needs are, write a list down, and try to get a rough estimate of how long it will take to clean each room.  A classroom deep clean may take 6 hours to complete; whereas, a single bathroom may only take an hour.  With simple math, you can see how 6 classrooms and 2 single stall bathrooms could be cleaned in a 40 hour work week.

3. Checklists.  If you’re a veteran at what you do, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t need any checklists, I got this girl!”  Well, that may be true, but your knowledge is meant to be shared.  Create a list, and perfect it overtime so that others can learn what it is that’s expected of them when they clean the facility.

4. Don’t Tackle it all at Once. If you live in a small school district, it may be easy to get the entire building clean in as little as a month, but for larger schools, it may be easier to section of the school by weeks, or months during the summer.  Do grade by grade, floor by floor, or wing by wing… whatever makes sense to you.  Just don’t get overwhelmed with all of it – take a deep breath.

5. Get the Right Cleaning Supplies. A lot of schools are turning to a green cleaning system, which is good for everyone; regardless, before you get started with cleaning, you’ll need to make sure you have the right cleaning supplies in stock so you’re not running out last minute to gather supplies.

6. Organize. Like in any building or home, periodically we’ve got to look at re-organizing closets, shelves, and cabinets.  This is the perfect time to get things back in order so you can start fresh when the new school year begins.

7. Evaluate Equipment Condition. There’s a lot of equipment placed throughout the school, but regular maintenance is essential in making sure all of that equipment stays up and running when busy time rolls around again.  Use the summer as a time to run through the big and small equipment to see where repairs and maintenance upkeep can be done.  It’s always good to stock up on needed parts too, just in case something stops working when you need it the most.

Are you a custodian that works in a school? What summer cleaning tips have you found to help get through the summer?

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And We’re Back… Better Than Ever!

If you visited us as our site went down on the night of July 25th, you probably got a taste of what our new site was going to look like.  A very small sample indeed, but as our maintenance page was up, our developers worked hard to get the new site up!

Hard at work getting the new Tundra site up!

New website launches call for tiki torches, sombreros, and a little head scratching.

What You Can Expect

We cleaned house with the new site.  We tried to bring our customers an experience that helped them navigate the site easier, learn about our services, and who we are.   Here’s a few of those fun features…

Stationary Search Bar. The search bar at the top of the site will always be there as you scroll around.  And that search bar includes important information that can help you easily contact us or chat with us, sign in to your account, get help, and visit your shopping cart.

Category Pages.  We now have popular items at the bottom of the product pages, links at the top to helpful articles and posts, faceted navigation so you can narrow down your search, and less clicks to reach the products you’re looking for.

Product Grid Pages. These pages also have faceted navigation on the left side of the screen, interactive breadcrumb so you can easily go back in navigation, larger images, and callouts so you know exactly what items are quick ship items and new items.

Take a look at our new product pages on

Product Pages. We are now able to support multiple images for our products (look for more to be added soon), social buttons, help section, and related products.

My Account. Now when you login, you’ll have all the information located on one page – payment method, shipping address, contact information, helpful links, and order history.  You can even search by your order number.

Checkout Process. A new shipping policy that lowers rates across the board – that means more money in your pocket!  And from shopping cart to check-out, it only takes 3 steps!

Co-Branded Sites. For our customers that have co-branded sites, you’ll also find that things are much, much cleaner; making it way easier to navigate to the products you’re looking for.

Content. There’s nothing better than launching a beautiful new site with content that mirrors its marketing and branding efforts.  The good news is that we found our voice!  I’m sure you’ve started picking up on it on The Back Burner blog, but that same voice can be seen throughout our site now.

Our Culture.  We’re super excited about our new About Us section.  We went from only 3 pages on our old site, to a whopping 16 on the new site!  You can learn about our culture, fun facts about us, testimonials, and current job openings.

Design Center. Our Design Center also got a big build-out!  We went from 1 dedicated page to 9!  You can learn about our designers, see our portfolio, and soon be able to dream about your own restaurant design!

Look at those nice images.  Those are nice images.

Imagery. Speaking of finding our voice, we also started the process of cleaning up our images.  We hope that you’ll find that the images are sharp, clean, and, sometimes, a little fun.

Security. The entire site is now under HTTPS with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is a web protocol that ensures that as your shop, browse, and even checkout your visit with us will be safe and secure.

Now it’s Your Turn

Go to the site and explore.  See all the new things we have to offer, and let us know what you think.  We’re always looking for new ways to bring more to the table, and would love to hear from you.  And, make sure you visit our new 404 page, one of my personal favorites!

*As a side note, I’d like to thank Brennan (one of our awesome developers) for his midnight Taco Bell run.  What would we have done without those awesome midnight munchies!

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How to Hone a Knife [Video]

Trying to figure out if your knives need to be honed or sharpened?  In our upcoming video series, we’ll show you exactly what you need to know to keep your favorite kitchen tools sharp.  Our first few videos we’ll cover knife care and maintenance, then move into what different knives are used for cutting different foods.  With that, we say without further ado, here’s our first video on how to hone a knife.

Video Transcribe

Chris Tavano: Hello! Welcome to Tundra Restaurant Supply. I’m Chris Tavano, and I’m going to be taking you through some knife care and maintenance today. Today we’re going to be talking about the differences between honing and sharpening; and the different kinds of stones for sharpening, as well a,s the different kinds of steels and rods for honing.

When you’re honing, we got to think about what’s going on with the blade itself. When you have a nice sharp blade, it should look like this. Nice and even on both sides. Then there is a bevel. That is what we call this angle that’s going to the tip.

What happens as you use your knife and it wears down, that beveled tip starts to turn a little bit more blunt and starts to be a little more rectangular. Also, what can happen is that tip will create burrs. You tend to see a lot more metal fragments and inconsistencies or jagged edges on the knife edge itself.

What honing is going to do is remove those burrs and shape your blunt edge back into a nice beveled tip. However, the difference with sharpening now is when those burrs and jagged edges get too large as well as your blunt edge too big to where you can’t cut through a tomato or a lemon or an onion. That’s when you’re actually going to want to sharpen your knife and grind it down to a whole new blade creating a new beveled edge.

Now we’re going get into details of honing your knife and what honing rods are. Right here, we have a typical honing rod, which is a round shape. They come in many different shapes. Again, this one is another honing rod with an oval shape. There are also honing rods that are round, comes with a helical cut. What that means is the grip on the rod itself is in a spiral fashion to give it more abrasiveness.

Also keep in mind, honing rods are made of different materials. This one, for instance, stainless steel much more abrasive than the knife so that way it can … much more abrasive and harder than the knife. That way it can actually shape the blade itself.

This one, this oval one, is actually diamond-plated. Anything that involves diamond is also going to do a little bit of sharpening, but you’re not quite sharpening as if you would with a stone itself. Again, these are called honing rods. They’re first purpose is honing your blade. Again, if you have a diamond in it, it does a little bit o sharpening, but don’t count on it.

How do you distinguish what kind of sharpness your blade has, and does it need honing or sharpening? Great way is a tomato. Somewhat overused. It gets a little cut up at the first beginning bite through the skin of the tomato. This blade, if you think about it, is still fairly sharp. We could use a typical honing steel rod. Again, then if your blade is slightly dull, you’re going want it, you can also use a diamond rod. That way you can get a little bit of sharpness on and grinding on your blade. Then if your blade is totally blunt and you can’t even get through the skin of the tomato, you’re going to want to sharpen your blade all the way.

We’re using a steel round honing rod. Then you’re going to want to think about an angle on German knives. Typically the angle of the bevel to the blade is about 20 to 22 degrees. Then on Japanese knives, the blades are little bit thinner, but they’re also a little bit stronger. Those angles go to about 12 to 15 degree.

Again, we’re using a German blade so we’re just going to go for a rough 20 to 22 cut. Best way to do that is put your blade parallel with the rod itself. That’s 90 degrees, and you’re going to think 45. Then bring it back to the half of the 45. That’s roughly 22 ½. From there, you want to think about a nice consistent stroke. The stroke you want to take is from the top of the rod to the bottom of the rod, but simultaneously on the bias from the heel of your blade to the tip of the blade, all in one simultaneous motion. Then rotate on the next side. Keep rotating back and forth, left and right, until you made a significant amount of passes, probably about 12.

Now that we have a nice reshaped blade from honing our knives, we can see that this will get to the tomato a little bit better. Keep in mind, if honing did not quite do the job that you were looking for and you’re still having difficulties cutting through your tomatoes and onions, you might want to think about trying to sharpen it with a sharpening stone.

Last but not least are little bit more of the handheld honing devices themselves. I tend to think this is a little bit more dangerous, but that’s all up to you. Mostly, this one that is handheld because you’re actually preening the blade towards your fingers. This is a very nice one. It comes with two grips as well, a fine and a coarse. Again, same thing applies. You’re going to want to put your blade in there, keep a nice, firm pressure, and make a consistent stroke all the way back. The nice thing about this one is it has the angled pre-determined for you.

They also make this version in electric as well. That way, you don’t have to do much work yourself especially if you need a lot of work done to your blade. Also keep in mind, these two devices were really made for honing. Unless they have a diamond steel within them, like we mentioned earlier, it does do a little bit of sharpening, but, again, these are designed for honing. The real sharpeners out there are stone and grinders.

Again, I’m Chris Tavano and this is Tundra Restaurant Supply with knife honing and maintenance. 

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Locking Blade NEMA Plug & Receptacle Configurations

At the end of June I released an article with a chart for Straight Blade NEMA Plug & Receptacle Configurations. Though this was a great idea (no need to thank me), I was missing one important piece of the NEMA puzzle – Locking Blade NEMA Plug & Receptacle Configurations!  So, here you are, our colorful and straightforward NEMA plug & receptacle configuration chart for Locking Blades. If you aren’t sure how to read the plug codes, check out the NEMA Nomenclature.

Click on image for larger view.

 View a chart of NEMA Locking Blade Configurations

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Understanding Common Safety Certifications

When searching for a new piece of equipment, or similar food service necessity, consumers often look for recognizable safety certifications to help sway their decision. Aside from the sought after “Made in the USA” stamp of authentication, certain common safety certifications are like gold stars on possible purchases. Trekking the extra mile as a manufacturer to get these gold stars goes a long way in the eyes of consumers, and there are a handful of well-known, third-party certifications that make all the difference.

Below I’ll walk you through the following common safety certifications (ordered by most recognizable to least recognizable:

  • NSF
  • ANSI
  • UL
  • CE
  • CSA
  • ETL
  • Energy Star

Disclaimer:  Some safety certifications are not required by law, depending on your state or city’s stipulations. Be sure to check with your local municipality to determine what certifications are absolutely necessary before making a purchase.


Safety Certification Mark

The NSF mark is the most widely recognized safety certification decorating food service equipment today. Assigned by NSF International, a certifier “dedicated to being the leading global provider of public health and safety-based risk management solutions,” the NSF label promises consumers that a particular manufacturer has passed highly detailed safety requirements as outlined by the not-for-profit organization. This includes a product assessment of design and construction, a material evaluation of anything that comes in contact with food, and even performance testing where applicable. Additionally, manufacturers who are awarded an NSF certification have their facilities audited unannounced to ensure compliance.

One caveat when it comes to NSF certifications: Often manufacturers will label a piece of equipment with “Certified to NSF standards,” stating that the unit meets NSF requirements, but no official NSF testing has actually taken place. Always looks for the NSF mark to be 100% certain.


Safety Certification Mark

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and its certification often goes hand-in-hand with the NSF mark. Granted, the two are completely separate entities, but many consumers see an ANSI certification to be on par with one from NSF. Like NSF, ANSI has been creating and maintaining nationally recognized norms and guidelines regarding food service products for decades. The company’s ANS (American National Standards) have provided ratings, dimensions, test methods, performance and safety standards, and terminology to hundreds of industries.


Safety Certification Mark

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certifications cover not only product safety, but also testing of systems and services. While the UL mark is often associated with safety, the company specializes in setting standards with which to gauge and validate performance, sustainability, and environmental health. Following the ANSI continuous maintenance standards, the basic UL Listed mark deals solely with safety, but there are a handful of other well-known UL certifications that pertain to other regions and specifications. These include the C-UL (Canada), Classified UL, Gas-Fired UL, UL EPH, Water Quality Mark, and Plumbing Mark.


Safety Certification Mark

The CE marking (formerly the EC marking) was set forth by the European Commission and signifies that a product conforms to European laws or directives in regards to safety, health, and the environment. The marking is required to facilitate trade in the European Economic Area. What sets the CE Marking apart from many other certifications is that CE conformity is usually done through self-declaration as opposed to a formal inspection. Additionally, a CE Marking does not ensure compliance with North American safety standards in any way, and additional certification may be desired by US consumers.


Safety Certification Mark

A standalone CSA mark from CSA International indicates that a piece of equipment or product is primarily certified to Canadian standards. That said, if a CSA mark is surrounded by “C” and “US” or has a “NRTL/C” label underneath the symbol the product is certified to both US and Canadian standards. The certification focuses on safety and/or performance, and CSA International boasts that its mark covers applicable standards from ANSI, NSF, UL, CSA, and others.


Safety Certification Mark

Like the other certifications on the list, the ETL mark is a third-party certification that confirms proof of compliance with certain standards. The ETL mark is appointed by Intertek when a product has been tested and approved to be in line with their electrical, gas, and other safety standards for North America. The company says it tests to UL, ANSI, CSA, ASTM, NFPA, and NOM (Mexico) standards.

Energy Star

Energy Star LogoAn Energy Star stamp of approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) voluntary program is a little different than your common safety certification. Being Energy Star approved means a piece of equipment, establishment, or operation meets specific emission and energy output standards. The program’s goal is to help reduce energy consumption as well as limit pollution and improve energy security. Earning an Energy Star rating ensures that a manufacturer has tested their product in an EPA-recognized laboratory and have subjected themselves to “off-the-shelf” verification testing every year.

A Few Other Reads

As mentioned above, depending on your local laws regarding state and city requirements, some safety certifications may not be necessary. Always consult your local municipality and health advisory regulations before deciding NSF, ANSI, UL, CE, CSA, or ETL certifications are something you don’t need.

Here are a few resources to help you along the way:

NSF Standards

NSF Product and Service Listings

UL Safety Standards

CSA Marks & Usage Guidelines

Earning the Energy Star Label

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