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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.

NSF

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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.

ANSI

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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.

UL

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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.

CE

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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.

CSA

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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.

ETL

Understanding Common Safety Certifications

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

Understanding Common Safety CertificationsAn 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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Chalk My Life – Tundra’s Story [Video]

Nothing gets me more excited to tell a story or write a blog post than the passion of others.  I was thrilled that we were all able to work together to tell Tundra’s story Draw Chalk My Life style.

We started by interviewing Michael Lewis and Rob Fenton, our founders, and Andrew Call was able to pull together a two-part blog post from those interviews: part 1 and part 2.  But we knew that we wanted to do more – enter the amazing chalk art skills of Stephen Garcia.  Stephen’s (pronounced Steven) art can be seen on the big black chalkboard anytime you come into our showroom, and we thought he’d be the best person to help us draw out this story – great hunch, huh!

Video Transcription

(Music)

Michael Lewis: Hi, I’m Michael Lewis. I’m the original founder of Tundra Specialties. I’m sitting here today with my co-founder, Rob Fenton, who came on a few months after we started. I ran a company in New Jersey that was in the restaurant supply business. I sold my interest in that business and came out here, and therein became the birth of Tundra.

As I was leaving my last company, in 15 minutes I wrote down the values of what I, with starting over, what did I want to take with me from the prior experience. That’s where the 13 values came from. They’re unedited. The short answer is we had a high integrity for customers, for vendors, for employees, for product. We were going to deliver a level of service that we believed was not available up to that point.

Rob Fenton: One of the values is having “ways” and not policies. It wasn’t the policy, it was the way to take care of the customer. I came from a B2B application, and we took the B2B concept and applied it to a restaurant industry that at the point in time didn’t have that much focus on customer service, in our opinion.

Michael Lewis: We started very fundamentally, it’s the old story of starting in your garage. It literally did start in my garage, and was able to walk around the streets of Boulder and just introduce myself and at least say, “We have these in stock and we can get a whole lot more.”

The product line just grew from there, but it all came out of a concept that, the idea that the parts availability to restaurants with only through service companies, and service companies needed to install things, and it became a very pricey thing. There was a lot of items that restaurants could actually install themselves.

In order to grow, we could do one of two things:

  1. We could open branches in other parts of the country.
  2. The other way was the advent of the internet.

That was starting to have something to it. At that time, Ryan [Lewis] came aboard and was given the responsibility of developing our first website. Then we went on to the second one. With each one we were able to expand the amount of product we put on. We were able to get deeper into the customer world. We made a commitment to the web before the first site launched.

Rob Fenton: Our biggest concern, certainly the first ten years, was not how fast can we grow. The question was how can we keep up? How do we maintain, how do we keep our company values, which were important to us, and still provide the level of service that we were becoming known for?

Michael Lewis: What we did was listen. The product growth over the 20 years has gone from parts to smallwares to equipment to disposables to textiles. That was all customer pulled. Over the 20 year history, we’ve become a complete restaurant supply house, including installation and design services, as well as, providing any product a restaurant would need.

Rob Fenton: I’m proud to say that we have never lost a customer. Once we have developed a relationship, we’ve never lost one.

Michael Lewis: I really see Tundra as being probably one of the most significant restaurant suppliers in the country. To be able to be in the United States, to be able to distribute all the products we have in the most efficient way, and have one of the easiest ways for customers to transact business with that. I’m not saying we’re the largest, go back to a word I use is significant, whether that also means the largest, we’ll see.

(Music)

Thanks to Nathan Combs for his awesome videography work, and putting up with me as I get excited to tell our story in a fun way!

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Restaurants & Kids

Restaurants & Kids

Yes, I know there are restaurants that cater to kids and restaurants that don’t.  I’m a mother to two awesome little boys – online I call them Max and White Bread – and we typically have to pick our restaurants based on whether the boys are joining Mom and Dad, or not.  So, I know that these “kids in restaurants” posts need to be in three parts:

My original article was going to be on making a more kid-friendly restaurant, but as I started talking about this subject, I learned that people are really passionate about this topic.  And I get it, even as a Mom.

I’ve been in a restaurant with screaming kids, and you think to yourself, “Seriously, are you not going to take your screaming kid out to the car until they are done with their fit?  The rest of us are trying to enjoy our food!”

I’ve also been the parent whose kid is screaming, and I’m like, “Ugh, okay, let’s go outside until you cool off and we’ll start over.”  But I’ve also learned that I can teach my children manners and choose restaurants that are great for them, that are kid-friendly.

We also have restaurants that we refuse to bring our kids too.  Those types of restaurants are for when Mom and Dad are dining alone, and we’re okay with that.

I’ve also been a waitress in a restaurant and know what it’s like to serve a table full of kids – there’s likely to be a mess, a lower bill (hence a lower tip too), and screaming (oh, the screaming).  But again, parents and servers can learn a thing or two to make the entire experience better.

With that, I’ll end by saying that I hope that you get a chance to read each of the articles posted before sounding off.  I know we all have passion in one of these areas, but we all live our own lives and can share compassion for one another – play nice folks.

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How Kid-Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

You got the crayons, the coloring mats, and the fun kids cups, but then stopped there.  There are so many other things you can do to make your restaurant more kid-friendly (yes, more).  Creating a little fun and teaching your servers what being kid-friendly means can really help increase sales in the end.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a fun zone, you can keep your style; just add a little spice, a little flavor, and you’ll turn your restaurant from a place that serves kids meals to a place the kids beg to come back to.  Here are some great ideas that I’ve seen some restaurants do right when it comes to being kid-friendly.

Toys & Games

1. Fun Area & Chalkboard Wall

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

No, you don’t have to have a complete game room like in the picture above, but these are great distractions for small guests.   I love how this restaurant created a nook in the backend of the building, so that other non-kid diners could still enjoy their meal in peace towards the other end of the building.

The chalkboard wall is easy – some paint and chalk, and you’re set.  You can even wash it clean and do your own doodles on it.  Just remember that little artist might think it’s fun to scribble all over your doodles, so don’t get upset about that.  Also, make sure to get the big chalk so that little ones don’t choke on the small pieces of chalk.

2. Make Your Kids Menu Fun

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Kids like to be independent, and if they can order their own food, well, at least at the beginning of the meal they’ll be entertained/preoccupied if your menus are written for them.  I love this kid friendly menu that blogger Kimberly came up with (she has free printables too), but if you don’t want to waste time cleaning them, just turn them into paper ones to throw away.

And it doesn’t have to be just about the food, include some games, jokes, and fun facts.  I love how The Kitchen Next Door does their kids menus.

3. Restaurant Bingo!

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

These bingo cards are fun and can be changed up a bit to include different items – even branded just for your restaurant.  My kids would sit well past waiting-for-food-to-come time and end up playing right through the meal!

Anyone else notice how dated that phone was?  So 90’s, pssh.

4. Awesome Coloring Pages

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

I don’t know a kid out there that wouldn’t be occupied with these cool coloring pages; in fact, I think the kid in all of us would have fun coloring these.  Make sure you have fine tip markers for the small areas; although, crayons would be interesting for those young scribblers.

5. I-Spy Bottle

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

These neat I-Spy Jars could keep kiddos occupied for hours (well, at least a good 20 minutes)!   The best part about them is that they’re cheap to construct, easy to make, and can be themed around the food you’re serving, i.e. if you serve organic-food-to-farm style food, throw in little veggies (plastic of course), or if you’re an Italian style eatery, find some little toys that remind you of Italy.

6. Shut The Box

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Most of us have heard of the dot game (and I’m not bashing it, it’s still a fun game that we all enjoy), but have you heard of Shut the Box?  My life changed when I learned about this game; seriously, it’s enough entertainment to keep the kids busy until the food comes to the table.  With my kids, we reserve this game for restaurants only so that they don’t bored of playing it all the time at home (mom tip, not necessarily a restaurant tip).

Gracious Servers

7. Snacks, Always Snacks

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Before your servers even take drink orders, they already know if kids are sitting at their table, so encourage them to bring out edibles as they approach the table – bread, crackers, chips, whatever.  When I used to waitress, all I had available to give to kiddos was oyster crackers, but that was enough to keep them occupied until I could get their drinks.

8. Special Requests

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

One of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Azteca, has an enormous menu and tons of great food.  They have the perfect environment for us to visit, and they know that there are picky eaters even amongst the adult diners.  Yes, they have an authentic kids menu with Mexican dishes, but they also have Gringo Dishes for those diners that just like chicken (pollo) nuggets.

No matter how much I beg my kids to try a tostada or enchilada, they always go for the American plates.  They aren’t trying to be picky (and they’d likely eat anything we chose for them, if we made them eat another menu item), but kids like things like hamburgers and hot dogs, and sometimes it’s a hamburger and hot dog type of day (even if it is at a Mexican Restaurant).

This was a long tip, but my point was that when it comes to kids, be polite when it comes to special requests.  If your trying to teach them different tastes, I get that as a Mom, but if they don’t want red sauce on their noodles (and it’s not too much to ask), can we just get plain noodles with butter and parmesan?

9. Cook For The Kids First

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

I can wait for my food, but the kids get impatient.  As soon as the food is ordered, your servers should be putting high priority on the kids’ menu choices.  Mac and cheese takes minutes to make, so if it’s done before the parents meal, ask them if they want it early… they’ll thank you for it!

10. Don’t Discriminate

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

If the restaurant is clearly kid-friendly, you and your servers shouldn’t get upset when kids walk through the door.  If you do, you (or your servers) need to find another job.  Besides, like Andrew Knowlton said, “After all, you’re probably going to be in the same boat as I am in a few years.”

And for the sake of all humanity, please, don’t discriminate against people with special needs.  My son has a disability, I know what it feels like when you stare at us uncomfortably (and how do you think that makes a little boy feel?).  I’m not at your restaurant for you to cater to his needs, that’s why I’m there too – I’ll take care of him.  If you’re curious about what he has, I’m okay with you asking me, just don’t be rude, okay?

Pinterest Fun

A lot of these ideas we were able to pin over on our Pinterest board, “For the Kiddos,” in addition to some fun, kid-friendly recipes.  Have fun pinning!

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Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

Summer and grilling share a symbiotic relationship, and neither is truly complete without the other. So, whether you’re grilling outside (where grilling is meant to go down), in your kitchen, or just ordering a grilled meat at a restaurant, remember these helpful tips to get your meat just the way you like it.

Chicken

Approximately two-thirds of chicken in America carries salmonella, so you need to be extra cautious when cooking chicken. Although it may be one of the most potentially dangerous meats, it is absolutely delicious and is perfectly suited for grilling. When grilling chicken, make sure the heat isn’t too high, or you risk burning the outside, while leaving the inside raw.  Cook chicken on a lower heat and try to keep it away from direct heat until the center has been cooked through.

One way to bolster any grilled chicken is by stuffing it. Cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, peppers, meats, and rice are all tasty options to stuff in chicken breast. Stuffing is pretty darn simple too. Just slice the breast down the middle, cram in your choice of extras, tie it up with baking string, and toss it on the grill. Get creative, and do something different every time by experimenting with different foods, flavors, and spices.

Steak

The perfect medium rare steak requires a close eye and careful attention. If it’s left on the grill for just a minute or two too long, you could be chewing on an overdone hunk of meat. Some people prefer to use a meat thermometer so they know when it’s done just right, but if you don’t have one follow this tip.

You’re going to want to mostly cook the steak on one side, and when you prod it and notice it’s getting more firm, flip it over… but not for too long. Once you flip the steak, you probably only want to leave it on for another minute or two, eying it often to make sure it doesn’t get overdone. Don’t forget that meat continues to cook after it’s off the grill, so take it off before you think it’s the right temperature for you – in a matter of minutes it’ll be exactly what you‘re looking for.

Fish

Nothing is better than fresh fish on a hot summer day: it’s refreshing, healthy, and full of flavor. The most effective way to make fish taste amazing is grilling on a plank. Soak the plank in water for a couple hours, and then set it on the grill with the fish of choice on top of the plank. This indirectly cooks the fish, making it smoky, firm, and juicy. Try cooking salmon on a plank with a little salt, pepper, olive oil, and brown sugar.

Another way to make your fish delicious is by giving it a quick sear. This is especially good for really meaty fishes, like tuna. Get the grill plate really hot and cook the fish for only a few minutes on each side. The edges will be crispy and the inside will be naturally textured, juicy, and a deep rare. If you have any concerns about the quality of the fish, it is not recommended to consume it rare, but if you get high quality, fresh fish, there is nothing better than a quick sear and a rare interior.

Cooking Temperatures

To know for sure if food is cooked thoroughly, we’d advise following Foodsafety.gov’s recommendations in the following chart:

Grilling Tips For Summer Eats

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Fixing Commerical Fryers [Video]

With almost 300 comments on our Repairing Commercial Fryers post, we figured it was time to get a video out there to better illustrate how easy it can be to fix a fryer yourself.  In this video, Chris Tavano, walks you through calibrating the thermostat, bypassing the hi-limit, taking out the thermopile, taking out the combination safety gas valve, and other troubleshooting tips for commercial fryers.  Please note, before fixing any kitchen equipment, you should ensure the power and/or gas is off first (in the example below, you’ll calibrate the thermostat before turning off power and gas).

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.

Transcription

Hello, welcome to Tundra Restaurant Supply.  I’m Chris Tavano and I’m here to troubleshoot some fryer maintenance today.  Common problems we tend to see are thermostat controls and calibration; in other words, your pilot light won’t stay lit, your burner won’t ignite, your oil is too hot or is too cold.  A lot of common problems associated with that are the gas burner safety valve, as well as, the hi-limit control and thermopile [Chris said thermopiler, but it is indeed formally called a thermopile].  Today, we will be using our Frymaster MJ35 for our example maintenance.

Calibrating the Thermostat: Checking the Oil Temperature Against the Fryers Thermostat

Alright, so first thing we’re going to talk about is the thermostat and how to calibrate the thermostat to help calculate exactly what the problem is.  So, a lot of times you’ll have your thermostat, and your hi-limit shutoff is around 450⁰.

So, what you want to do is set your thermostat to 350⁰, get a thermometer and put it in the oil basin itself, and you want to make sure that, that comes up to the temperature of 350⁰. At the same time, when that temperature has reached on the thermometer, you’re going to lower your thermostat down to about 250⁰ until it clicks off.  And then you’re going to turn it slightly up, and let the oil cool down.  And when that valve kicks back on for the fire, you’re going to make sure that, that temperature on your thermostat is also what’s reading in the thermometer that’s sitting in the oil.

Hi-Limit

Once you’ve identified the problem of your thermostat being off from the actual fryer oil temperature, the first place to look is your hi-limit switch.  And what the hi-limit does is a safety precaution saying that it’s going to turn off your fryer at exactly 450⁰, and never go higher than that. 

What we’re going to do in here is, you take your two-wires that go to your hi-limit switch, and we’re just going to unscrew them, and switch them in place to bypass that [we’re bypassing the hi-limit switch here].  We’re going to take the one that gives us the source to the thermopile.  This one is our actual limit, and we’re just going to bypass it and go instead to the thermopile.  Really, all you need to do is get the one that connects back to the thermopile so we have a constant source again of that flame.

Thermopile

Alright, if you found out that your hi-limit switch is not the problem, the next place to look is your thermopile.  A thermopile converts your thermal energy into electrical energy.  It is the source of your thermostat.

Back in this corner here we have our pilot light and our thermopile. The thermopile is the rod that is connected to this snaked wire.  Takeout [usually unscrew] the probe itself and there’s your thermopile. [The thermopile needs to be checked for corrosion or broken wires and replaced if damaged.]

Combination Gas Safety Valve

If you’ve found out that the hi-limit and thermopile are not the culprit of your thermostat controls, the next place to look is the combination safety gas valve.  That is not an easy thing to replace, it is not a quick thing to replace, and it’s not necessarily cheap, but it is something that needs to be done, and it’s much better than buying a whole new fryer itself.

If you look at this particular model, the whole unit of the [combination] safety gas valve itself cannot be removed from right here, so what you’re going to do is find your closest joints.  Unscrew those, and your other one right here.  And your actually going to pull out the entire device with all of the component pipes associated with it.  Once you pull that out, you can replace these pipes [take the pipes off of the combination safety gas valve] so that way you have the actual safety gas valve itself.  And then you can get that replaced, you can hook it back up to your previous pipes, and then again, you can screw that back on to the actual gas lines themselves.

Thermostat

Alright, so your last troubleshooting tip would be the thermostat itself.  If you find that you’ve gone through all of that stuff, and your pilot light is staying lit, but however, you aren’t holding temperature through what you had calibrated earlier, and it’s not being consistent, odds are the thermostat itself is bad and needs to be replaced.

Other Common Problems

Alright, so other common problems to try and troubleshoot with your fryer tend to be [small] explosions, it’s too hot or metal fatigue.  A lot of times, you’ve got to check the basin of your fryer itself, and make sure that there are no thin spots, worn out spots or any holes within the basin.  If that exists, you have to get a new fryer.

Other places you need to look are in your exhaust manifolds and in the flume burners themselves.  A lot of times they get caked with grease and excess runoff, and over time, those just don’t get cleaned out the same way that the oil basin itself gets cleaned.  So you’re going to want to check those on a monthly or quarterly basis, and try to clean out the soot.  If it’s caked in there, odds are you might need a new fryer as well.

Another common mistake is liquid propane to natural gas conversions.  Those are one-way valves, so to convert from natural gas to liquid propane, there’s one valve for that.  To go from liquid propane to natural gas, there’s a different valve for that.

For more information, please see our previous post on how to fix commercial fryers.

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6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

No questions about it, people eat with their eyes.  Once a plate is sat down in front of a guest they have already passed judgment on how that food is going to taste.  They look at the plating, they look at how the food is arranged, and they look at the flatware and glassware.  They haven’t even tasted the food yet, but they have already formed an opinion on what the food is going to taste like.

At this point, we think you could agree that having some sort of presentation with the tableware is as important as making sure the food tastes good.  But you don’t necessarily have to go overboard to make a great presentation.  Here are our top 6 tips for bringing a little pizazz to the table:

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

1. Use larger plates and bowls.  When there’s a lot of empty space, it helps the food speak for itself.  It puts emphasis on the food, much like a solo artist under the spotlight – all eyes are on them.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

2. Stack food.  If the food goes well together, try stacking it instead of having everything spread out.  You don’t have to opt for mile-high towers, but a little height looks nice.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

3. Wipe up dribbles.  Unless it’s artfully done, dribbles are distracting and take away from the main attraction.  Wipe up spills and keep the dish clean.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

4. A dash of color.  Sprinkle on some chives, parsley, or micro greens to add a dash of color to food that may otherwise look plain.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

5. Make the right cut.  Think of other ways you can cut the food.  Doing big chunks of vegetables on a plate looks much different than thinly sliced, peeled, and shredded food.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6. Learn to swoosh.  Spoon swooshes are a great way to add a little oomph to a plate.  But take our advice on this one: never, ever touch a swoosh twice (things will get messy if you do).

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Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud-Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your BusinessHow many times as a kid did you hear your mom yell, “Get what you need and shut the fridge door already!”  Well, turns out that mom was right, studies have showed that refrigerator door openings account for 7% of fridge energy use.  Now, think of that number with a walk-in refrigerator that’s average cubic feet is easily more than twice the size of a home refrigerator (yikes, that’s a lot of energy wasted), and what if that same walk-in refrigerator was accidentally left open all night.  Now we’re looking at an entirely different type of loss: lost energy and lost food.

But accidents like this can be prevented.  Cloud-based monitoring systems are quickly changing how restaurant and food service owners are able to accurately monitor temperatures.

What is It?Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Cloud-based monitoring essentially means that information is sent wirelessly from sensors to an online system, and that information can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  The information that can be sent is limitless, and is used in many different ways.

For cloud-based temperature monitoring systems, like NotifEye, the information being sent is temperature degrees ranging from -40⁰ to 257⁰F. Sensors are placed in different locations (wet or dry locations) throughout the food service establishment and they gather temperature readings that are then sent to a secure online system.  The data sent over can be viewed anytime of the day, but even more importantly the software monitors the readings and will alert you when a temperature is off, like the refrigerator door being left open, the fryer not keeping oil hot enough, the holding case losing temperature, etc.   Notifications can be sent to you via email or text.

What Kind of Temperatures Could I Monitor?

It’s up to you.  The standards are walk-in refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, and dry storage area, but we found uses for temperature monitoring in just about every area of the restaurant.  What if the heater was set way too high in the dining room and blasting 90⁰F all night?  You could walk in the next day and find out about it, or you could be notified about it as soon as readings are gathered.

Why is it so Important?

There are multiple reasons why it’s important to monitor temperatures on a regular basis. Every year there are thousands of businesses in the food service industry that lose valuable inventory or get fined by the local health department because temperatures are inadequate.  Monitoring temperatures ensures that equipment is running how it should, and saves your business from potential risks.

It helps prevent health violations and harm to your customers, and it helps save your business.

Is it Pricey?

All cloud-based temperature monitoring systems are priced differently, but we’ve seen plenty that are very reasonably priced.  Many restaurant owners that have installed the systems have reported return on investment in less than two years.  And since temperature monitoring seems to be one of the core values in the 7 steps of HACCP, we see it as an investment that could save your business one day.

What Are The 7 Steps of HACCP?

Glad you asked, HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a list of seven recommended food safety rules originally written for NASA, but has since been adopted in the food service industry by the FDA and USDA.  The 7 steps are:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis. The hazards are grouped into 3 categories: biological, chemical, and physical.
  2. Identify the critical control points, including cross-contamination, cooking, cooling, and hygiene.
  3. Set up actions to ensure safety is maintained at all of the critical control points defined.
  4. Establish monitoring procedures for the critical control points, and make sure to use the right signs, tools and training materials to make sure they are monitored accurately.
  5. Establish corrective actions for the critical control points.
  6. Set-up recordkeeping procedures to log information, like with flowcharts and temperature checks.
  7. Verify that the system put in place is working: validation, ongoing verification, and reassessment.

By the way, HACCP is pronounced “hassip.”

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Infographic: DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

Picture this, it’s right before dinner rush and something breaks in the kitchen. Unfortunately, it’s not the time to run out to get the part needed to make the repair, and improvising is all-to-often the go to quick fix that stands in as the substitute. Whether it’s pliers to turn knobs, a steam table pan to replace a broken caster, or duct tape as a temporary door latch, we’ve been in multiple kitchens and seen the same problems.  Yes, these quick fix tools will do their job through dinner rush, but with extra parts on hand, and a little DIY knowledge, keeping the kitchen going can help save on a lot of other issues in the long run.

We get an unbelievable amount of questions from people on how to fix different kitchen appliances, and a lot of you are definitely willing to give the repair a try yourself.  The good news is that a lot of those repairs may look challenging, are actually quit simple and only require a little elbow grease.  So, in an effort to spread some DIY love, our team got together and came up with this infographic, which we hope will help get you started on your own repairs.  This infographic will help you learn about parts and repairs for refrigeration, oven ranges, and fryers.

Note: To enlarge the infographic, simply click on the image below and a small box will pop-up.  In the top right corner there will be a button where you can expand the image.

Infographic: DIY Restaurant Equipment Repair

Want to have this infographic on your own site to help your customers?  Well we’d love for you to share the DIY love, just use the code below and paste it in the html of your site.  If you need more help with getting it on your site, just leave us a message below.

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

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Help Us Donate to Boulder Safehouse Outreach Center

Help Us Donate to Boulder Safehouse Outreach Center

Keeping with the spirit of our values in giving back, Tundra’s Culture Crew is putting together a donation drive for next month. This time, we’ll be taking donations on behalf of the Boulder Safehouse Outreach Center, an organization dedicated to offering support and services to those impacted by domestic or dating violence in the Boulder community.

Now through July 25th our employees will be bringing donations into the office, and we’d love if you could help us!  All you have to do is find extra things you have laying around that are unopened, and bring it into our showroom.  Our front counter team will even help you unload!

Here’s a quick list of items that was sent over to us from the Safehouse for immediate needs:

  • Ground Coffee
  • Liquid Laundry Detergent
  • Unopened Cold Medicines (allergy, pain relief…)
  • Cleaning Supplies (sponges, brooms, 409, ajax cleanser etc.)
  • Latex/Vinyl Gloves (for cooking and cleaning)
  • New Combs and Brushes (hair)

Find Other Donation Items Needed

If you can find anything around your house that you aren’t using, or come across a deal at the store next time you’re there, I’m sure ANY and ALL of your donations to the Safehouse are greatly appreciated.

SAFETY ALERT – Boulder Safehouse Outreach Center advises that if you are in danger, to please use a safer computer, or call 911, or call SPAN’s 24-Hour Crisis & Information Hotline at 303-444-2424. Learn more technology safety tips.

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