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Author Archive | Kasy Allen

How Sushi Restaurants Cut Cucumbers Fast

How Sushi Restaurants Cut Cucumbers Fast

There aren’t many kitchen prep tools that we’d recommend investing in that only does one job in the kitchen, but this is one of those tools that we’re more than happy to step aside and let it take the spotlight. Vollrath’s Redco Instacut Cucumber Slicer (#55010) was made specifically for cutting perfectly sliced julienned cucumbers, and where would those uniformly cut veggies be sliced and diced the most? In a sushi restaurant, of course.

Think about it, how much time do you think is spent cutting cucumbers in a sushi restaurant? It’s a time intensive and tedious task that takes up precious time, but with this handy slicer, staff can cut right through cucumbers so that they can get back to other kitchen needs. Other reasons to love this cucumber slicer include:

  • It’s 10x faster than traditional cutting methods – that helps cut labor costs too.
  • Cut fresh cucumbers NOW – no need to prep slices ahead of time, you can deliver super fresh cucumber slices as needed.
  • Consistency – we’ve never seen a better method for delivering consistent, julienned sushi cuts.

How Sushi Restaurants Cut Cucumbers Fast

How it Works

  1. Cut the ends off of the cucumber.
  2. Cut the cucumber the length you want your julienned slices. Keep in mind a typical nori sheet is 8” long, so 8” long or 4” long is ideal.
  3. Place the cucumber lengthwise in the cucumber slicer, move your hands out of the way, and push the red handle down.

There ya go, perfect cucumber slices for fast-paced sushi restaurants, and without the hassle. Bonus, if you don’t want to keep the seed sections, those slices can easily be picked out and put to the side.

P.S. Of course, if morokyu is on the menu, you’ll still need to resort back to the old way of slicing and dicing.

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5 Tips for Finding the Right Restaurant Equipment

5 Tips for Finding the Right Restaurant Equipment

When it comes to shopping for new restaurant equipment – big and large – it can be trying to find reliable reviews. For the residential counter-parts, Amazon is the go-to-resource for customer reviews that really tell the story on how you could expect a piece of equipment to work in the home kitchen, but there’s something about the restaurant industry that doesn’t lend to extra time for leaving reviews for others to learn from (I mean, everyone that works in the restaurant industry has the extra time to sit in front of a computer and write reviews, right?). With that said, here are a few tips on how you can find the answers you need when shopping for new commercial restaurant equipment.

1. Research the category first.

Start with researching the over-arching-category first. You likely know what you’re in the market for, i.e. searching for a new ‘fryer’ will yield better results than searching for ‘restaurant equipment.’ Search the web for key phrases that may help you find the information you need:

This will help you find the questions you should be asking when searching for a new piece of equipment and will help you narrow down your choice to the type of sub-category and/or products you should be further researching.

2. Start researching specific equipment models.

Just like you’d do with buying residential equipment, using the research you’ve already done, get specific brand name and model numbers of equipment you may be interested in and see if there are reviews written in various places across the web. Let’s take a Hamilton Beach CPM700. This heavy-duty mixer is similar to other popular mixer brands, but maybe you’re not as familiar with it. Before you make the investment, do some digging on what other buyers think about the mixer – take note of reviews and questions you find on other retailer sites. Search the web for these key phrases:

  • Hamilton Beach + CPM700
  • Hamilton Beach + commercial mixer

 3. Search product videos.

While you’re doing your search, make sure to switch over to ‘videos’ (in Google, it’s one of the options below the search box) and take a look at product videos that may exist. There are usually comments below the videos that could help with your research as well.

4. Ask the professionals.

Most sites have a Live Chat feature that allows you to chat instantly with a customer service rep. When you’re able to share the details behind your purchase (e.g. how you’ll be using the equipment, how often you’ll be using the equipment, etc.), they can often better match you with the equipment that’ll suite your needs. Don’t be afraid to chat.

5. Ask your peers.

Lastly, if you have time to wait for feedback, find a forum where peers are more than willing to share insight on their own experiences with different restaurant equipment and brands. You can search the internet for ‘equipment category + forum’ and typically get results for existing forums in your profession, especially when you start making the search results more granular, e.g. ‘equipment category + forum + restaurant.’

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Blodgett HydroVection Ovens

Blodgett HydroVection Ovens

Boasting “the only thing it can’t make is ice,” if you haven’t discovered the world of HydroVection, then Blodgett has a story for you.

Imagine being able to sear and smoke foods with the same machine that you can poach, grill, toast, roast, and oven fry with. Meet Blodgett’s HydroVection oven – an oven capable of doing all of these kinds of cooking, while saving you money, time, and space. HydroVection takes the idea of an oven, but combines moisture in a sealed-tight, indestructible box that takes up less room than most other commercial ovens.

For commercial kitchens that deal with cooking dozens of different types of foods in a day, this is the oven for you. Think of a school cafeteria that has to cook everything from the meat and vegetables to breads and sweets; with a HydroVection oven, all of these foods can be cooked at the same time. But these powerful ovens aren’t just for institutional kitchens; they’re best at keeping moisture in hard to cook meats – say prime rib – and can deliver mouthwatering salmon and steamed vegetables like you couldn’t believe. These ovens are great in almost every commercial kitchen out there.

Blodgett HydroVection Ovens

Of course, it wouldn’t be right for us to try to convince you to invest in one of these ovens without seeing them first hand ourselves. A few months back I had the pleasure of visiting Blodgett at their corporate offices. I was spoiled with dish after dish of meats and vegetables that totaled a full course lunch and dinner – I’m not quite sure we even had a break between the foods. The food was succulent, it was fast, and it was one of the most efficient ways I’ve ever seen a kitchen ran.

HydroVection ovens decrease cooking time by 15% and have a compact size of only 38” across. Some of them have Android technology and all of them have a removable temperature probe that isn’t seen with most commercial ovens. If a combi oven is just a bit outside your price tag, a HydroVection oven is the way to go.

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8 Tips for Getting and Keeping Employees in the Restaurant Industry

8 Tips for Getting and Keeping Employees in the Restaurant Industry

Finding and keeping the right employees can be a challenge in any industry, but without fail, it’s the restaurant industry that leads in employee turnover and retention every year. Some of it’s due to the median age range being between 16-24 (which is the primary age of students that hold temporary jobs) and other parts of it is due to restaurateurs lack of employee retention investments.

With one of the biggest challenges being to find the right employees and the other making sure they stick around, let’s roll into tactics on how you can get a leg up on sourcing the right employees and keeping them happy.

1. Recruiting Online

Looking for new recruits is easy with the help of online job boards, social media, and free listings on sites such as Craigslist. Not only can you source for the right type of employee in your listings, you can also review recruits online resumes and LinkedIn accounts to learn more about them before you even begin engaging.

2. Look For Unconventional Talent

Outside of the 16-24 year old workers, what other segments could you be recruiting? Baby boomers are a great start. This rather large generation is set to retire in the coming years and they’re not the type to sit and twiddle their thumbs. This is a great generation to market to – they’re dedication and experience could surprise you. There are also stay-at-home moms that are returning to the workforce. They may not have worked ‘traditionally’ over the past few years, but their organizational and corralling skills are off the charts!

3. Interviewing Smarts

You should be devoting time to improving internal communication, as well as, making sure new recruits are a cultural fit. Listen carefully – do you get the vibe you want and that will fit with your current employees? Do they talk about team more or working alone more? Make sure to look for cues that will fit the position… if you can’t sit through a conversation with them, why would you have them serving your customers? If you don’t have your own list of interview questions, search the Internet for questions to ask – there’s a slew of information out there.

P.S. Please, please, please follow-up with references. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

4. Test Them Before They Come In

Testing employees may sound like something that only corporate businesses do, but a lot of restaurants and fast-casual establishments have found a lot of luck with weeding out the bad candidates and narrowing down to the perfect fit. Companies like Wonderlic and Merchants are great for analyzing personality, as well as, sniffing out bad behavior like drug abuse, alcohol abuse, hostility, violence, lying, and employee theft in the workplace. The total cost for these tests is relatively low, especially when it comes to the potential costs of hiring the wrong employee.

5. Existing Employees Are Your In House Stars

And they deserve to know they are stars. If you haven’t invested time in getting to know who your employees are outside of work, why should they care about you or your business? Networking to improve your business, should always start in-house… make sure your employees know you care about them.

6. Give Them The Tools They Need

Employees can only be as successful as the tools they’re given to improve what they do. If there are tools to help them do their job better, it may be worth the investment. Whether it be training, technology, or new product, investing in job improvement is always a win-win.

P.S. If you’re worried about paying for tools just to have the employee turn around and leave, don’t. If they want to leave, they will, but what you’re establishing is a work environment that builds confidence and trust in your employees. You’re showing them that you’re willing to pay to make them better… and that could quite possible be one of the best places to work for.

7. Recognize The Rockstars

It’s one thing to tell an employee that they’re doing a good job, but it’s another thing to tell everyone that they’re doing a great job. Let the entire team know who deserves the kudos – whether it be on a corkboard or posted right above the time clock. We all love to be recognized for our efforts, and when we see someone else winning at that, it makes us want to push ourselves to be seen as the rockstar too.

8. Community Is Everything

If you’re working on communicating better with your employees, you should also work on creating better communication between the entire team. Whether it be a communal lunch before opening or a quick meeting after closing, making sure everyone is on the same track and understood is essential in building internal community. Make sure to bring up quick wins – a customer satisfaction comment, a new menu item comment, an efficiency comment, etc.

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Cleaning Behind Heavy-Duty Restaurant Equipment

Cleaning Behind Heavy Duty Restaurant Equipment

I’ve watched too many TV shows on restaurants that fail to clean under their heavy duty equipment, that it seemed fitting to write a post on exactly how easy it is to clean in a place that may seem hard to reach. Not only is it absolutely disgusting to ignore cleaning underneath and behind kitchen equipment, it violates health laws. Working with our friends from Dormont, here’s a list of how to move that heavy equipment out of the way for easy cleaning.

Moving Equipment for Cleaning

  1. Before moving anything, make sure the equipment is powered off.
  2. Your equipment should have casters or Stoveshoes, either of which will easily help move the equipment away from the wall. Stop the equipment when the cables (electric, gas, etc.) become taut.
  3. Reach behind the equipment and unplug the electricity cord.
  4. You’ll also want to shut off the gas supply at this point. The valve can be found on the main gas line. The valve needs to be turned to the off position.
  5. To disconnect the gas line, pull back the sleeve of the quick-disconnect coupling (on Dormont lines). Take care with the coupling and electrical cord, as dropping it on the floor could cause damage to these parts.
  6. Detach the restraining cable – the cable that prevents the equipment from rolling or being pulled too far away from the wall.
  7. At this point the equipment should be disconnected from the wall and can easily be moved out of the way, which makes cleaning a bit easier. Don’t forget about the wall while cleaning – it needs to get scrubbed too.
  8. When cleaning, make sure that no cleaners or detergents get into the electrical outlet, gas line (coupler), or the quick-disconnect coupling.

Reattaching Equipment After Cleaning

  1. Make sure none of the lines you are reattaching are kinked. If they are, simply untwist them.
  2. Reattach the restraining cable.
  3. Reattach the quick-disconnect coupling by inserting the plug end into the coupler.
  4. Turn the gas valve back to on.
  5. Re-plugin the electrical cord.
  6. Carefully push the equipment back into place, making sure one of the cords get twisted up and they aren’t being run over by the equipment.
  7. Light the pilot, if need be, and turn the equipment back on.
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How to Troubleshoot a Sharp Microwave Oven

How to Troubleshoot a Sharp Microwave OvenMost microwave manufacturers highly recommend contacting a certified technician before doing any repairs on your microwave yourself, but there are a few things you can troubleshoot before you make a call to a repair company.

  1. Check your owner’s manual to ensure that the power cord is grounded appropriately. It should be plugged into a 3-pronged electrical outlet. Also, make sure to check fuses and circuit breaker.
  2. Pour a cup of water into a glass measuring cup and place in microwave. The water is used for two reasons: 1) you should never run a microwave while it is empty; foods and liquids help absorb the microwave energy, and 2) it will help you feel temperature differences later on.
  3. Close the microwave door and microwave the water for 1 minute. Take note if the light comes on or not. Put your hand over the back ventilation opening and note if you feel air coming out. For R-21HT, R-21HV and R-21JV models, not whether or not the “ON” indicator comes on.
  4. After the 1 minute passes, pull the glass measuring cup out of the microwave and test the temperature of the water (careful, don’t burn yourself). Note if the water is hot or not.

If the light isn’t coming on, you feel no air coming out of the ventilation opening, and/or the water isn’t warm when you test it, you may want to contact Sharp authorized repair vendor. If your microwave is still under warranty, make sure to let the vendor know.

If what you’re seeing, however, is the timing rapidly counting down, the demonstration mode may be on. To reset/cancel this, simply unplug the microwave, wait 30 seconds, and then plug it back in.

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Norman Lamps Heavy Duty Equipment Lighting

Norman Lamps Heavy Duty Equipment LightingWhen it comes to replacing light bulbs in the heavy duty equipment in your restaurant, most people wouldn’t think twice about throwing in any old bulb, but for safety reasons and to ensure the equipment keeps running properly, there are light bulbs made specifically for commercial use that you should take into consideration.

Norman Lamps began in 1985 and is one of the largest suppliers of light bulbs in the USA today. Throughout the years they’ve supplied many different companies with the right lighting needed to keep operating smoothly, but when they discovered a way to keep glass from shattering once broken, they changed the industry. It takes a simple bump to make a light bulb explode, but with Normal Lamps shatterproof technology, their light bulbs stay intact when broken.

Norman Lamps offers light bulbs for cold equipment, like refrigeration and walk-ins, and hot equipment, like ovens and heat lamps. With this type of temperature variants, ensuring you have the right type of light bulb installed is critical – for employee safety and health regulations.

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Butcher & Processing Specialty Shop

Butcher & Processing Specialty Shop

We have several specialty shops on our site to help those niche restaurants and markets find the things that are particularly useful for them. This month we’re proud to bring you our newest specialty shop chiefly for butchers and meat processors.

For those of you not in the industry of slicing and dicing up a perfectly good cut of meat, it’s hard to understand that an entire online shop could be devoted to butchery alone, but indeed, this is one of our largest specialty shops on eTundra.com!

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Butchery is Making a Comeback

A butcher shop has always been the place to go to get perfect cuts of meat that were fresher than you could ever get at the local grocer. But, as local grocers started to catch on, they too started bringing in finer cuts of meat, making it all-to-convenient for the customer and giving the old butcher the push out the door. Well, to be honest, the butcher shop never went away; in fact, they kept a very loyal fan base, but newer generations didn’t have the same passion.

That was, until the butcher started to make meat cutting just a bit (dare I say) sexier.

With skinny ties and tattooed arms, watching the stylish butcher through a street glass window is, well, mesmerizing. It’s not that there’s just style in how he presents himself though. With beautifully sharp knives cutting away in an almost art like manner and the knowledge of where a cut of meat came from – organic, natural, local, etc. – processing meat has become almost an entrancing lost skill that people are becoming more tuned into and aware of. Blame it on our growing need to know more about where our food comes from or blame it on the bad boy image, either way, butcher shops have peaked our interest.

Restaurants That Process In-House

When I went to Kansas City to visit our Dreamstaurant winner, Snow and Co, the owners mentioned one of their favorite local hotspots for lunch, Anton’s. The restaurant was eclectically put together in a way that made you want to ask stories about some of the things on the wall, and housed its own in house butcher shop. I knew this before going into Anton’s and automatically assumed that old butcher smell would come wafting past my nose as I walked in, but not at Anton’s – the smell was like any other restaurant, normal.

As I walked past where the butcher shop was located in the restaurant you could see meats hanging and aging, you could see the butchers cutting away, and you could see counters full of freshly prepared meats. You could order off of the menu and know that you were getting super fresh cuts of meat. To me that seemed like a perfect time to order beef carpaccio and the charcutertie – they were both absolutely divine.

Anton’s doesn’t just keep their meats in-house though. People can come in off the street and peruse through all the cuts and decide what to bring home for dinner without having to eat at the restaurant. For Anton’s it’s basically a duel business venture, and it works quite nicely for them – just take a look at all of their reviews!

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Cabbage Rolls Recipe

With Oktoberfest in full swing and everyone craving their favorite German foods and beers, I felt it was only appropriate to share one of my family’s favorite dishes – cabbage rolls. Like chili on a cold winter evening, cabbage rolls are the perfect complement to a nice glass of your favorite hefeweizen and some fancy Bavarian polka music.

As most recipes go, there are many, many ways to make cabbage rolls.  Depending on where you ate a batch, there could be different starches, breads, and meats.  Here’s how we like to mix things up, but getting experimental with this recipe is easy to do, and when you find your favorite blend of ingredients, make large batches and stick them individually wrapped in the freezer for later.

Ingredients

Makes 12, Large, Rolls

For Dough

4 ½ cups bread flour

2 packages of dry yeast

¼ cup of sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

¾ cup milk

½ cup water

½ cup shortening

2 large eggs

 

For Filling

1 pound of ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium cabbage, chopped

Salt

Pepper

  1. Place 1 ¾ cups flour, yeast packets, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Mix dry ingredients together and form well in middle.
  2. Heat the milk, water, and shortening up to 125⁰ F. Pour wet ingredients into well of bowl.
  3. Add eggs to middle of well, then beat on low with a mixer until well blended.
  4. Turn up the mixer to high and continue mixing for 3 more minutes.
  5. Slowly stir in the remaining flour. If you’ve never mixed dough before, you’ll soon discover what it’s like to be covered in flour if you don’t mix this stuff in nice and slow.
  6. At this point, you can either mix the dough a bit until it starts to hold together, then knead on a floured counter top for about 10 minutes, or use that beautiful mixer with a kneading hook to do the work for you. If you’re using a kneading hook, you can knead on medium speed for about 7 minutes.
  7. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let sit in a nice, warm place until it has doubled in size. If you’re working in a commercial kitchen, you should have no problem finding a warm place. If you live up in a cold area, try sitting the bowl by a fireplace or turn the oven on warm and let the bowl set on top of the oven for the hour.
  8. While you wait the hour, you can go ahead and get started on the filling. Using a large sided pot, sauté ground beef and onion in a bit of oil until cooked though.
  9. Drain away any grease, return to pan, and add salt and pepper to your liking.
  10. Add the chopped cabbage and cook for about 45 minutes or until the cabbage is done – stirring periodically. You’re looking for the cabbage to be wilted, much like spinach does when cooked on the stovetop.
  11. Now back to the dough. After an hour, punch the air out of the dough and roll on a floured surface into 12 6-inch squares. You can either make 12 individual balls of dough or roll it out flat and cut with a dough cutter.
  12. With a slotted spoon (and as little juice as possible), divide the filling up between the 12 dough squares.
  13. Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the seam together.
  14. Place each dough roll onto a greased baking sheet, seam side down, and bake at 350⁰ F for 20 minutes.

 

Notes for Dipping

Ketchup is always good… kids love it. For us adults, we like spicy/grainy mustard for dipping, but we’ve also tried it with mayo and it’s pretty good. I’d imagine for those craving a Japanese flavor, you’d have pretty good luck with soy sauce.

 

Notes for Freezing

The less juice you add into the filling, the better the end product will be for eating and freezing. Use a slotted spoon to help drain away juices before making each cabbage roll. Also, we’ve had luck with individually wrapping each of the rolls and wrapping them again in a larger plastic bag. They save for a good 3-4 months; although, in our house they’re usually gone much sooner.

 

Notes for Filling

You can keep the filling as simple as I listed here, or add a variety of these fillings that are just as yummy: sliced mushrooms, Italian sausage, garlic, Swiss cheese, or cheddar cheese.

 

Notes on Names

If I’m not mistaken, the name for these tasty rolls changes depending on where you are. The cabbage rolls that are commonly stuffed with rice, topped with tomato sauce, and wrapped in the cabbage leaf are called kohlrouladen. Some unique names I’ve seen here in the US include stuffed cabbage, cabbage burgers, and pigs in a blanket. I’ve also sen them referred to as runza and bierock in the mid-west (more commonly Nebraska and Kansas); these recipe types resembled my family’s recipe with a breaded outside. Then Wikipedia blew me away with all of these variations.

 

See, just like meatloaf, there are hundreds of different recipes for cabbage rolls. What’s your favorite?

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How Often Should You Calibrate a Thermometer?

Although, the FDA doesn’t have strict documentation listed on how often restaurateurs and others in the food service industry should be calibrating thermometers, in order for HACCP plans to be successful, it’s important that thermometers are calibrated to measure within +/- 2° F (1.1° C) of the actual temperature being monitored. However, the FDA and local board of health regulations do have set rules on time and temperature specifications for every type of food that is served to the public, and because of this HACCP principle 3 speaks directly to maintaining critical limits, like time and temperature checks.

The need to calibrate thermometers will be different in each HACCP, as it depends on how often temperatures need to be checked. Some businesses will do a daily thermometer calibration, whereas others may only do yearly checks.  The good news here is that calibrating thermometers is easy.

Other Thermometer Calibrating Tips

  • If a thermometer is ever dropped, you should go ahead and calibrate it.
  • If a thermometer is going from a wide variety of temperatures (from freezing temperatures to boiling temperatures), it should also be calibrated more frequently.
  • Every time you invest in a new thermometer, calibrate it before using it.
  • If you use your thermometer on a daily basis, odds are you’ll want to calibrate it on a daily basis.
  • Altitude will play a big part in the boiling part of water, so use this chart to help clear things up:

Altitude (Feet) Altitude (Meters) Boiling Point (°F) Boiling Point (°C)
0 0 212°F 100°C
1,000 305 210°F 98.9°C
2,000 610 208°F 97.8°C
3,000 914 206.4°F 96.9°C
4,000 1,219 204.5°F 95.8°C
5,000 1,524 202.75°F 94.9°C
6,000 1,829 201° F 93.6°C
7,000 2,134 199° F 92.6°C
8,000 2,438 197.5°F 91.9°C
10,000 3,048 194° F 89.6°C
12,000 3,658 190° F 87.8°C
14,000 4,267 187° F 86.1°C
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