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Author Archive | Kasy Allen

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.

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Suspended Coffee – Dream Big. Start Small.

Suspended Coffee – Dream Big. Start Small.

When I started doing research on the Suspended Coffee Movement I expected to find a lot of information on restaurants and people working together to support those in need, but what I actually found was that this movement has its flaws that causes many restaurants to turn their cheek the other way.

What is the Suspended Coffee Movement?

First, a little background on what the Suspended Coffee Movement is.  Based on an Italian goodwill tradition, the idea is to pay it forward with coffee.  It sounds simple, but the story goes that a couple of friends were sitting in a coffeehouse and one friend heard a patron say that they’d like to order 5 coffees, 3 of which needed to be suspended.  This happens with the next few patrons until a homeless gentleman comes in and asks if there were any suspended coffees, and because people had paid for additional coffees (suspended the coffees), he was able to receive a free cup of coffee.

How could that be bad?

Well, if you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry in front of house, especially in an area with a high homeless population, you can probably already answer that question.  The argument is that the free coffees are actually causing more issues than good.

The baristas and staff that are expected to manage the suspended coffees are already working to do the jobs they are assigned.  To then have to keep track of the suspended coffees, including managing the money (if the POS can even do that), would have to be figured out beforehand.

There’s also the issue of keeping the staff honest.  Without proper rules and management set-up prior to offering suspended coffees, who’s to say where those coffees go… friends? family? favorite customers?  There’s also dishonest patrons that may take advantage of the deal simply because they can.

And loitering (where I suppose was where I was going with the busy homeless population) is another issue.  In cold places, like Colorado (and such), keeping homeless people out of seats so paying patrons can have a sit, is always a struggle.  Drunk, belligerent vagrants tend to ward patrons away rather than encouraging them to suspend coffees.

But it’s the principal of the movement that we need to keep in mind.

It’s not about the coffee.  It’s not about the homeless.  It’s not about helping the less fortunate.  It’s about helping the world be a better place.

Suspended Coffee – Dream Big. Start Small.

It’s really a simple idea.

It’s about paying it forward: doing something, anything to spread a little human compassion, and encouraging people to pass it on.  You could just as easily buy a cup of coffee for a homeless man, as you could just pass him a $10 gift certificate so he could order an entire meal.  You could also leave a rather large tip for a waitress that went out of her way to make your day, and maybe that encourages her to do something nice for someone else.

The point is that all of these small things add up to big things.  You could continue to look at the world as a big disappointment and hope to get by, or you could look for opportunity to make it a better place.

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Cleaning Underneath Restaurant Kitchen Equipment is Easy With Stoveshoes

Cleaning Underneath Restaurant Kitchen Equipment is Easy With Stoveshoes

One of the most common missed cleaning spots in a restaurant kitchen is underneath (and behind) large kitchen equipment, but this is also one area that the health inspector is guaranteed to check.  And we understand, cleaning under these large appliances is a pain: mop strings get stuck in the casters, it takes multiple people to move a 1,000+ pound piece of equipment, yada, yada, yada… but we both know that you still have to get things clean to prevent future issues with rodents and health inspectors.

Whatever is there to do to make cleaning easier?

Turns out Pam McGrew knew what to do.  With her first mock-up, which included a pipe flange with a hole, a rubber sink stopper, and some super glue, Pam did a few test runs in her own kitchen and knew she was on to something.  Not only did the prototype hold up, it made sliding the equipment easy.

Today, Pam’s invention, named Stoveshoes, can be found in restaurant kitchens around the world.  And it really is easy to slide large kitchen appliances away from the wall; in fact, one person can slide an 850 pound double oven like this with only a little force.  Pam doesn’t just use Stoveshoes under heavy kitchen equipment though, she’s found that using them even under storage racks helps move fully-loaded racks out of the way without having to remove all of the food from the shelves.

Other great benefits of Stoveshoes include:

  • They are guaranteed for the life of the equipment that sits on them.  Making them typically last much longer than caster wheels do.
  • They don’t get the mop strings tangled in them like casters tend to do.
  • They’re rated to pressure of nearly 4,000 pounds per square inch.
  • There’s a small whole through them so that any cleaning agents that get on top of them will drip through to the floor, which prevents buildup.
  • They don’t destroy your floors when being slid.

Have you tried Stoveshoes in your kitchen?  Let us know what you think about them and what advantages/disadvantages you’ve experienced to help others that may be interested in getting them.

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Learn To Spoon Swoosh

Learn To Spoon Swoosh

It’s funny how intimidating it can seem to add a little presentation to a dish, which is why the majority of us plop our meals on a plate when we’re at home and totally leave plating décor to the wayside.  But what may look like takes hours to complete, is actually quite easy. Besides Chefs don’t have time to waste on plating – whatever presentation they bring to the table has to be quick.

Enter the spoon swoosh.  One of the go-to presentation additions for many Chefs is the spoon swoosh – that spoon drag through a puree that gives just a hint of décor to the plate.  The good part is that it’s easy to pull off (and easy to completely mess up, but practice makes perfect).  Here’s how you too can pull of the spoon swoosh like the pros:

1. You have to start with the sauce or puree.  Get a spoonful of whatever sauce goes with the meal and pour it onto a plate.

Learn To Spoon Swoosh

2. Now dip the tip of the spoon in the middle of the sauce drip and tilt it at an angle to get ready to drag across the plate.

Learn To Spoon Swoosh

3. Finally, drag the spoon away from the sauce drip to leave an attractive sauce tail.

Learn To Spoon Swoosh

4. Wait, one more step.  Never go back and try to fix the swoosh… you’ll just mess it up.  If you don’t get it on the first try, then wipe it up and start over again.

(Photo Credit)

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Memorial Day Word Search

Fun Fact: Memorial Day was originally created to honor Union soldiers who’d died while fighting in the Civil War. Because of this, southern states did not observe Memorial Day until after World War I, when the holiday was expanded to include soldiers from all wars.

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Can’t Eat Here: Is Your Restaurant Sending the Right Message to Guests With Dietary Restrictions?

Cant Eat Here: Is Your Restaurant Sending the Right Message to Guests With Dietary Restrictions?

Imagine sitting down at a restaurant and being met with disgust when you question a menu item; unfortunately, that’s what a lot of people with dietary restrictions are being met with when they dine out.  The message here isn’t that every restaurant is this way, but rather that you should think about how your restaurant is making certain patrons feel, and why they are choosing to eat elsewhere.

Examples Are Always Good

My son has tree nut allergies, and I’ve been there when his throat started to close up simply because the person serving the food said that there was absolutely no nuts in any of our meals (we are nut-free altogether, because his allergy is so sensitive), and we trusted them when they said that.  I’ve also seen how the server rolls their eyes when I tell them how important it is to not have nuts anywhere near our plates.

I have friends that are vegetarian and vegan and get the cold shoulder when it comes to being choosy on their menu choices.  They have specific needs and have to ask questions like whether the soup broth is vegetable or meat based, if the grease used was vegetable or bacon grease, and if butter was used to grill the veggies.  And at some restaurants they visit, they know that these types of questions will likely result in a bad dining experience that includes eye-rolling and a Chef that’s less than happy to adjust the menu choice – who wants to eat food from an upset Chef?

I’ve also been the waitress that had to chat with the Chef about what’s in a certain dish, and have the Chef reply, “Just tell them what they want to hear;” meaning, even if the soup has meat based broth, I’m supposed to say vegetable broth.  I’m sure those of you that are vegan or vegetarian are cringing right now – I did when I was told that – but I did the right thing; I told the customer that the soup probably wouldn’t be a good choice for them.  I can’t say this incident happens all the time, but I’m sure it happens more often than not.

Changing Up the Menu

Your restaurant can decide not to serve people with dietary restrictions, but with the way things are going, the number of people with a limited diet is only going to grow and this could be a potential loss in revenue.  Currently, 10% of Americans consider themselves to be Vegetarian, Vegan, or Vegetarian-Inclined, and 7% of Americans have food allergies that fall into the “Big 8”: milk, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, fish, soy, and/or wheat.  That’s a total of 17% of Americans that must be a bit more cautious when picking what restaurant to dine at, and there are plenty more diets that fall under the “special menu” umbrella:

  • Asian
  • Bland
  • Children
  • Diabetic
  • Gluten-Free
  • Hindu
  • Japanese meal
  • Kosher
  • Low-Calorie
  • Low-Cholesterol
  • Low-Fat
  • Low-Sodium
  • Muslim
  • Passover

…just to name a few.

If you’re thinking to yourself “There’s no way I’m changing my menu to accommodate every new diet that pops up,” I’d recommend taking a look at how other companies are successfully doing this:

People don’t expect you to be everything to everyone, but they are going to do their research to see if dining at your restaurant is worthwhile for them; and believe me when I tell you that there’s site after site devoted to helping people with dietary restrictions find the right restaurants.  Some are national sites, but most are local, and do a great job of keeping up on the latest restaurant openings and where to eat: like Vegan Coloradical, a site that has almost 500 pages devoted to Vegans eating, living, and traveling in Colorado.

He’s Just A Hungry Man

The next time someone walks into your restaurant and asks for a menu choice that’s just a little different than what’s listed on the menu (as my Vegan co-worker said),

“The one vegan who eats at your restaurant isn’t trying to tell you you’re wrong for the way you do things, or the way you eat. He’s just a hungry man looking to grab some food with friends who aren’t vegan.”

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50 Honey & Bee Facts

50 Honey & Bee Facts

  1. There are ancient Sumerian and Babylonian records that date back to 2100 BC that describe honey, but this was only the first record of the sweet stuff.  Historians believe that honey is likely way older than this.
  2. When the Spaniards arrived in the Americas in 1600 AD, they found that the natives had already developed beekeeping.  So, odds are that the practice of humans using honey (for consumption or health reasons) was much more wide spread than records show.
  3. Honey never expires – never!  Supposedly, there was a 1,000 year old jar of honey found in an Egyptian tomb, and the brave soul that dared tasting it said it was delicious.  We’ll take his word for it.
  4. To produce 1 pound of honey, the honey bees have to visit an estimated 2,000,000 flowers and fly an estimated 55,000 miles.
  5. 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey is produced per honey bee during its entire lifetime (which is a short 45 days during the summer).
  6. A bee colony can consist of 30,000 – 60,000 bees, and only one those bees can be the queen.
  7. Each colony has a unique odor so the bees always know where home is.
  8. The worker bees and honey bees are 99% female.  So, what do the male bees do all day?  They’re reserved for the queen, and they’re called drones.
  9. The brain of a worker bee and honey bee tiny, but they have the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.
  10. When the honey bees return to the hive (which they find easily because they have an impeccable sense of smell), they do a little dance to communicate with the other honey bees.  That dance helps the other bees find where the flowers are.
  11. To get the nectar, honeybees pull the liquid from the flower with its long, tube-like tongue.  It then stores the honey in one of its two stomachs.  Think of the stomach as a kangaroo pouch for honey; it makes it not so gross when you read what’s next.
  12. The amount of honey 1 bee can hold can equal her total weight, but to get to this point, she must visit 100-1,500 flowers.
  13. When the honey bee returns to the hive, she opens her mouth and a worker bee comes up and sucks the nectar out of her stomach honey pouch.  The worker bee then chews on the nectar for a while to fill it full of enzymes; in other words, she’s turning those natural complex sugars in the nectar to simple sugars that makes the honey more digestible and keeps bacteria away.  It’s not bee vomit.
  14. Nectar is 80% water, so the bees have to work together to pull some of the moisture out of the chewed up, enzyme goodness; to do this, they spread the soon-to-be-honey over the honeycombs.   This helps the water evaporate much more quickly and leaves a yummy, gooey honey.
  15. A honeycomb always has six sides.
  16. Actually, these bees mean business when it comes to drying out the honey.  They don’t just sit back and let Mother Nature take its course with the evaporation process; heck no, these girls know how to get things done!  After the honey is spread-out over the honeycombs, the worker bees get to flappin’ those wings to help speed up the drying process.
  17. And once the honey is nice and gooey, the girls seal off the honeycomb with a bit of beeswax.
  18. Bees are totally self-efficient.  A colony of bees can eat around 120-200 pounds of honey per year.
  19. 2 tablespoons of honey can fuel a honey bee long enough to fly 1 time around the world.
  20. The queen only eats royal jelly, which is created by the worker bees and helps plump up the queen.  It is unknown if it’s this jelly or because the queen is overly-spoiled, but she lives 50 times longer than any of the other bees.  We need to get our hands on this royal jelly stuff.
  21. Out of about 20,000 bee species, there are only 4 that make honey.
  22. There are over 300 distinct types of honey available in the US.
  23. A typical beehive can produce 400 pounds of honey per year.
  24. That “honey thing” is called a honey dipper (also honey wand and honey drizzler).  If you surf the web you’ll see that many people don’t quite get why a honey dipper is better than a spoon, but for those that grew up with one, they know that it’s the ONLY way to serve honey.
  25. In 1 tablespoon of honey, there are 64 calories, none of which are fat calories.
  26. Honey is the only food humans eat that is produced by an insect.
  27. Honey is the only food that includes everything humans need to sustain life, including water, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.
  28. When honey hits our tables, it’s typically 17% water.
  29. Remember we said that honey never expires?  Well, that’s true, but it has to be properly stored.  If moisture is reintroduced to the honey, it can begin to ferment.
  30. 30 years ago, the average honey price was $.30 per pound.  Today, the average price is pushing $6.00 per pound.  Let’s say you stumbled upon grandpa’s secret stash of honey – a 30 year old 50 gallon bucket to be exact.  That bucket of honey was only worth $125 back then, but today it’d be worth $2,500!  Thanks grandpa.
  31. Pediatricians warn against giving children less than 1 years of age honey because there has been harmful bacterium Clostridium botulinum spores found in honey.  These spores can cause botulism in young children because they don’t produce the stomach acids and protective digestive bacteria needed to break down these spores.
  32. 1 cup of sugar can be replaced by ¾ cup of honey.  Just make sure to reduce liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup.  If you aren’t using sour cream or sour milk in the recipe, make sure to throw in a pinch of baking soda as well (this helps reduce acidity levels in the honey).
  33. When making particular recipes with honey, there are additional things to note.  Like jellies and jams should be cooked at a higher temperature and candies should be beaten longer.
  34. But higher baking temperatures are not recommended for most recipes.  To keep recipes from getting to brown, lower the oven temperature by 25⁰ F.
  35. In stored honey, if crystallization occurs, it doesn’t mean the honey is bad.  Just stick the container in hot water until the crystals dissolve away.
  36. But don’t boil it: getting honey too hot can change the flavor and withdraws the pollen that’s naturally present.
  37. Ever heard of mead?  Referred to a lot in older novels, mead is a wine made from honey.
  38. There are a lot of honey fakes out there.  It has been found mixed with sugar syrup, corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, molasses, invert sugar, flour, starch, and many, many other fillers.
  39. To slap on a “Pure Honey” label, manufacturers have to add an unidentified amount of pure honey.  So, the “Pure Honey” could be only 5% pure honey, and the other 95% just fillers, but you’ll still pay the price of expensive honey.
  40. All of those fillers that go into honey have to natural ingredients. They may be fillers, but by law, they’ll always be natural fillers.
  41. It’s rather hard to test for pure honey, but there are a lot of different methods that people have come up with to test for pureness.  Unfortunately, none of these have been proven to be 100% accurate, so make sure you do your research to find out the truth.  Hint, use the Internet to find the real stuff, we thought Honey.com was a great resource.
  42. To help soothe allergies, take 1 teaspoon of honey per day.  The honey helps your body develop a resistance to pollen, which helps reduce overall allergies.
  43. Skin burns can also be soothed with honey.  Mix an even amount of honey with cod liver oil and rub over the burn.  Keep the burn wrapped up, and change daily.  You should see that the healing process is much quicker.
  44. It’s believed that the use of honey to help heal wounds dates back to the ancient Greeks in 50 AD.  We don’t know how the Greeks knew it had medicinal powers, but medical professionals have found that honey creates a barrier to moisture and prevents dressings from sticking to the wound.  It’s also believed to provide other nutrients and chemicals that help to speed up healing.
  45. Try a teaspoon of honey to help soothe a sore throat or bad cough.
  46. Honey is lower in glycemic than normal table sugar; meaning, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly as sugar does.
  47. Athletes take honey to help improve endurance, strength, and performance.  During a work-out, a teaspoon of honey can help give you the extra boost needed to keep going.
  48. Athletes that take honey before and after workouts show to have faster recovery time than those that don’t take honey at all.
  49. Ever heard, “…we can put a man on the moon, but we still have no idea how a bumble bee can fly?”  Yeah, that’s not true, sorry.
  50. Bees are being used to sniff out bombs.  Seriously, a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory has formed the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project where bees are being trained to detect explosives.


We’re no doctors around here; we just dig into the Interwebs and find all of this fun information.  We tried our best to give credit where credit was due, but when it comes to medical information, you should ALWAYS contact your doctor before following advice you find online.

Other honey articles on the Back Burner:

Chefs Make Their Own Honey
FOOD ALERT: Be Wary of These Controversial & Fake Foods

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Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Weddings have classically been known as a formal affair with rooms filled with round tables, elegant place settings that include seating cards, and a wedding cake large enough to be seen by everyone.  And even though a few wedding parties still opt for a more formal setting, there are many that have ventured over to the social side.  The idea is to add “foodertainment” to the mix – a perfect blend of culinary visual appeal and taste that allows for guests to mingle, instead of being locked at a table.

From drinks and finger foods to late night munchies, here are a few wedding catering trends that we hope to see more of this wedding season.

1. Creative Beverages

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

There’s definitely never a lack of alcoholic beverages at most weddings; in fact, the majority of us go for the wedding, but stay for the party afterwards.  Drinking and mingling with friends and loved ones always makes for a perfect night, but when a little fun is brought to the mix, what can go wrong?   A few fun beverage trends  we’ve seen at recent weddings include a bloody Mary bar, bubbly bar (make a custom glass of bubbly, which includes fruit juice and fruit slices), specialty cocktails and a variety of draft brews.

But don’t forget the guests that prefer not to divulge in alcohol for the evening.   We’ve also seen an increase in hot drink stations and water infused stations.

Lastly, when serving food, try recommending a paired beverage – a nice shot of Hefenweizen always goes great with salty finger foods.

2. Finger Foods & Small Plates

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

It’s easier for guests to mingle when they don’t have to sit at a table as they dine, which is why we’re guessing there’s been a huge increase in finger foods and small plates at weddings.  When the caterer offers to walk the room with plated food that can be easily grabbed and munched as guests carry on conversation, the night seems to flow much better – which sets even Bridezilla at ease.

3. Food Trucks & Picnics

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

We love this trend, it marries simplicity with great food where you least expect it.  If you would have told us a few years ago that food trucks would be making their way into weddings, we would have likely laughed, but the only thing laughable about this new trend is how much it encourages people to have their own laughs.

Yes, it’s informal, but how fun and easy is it to have a food truck for dinner and another for dessert.  Spread out some beautiful linen on the grass (or on tables) and the entire event can be picnic style.

4. Farm-to-Table

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Farm-to-table isn’t just for residents anymore.  In fact, Lyons Farmette, located in Lyons, Colorado, has seen an increase in weddings that want to take place at the farm (and the wedding party has no issues mingling with the wandering farm animals).  But it’s not just about farm animals here, the culinary experience offers guests the freshest ingredients, while also being able to entertain guests with special dietary needs  – vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and other allergies.

Think about a table in the middle of a farm surrounded with the rustic beauty that the land brings – it’s hard not to fall in love with the setting and food, even if it does involve a few goats and chickens.

5. Chef Stations

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

A lot of what attracts people to finger foods and farm-to-table trends is seeing the masterpiece of food on the plate.  It’s not just about the food, it’s an interaction that involves all of the senses, and getting food prepared right in front of you helps improve that experience.  Chef stations offer a great way for guests to be able to ask questions as they watch their meal being prepared.  They also get restaurant quality food that is served hot and fresh.

6. Family-Style

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

For those brides that still want a sit down dinner, there are always meals that can be served family-style to encourage guests to keep the chatter going.  Family-style catering delivers meals to the table in big dishes that are then passed, and helps to boost guest interactions.

As a word of caution, having big dinner plates and bowls on a table takes up a lot of room – the bride should remember to keep the centerpieces small so the table doesn’t get too crowded.

7. Dessert Bar

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Sorry wedding cake lovers, brides are keeping the social train moving right on through dessert time.  We’ve seen some interesting dessert choices lately, like smores bars, frozen yogurt bars, fondue bars, and other extravagant dessert buffets.

But cakes aren’t entirely out the window.  We’ve also seen cake pops, rice crispy treat cakes, cheesecake bars, and mini-cakes.

8. Late-Night Snacking

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Once dinner is done, it’s time to dance the night away, but all of that drinking and dancing leads to late-night munchies.  We love seeing that more caterers are offering to entertain the night-owls of the group by serving late-night snacks, like mini pretzel bites, sliders, meatballs, and other fun finger foods.  And don’t worry about going over the top; keeping it simple is perfect for this hungry bunch!

9. To-Go Bags

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Bless those that are able to rock-the-night-away, but not all guests can stay up into the wee hours of the night to experience those late-night munchies, so opt for helping to cater for guests on the go as well.  Think of easy-to-pack foods like trail mix and cookies.  You can have the food pre-packed or setup buffet style so they can dip up their own grab-bag.

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

For more fun wedding catering ideas, visit us on Pinterest.

 

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