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Author Archive | Kasy Allen

Setting Up Grill Zones: Keep Those Veggies Away From the Meat

Setting Up Grill Zones: Keep Those Veggies Away From the Meat

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Odds are, if you work the grill in a restaurant, you’re already a seasoned veteran in the art of grill zones. There are your hot zones that cook meats at the temperature needed for medium to well-done and other cooler spots that cook it perfectly between rare to medium-rare. There are also other spots for veggies and softer food types, but did you know that there should always be an area specifically designated for your vegetarian and vegan guests? Because different types of oils need to be used for these guests (no animal by-products), it’s best to keep meats and oils, such as bacon grease, well away from the veggie friendly zone. Your grill should be set up so that anyone that comes up to the grill knows exactly what area is for what – no need to worry about cross-contamination for your vegetarian and vegan friendly fans. Maintaining grill zones also helps prevent cross-contamination for other dietary restrictions, like allergens. Taking an extra step toward food safety is easy when you stay organized in the kitchen.

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When It’s Time to Replace Your Refrigeration Door Gaskets

When It’s Time to Replace Your Refrigeration Door Gaskets

We’ve written about how easy it is to replace your refrigeration door gaskets, but time and time again, we’ll walk into a commercial kitchen and see duct-tape doing the job the gasket should be doing.  What, not you?  You may not be taping the door closed, but with any over-worn gasket in the kitchen, duct-tape may be right around the corner.  Here are a few signs that it’s time to replace your gaskets:

  1. If you begin to see cracks anywhere in the gasket.
  2. If the gasket is beginning to separate from the equipment.
  3. If the material of the gasket begins to harden so much that it doesn’t create a good seal.
  4. If the refrigeration unit keeps coming on and shutting off, odds are it’s having a hard time keeping temp.  There are a lot of things that could be at play here, but the gasket is one of the easiest, quickest, and cheapest ways to begin narrowing down where the issue may be.
  5. If you can feel cool air leaking around the gasket when the door is closed.
  6. If you begin to see condensation build-up around the gasket seal.

New Gaskets With Gaps – Is It Defective?

When gaskets arrive at your door, it’ll likely be twisted and contorted in a way that makes it look almost impossible to install.  In fact, if you try to install it without working out the kinks, you’ll notice small gaps that are letting cold air seep through.

To work out the kinks, it’s best to soak any new gasket in hot water for 30 minutes before trying to install it.  If the kinks don’t come out, you can also try using other methods to heat up the gasket a bit.  At home, we’d recommend using a hair dryer or even throwing it in the dryer for 10 minutes, but in the commercial kitchen, you could alternatively bring water to a slow boil, turn it down to a simmer, and put the gasket in the water for 10 minutes. Once heated, lay it on a flat surface and stretch the gasket into the shape it needs to be to fit the equipment it is being installed on.

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Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

Bringing in the summer with new ice cream equipment, supplies, and dispensers helps keep your customers chill and your sales hot, especially when you’re using commercial products that help save you time and money over time.  Our Ice Cream Specialty Shop is perfect for helping to bring everything together, including blenders for yummy smoothie concoctions and dipper wells to help keep utensils clean.  Here are just a couple of our top selling items for ice cream enthusiasts.

Ice Cream Dishers

Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

At the top of our list are ice cream dishers (or is it called a scoop).  These simple little tools are an ice cream essential in the home and business.  Without these, scooping up that ice cream would be a bit harder and wouldn’t give those scoops their signature shape – who wants to see lop-sided ice cream on top of their cone? Ranging from $1-$20, make sure to get the size that is perfect for your needs.

Hot Fudge Dispensers

Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

If you weren’t craving an ice cream sundae before you got to this point, I bet you will after I tell you that our second favorite ice cream parlor must is a hot fudge dispenser.  Capable of maintaining a constant temperature without scorching the chocolate, these dispensers are perfect for helping to keep the flow in the kitchen.  Prices range from $150-$750, and the most important decision when picking these products out is the capacity they need to hold to benefit your business best.

Ice Cream Molds

Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

Want to get into the business of selling your own popsicles or want to give your ice cream a specialty look, then you’ll definitely need these ice cream molds.  They’re easy to use and typically come with wooden sticks to get you started as soon as they arrive.  Prices range from $20-$200, which is mainly based on how much production you’re planning on doing.

Dipper Wells

Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

Dipper wells are handy-helpers on the back line as they help to keep utensils clean for continual use.  They run a constant flow of water over the utensils that reside in them, which ensures bacterial growth is washed away and other harmful allergens. There’s a wide price variety with dipper wells ($50-$1,000), but again, it’s based on the capacity the item needs to be to properly maintain your business.

Ice Cream Drink Mixers

Stock Up on New Supplies for Ice Cream Season

Depending on if you’re looking to serve frozen drink concoctions on a minute-by-minute basis, or just a few a day, ice cream drink mixers are a great way to keep serving up the very best of ice cream favorites.  Ranging in price from $100 to $1,000, the perfect drink mixer for you is going to be deciding on the number of spindles, where the placement of the machine will be, and the speed the machine needs to provide to keep you in business.

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6 Home Uses for Casters

6 Home Uses for CastersCasters are used primarily in the industrial and food service world, we’ve found that there are many small and big uses for them in the home too.  Of course a caster that is able to hold up to 300 pounds under a trash can may be a bit excessive (or maybe not, I’m not judging), there are other uses for a mighty caster like this in your home.

For a bit of fun, we pulled this list together of how you can use different casters around your house and business.

1. Bins and Cans

Ever bring the trash can over to the sink to throw out peels as you shred your vegetables?  How about when the recycle bin or trashcan is overstuffed, and it’s best to bring it out to the dumpster to help unload it?  Casters are perfect on the bottom of bins and trashcans to make them more portable in the kitchen.

2. Islands and Butcher Blocks

For a more industrial look in the kitchen, add casters to the bottom of your butcher block or island.  This also helps with moving them out of the way when more space is needed or different configuration is needed when guests come over.

3. Beds

Keeping with the industrial look, adding casters to your beds will help keep the industrial motif going.  Casters attached to your bed also help move it out of the way for easy cleaning underneath, or for those of you lucky enough to have large doors to the outside, a push of the bed to the outdoors can create quite an intimate occasion – not even kidding, this is a thing!

4. Coffee Tables

Ever have an urge to break-dance in the living room or just need more room for crafting?  When the coffee table is on casters, you can roll it away for extra space anytime!

5. Under Bed Storage

We love these rolling under bed storage boxes on casters.  They give you extra storage space in an often unused area, and are perfect in kid rooms for lego and toy storage.  If antiquing it up isn’t your thing, try using a simpler look, like with these boxes.

6.  For the Pets

Try converting an old suitcase into a dog bed, then place casters on the bottom so that the bed can be wheeled to the living room, outdoors, or by mans-best-friend at night.  You can also use as an old crate on casters as an upcycled pet feeder like our friend Summerofseventy did.

To see other fun ideas on DIY caster projects around the home, catch us on Pinterest.

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Hundreds of Free Parts Diagrams!

Hundreds of Free Parts Diagrams!

Parts diagrams help you know exactly what parts you need to make repairs on common kitchen appliances.  Similar to the diagram above, we have hundreds of free diagrams for you to be able to find the right parts needed for your food service equipment.  The diagrams are broken down by brands and appliance type (salad spinner, mixer, slicers, glasswashers, blending stations, etc.).

Once you find the diagram for the piece you’re trying to repair, all you have to do is match the number up with the list of parts below the diagram, and you’ll be on your way to quick do-it-yourself (DIY) repairs that helps keep money in your pocket.  Don’t feel comfortable making those repairs on your own?  Give our team a call at 888-388-6372 or use the Live Chat function on our main site to be connected with our customer service team.

We have a team full of knowledge when it comes to the food service industry.  From former Chefs and Servers to Repair Technicians and Food Service Veterans, let our team help you do-it-together (DIT).

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From an Empty Building to Design – Get Your Snow & Co Update

The design phase of any new thing is filled with bringing a bunch of ideas together to form a consensus between the parties involved. With restaurant design, it always starts with the restaurateur’s concept, but where it becomes truly developed is when the design experts come in and help rally that concept into a plan.

About a month ago, we went out and visited our Dreamstaurant winner, Snow and Co, and were able to see the hollowed out building that would soon be the next Snow and Co.

From an Empty Building to Design   Get Your Snow & Co Update

Our very own VP of Design, Jeff Katz was with us, as well as, Patrick Lenahan with Yaeger Architecture out of Overland Park, Kansas. Met with the 5,600 sq. ft. empty building (4,400 sq ft of the space is designated for Snow and Co), these designers already begun spinning their wheels towards how Snow and Co could fit the building. They discussed arrangements and opportunities, but it wasn’t until they were able to go back to the office that they were able to pull all those ideas into a new conceptual plan.

From an Empty Building to Design   Get Your Snow & Co Update

Of course, with any design phase, there’s always room for changes to ensure that the restauranteur is happy with what will become his/her dream restaurant, but it is the architect that turns over the initial drawings.

From an Empty Building to Design   Get Your Snow & Co Update

Then our design team is able to begin ensuring those drawings fit with the proper flow of a restaurant – from front of house to back of house, if the flow isn’t appropriate, it can cause issues when the restaurant is up and running.

With these initial sketches done, the team can now come together with a more formalized plan that can be presented to everyone involved in the creation of the new Snow and Co. We call this our development stage:

“When our designers complete their comprehensive design program – based on the operational plan – it can be used by all members of the design team. This helps to define the required spaces, relationships, design elements, seating and other essential components. It also features requirements for the successful design, construction and operation of the proposed restaurant.”

Once the comprehensive design program is complete, we’ll move on to delivery, which is when we get to start seeing the new Snow and Co come to fruition – building and construction.

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Top Concession Supplies to Prep for Summer

Top Concession Supplies to Prep for Summer

May is a great time of year, because we know that summer is upon us, which means warmer months, plenty of poolside visits, and outdoor events.  Of course, one of the best parts of the summer is all the new food that starts popping up on the menu, especially at concession stands!  To help you get started with your concession business, here are a few of our favorite products to help get you through the summer and keep those customers coming back for more.

1.    Utility Carts

The first in our product line up for concession supplies brings us back to the basics with utility carts. Often underestimated, but often overly used once in the concession toolkit, utility carts help deliver product and supplies in areas that are sometimes hard to conquer with just any type of serving cart.  Use these heavy-duty carts to give your business the extra helping hand it needs.

2.    Cotton Candy

Oh, what would a great concession stand be without a cotton candy setup?  The good news is that we have everything to help you get started today, including carts and stands, cotton candy machines, floss bubbles, floss sugar, and serving supplies.

3.    Popcorn Supplies

And of course, there has to be popcorn too! With carts and stands, bulk popcorn kernels, oils and salts, poppers, serving supplies and the cleaning supplies to help wrap things up, we help make stocking up on the good stuff easy.

4.    Hot Dog Supplies

Enough with the sweet stuff, let’s bring on the dogs!  Hot dogs are a classic concession menu item and with the right equipment and supplies, you can be cooking up hot, hot dogs for summers to come.

5.    Nacho Chip Warmers

We wouldn’t say that you’d be showing off by keeping your nacho chips warmer than the competition, but your customers will definitely notice the difference and be begging for more of those toasty nacho chips!

6.    Pretzel Merchandisers

With the right pretzel merchandisers, the only thing missing would be the cheese warmers, and that’s easy to do, right?  Pretzels are a yummy addition to any concession stand.

7.    Sno-Cone/Shaved Ice

And to finish off our concession supply list, let’s circle back to desserts – sno-cones to be exact!  We’ve got everything you need to cool down customers, including syrups, shaved ice machines, carts and accessories.  It may be warm in the coming months, but sno-cones will help you keep your cool.

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Food Allergy Awareness in the Restaurant

Food Allergy Awareness in the Restaurant

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 11-17, 2014, I thought I’d pull together some food allergy facts and how you can better prepare your restaurant for food allergen customers.

First, I think I’ll start with my own story on food allergies.  My youngest son has a severe allergy to tree nuts, pistachios and cashews specifically, but we stay away from all nuts because we’ve experienced the unfortunate of him going into anaphylactic shock.

We were at our favorite summer place to grab a quick snack and take a scroll down the Grand Lake beach. At this time, we knew that my son had an allergen to tree nuts, but he was fine with peanuts, so when my mother ordered herself an ice cream sundae with peanuts, she double checked with the counter attendant that there was indeed no tree nuts in those peanuts.  The girl confirmed, and we set off for our stroll down the beach.  At one point my little one wanted to taste Grandma’s ice cream, and she obliged.  Within seconds of him swallowing down a spoonful of that ice cream, his throat started to close.  We were miles away from the hospital, but had our Epipen Junior on us.  We gave him a full dose and began our way to the hospital.  Before the shot, he was gasping for air, and it was quite frightening.  He was terrified, we were scared, and I just kept holding him on the way to the hospital.  The good news is that he’s fine now, but he won’t touch a single nut ever again – not even peanuts.

The reason I tell you this story is so that you get an understanding of the importance of checking food labels so that you know where it comes from.  Odds are those peanuts had listed on the back that it was made in the same factory as tree nuts, and that’s why my little one had an allergic reaction.  In some cases, people may choose to sue for incidences like this, we didn’t, but it could happen, which is why it’s important to know what is in each and every ingredient that you serve to your patrons.

A Background on Food Allergies

You may have a basic understanding of what allergies are, but to define how and why the body reacts the way it does is quite intense.  If a food is consumed that the person is allergic to, their immune system kicks in to protect them.  Think of the food as a germ or virus trying to attack the immune system.  Now, for most of us, our immune system knows that it’s just a food, but for those with allergies, their immune system has an abnormal response to the food protein and goes into full attack mode.  Odd, right?  When the bad food protein enters the body, histamine and other chemicals are released to help defend the body.

There is no cure for food allergies, but for most mild allergies, children can grow out of them.  However, for the top 8 food allergens (that contribute to 90% of the total allergies across the nation), those typically stay with the child for life.  The only way to prevent an attack is to strictly avoid the food, which also means being aware of cross-contamination, breathing the food in the air (mainly with dust in the air with nut allergies), and sometimes even touching the food.

Food Allergies by the Numbers

Speaking of those top 8 food allergens, the list is: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  According to the NRA, nuts cause 4 out of 5 food allergy fatalities, and twice as many people are allergic to shellfish as nuts.

According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), the organization that helps to promote food allergens in businesses such as institutions, restaurants, and the corporate world, and who puts on the annual Food Allergy Awareness week, 4% of the US population (or 12 million people: 1 in 25) have a food allergy.  Children are the largest group affected by allergies, with 1 in 13 kids being affected – that’s about 2 kids per classroom on average.

Food Allergies in the Food Service Industry

There are many organizations out there to help your food service business learn how to appropriately handle allergens and how to train your staff. It is your duty to know what ingredients are in each food item you serve, before there’s a bigger issue at hand.

A few resources to help with training, include:

There’s also this handy site to help people with food allergens find safe places to eat.  This is a great opportunity for you to list your restaurant if you think you’re a fit.  It’ll help drive business, get links back to your site, and you’ll be helping the allergen community learn more about your business.

In closing, I’d like to mention that most families that have an allergy sufferer joining them when dining out, do take precautions before picking just any restaurant or any dish.  They don’t want to go through the hell of feeling their throat close up and not knowing if they’ll recover.  Believe me, we take every step we can to ensure our little one stays out of harm’s way; in fact, using sites like I mentioned above to find an allergy free restaurant is what families would typically do; if not just call the restaurant ahead of time.  When your life revolves around having an attack because of something as tiny as a nut, you definitely do your research before taking a bite.  Here’s a great example of a dining out guide that most allergy sufferers follow before choosing a place to eat.

Let me know, how does your restaurant prep for food allergens?  Do you use the purple coded knives and cutting boards to help separate?

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Why Every Restaurant Needs a Website

Still trying to convince yourself that your business doesn’t need a website? Think that Facebook page is doing you just fine? Think again. Here are a few stats we pulled together to help you get a better understanding of just how valuable a website can be for your restaurant (including a mobile website).

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Why Every Restaurant Needs a Website

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Blender Recipes

Blender Recipes

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When going through and asking our Tundrites what their favorite piece of kitchen equipment is, they have answers that range from knives to cast iron skillets to bottle openers (yes, someone actually said that a bottle opener was their favorite), but it rarely fails when asking them what the first item they bought was when they started here: a blender.

Some favor the Vitamix, while others are loyal to Blendtec or Waring, but they will all vouch for the incredible-ness that is the commercial blender.  When a blender this powerful can promise to crush, blend, and obliterate almost anything you put in it, you’ve got more than just a household blender – you’ve got a machine capable of doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the cooking process.

Forget smoothies, we’re talking about full-fledged recipes that can be whipped up in a blender in no time.  Want proof?  Here are some of our favorite blender recipes.

Blender-tastic Salsa

Because salsa is so easy to make and the ingredients are easily found in almost every kitchen, there’s no reason not to blend up a quick batch when you’re craving salsa.

Ingredients

1 14 ½ ounce can of tomatoes with green chilies

1 14 ½ ounce can of whole canned tomatoes (with juice)

1 medium jalapeno (quartered)

¼ cup yellow onion (quartered)

2 cloves garlic

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon sugar

Blend It!

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the blender.
  2. Depending on how smooth or chunky you want your salsa, either hit the puree buttons a couple of times to give the ingredients a nice chop or turn the blender on for about a minute to make the ingredients come out smoother.
  3. Pour the salsa in a covered container and refrigerate for 2 hours.  This allows the flavors to blend and gives the salsa its full flavor potential.  If you think you need to add more salt or a dash of spice, this is when you’d start adjusting ingredients.

Blended Gazpacho

A blender is perfect for pureeing hot soups– and immersion blenders make this task much easier – but to stick with the theme of making a meal in a blender, let’s stick with cold soups.  Gazpacho is famously known as a chunky soup, but this recipe purees the soup to creamy perfection – perfect for those of you that aren’t fans of chunks of tomatoes in your soup.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (peeled, deseeded, quartered)

1 cucumber (deseeded, chopped into chunks)

1 red bell pepper (seeded, quartered)

1 jalapeno (seeded, quartered)

3 garlic cloves (peeled)

½ red onion (quartered)

2 slices of wheat bread (broken up into smaller chunks)

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoons of sherry

Salt and white pepper to taste

Blend It!

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender.
  2. Start blender on low as the larger chunks are slowly broken up, then continue to chop on a higher speed for roughly 3 minutes.
  3. When done, taste to see if more salt or pepper need to be added.
  4. Chill soup in fridge for a couple of hours.  Taste again before serving.  Top with croutons for an added crunch.

Blender-Style Basil & Walnut Pesto

Yes, you’ll have to make the noodles on the stove, but everything else gets thrown right in the blender!  For 2 cups of pesto, use the directions below.

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic (peeled)

½ cup walnuts

4 cups fresh basil leaves

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

Blend It!

  1. Place all of the ingredients into the blender.
  2. Start the blender on low so that the big chunks get chopped up, then slowly increase the speed.  Blend for about 1 minute or until the pesto is at the consistency you like.
  3. Serve on top of noodles.

Do you have any adventurous blender recipes?

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