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Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

A restaurant kitchen is alive with the hum and bustle of life and movement, and while nothing beats a good staff, stocking the right food service equipment can infinitely improve the efficiency and quality of your restaurant. No matter what type of restaurant you own or operate, you’ll need a massive amount of equipment on hand; ovens, ranges, processors, blenders, freezers, mixers, not to mention plates, knives, forks, chopsticks, etc, etc. In this article, we’ll take a closer at everything your restaurant needs to run as smooth as butter.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

One thing that any kitchen needs, whether it’s a smoothie bar or a sushi bar, is proper commercial refrigeration. You need a fridge to keep things cold, fresh, and legal. From walk-ins to reach-ins, do your research to ensure that you get a refrigerator that best suits the needs of your establishment.

Also, you’ll most likely need to make ice on site, so if you’re looking for your restaurant’s ideal commercial ice machine, take a look at these tips on the importance of the right ice machine.

All things start with prep, so you need to be sure that you’ve got the right tools to get any dish started. There are many specialized food prep machines which simplify anything from making pasta to sausages.

Nothing is worse than old, worn knives that waste your time inefficiently cutting, dicing and slicing, so be sure to have top quality cutlery on hand, and to sharpen or replace them frequently. Look over this cutlery Q & A to find the better blade for you.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedOr, you can walk away from the knife and find a new cutting strategy. Using a quality food processor is a multifaceted method to save time while providing consistency of quality. Processors do your slicing and dicing for you, so you needn’t spend time you don’t have choring away at it. Time is money, so don’t waste another minute doing what a food processor could do for you. Also take a peek here to know what processor to buy.

If your restaurant serves food, that food presumably needs to be cooked, so while looking for any or all sorts of cooking equipment, check out this guide to commercial cooking equipment, which includes options for ranges, ovens, steamers and griddles, to find what best suits your needs.

As the American obesity rate continues to grow so does the popularity of fried food, so depending upon your restaurant’s health-stance, you may want to invest in a commercial fryer. While certainly not healthy, fryers make food undeniably delicious, so don’t exclude this enticing addition.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedFrom water to wine, your restaurant will need to find a way to appropriately serve drinks, so consider whether you need a beverage dispenser, or frozen drink machine to make the job easier. Or to make anything from smoothies to mixed drinks, stock up with a blender.

After the dish is served, enjoyed and finished, you’re left to clean up the mess, so investing in a commercial dishwasher is essential for timely turn around.

So whether your restaurant is just starting up, revamping, or merely replacing old equipment, be sure to properly stock your food service equipment to ensure the best restaurant experience possible.

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The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Maintaining any kind of restaurant requires ice, lots of ice, and the only way to meet your frosty needs is with the right commercial ice machine. If your restaurant is stuck with an excessively large ice machine, you may be spending extravagant costs to make ice you don’t need.

This is not only wasteful and inefficient, but it’s an unnecessary financial investment doomed to melt away. On the other side of the cube, an undersized icemaker can be equally disastrous; imagine unsatisfied customers with lukewarm drinks, and improperly chilled food that wilts alongside patron loyalty. Again, a potentially devastating expense to your business.
The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Icemakers aren’t cheap, so when shopping for your perfect frozen-water machine you need to consider two things: production necessity and storage capacity. You need to ensure that you are making enough ice to meet the needs of your customers and your kitchen without wanton ice cube creation. In order to discover the perfect ice machine for your restaurant, use the following strategy to roughly determine your daily ice needs.

Within the restaurant, have approximately 1.8 lbs of ice per customer; with cocktails, keep 3 lbs ice on hand per expected patron whereas soft drinks require about 8 oz per 16 oz drink. Catering companies and cafeterias usually should have about a pound per person to keep meals ideally chilled. Using your restaurant capacity and average daily visitors, you should be able to calculate how much ice to create per day.

If your restaurant typically serves a hundred people a day and half of them drink cocktails then you should have 180 lbs of ice with an additional 300 lbs for cocktails for a total of 480 lbs of ice daily. Once you’ve ascertained your ideal ice creation quota, direct your attention towards which ice machine is right for you.

The most convenient and space conscious icemakers come with built-in storage bins, whose capacity range from 80 lbs to 1100 lbs so you can find the perfect fit for your icy needs. After calculating the right amount of ice for your restaurant, browse Tundra’s selection of restaurant ice machines.

Like a snowflake, not all ice is the same. It can come cubed, flaked or even in nuggets and the choice lies with you (although the right option is really just a matter of preference). While most restaurants opt for cubed ice, flakes or nuggets can work well with cocktails or soft drinks. Because of its smaller surface area, flake and nugget ice melts faster.

This can, however, be advantageous within the restaurant. Flake ice’s tendency to melt faster makes it a faster cooling agent, and makes it perfect for quickly chilling a drink or for temporarily housing fresh seafood or chicken. Nugget ice is the midway point between the other two and goes perfectly in cocktails or sodas because they cool drinks quickly without melting away too soon. You can find cube ice machines, flake ice machines and nugget ice machines all at Tundra.

Will the ice machine market as vast and mysterious as the Antarctic, make sure you learn what you need and how to meet those needs in your restaurant.

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Commercial Cooking Equipment

Whether you’re steaming, frying, charring, griddling or baking, eTundra.com is your number one source for quality commercial cooking equipment. While searching for new cooking equipment, it’s crucial to be energy efficient and financially conscientious, a surefire way to improve your restaurant and your finances.

Commercial Cooking EquipmentThe true centerpiece of any kitchen is a good restaurant range. Ranges come with a customizable amount of burners, the option of an attached oven and various additional accessories. When shopping for ranges, you should keep a couple things in mind. If you value speed over energy efficiency, you should look for a gas range with a higher BTU (British Thermal Units) because while it requires more energy, it heats up faster. A gas range with a lower BTU, on the other hand, will take longer to warm but will eat up less energy. Depending upon your restaurant’s criteria, you should consider which BTU level you want for your range. You can further customize your range by adding a griddle or charbroiler to make food prep even easier, or you can order them as separate units. And remember, altitude matters in a kitchen, so be sure to inform your manufacturer if your restaurant is located above 2,000 ft so that gas valves get properly tweaked.

If you’re looking to cook veggies, rice and fish in a Commercial Cooking Equipmenthealth conscious and nutrient rich way, you pretty much have to invest in a commercial steamer. Steamers don’t only make your food healthier, they cook it faster and even make your dishes more tasty. There are two main types of steamers; pressure steamers and pressureless steamers; and they have different functions within the kitchen. A pressure steamer is more time-efficient, allowing pressurized steam to build up to quickly cook what’s inside. One thing to keep in mind with a pressure steamer is that once you begin the steaming  process you cannot open the unit to check on or season what’s steaming inside. With a pressureless cooker, checking on food or seasoning is not an issue, as the steam is circulated using fans to cook food so there is no loss of prep time if you open the unit. Choosing the right steamer also means choosing the suitable number of steaming compartments (with each steaming compartment capable of making approximately 200 meals/hour). Depending upon restaurant capacity and output, you may want only 1 compartment or you may opt for 4.

A multi-purposed combination oven is ideal for those who want variety in their efficiency. Combinations use both steam, convection or a combination of both to produce meals quickly and in large quantity. If you’re shopping for a convection oven or a steamer, you may want to consider getting a combination oven to kill two birds with one stone. While combination ovens are an expensive addition to any kitchen, they eliminate the need for other equipment, saving you space and potentially money.

So whether you’re searching for a range, steamer or combination oven, Tundra has you covered with the lowest prices and highest value.

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How to Remove Hot Used Fryer Oil Safely

A commercial deep fryer is a vital piece of restaurant equipment in any kitchen.  But as anyone who has worked in a commercial kitchen knows, they can also be high maintenance when it comes to cleaning.  Changing the heating oil is a constant chore, especially in higher volume establishments, and while dirty oil means you’re using your fryer a lot, it also means it’s time to change out the oil.

Transporting hot deep fryer oil is probably not a very popular task for your kitchen staff.  Even more importantly, it can be a dangerous job.  The potential for skin burns is very high, and that’s a hazard and an expense you can ill afford.

How to Remove Hot Used Fryer Oil Safely

The highest risk for injury doesn’t occur when emptying your fryer or transporting the oil to the waste oil container.  The highest risk is actually dumping the oil in the container, because that’s when a spill is most likely to occur.  A standard oil transporter is easy to fill, and provided it has casters like the one pictured above, is easy to move.  But lifting one full of oil and dumping it out safely can be very difficult.

How to Remove Hot Used Fryer Oil Safely

The Shortening Shuttle® is nice because, unlike a regular oil transporter, it’s easy to fill and move.  But the best part about the Shuttle® is how easy it is to empty into a standard 55-gallon waste oil container.  The top of the Shuttle® hooks onto the container, allowing your staff to lift the far end and easily dump the oil out.  All in all it’s a pretty well designed product, with convenience and safety in mind.

Assuming you use the deep fryer in your commercial kitchen pretty regularly, the investment in a safe transporter for spent heating oil is definitely worth it.  After all, one trip to the emergency room for burns is definitely more expensive than a lifetime of using the Shortening Shuttle®.

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Choosing Stick Mixers For Your Commercial Kitchen

Choosing Stick Mixers For Your Commercial KitchenA stick mixer is a hand-held, electronically powered device that allows chefs to mix large amounts of sauces, soups, and stews during preparation and cooking.  The motor connects to a long shaft with an attachment on the end that rotates at a high speed, making large-scale mixing projects manageable in a busy kitchen.

Stick mixers come in various sizes and types, and it’s very important to size the mixer you buy to the size of the task.  The smallest mixers have a 6 or 7 inch mixing shaft and are for small batches of lighter mixtures like sauces or batters.  On the other end, large stick mixers have up to a 21 inch shaft and can power through the heaviest soup or stew in a 25 – 50 gallon pot.

The most important factor to consider when selecting the right sized mixer is the length of the mixing shaft.  You want a mixer that can reach the bottom of the pot or mixing bowl you’re mixing in, otherwise ingredients will not be fully mixed.  The second factor you want to take into account is the wattage of the mixer’s motor.  Thick, heavy sauces, soups, and stews will burn out a smaller motor.  Stick mixer wattages usually run from about 350 watts all the way up to 650 watts or more.  The more powerful the mixer, the longer it can run and the heavier duty work it can handle.

Choosing Stick Mixers For Your Commercial KitchenStick mixers are made with either a single speed setting or variable speed settings.  Variable speed mixers are much more versatile.  Some mixers are also combination models, meaning they have a stick mixing attachment and a whisk attachment.  If you need a power whisk, these combo models are perfect for you.

Most mixers are immersion resistant, meaning the casing housing the electric motor can get pretty wet while working, but I wouldn’t recommend dropping the whole thing in a big stock pot.  Finally, some smaller mixers are cordless, which can be very convenient in some situations, although battery power can be higher maintenance.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Some mixers are easier to clean than others.  Those with a removable shaft make cleanup very easy because the shaft can be detached and cleaned separately from the motor.  Many of the heavier duty stick mixers have a permanent shaft, which makes cleanup a little harder but is worth the extra work when it comes to durability.Choosing Stick Mixers For Your Commercial Kitchen

When using a stick mixer, make sure you keep it from overheating.  Some mixers have an indicator light and automatic shutoff to prevent damage to the motor, but if you buy a model that doesn’t have a warning, make sure your staff knows how to prevent overheating.  The factors that cause a mixer to overheat vary depending on the thickness or heaviness of the mixture and the power of the mixer, but in general, let mixers cool every 15 minutes.  Also train staff to recognize the signs of mixer overheating, such as an extremely hot motor casing, a strange electrical smell, and a slowing of mixer blade rotation.

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Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone

Lincoln/Redco is a well recognized company within the food service industry.  In case you haven’t heard of them, they produce a variety of food prep equipment and commercial cookware.  Lincoln cookware has been in production in one form or another since the early 1900s.  Every chef is pretty particular about his or her cookware, which is understandable since these are the tools you use in the kitchen every day to ply your trade.

The nice thing about Lincoln is that the variety of their cookware lines has something for every taste and preference.  At the risk of sounding like a salesman (probably too late…), I’d like to take a minute to outline the different cookware products offered by Lincoln.  Again, there’s something for everyone here, from practical, durable standard cookware all the way up to high end, high performance stainless steel for the discerning perfectionist.

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone

Arkadia®: This aluminum cookware is good, standard cookware without the frills and without the expense of other lines.  If you’re on a budget and looking for a good value, Arkadia® is the line for you.

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone

Lincoln Wear-Ever®: The Wear-Ever® line was registered in 1904 and has been a well-known name in aluminum cookware for over a century.  There are also four variations on the Wear-Ever line for specialized cooking needs:

  • Natural Finish® – The name says it all: natural aluminum cookware.
  • EverSmooth® – Rivetless cookware that eliminates those annoying buttons on the inside of any pot or pan that are hard to clean.
  • CeramiGuard® – Ceramic non-stick cookware that is much more scratch and wear resistant than traditional non-stick cookware.
  • HardCoat® – Anodized black surface for high heat and heavy use applications.

These Wear-Ever® features are also combined on a lot of Lincoln’s cookware, like EverSmooth® CeramiGuard® fry pans, etc.

Lincoln also has two lines of stainless steel cookware:

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone

Optio™ cookware is bottom-clad with aluminum for quick heat distribution.  This line is more affordable than most stainless cookware but still durable enough for any commercial application.

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone

Centurion® stainless steel cookware is top-of-the-line, 18/10 stainless cookware with bottom-clad aluminum for quick heating.

So that’s what’s available from Lincoln Smallwares.  All in all, most people in the industry agree this is pretty good cookware, and you’ve got quite a few choices to fit the specific requirements of your commercial kitchen.

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Crocs Work Shoes: Same Function, More Style

Crocs Work Shoes: Same Function, More StyleFinding a good pair of comfortable black shoes for restaurant workers who are on their feet all day can be a challenge.  Crocs shoes are known for their durability, comfort, and great traction on even the greasiest kitchen floor.  And when Crocs came out with some stylish interpretations of their classic shoe, the food service industry snapped to attention.

The Crocs Bistro, Saffron, and Ginger put a stylish stamp on work shoes for restaurant professionals – but what really got the attention were the great features found in every pair. Crocs’ patented Croslite material is used to make all Crocs shoes for the food service industry, and is antimicrobial, odor resistant, and molds to the shape of your foot for a personalized fit. Crocs work shoes feature enhanced arch support and a closed-toe design, balancing comfort and safety perfectly.

Now Crocs has followed up the success of these earlier models with some great new designs, again giving food service some great options when it comes to finding a functional yet stylish shoe:Crocs Work Shoes: Same Function, More Style the Crocs Amaretto, Barista, and Alice all  represent a new innovation in work shoes for anyone who works in a restaurant.  This stylish shoe can be worn in even the most formal dining room yet is as comfortable as any other Crocs work shoe.  The leather upper and custom fit lace-up closure are perfect for anyone wanting a stylish fit.

Comfort means a Croslite footbed that relieves pressure on feet, legs, and back.  Crocs Lock tread means these work shoes are slip resistant in any situation, especially wet floor in restaurant kitchens.

If you’re a food service professional, do right by your feet and get some stylin’ Crocs today.  If you’re a manager or an owner, do right by your employees and get them outfitted!

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NRA Announces 2009 Kitchen Innovations Awards

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has announced the 2009 winners of their annual Kitchen Innovations award, which recognizes cutting edge advancements in improving the efficiency of commercial kitchen appliances and tools.

Some highlights from this year’s list include:

NRA Announces 2009 Kitchen Innovations Awards

Advanced Composite Materials’ Silar Microwave Flatstone. This composite ceramic insert is designed for commercial microwaves.  It creates even heat distribution throughout the unit, meaning foods that normally require long oven times can now be cooked quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.

As a result, a fresh dough pizza can be cooked in three minutes using this flatstone in a commercial microwave.

Eneron, Inc. Turbo Pot. This innovative stock pot drastically improves heat transfer through aluminum fins on the bottom of the pot that cut cooking times and energy usage in half.

The Turbo Pot has been tested by Fishnick, an organization dedicated to improving energy efficiency in the commercial kitchen.  Their findings show the Turbo Pot can significantly reduce energy usage while still maintaining the durable quality needed for commercial cookware.

Halton Model-based Automated Regulation of Exhaust Levels (MARVEL). This automated ventilation system controller automatically adjusts ventilation fan speeds depending on restaurant equipment usage and exhaust air temperatures.  The result is an automated system that conserves energy during slow times while safely removing smoke and heat automatically when the kitchen is busy.

Somat Company eCorect Waste Decomposer.  Reduce food waste by 90% with this compost machine.  Less waste means less expense for trash removal and boosts a commercial kitchen’s green credibility.  This machine is easy to maintain and doesn’t require any special additives or enzymes to work.

These product innovations are great examples of how technology is being leveraged in the food service industry to increase efficiency and therefore profit margins in the fiercely competitive world of food service.

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Not All Slicers Are Created Equal: How To Tell The Difference & What You Should Buy

Not All Slicers Are Created Equal: How To Tell The Difference & What You Should BuyA commercial slicer can quickly turn many of the products in your walk in into uniform, perfectly sliced pieces ready to serve, making your staff’s job very easy and improving the efficiency of your operation.  Slicers are usually used to cut meats, cheese, and eggs, among other things.  A commercial slicer consists of an electric motor, a metal base, and a feeder tray that moves product past a metal blade to produce a thin slice.

What Do You Want To Slice?

While the slicer itself is a pretty simple device, not all slicers are created equal, and you need to be careful when purchasing a slicer to avoid getting the wrong one.  It all comes down to what exactly you intend to slice.  That’s because different slicers have different capabilities, and if you try to slice something that’s too heavy for your slicer, you’ll end up with a burned out motor.

The problem is that you’ll almost always be tempted to get a standard or light duty slicer because they are significantly less expensive than larger, heavier duty slicers.  That’s perfectly fine if you just need to slice up some deli meat.  But if you need to slice any kind of cheese or frozen product, your poor slicer is going to bog down and burn out very quickly.  Here’s how to decide which kind of slicer is right for you based on the type of product you want to slice:

Heavier duty slicers also tend to have a larger blade, which allows you to slice larger product.  Make sure you size the blade diameter to the size of the product you want to slice.  All slicers allow you to adjust the thickness of the slice and should be NSF certified and have safety features like a knife guard.

Manual vs. Automatic Slicers

A manual slicer requires one of your staff to operate the feeder tray back and forth to run food product past the slicing blade.  Some manual slicers also feature a gravity fed feeder tray, which ensures the product is in the proper position to slice on each pass.Not All Slicers Are Created Equal: How To Tell The Difference & What You Should Buy

Automatic slicers feature an electrically powered pusher for independent operation.  If you’re slicing large amounts of product all at once, an automatic slicer is more convenient because it can slice continuously without constant staff assistance.

Slicer Cleaning & Maintenance

Slicers should be sanitized on a regular daily schedule using a properly mixed commercial sanitizing concentrate and water.  Many slicers have a built in sharpening stone that will keep the blade consistently sharp.  Of course, whenever your staff is working around an ultra-sharp blade whirring at a high speed, they should have cut resistant gloves on.

There are several moving parts in the feeder tray and carriage assemblies on a slicer that should be lubricated regularly to ensure smooth operation and improve the lifespan of the slicer.  Always use a food-grade lubricant for these tasks.  Over time and lots of use, parts of your slicer are going to wear out, most commonly the slicing blade and the drive belt (if applicable).  Fortunately the parts that most commonly wear out are also relatively easy to replace.  Search for slicer parts by manufacturer here.

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How Hybrid Water Heating Can Make Your Restaurant As Cool As A Prius

How Hybrid Water Heating Can Make Your Restaurant As Cool As A Prius

Every restaurant needs hot water, and most of that water usually ends up being used to clean dirty cookware and cooking equipment.  More than likely you get your hot water from a conventional gas-fired water heater with a 100 gallon or larger tank.  For years the standard strategy for hot water has been to heat a large tank of water so that a large amount of hot water is on demand whenever you need it.

As natural gas prices rise, however, and restaurants look for ways to improve their sustainability credentials, conventional large-tank water heaters have become more and more unattractive.  For starters, conventional water heaters usually suck up 20% – 25% of a restaurant’s energy bill, which means a very large chunk of change is going into keeping 100 gallons of water in your basement hot at all times.

Even if you follow efficient water heating best practices, you’re spending a lot of dough.  Traditional heaters are also not very good at conserving water, since it usually takes a couple gallons to flush out cooled water in the lines before hot water reaches the tap.

For these reasons, some restaurants have started moving towards tankless, on-demand electric water heaters.  It’s amazing how much energy you can save when you don’t have to constantly heat a large tank of water.  The downside is that a tankless heater that’s capable of handling the large-volume requirements of a restaurant are pretty expensive to purchase and install.  Even so, a restaurant would see a return on investment through energy savings within two or three years.

That means new restaurants or ones with remodeling plans are in the perfect position to go tankless.  The extra investment up front translates into more black on the bottom line a few years down the road, especially since energy prices are only going to go up, not down.

I know, I know, most restaurateurs out there are probably thinking: “I’m not going to drop some serious dough on water heaters when I’ve got so many other things to worry about.”  I completely understand.  But I also have a “hybrid” solution for those of you who want to reduce your energy bills but don’t have the cash to invest in full-on tankless water heaters.

The answer lies in point-of-use commercial water heaters and faucets that operate a lot like a tankless water heater.  The only difference is they don’t have the same high volume capacity.  Point-of-use heaters maximize your efficiency because they are relatively inexpensive to install and take a significant load off your conventional heater, which means that 100-gallon tank can focus on the big stuff like your dish machine in the kitchen.

For server stations, handwashing sinks, and back bars, a commercial point-of-use instant hot water dispenser or mini-tank (2-4 gallon) electric hot water heater will greatly improve your efficiency and reduce energy bills.  This is primarily because you won’t be wasting all that hot water that sits in the pipes leading to these outlying hot water points.

When the time comes to replace your conventional heater, you’ll be able to downsize, leading to further energy savings.  The up-front cost of point-of-use commercial water heaters is much less, which means your return on investment will happen much faster.  From an economic standpoint, it makes sense.  From a sustainability standpoint, it makes for a great marketing opportunity.  If you’re willing to invest a little, the benefits are there for the taking.

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