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Learn how to buy the right restaurant equipment and supplies right here.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt

Maintaining a safe work environment for your kitchen staff is always one of your priorities.  One of the most common injuries besides knife cuts is probably burns from hot cookware or hot surfaces on cooking equipment.

The problem with garden variety oven mitts is they aren’t NSF certified, which means they can become mediums for transmitting food borne illnesses to your employees and customers.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s just an oven mitt, right?  As long as nobody gets burned while wearing it, what’s the big deal?

Companies like Tucker BurnGuard have taken the oven mitt to a whole new level, and the results are pretty impressive.  Tucker gloves are NSF certified for personal and food safety, and different Tucker gloves are specialized for specific tasks in your commercial kitchen.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt

The Tucker Steam Glove

The Steam Glove protects in wet or oily jobs up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.  These gloves also feature a SteamGuard material that protects the wearer from hot vapor and water.  They are of course waterproof and have a rough texture for easy gripping in wet conditions.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt

The Tucker SiliGlove

The SiliGlove is a silicone glove with heat protection up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  The removable liner can be dishwasher cleaned and the glove itself is anti-bacterial.  These three-finger gloves are 18” long and offer full heat protection plus superior food safety.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt

The Tucker Quick Klean Mitt

Quick Klean mitts are the ultimate combination of heat protection and food safety.  Standard cotton gloves get wet and grimy and can transmit bacteria.  These mitts are easily cleaned and have removable liner that can also be cleaned for maximum sanitation.

Buying Tucker oven mitts for your restaurant is going to be more expensive than buying standard cotton ones.  However, the improvements in staff safety and food safety can make up the difference between a cheapie and a Tucker mitt.  There’s also something to be said about the durability of a well made mitt.  These Tucker mitts probably last through two or three life cycles of regular cotton mitts.

How has your experience been with Tucker oven mitts?  Is the price worth the quality?  Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Commercial Food Processors: Know What To Buy

Food processors and mixers have evolved considerably in the past decade to become more versatile and more powerful; meaning, they can satisfy a growing number of food preparation tasks in greater capacities.

A food processor has a central motor, usually self contained, that drives a shaft to which a blade or other cutting implement is affixed.

Food is either processed in a bowl for sauces, soups, or finely diced vegetables, or through a continuous feed chute that allows sliced or shredded vegetables to be ejected quickly into bins.

What to Look For When Purchasing a Food Processor

  • Be sure to size your new food processor to the task. If you overwork the processor by constantly pushing its capacity, you could shorten its lifespan and effectiveness. Manufacturers usually list this information for each model.
  • Some units have more than one bowl size, allowing you to change the capacity according to what you are processing.  This is especially useful if you have medium and small size processing tasks.
  • Variable speed units are more versatile and can handle foods of different densities.
  • Look for units that come with multiple attachments. The more attachments a unit has, the more food preparation tasks it can perform in your commercial kitchen or restaurant.
  • Safety features that prevent kitchen staff injury, especially with new or untrained help. The most common is an automatic shut-off feature.

Types of Food Processors

Commercial Food Processors: Know What To Buy

Robot Coupe R2B CLR

The most important factor in choosing the correct food processor is to select a machine that is right for the type and quantity of food you want to process.

  • For maximum versatility, a Blixer, or combination mixer and blender, is ideal, with emulsifying and liquefying options that can blend sauces and soups without too much aeration plus the normal chopping and grinding features of a food processor.
  • Bowl mixers chop or grind relatively small amounts of core ingredients like garlic, shallots, or basil.
  • Combination models feature a variety of cutting blades and can perform multiple tasks, such as slicing, shredding, kneading dough, and julienne, plus normal chopping and grinding functions.
  • Vegetable prep models have a continuous feed chute that allows you to chop, dice, shred, grate, or julienne large amounts of vegetables at a time.
  • Heavy duty floor blixers and food processors are designed for large operations and can mix, blend, or process up to 1,200 lbs. per hour.
  • Vertical cutter mixers feature a continuous feed chute and a large capacity stainless steel bowl, have a variety of blade attachments, and can process larger volumes than a standard bowl mixer.

Caring For Your Food Processor

Food processors should last seven to ten years if used and maintained properly.  Typically, a food processor does not require much maintenance, since the motor is usually a sealed unit.

However, a few basic steps can be taken to maximize your food processor’s life:

  • Wash food processor bowls, attachments, blades, covers, and pushers regularly.  Most are dishwasher safe.
  • Always use the food pusher that comes with your unit to guide food into the processor.  Not only is it unsafe to use other objects or hands, but damage to the unit could also result.
  • Don’t overload the machine. It’s important to size the processor according to the types and quantities of foods you wish to process.  Too small of a machine or one without enough horsepower for more dense foods will not last as long or work as efficiently as a larger one.
  • Blades and attachments become dull over time and should be replaced.

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Two Products That Will Really Help Your Food Safety Efforts

I want to talk about some products that can really help your food safety efforts:

1.  Stainless steel 1/6 pans for your prep table coolers. Stainless is a much better conductor  than plastic, so Two Products That Will Really Help Your Food Safety Effortskeep your foods in them and it will help you avoid critical cold holding violations from the health department.  Additionally, do the following:

  • Ensure that foods are 41 F or below BEFORE placing them in cold holding units.  These types of coolers are designed to hold cold foods, not to cool them.
  • Do not overfill inserts.  Mounding foods is a near guarantee that the top portion rises in temperature.
  • Keep the pivot lid closed during slow periods.  I regularly see open lids during afternoon slow periods, and foods are warming up unnecessarily.

2.  Additional epoxy wire shelving for your walk-in coolers. I often observe shelves in walk-ins with considerable unused vertical space between the shelves.  In a walk-in, this is wasted space that you can easily reclaim for the one time expense of adding shelving.  And if you’re going to buy new shelving, make sure it’s epoxy coated.  This prevents rust from forming and keeps your shelves clean.

Two Products That Will Really Help Your Food Safety EffortsThink about these examples:

  • If you normally cool foods in several 2” pans, then install shelves close enough for the pans to slide in side by side.Two Products That Will Really Help Your Food Safety Efforts
  • If you store vegetables in 6” food storage boxes, then install your shelves close enough for them to slide them in side by side:  Two Products That Will Really Help Your Food Safety Efforts

I hope you are visualizing your walk-in cooler and considering how you can maximize your space.  Installing extra shelving eliminates the tendency to stack containers and will ensure airflow around each container.

Just so you know, this is not just a theory to me … I have customers who have successfully done this, solving longstanding cooling and cold holding problems in their walk-in coolers.

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Is Your Restaurant’s Commercial Dish Machine Efficient?

Commercial dishwashers are energy hogs, pure and simple.  There’s no way to get around it, and the best you can do is try to mitigate the costs associated with dishwashing by employing a few effective strategies.Is Your Restaurant’s Commercial Dish Machine Efficient?

Wash full racks only. It’s so obvious it almost seems dumb to say, but train your kitchen staff to never, ever, run anything less than a full rack through the dish machine.  The temptation to run the dishwasher half full is much greater than you might realize, and it’s a colossal waste of energy.

Is Your Restaurant’s Commercial Dish Machine Efficient?Check water temperature. Use a dishwasher thermometer to check the temperature of the water during the rinse cycle on a regular basis.  This is especially important for high temp dishwashers, as you want to ensure you are hitting 180 degrees Fahrenheit on every cycle.  However, a temp check will also help kitchens with a low temp dishwasher because often the unit runs water that is too hot, and the water temp can be turned down to save energy.

Booster heaters, internal tank heaters, and commercial water heaters can all be adjusted to optimize water temperature and minimize waste.  It’s important to continue checking water temperature as well because over time, use and wear may change the water temp in the dishwasher, requiring further adjustments.

For more information on high temp and low temp dishwashers, check out The Back Burner’s Commercial Dishwashing Buying Guide.

Turn off booster and tank heaters. The booster heater and the internal tank heater on the dishwashing unit should be turned off at the end of the night.  Otherwise, they will continue to heat water needlessly while you are shut down, wasting a ton of energy in the process.

Check water pressure. Many larger dish machines have a pressure gauge that indicates the water pressure in the unit.  More than 25 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) could mean you are using more water than necessary, as most dish machines require only 20 PSI.  Check with the unit’s manufacturer to see what the optimal PSI is for that machine and to learn how to adjust the PSI.Is Your Restaurant’s Commercial Dish Machine Efficient?

Optimize conveyor type dish machines. The tradeoff with large conveyor type dish machines is that you can process a lot of dishes quickly, but they are big energy hogs as well.  Only fire up the big conveyor during your rush periods when you know you’ll have a lot of dishes to wash.  During slow times, it’s much more efficient to use a smaller undercounter or door type dishwasher, as long as you can keep up.  The longer you leave the big conveyor shut down, the more energy you’ll save.

When you do need the conveyor dishwasher, make sure you do a couple things to optimize energy use.  First, run a conveyor in “auto mode,” which will make sure the electric motor inside the unit only runs when needed.  Secondly, install or replace worn door curtain strips.  These strips hold heat inside the unit and make it run more efficiently.

Finally, consider using a heat recovery system in your kitchen. A refrigeration heat recovery system takes the heat generated by your refrigeration units and uses it to pre-heat water that goes into your water heater, which means the water heater has less work to do and therefore uses less energy.  Another heat recovery system uses heat from used hot water going down the drain to pre-heat hot water heater water.  These systems require some up-front cost, but they pay for themselves relatively quickly.  If your operation consumes large amounts of hot water, you could save a significant amount of energy by using a heat recovery system.

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A 4.2 HP Vita-Mix Blender!?

Apparently sometime last year an executive at Vita-Mix walked into the engineering department with a brick and said “I’d like to blend this”. What was created from that moment, was the most powerful blender on the market, the Vita-Mix XL.

I got the chance to see this blender in action at the NAFEM show a couple of weeks ago. The Vita-Mix booth had the XL front and center along with some chefs doing menu demonstrations and then passing out the results.

A 4.2 HP Vita Mix Blender!?

The Vita-Mix XL in action at the NAFEM show.

It was pretty amazing the things this blender can do.  At one point a pico de gallo was made, handed out to the crowd and then with the flick of the switch turned into a puree almost instantly. You could visibly see the chef’s enjoyment over using such a powerful piece of kitchen equipment.

Up until now, if you needed a food blender most likely you would be shopping for a Waring CB15 or Vita-Mix Vita Prep which are significantly less expensive than the Vita-Mix XL. So what are you getting for that extra dough?

  • Larger capacity: The XL features a true 1.5 gallon container as opposed to a 1 gallon container. The way this container was designed allows for it to actually hold a full 1.5 gallons. Also included is a 64 oz container for smaller batches.
  • Horse Power: 4.2 peak HP. For comparison, that’s most likely more than your kid’s go-cart.
  • Control: Features include a smooth variable speed control, a pulse function and pre-programmed timed cycles that allow you to set programs for your various menu items.
  • Food Safety: The clear copolyester container is BPA free.

In addition to all the usual features and benefits talk, the Vita-Mix XL is just plain cool. Walking into the kitchen everyday and seeing this monster of a blender is sure to put a smile on any chef’s face and cutting down on prep time is certain to make any owner happy. So happy in fact, he or she might let you take it home at night to whip up some margaritas for you and your friends.

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Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

Over 60 years, Hoshizaki has built a reputation across the globe for quality, design, and performance.  Since 1986, Hoshizaki’s plant in Peachtree City, GA has supplied the U.S. market with domestically produced ice makers and bins. As one of the largest producers of commercial ice machines worldwide, Hoshizaki understands that quality, durability, and performance are the keystones to customer satisfaction.

Food service industry professionals recognize Hoshizaki for their commitment to these prinicipals by buying Hoshi ice machines again and again, and they have selected the company for various awards, including “Best In Class” in FE&S Magazine.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

Cuber ice machines are the standard in food service.  Hoshi builds a variety of capacities, with optional stackable bins and air, water, or remote condenser cooled.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

Nugget ice machines are a consumer favorite because the porous ice is chewable and it soaks up the flavors of the beverage.  Hoshi makes an air, water, and remote condenser cooled version of their nugget ice machine.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

Flake ice machines make ice perfect for salad bars and fresh fish or meat displays.  You can also get air, water, and remote condenser cooled versions of this flaker ice machine.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

As with all ice machines, you should have a water filtration system to prevent breakdowns and reduce maintenance.  Hoshizaki makes their own water filter systems for their ice machines.  Usually, for warranty reasons, it’s best to use the water filter system recommended by the manufacturer, which of course is the one they make.

Hoshi also makes sushi cases and ice dispensers.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice

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Why Water Filtration Is Essential In Your Restaurant

Why Water Filtration Is Essential In Your RestaurantWater filtration systems provide two key benefits for your commercial kitchen or restaurant: restaurant equipment maintenance and breakdown is reduced by as much as 75% Beverages and ice tastes (and smells) better for customers. Restaurant equipment that use water like ice machines, coffee and espresso makers, steamers, and dishwashers can all benefit from a water filtration system.

Mineral deposits (also known as “scale”) build up in these machines, causing maintenance problems and breakdowns.  Water filtration systems with scale inhibitors prevent the buildup of scale as well as filter the water in the commercial kitchen equipment you use every day. Water filters with scale inhibitors are particularly beneficial for ice machines, as ice will appear clearer and break up easier than non-filtered ice, not to mention taste better to the customer.

Water filtration removes:

  • Chemicals
  • Sediment
  • Minerals
  • Organic matter

The presence of these elements in your commercial kitchen or restaurant’s water affects water taste and odor and increase the likelihood of maintenance problems or equipment breakdown.

Types of Water Filters

Not all water filters and water filtration systems are the same. Some water filtration systems feature a drop-in replacement cartridge whereas others are screwed into the filter head. Some water filters need to be activated by cycling water through them for a period of time before use.  Other types allow you to simply drop in the cartridge and put it to work right away.

Some systems require multiple filter cartridges, especially for higher volume applications whereas others, most notably Cuno, have single cartridge systems for all capacities, saving space and money since you only have to purchase one replacement cartridge at a time.

When To Replace Your Water Filter

It’s probably time to replace your water filter cartridge if:

  • Water pressure drops significantly.  Many water filtration systems have a PSI (pounds per square inch) indicator needle.  If that needle is in the red or below 30 PSI, replace your filter
  • The water in your restaurant or commercial kitchen tastes or smells funny
  • Mineral deposits or “scale” start building up in your restaurant equipment
  • More than six months have passed since the last time you replaced the filter

The best way to avoid problems with your water filtration system is to replace filters every six months. If your water filter cartridge is clogging or going bad in less than six months, you may need a pre filter for your water filtration system. A pre filter removes larger organic matter and sediment before it reaches your main filter, improving the main filter’s lifespan and effectiveness. Different geographic areas have different water qualities, but in general if your area has especially “hard” water (it contains lots of minerals), has a lot of sediment or debris, algae, or other organic matter problems, installing a pre filter is a good idea. Wherever your restaurant is, you should have a robust water filtration system in place.  It’s good for your equipment, your product, and your customers.  There’s not three more compelling reasons for a restaurateur out there.

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Handle Bulk Vegetable Oil The Smart Spout Way

Handle Bulk Vegetable Oil The Smart Spout WayIf you’ve got a restaurant, you probably deal with a lot of oil.  Between changing the oil in fryers, making dressings and sauces, and cooking on the line, the only person moving more oil in the neighborhood is the local mechanic.  And, like any restaurateur, you probably buy the stuff in bulk containers so that it’s a little easier to handle and a little cheaper to buy.  And we all know how annoying those bulk containers can be to handle.  They’re, well, bulky.

The Smart Spout is exactly what it sounds like: a smart idea that makes a restaurateur’s daily life a little easier.  It’s simple, functional, and easy to use.  What does the smart spout do?  It allows you to pour bulk fryer or vegetable oil easily without spilling.  Simple as that.  Anyone who has stepped on oil on the floor in a commercial kitchen can attest to the dangers even a small spill can create.

The Smart Spout fits 1, 17.5, and 35 gallon bulk oil containers.  It swivels so that oil can pour freely in any direction.  It comes in red and green so you can tell fryer oil from ingredient oil.  It’s washable, sealable, and reusable.

The Smart Spout reminds me of old gasoline cans.  20 years ago they had a screw cap and that was it.  Then somebody got smart and invented a pour spout so you didn’t spill gas everywhere, which is both costly and dangerous.  Now every Jerry-can in the world has a spout.

I don’t know if every bulk vegetable oil container in the world will have a spout one day, but they should, for the very same reasons every gas can now has one.  If you deal with those bulk oil containers, make your life a little easier.

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The Time To Upgrade Restaurant Equipment Has Come

The Time To Upgrade Restaurant Equipment Has ComeThere’s always some good reasons for upgrading your kitchen’s restaurant equipment: better energy efficiency, better performance, increased ease-of-use, increased output, etc. There’s always an equally pressing reason why you try to get one more year out of that same equipment: money doesn’t grow on trees, and there’s plenty of other costs your restaurant faces.

That’s understandable.  But if there ever was a time to buy restaurant equipment, that time is now.  Food service industry revenue forecasts are up, the newest equipment is more energy efficient than ever, and to top it all off, a recently passed bill will let you write off up to $500,000 in equipment purchases through 2011, meaning you get a tax credit now instead of depreciating bit-by-bit over the next ten years.

Of course, you’ll want to conduct a total cost analysis before you make the decision to buy, but when you factor in all those tax write-offs, that decision can sure be a compelling one.

Get more info about this tax credit here.

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Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade-Offs Before You Buy

Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade Offs Before You BuyIt goes without saying that commercial cookware is a must for any restaurant’s kitchen.  These are the tools of the trade, and if you’re looking to buy professional cookware, chances are you already know exactly what you want and where to get it.

The purpose of this guide is not to give you a 101 on the types of cookware.  I’m assuming you already know the basics.  The purpose of this guide is to give you some information that may help you become a more discerning shopper when you need new cookware, not to tell you what a fry pan is and why you should use it over a sauce pan.

So based on the assumption you know the difference between sauce pans and fry pans, let’s move on to material.  This is where your cookware buying decisions can start to get a little sticky.  In general, there are three main factors to consider when deciding on the material you want in your cookware:

1.    Price. Some materials are cheaper than others, plain and simple.  In general the scale goes like this, from least expensive to most: aluminum, non-stick, stainless steel, and tri-ply.  There are definitely some trade-offs between each type, which I’ll get into later in this post.

2.    Durability. Heating, cooking, cooling, and cleaning all put serious stress on professional cookware.  Some types of cookware are more durable than others, and durability is going to be a key factor to weigh against price when deciding what kind of cookware to buy.

3.    Heat conduction. Since the purpose of cookware is to conduct heat to the ingredients you’re trying to cook, the efficiency with which different types of materials conduct heat is another important consideration.
You’re probably already familiar with the different types of materials professional cookware is made from.  Let’s go through them anyway so we can weigh how each type stacks up against the three factors I outlined above.

Aluminum

Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade Offs Before You Buy

Price: usually the lowest.

Durability: well, it depends on the kind of aluminum.  1100 series aluminum is the softest material available for professional cooking.  It tends to warp and dent easily, which means it can have a short lifespan in a bustling commercial kitchen.  3000 series aluminum (including 3003 and 3004) is harder because an alloy has been added to the aluminum that makes it more durable.  Of course, alloy aluminum is also going to be more expensive.

Heat conduction: just about the best.  Technically, copper is a better conductor of heat than aluminum, but because copper reacts chemically to certain food types, and is even softer than aluminum, it typically isn’t used in commercial cookware.  The exception to this is tri-ply cookware, which I’ll get into later.

Non-stick

Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade Offs Before You Buy

Non-stick means the cookware has been coated with a special material that makes it harder for food to stick to the pan when cooking.  This coating is usually applied to aluminum cookware and limited to types that are used for high heat applications – typically fry pans.

Price: a bit more than natural aluminum, but still very affordable compared to other materials.

Durability: it depends on how you care for it.  Non-stick will scratch off very quickly if you use metal utensils during cooking or clean it with an abrasive surface like a brillo pad.  And of course non-stick still has all the durability issues of other aluminum cookware.

Heat conduction: just as good as aluminum.

Stainless Steel

Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade Offs Before You Buy

Price: more expensive than non-stick and natural aluminum.

Durability: stainless is about the most durable material you can get in commercial cookware.

Heat conduction: here’s where the trade-off with stainless steel comes in.  On the one hand, you’ll get some super durable cookware.  On the other, stainless steel doesn’t conduct heat very well at all compared to aluminum.  Of course, it will get hot over time, and has pretty decent heat retention, but if you’re trying to get ingredients hot very quickly, stainless isn’t going to perform as well.  That’s why stainless steel tends to perform best for long, slow, simmering type cooking, like stock pots and sauce pans.

Tri-Ply

Commercial Cookware: Weighing The Trade Offs Before You Buy

Tri-ply is a hybrid of multiple materials, and in many ways this approach embodies the best attributes of stainless steel and aluminum.

Price: similar in price or more expensive than stainless steel.

Durability: tri-ply usually consists of a stainless steel body with a layer of copper or aluminum on the bottom to boost heat conduction.  This gives your cookware the durability of stainless steel without sacrificing any heat transfer.
Heat conduction: is usually excellent because of the highly efficient conduction of the aluminum or copper layer on the bottom.

Finding the right trade-off between price and performance is the perennial problem of any equipment purchase.  At least there are some intriguing options when it comes to professional cookware, and those options definitely give you some flexibility when it comes to deciding what kind of cookware you’d like in your kitchen.

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