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What Type of Knife Sharpener is Right for Your Kitchen?

Kitchen Knives & Sharpening Steel

Whether you’re shopping for your home kitchen or commercial kitchen, knowing what knife sharpener to use will help determine if your knife collection lasts a year or for many years to come. Besides, if you’re going to invest the money in building your knife collection, you owe it to yourself to learn a bit about keeping them sharp. Here’s a quick guide on the difference between knife sharpeners – including when you should be honing instead of sharpening.

First, Let’s Learn About Honing and Sharpening

There are 2 main ways to get a better edge on your knife: honing and sharpening. In most cases, you’ll simply hone the blade, not sharpen.

On to the Sharpeners

There are 4 main types of honing rods/sharpeners: sharpening steels, sharpening stones, manual knife sharpeners, and electric knife sharpeners.

1. Sharpening Steels

It’s important to note that sharpening steels are actually honing rods. The industry term is sharpening steel, but this is simply a misnomer for what is actually a tool that is used for honing knife blades.

Victorinox Sharpening SteelSharpening steels are primarily used by Chefs before and after they use their knives. They help to hone the blade and give the perfect edge between cuts. The main difference in the type of sharpening steel to use is the cut type and blade shape.

  • Cut Type. Depending on the cut type, you’ll get a lighter or heavier hone on your blades. For a lighter hone, choose a ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­fine, smooth, or helical (a spiral cut on the rod) cut type. For a heavier hone, choose a ­­combination, regular, or diamond cut type. For a look at the different cut types, take a look at these Victorinox sharpening steels.
  • Blade Shape. Round blades (or rods) are the most common type of sharpening steel used in kitchens, because they’re super easy and fast to use. Oval blades (or rods) give a bigger surface area for honing, but may slow you up if the steel is turned slightly out of place.
  • Material Type. Honing rods are commonly made of 3 different materials: steel, ceramic, and diamond (a steel rod with a diamond abrasive). By utilizing the ceramic and/or diamond rods, these materials are actually more abrasive than steel; so as you hone, you are slightly creating a new edge with minimal grind. Don’t think of it as sharpening, just a much more refined hone.

2. Sharpening Stones

Victorinox Sharpening StoneAlso referred to as whetstones, sharpening stones are great for sharpening very dull knives. The knife’s blade edge should be perpendicular to your strokes, but can be put against the stone at different angles to really bring the blade to a new layer of metal. Sharpening stones are also great for sharpening other odd blades, like razors and scissors. For more on how to use a sharpening stone, check out this knife sharpening video.

  • Pro Tip. Another good way to sharpen scissors is to cut through a few squares of some fine grit (finishing) sandpaper, ~240 or greater (the higher the number, the finer the grit). Treat this technique the same way you would a sharpening stone, by going through a couple levels of coarseness for more severe/dull jobs.

 3. Manual Knife Sharpeners

Victorinox Manual Knife SharpenerManual knife sharpeners offer an easy way to get your blades sharp, but at a lower price point than their electric counterpart. Manual knife sharpeners are great for traveling Chefs as they’re easy to pack up and carry.

 4. Electric Knife Sharpeners

Electric Knife SharpenerElectric knife sharpeners add convenience when it comes to knife sharpening, but some may say that they don’t allow for as much control as other manual methods and aren’t really designed for portable use.

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You Make What with a Panini Grill?

When it comes to food trucks, space is of the essence. With limited counters, food truck owners have had to get crafty with the equipment they choose to work with, but the panini press (also known as a sandwich grill) offers the perfect solution for creative cooks. Here are a few ways that cooks with small kitchens are using panini presses for more than just sandwiches.

1. Omelets

Omelete on Panini GrillPhoto Credit: Food Network / YouTube

 Throw on the spinach, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper, close the press for about a minute, then fold your omelet together – quick and easy breakfast.

2. Hashbrowns

Hashbrowns Cooked in Panini GrillPhoto Credit: Buzzfeed

It’s so much easier to cook hashbrowns in a panini grill.

3. Salads

Panini Grilled Caesar SaladPhoto Credit: How Sweet it Is

No, seriously; it’s a thing. Grilling heartier lettuces, like romaine, actually adds a smoky flavor and crisp to the salad that is delicious.

4. Meats

Cooking Meat on Panini GrillPhoto Credit: The Kitchn

Think of it as a supped up George Foreman. Anything that grill can do, this one can do just as good, if not better. Meats to cook include, chicken, steak, salmon, hamburger, and bacon – yes, bacon my friend!

5. Vegetables

Panini Grilled ArtichokesPhoto Credit: White on Rice Couple

Sliced or not, throw those veggies on the panini press, close the lid and within minutes you’ll have perfectly grilled veggies.

6. Burritos and Quesadillas

Panini Grilled QuesadillaPhoto Credit: Tracey’s Culinary Adventure

Using a panini grill to warm up and toast burritos and quesadillas is an easy way to deliver mouthwatering flavors.

7. Pizza

Panini Grilled PizzaPhoto Credit: The Kitchn

You could close the panini press and make a perfectly grilled pizza, but the sauce makes a mess. Instead, keep the panini press open and let the flavors melt on top as the dough cooks.

8. Kebabs

Padron Peppers Skewered with Chorizo and GrilledPhoto Credit: Martha Stewart

Kebabs are quick and easy on a panini press.

9. Cheese

Kasseri Grilled CheesePhoto Credit: Serious Eats

Yes, cheese between slices of bread is always great on a panini grill, but to get cheeses with a thick outer shell (like brie) melted on the inside a panini grill is the way to go.

10. Desserts

Panini Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Peaches and CreamPhoto Credit: Kitchen Daily

Being able to heat up a slice of pound cake, and then top it with freshly grilled peaches is a dream, right? You have to try this recipe with a panini grill.

Get a Waring Panini Grill
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The Right Gas Connectors & Hoses for Your Restaurant

Dormont Gas Connections

If you’re in the market for new gas equipment, it’s important to know that new gas connectors, hoses, and/or kits should be purchased at the same time, and when it comes to gas connections, safety in your restaurant should be as much of a priority as finding the right new equipment.

Dormont Gas HosesDormont is one of the food service industries leading suppliers when it comes to gas connections, hoses, and kits. With increased safety features and an engineered design specifically for commercial kitchens, Dormont is the only way to go for making the health inspector happy and keeping your business safe. Here are a few reasons why you’ll love Dormont too:

  1. Every hose is made in the USA.
  2. SnapFast disconnects help you to quickly and easily disconnect the gas hose so the equipment can be easily pulled away from the wall for cleaning.
  3. The trademark blue coating around the hose adds an antimicrobial protective coating and helps reduce kinks and damage to the hose.
  4. SwivelMAX helps the hoses spin 360⁰, which adds durability to the hose line, while also allowing equipment to be closer to the wall.
  5. Stainless steel material is resistant to a wide range of corrosive substances and adds extra durability to the hose.
  6. Their FAQs are quite lengthy and worthy of helping anyone figure out how to DIY with Dormont.

When it comes to the right gas connections, hoses, and kits for your restaurant, residential gas hoses will never do.  Trust Dormont and know that you’re making the right decisions for your business when it comes to gas safety.

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What are the different types of China dinnerware material?

iTi China Dinnerware

As one of our largest suppliers of restaurant dinnerware, International Tableware is able to offer the advice needed to make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing the right dish material for your food service needs. Here’s a quick list for helping to find the right restaurant China dinnerware material when shopping for new plates, bowls, and cups.

Bone China

Bone China is the type of China you think of finding in fine dining restaurants. It has a very refined look, yet is durable enough to withstand constant use.

  • Durability: High
  • Look: Elegant
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Price: $$$$
  • Weight: Light
  • Oven to Table: No
  • Color(s): Bone White

Ceramic

Ceramic China can differ from piece to piece making it a very unique addition to any table. It’s one of the most commonly used materials in restaurant dinnerware as its price point is low, but durability is reasonable.

  • Durability: Medium
  • Look: Sensible
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Price: $
  • Weight: Light
  • Oven to Table: Yes
  • Color(s): Variety

China

China gives you the elegance of Bone China, but at a lower price point. You also get a variety of colors, patterns, and finishes that you don’t see with other dinnerware materials.

  • Durability: Medium
  • Look: Classic
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Price: $$$
  • Weight: Light
  • Oven to Table: Yes
  • Color(s): White/Patterns

Glass

Some glass can be used from oven to table, but others can’t. To verify, look for a stamp on the bottom of the plate to verify if it is oven safe.

  • Durability: Low
  • Look: Modern
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Price: $$
  • Weight: Light
  • Oven to Table: Yes/No
  • Color(s): Clear/Textured

Porcelain

Similar to glass, look for a stamp on the bottom of the porcelain piece to see if it can be placed in an oven. Porcelain has a classic style that goes well in fine dining establishments, and rarely comes in any color other than white.

  • Durability: Low
  • Look: Classic
  • Texture: Smooth
  • Price: $$$
  • Weight: Light
  • Oven to Table: Yes/No
  • Color(s): White

Stoneware

Stoneware is one of the most versatile pieces of dinner ware material as it can come in a variety of colors and different finishes, e.g. satin, matte, shiny,etc.

  • Durability: High
  • Look: Rustic
  • Texture: Porous
  • Price: $$
  • Weight: Heavy
  • Oven to Table: Yes
  • Color(s): Variety

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How Sushi Restaurants Cut Cucumbers Fast

Sushi Roll with Cucumber Julienned

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

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

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

Vollrath Cucumber Slicer

How it Works

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

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

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

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5 Tips for Finding the Right Restaurant Equipment

Restaurant Equipment Reviews

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

1. Research the category first.

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

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

2. Start researching specific equipment models.

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

  • Hamilton Beach + CPM700
  • Hamilton Beach + commercial mixer

 3. Search product videos.

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

4. Ask the professionals.

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

5. Ask your peers.

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

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Cadco Hot Plates & Ranges

Cadco Hot Plate Cooking

There are many different types of portable hot plates and ranges to choose from for your food service operation. Cadco hot plates & ranges are a perfect choice for operators looking to cook in buffet style settings, cooking demonstrations, catering jobs, and just about anywhere else where food needs to be cooked and served away from the traditional, stationary stovetop.

Cadco Tubular Hot PlateCadco Tubular Models: CSR-1T, CSR-3T, CDR-1T, CDR-1TFB, CDR-2TFB

Tubular model hot plates disperse heat throughout the bottom of the pan, therefore offering indirect heat allowing the food to cook more evenly. Ideal applications for tubular hot plates include chocolate work, simmering, and holding with items such as soups, sauces, and bisques. These tubular model hot plates are also perfect for sous vide cooking.

Cadco Cast Iron Hot PlateCadco Cast Iron Solid Models: KR-1, KR-S2, CSR-1CH, LKR-220, CDR-2C, DKR-S2, CDR-2CFB

Cast iron/solid model hot plates have a direct heat source that delivers a more concentrated heat to the items being cooked. Ideal applications for the cast iron/solid model hot plates include searing, sautéing, omelet stations, and methods where a rolling boil needs to be achieved.

Cadco Induction RangeCadco Induction Range Model: BIR-1C

Buffet induction ranges offer the operator many benefits, such as instant heat & extremely quick cool down periods. The Cadco buffet induction range is one of the most energy efficient ranges, when compared to other hot plates offered.

These ranges stay cool to the touch, which helps to prevent burns, and they function with pots and pans that are a cast iron, enameled steel, or stainless steel bottom. They’re also very easy to clean, because of their sleek glass surface.

When quick service turnaround is a must, Cadco induction ranges are the answer. Other specific applications include searing, sautéing, and omelet/buffet and action stations, as well as, achieving a rolling boil and sous vide cooking.

Cadco Glass Ceremic Hot PlateCadco Glass Ceramic Range Model: PHR-1C

Cadco glass ceramic ranges consist of radiant heat technology that offers quick heat up and cool down periods. They have a direct heat source, which means the heat is very concentrated and stays within the confines of the actual heating element.   It also boasts a very easy to clean glass surface, which makes cleaning up spills and boil overs, a breeze. This range’s sleek, low profile styling is ideal for high-end buffet stations and specific cooking functions, such as searing and sautéing.

Just as important as the type of hot plate or range you choose, you’ll also want to consider the various wattage and voltage – higher wattage and voltage hot plates and ranges provide faster heat up times, while maintaining desired heat settings more consistently.

If you still aren’t quite sure what might be the best Cadco hot plate or range for your operation, feel free to contact Cadco directly and speak with their our Culinary Manager and Specialist – Christopher Kasik, phone: 860-738-2500 x224, email: chris[at]cadco-ltd[dot]com.

Happy cooking!

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Blodgett HydroVection Ovens

Blodgett HydroVection Oven

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

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

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

Blodgett HydroVection Meal

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

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

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Norman Lamps Heavy Duty Equipment Lighting

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

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

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

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Butcher & Processing Specialty Shop

Butcher & Processing Specialty Shop

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

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

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Butchery is Making a Comeback

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

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

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

Restaurants That Process In-House

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

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

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

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