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Flatware & Care: A Need-To-Know Guide

Flatware & Care: A Need To Know Guide Purchasing flatware for your kitchen, be it at home or for a restaurant, is often an expensive essential when you’re looking for quality. Whether you’re buying flatware for the first time, looking to re-stock after a move, or aiming to improve the atmosphere of your eatery with new utensils, it’s wise to know a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to combating wear and tear.

From picking out your pieces to running them through the wash, finding and keeping quality flatware in excellent condition is pretty simple and straightforward:

What makes quality flatware quality flatware?

Two factors that separate most forks, spoons, knives, and the likes when it comes to quality are composition and weight. The composition of your flatware’s stainless steel coupled with its weight class determines how durable each piece is and essentially how long it will last in your kitchen.

Composition – While all flatware is made of stainless steel, not all stainless steel is created equal. In fact, the “stainless” is unfortunately a misnomer, as most stainless steel does indeed rust over time, and most manufacturers add metals like chromium and nickel to help prolong the inevitable rusting. The difference in percentages of both metals is apparent in 18/0 stainless steel and 18/10 stainless steel.

  • 18/0 stainless steel has 18% chromium added and 0% nickel, making it the more economical, inexpensive choice of flatware. Great for homes or restaurants where flatware is abused or goes missing often, 18/0 stainless steel utensils lack the luster of their nickel-rich counterparts and are more susceptible to rust and staining.
  • 18/10 stainless steel also has the 18% chromium coating, strengthening the steel, but has an additional 10% nickel content for added brilliance and rust-resistance. 18/10 flatware sits on the more expensive end of the flatware spectrum, and the presentability of each piece makes it suitable for professional and formal occasions.

Weight – Weight classes, much like composition, ascend from the least expensive, most economical flatware to the pricier, flashier pieces. Determining which flatware will perform appropriately in your kitchen is a must.

  • Medium flatware, also known as “economy weight”, has a relatively short lifespan and is easily manipulated. Being the most affordable to replace, and the easiest to get over losing, medium duty flatware is ideal for home use or casual eateries.
  •  Heavy flatware is one step up and is the most common flatware in use. Much sturdier than medium weight, but still bendable by hand, heavy duty utensils last longer and are a little more expensive.
  • Extra Heavy flatware is yet another step up in weight class and is therefore more expensive and more durable. Extra Heavy utensils don’t break or bend as often or as easily.
  • European Style flatware is most commonly used in high-end establishments due to the size and added weight. About three times heavier and bigger than traditional weight class flatware, European Style flatware is perfect for formal serving or celebration.

Caring for your flatware

Flatware & Care: A Need To Know Guide

Depending on the quality of your flatware, and even if it’s 18/0 medium weight, you’ll want to keep it in attractive, usable shape for as long as you can. Failing to care for your flatware is a quick road to rust-speckled spoons and flaking forks. Luckily practicing a few simple care tactics when cleaning up after a meal can drastically extend the life of your flatware.

  • Pre-soak your utensils for approximately 10 minutes before running them through the dishwasher. Pre-soaking flatware helps break down the food remnants that cling to tines and nestle into crevices, and if you don’t let flatware soak before washing there’s a good chance your dishwasher could miss some spots. NOTE:  Pre-soaking for longer than 10 minutes is not recommended as it encourages rust to start forming. Also, do not soak in aluminum or metal pans as the pans react with chlorine in the water and speed up the oxidation (rusting) of stainless steel.
  • Remove food bits manually with a soapy sponge after a good pre-soak to ensure you get everything, but avoid using abrasive pads or steel wool. Rough pads tend to scratch and tarnish the surface of your flatware and create tiny grooves where rust likes to form.
  • Run your pre-soaked utensils through a high temperature dishwasher to properly wash them, but remember to avoid using chemicals that will damage your flatware like bleach or chlorine.
  • Once washed, don’t let your flatware sit before drying. Dry as soon as possible. Using a dishwasher’s drying cycle is a good start, but to be sure each piece is dried thoroughly wipe them down with a cloth or towel. Remember, the longer your flatware is wet the quicker rust will move in and take over.
  • Store your flatware somewhere it will stay dry.

With so much going on in the kitchen, especially in an ever-busy eatery, it’s easy to overlook the little things. Given that your forks, spoons, and knives are used and re-used on a daily basis (if not hourly) it’s important to not let caring for your flatware become one of those little things.

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Buying Guide: Commercial Ice Machine Types

Picking the correct ice type for your establishment is very important when shopping for a commercial ice machine. The shape of the ice has everything to do with its intended purpose.  Whether used in beverages, food presentation or health care services, Tundra Restaurant Supply offers many different types of ice machines in order to satisfy the widest variety of uses.

Full cube: Also known as “full dice cube”, measures 7/8” on all sides and looks very much like a cube. This ice type is the most recognizable by consumers and offers maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio. Furthermore, it melts slowly and can be produced quickly which is perfect for high-volume operations.

Ideal uses include:Buying Guide: Commercial Ice Machine Types

  • Mixed drinks
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Bagged ice/ice retailing
  • Ice dispensers
  • Banquet services
  • Ice displays

Full Cube Ice Machines

Half Cube: Also known as “half dice cube”, measures 3/8” x 7/8” x 7/8” and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Like full cube ice, half cube offers maximum cooling with nearly 100% ice to water ratio. The small, easy-to-handle shape is perfect for blended drinks because if breaks down easily and creates a smoother finish.

Ideal uses include:Buying Guide: Commercial Ice Machine Types

  • Blended drinks
  • Mixed drinks
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Ice dispensers
  • Ice displays
  • Banquet services

Half Cube Ice Machines

Nugget Ice: Also known as “pearl ice” or “cubelet ice”, measures 3/8” – ½” in diameter and encompasses a soft, chewable texture. This ice type is very versatile and slow melting. It cools drinks rapidly due to its high liquid displacement resulting in increased profits.

Ideal uses include:Buying Guide: Commercial Ice Machine Types

  • Blended cocktails
  • Smoothies
  • Fountain drinks
  • Salad bars
  • Therapeutic uses/patient care
  • Produce displays

Nugget Ice Machines

Flake Ice: Also known as “Shaved ice” is small, soft pieces of ice with a 73% ice to water ratio. Flake ice maintains food hydration, which extends the shelf life and appearance of seafood, produce, meat displays and helps increase sales. Flake ice is also great for use in bakeries, catering and health care applications.

Ideal used include:Buying Guide: Commercial Ice Machine Types

  • Produce, seafood and meat displays
  • Blended cocktails
  • Therapeutic uses/patient care
  • Salad bars

Flake Ice Machines

Hopefully this ice machine buying guide exposes all of the options you have when it comes to choosing the right commercial ice machine for your needs. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask them in a comment below!

 

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10 Energy Saving & Compliance Tips For Your Restaurant

Here are suggestions for energy savings and compliance with the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations:

1. Ensure efficient door closers for coolers. I frequently observe cooks open doors on line coolers and the doors are left standing open until someone thinks to kick them closed. What a waste of cold air and increased compressor run time! It equals $$ lost, plus foods can warm up above 41 F.

10 Energy Saving & Compliance Tips For Your Restaurant2. Obtain and use the Comark PDT-300 thermometer. The regulations require a thin probe thermometer if you serve “thin foods” such as patties. I use it, it is NSF approved, and in my opinion, it is the best one for the money.

3. Use overhead glass hangers for 3-compartment sinks if drain board space is lacking. The regulations specifically allow for “alternative methods” for drying in lieu of drain boards.

4. Use metal pans, instead of plastic, for prep table coolers. Metal is superior in heat conduction and will REALLY help your foods stay at 41 F or below, which is required.10 Energy Saving & Compliance Tips For Your Restaurant

5. Ensure tight fitting pivot lids on prep table coolers. If yours have gaps or are loose fitting, this allows warm air in, energy $$ are lost, and foods can warm up above 41 F.

6. Be aware that due to the increased emphasis on hand washing and the prohibition of bare hand contact with ready-to-eat food, it is more and more common for additional hand sinks to be required, especially in existing facilities. The smaller modular hand sinks with integrated splash guards are a great and relatively inexpensive solution.

10 Energy Saving & Compliance Tips For Your Restaurant

7. Use nail brushes…although they are not required, clean fingernails are required.  I know of no other way to clean under nails than with a brush.

8. Purchase color codedutensils.  They are a great way, if used properly, to separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods, preventing cross contamination. They are a convenient, easy for non-English speaking employees to comprehend, and easy for managers to verify their proper use by employees.

9. Install additional shelving in your walk-in cooler.  Step back and look at your shelves and the food containers on them.  Do you have unused vertical space?  Get the most out of your walk-in!

10. Use walk-in cooler curtains.  They help maintain the temperature of foods in the walk-in and result in $$ savings in energy costs.

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Commercial Dinnerware: A Complete Buying Guide

Dinnerware is used in every type of restaurant, whether your run a fast-casual, diner or fine dining restaurant. Choosing the right dinnerware will complete a guest’s dining experience. From modern to traditional and bamboo to Fine China knowing the dinnerware options you have is key to creating the perfect place setting.

Commercial Dinnerware: A Complete Buying Guide Bamboo dinnerware is made from bamboo fibers, a renewable resource making these plates and bowls environmentally friendly. All of the bamboo dinnerware Tundra Restaurant Supply offers is safe for commercial use and commercial dishwashing. This dinnerware is manufactured from harvested bamboo that has been dried for an extended period of time. When dry, it is then ground and pulverized into a very fine powder and has 100% food-safe pigments mixed in. High-pressure and heat is applied to cast each piece of dinnerware and then a glaze is applied. Available in a variety of colors, bamboo dinnerware will make an eco-friendly and stylish statement in any restaurant setting.

Commercial China that is found in restaurants and hotels is much more durable then fine china found in residential homes. Commercial china dinnerware is designed to withstand the restaurant environment. Classic white china, with a basic rim is often preferred in restaurants because it allows for a more varied meal presentation. China that is embossed features a wider rim with grooved patterns. China dinnerware that has a banded rim feature two or more colored stripes and an off-white surface. These plates are great for diner and café settings and are manufactured to withstand years of commercial use.Commercial Dinnerware: A Complete Buying Guide

Melamine dinnerware is a type of plastic that is scratch resistant and shatter proof. Melamine’s strength and durability make it a popular type of dinnerware in the restaurant industry. Melamine plates and bowls can be used hundreds of times and withstand the wear and tear of a commercial setting. Our selection of melamine dinnerware includes upscale and basic designs that will compliment any restaurant ambiance. Melamine dinnerware is often found in ethnic restaurants; including Mexican and Chinese food establishments.

Basketweave or Wood Weave dinnerware is beautifully crafted and finished with a smooth, polished finish. The warm finish of basketweave dinnerware will create an inviting ambiance in any restaurant setting. Basketweave dinnerware will impress guests and is perfect for serving salads, appetizers and side dishes. It is normal for commercial-grade basketweave bowls and plates to change color slightly over time – especially when used constantly. Basketweave dinnerware is best when hand-washed making it a better fit for small, quaint restaurants and cafes.

Commercial Dinnerware: A Complete Buying Guide Polycarbonate dinnerware is manufactured from food-safe plastic that is shatter proof and durable. Polycarbonate bowls and plates can often be found in institutional settings; including schools and health care facilities. Polycarbonate dinnerware is typically inexpensive, dishwasher safe and available in a variety of colors and sizes.

Glass dinnerware is not as popular in commercial restaurants because glass tends to be more expensive and very fragile. However, glass plates are great for serving first courses; including salads and appetizers. Traditionally, glass dinnerware is much smaller then melamine and china plates and platters, another reason why glass is great for serving salads and appetizers.

Dinnerware is used for everything from appetizers and salads to main courses and desserts. Make sure you choose the right dinnerware selection or your restaurant. Guests notice the finest details when visiting your food service establishment; show them how much you care with an elegant, tasteful place setting.

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Buying Guide | Flatware 101

No table setting is complete without the proper flatware pieces. Whether your guests are expecting a fine dining or quick diner experience understanding your flatware options is important and will contribute to the ambiance and style you’re trying to achieve. Tundra Restaurant Supply offers a variety of commercial flatware at every price point.

Table/Dinner KnifeBuying Guide | Flatware 101

A table knife is an item of cutlery, part of a traditional table setting. Table knives are typically of moderate sharpness only, designed to cut prepared and cooked food. They are usually made of stainless steel.

Butter Knife

Commonly, a butter knife refers to any non-serrated table knife designed with a dull edge and rounded point; formal table settings make a distinction between a dinner knife (table knife) and a butter knife.

Dinner Fork

The dinner fork is part of the traditional five-piece flatware setting. It is used during the main course. A dinner fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end.

Salad Fork

Similar to a dinner fork, but shorter and may have one of the outer tines shaped differently.

Dessert Fork

A dessert fork is smaller and features a thinner build then a salad fork. It is typically used for eating desserts like pie and cake. In Europe, a dessert fork is often referred to as a pudding fork or cake fork.

Cocktail Fork

A cocktail fork is a small fork resembling a trident used for spearing cocktail garnishes, such as olives or cheese. This is an individual fork traditionally used with the standard five-piece place setting.

Buying Guide | Flatware 101Teaspoon

A teaspoon is a small spoon, commonly part of a table place setting suitable for stirring and sipping the contents of a cup of tea or coffee.

Soup Spoon

A soup spoon is a type of spoon with a large or rounded bowl, used for eating soup. This term can refer to the Western soup spoon or the Chinese spoon. The Western soup spoon features a deep, circular bowl for holding liquid. The Chinese soup spoon is usually ceramic and of a distinct Chinese soup spoon shape.

Dessert Spoon

A dessert spoon is a spoon designed specifically for eating dessert and sometimes used for soup or cereals. Similar in size to a soup spoon but with an oval rather than round bowl, it typically has a capacity around twice that of a teaspoon.

Tablespoon

A tablespoon is the largest type of spoon used for eating from a bowl. In Europe, a tablespoon is a type of large spoon usually used for serving.

Bouillon Spoon

This is another type of soup spoon mainly used for clear soups or broths. The bouillon spoon has a rounded spoon head.

Demitasse Spoon

A demitasse spoon is a diminutive spoon and smaller than a teaspoon. It is traditionally used for coffee drinks in specialty cups and for spooning cappuccino froth. It is also used as a baby spoon.

Know the Difference | 18/10 vs. 18/0 Grade Stainless Steel

The 18/10 and 18/0 specifications are simply figures that illustrate the percentages of chromium and nickel content present in the stainless steel. Examples: if a piece of flatware has 18/10 construction, there is 18% chromium and 10% nickel content. If the flatware has an 18/0 construction, there is 18% chromium with zero nickel matter. Chromium is a hard metallic substance that helps increase product hardness. Nickel is defined as a silvery metallic element that helps resist corrosion.Buying Guide | Flatware 101

18/10 Flatware Features:

  • Brilliant luster
  • Rust-resistant material
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to maintain

18/0 Flatware Features:

  • Soft shine
  • Zero nickel content
  • Economical design
  • Subject to staining

Purchasing flatware might seem like a complicated process, but with the proper information and knowing the basics you can create a special table setting for any guest setting. Tundra Restaurant Supply offers hundreds of flatware collections at every price point.

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Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Are Test Strips Required, and Why?

Commercial sanitizers and test strips are required by health department regulations, and in Colorado those are the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations.  Why do you need Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guidethem?  Because test strips tell you if the chemical sanitizing solution is the required concentration.  Section 4-402 reads:

“A test kit or other device that accurately measures the concentration in parts per million (mg/L) of the sanitizing solution shall be available and used.”

What is Sanitization and Why is it Important?

Good questions, and I’m glad you asked!  Here is the definition from Section 1-202:

“Sanitization means the application of cumulative heat or chemicals on cleaned food-contact surfaces that, when evaluated for efficacy, is sufficient to yield a reduction 5 logs, which is equal to a 99.999% reduction, of representative disease microorganisms of public health importance.”

Simply put, if you apply either sufficient heat, or sufficient chemical sanitizer, then nasty microbes that can make you sick are reduced by 99.999%.  That protects you and your customers, and it is important.  The regulations define how much is sufficient, and I discuss that next.

Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Types of Chemical Sanitizers

The three most common chemical sanitizers are chlorine-based, quaternary ammonia (QA), and iodine- based.  The required concentration ranges are below:

  • Chlorine-based (available chlorine as hypochlorite) | Between 50 ppm and 200 ppm
  • Quaternary ammonia (QA) | Between 100 ppm and 400 ppm
  • Iodine-based (available iodine) | Between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm

How Do You Use Test Strips and How Often?

Chlorine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution, then immediately remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 50 ppm and 200 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Quaternary ammonia (QA) sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 10 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 100 ppm and 400 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Iodine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 60 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

If the concentration is either too low or too high, either add sanitizer or dilute as needed in order to achieve the required concentration.Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

How often do you need to check the concentration?  The Colorado regulation does not specify.  But you need to check often enough to ensure the proper concentration at all times.  A minimum of twice a day is my recommendation.

If you have a high temperature dish machine in Colorado, you must provide a minimum temperature of 160 F on the surface of utensils/equipment to ensure that sanitizing has actually occurred.  Since dish machine gauges can be inaccurate, purchase and regularly use hot water test labels.

Fryer oil and pH test strips are not required by the Colorado regulations.

Remember This!

  1. Test chemical sanitizers in all locations.  This includes the buckets for your wiping cloths, the 3-compartment sink, and the low temperature dish machine.
  2. Inspectors will often ask for your test strips and have you test the sanitizing solution, or they will test it themselves. Asking you to provide the strips will show them if you keep them readily available…a manager scrambling to find them is a bad sign!  Secondly, watching you do the test will show them if you know how, so be prepared.
  3. The requirement for test strips is non-critical, and if you violate it, it is marked as an 11C violation on the inspection form. But have the strips, use them, make sure your staff knows how to use them, and keep all your sanitizing solutions at the proper concentration.
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A Bartender’s Glassware Guide: Does Your Glass Have Class?

A Bartender’s Glassware Guide: Does Your Glass Have Class?Aside from knowing how to mix hundreds of cocktails, a bartender must know what type of glass to pour their mouth-watering drinks and cocktails into. So, to make life just a tad bit easier we have smashed our brains together to develop a restaurant glassware guide that will make your toes curl with joy.

Wine Glasses:

White Wine Glass: Sizes range from 5-10 ounces, but the most practical size for a white wine glass is 6-8 ounces. Forms vary from balloon shaped to straight sided to tulip shaped.

What to Drink:
Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, Muscat / Moscato, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier

Red Wine Glass: The large size of this balloon glass allows wine to breath. Sizes typically range from 8-14 ounces.

What to Drink: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Malbec

Sherry Glass: The smallest of the wine glasses holds from 4-6 ounces. It can also be used for liqueur-based drinks.

What to Drink: Sherry, Port, Aperitifs, Liqueurs, Layers Shooters

Flute: The Champagne Flute is a tall, thin, tapered glass that holds between 7 and 11 ounces and is perfect for Champagne Cocktails. The purpose of the flute design is to keep the bubbles in the flute longer; with less surface area exposed to the air, the bubbles can’t escape as fast.

What do Drink: Champagne, Sparkling Wines, Bellini’s, Prosecco’s, Mimosa’s, Asti, Champagne Cocktails

Cocktail Glasses:

Old Fashioned: Sometimes called lowball or rocks glass, the Old Fashioned Glass is a squat tumbler with a heavy base that holds approximately 5 – 10 ounces and is the most versatile. Typically used for short mixed drinks and anything on the rocks.

What to Drink: Scotch, Whisky, Old Fashioned, Black/White Russians, Mai Tais

Collins Glass: An optional addition to the bar as it is interchangeable with the highball glass. Used primarily for any Collins drink, it is a narrow tumbler that holds between 8 and 12 ounces.

What to Drink: Collins, Fizz, Zombies, Long Islands, Sours, MojitoA Bartender’s Glassware Guide: Does Your Glass Have Class?

Highball Glass: Highball Glasses are large tumblers with heavy bases that hold between 8 and 12 ounces and can easily replace a Collins glass. This glass is generally used for mixed drinks.

What to Drink: Bloody Marys, Vodka Cranberry, Gin & Tonic, Scotch & Soda, Bourbon & Coke, 7 & 7, Moscow Mule, Fuzzy Navels, Screwdrivers

Cocktail Glass: The familiar conical shape of the Cocktail Glass makes most of us think of Martinis and so it should. Nowadays, Cocktail glasses range from a 6 ounce glass to a huge 16 ouncer (too much of a good thing?)

What to Drink: Martinis, Manhattans, Cosmopolitans

Snifter: A Snifter comes in a variety of sizes and is the traditional vessel for brandy and cognac served neat. Its large bowl is cupped in your hand to warm the contents. Snifters can also be used for some cocktails.

What to Drink: Brandy, Cognac, Whisky, Barleywine

Margarita Glass: While most margarita glasses have a narrow neck, some are balloon shaped. Capacity ranges from 12 – 16 ounces.

What to Drink: Margaritas, Daiquiris

Shooter: This 1 1/2-2 ounce glass is used for drinking shots but can also be used as a measuring tool when mixing cocktails.
What to Drink: Tequila, Whisky, Mixed Shots

Hurricane Glass: Typically used for blended and frozen tropical cocktails. The distinct pear-shaped curve of this glass is reminiscent of vintage hurricane lamps and holds between 10-12 ounces.

What to Drink: Piña Coladas, Rum Punch, Coco Coladas, Tropical Fruit Drinks, Daiquiris

Irish Coffee Glass: The Irish Coffee Glass replaces the average mug for good-looking hot cocktails. This footed glass mug holds between 8 and 12 ounces and is made of heat-resistant glass.

What to Drink: Hot Toddy, Irish Coffee

Cordial Glass: Small and stemmed glasses used for serving small portions of your favorite liquors at times such as after a meal.

What to Drink: Amaretto , Grand Marnier, Cordials

Beer Glasses:

A Bartender’s Glassware Guide: Does Your Glass Have Class?

Pint/Pub Glass: Cylindrical glass with a slight taper and a wide mouth. There are two standard sizes, the 16-ounce (US Tumbler) or the 20-ounce Imperial (Nonic), which has a small ridge towards the top, a grip of sorts and helps in stacking them.

 What to Drink: Pale Ale, IPA, Porter, Brown Ale, Red Ale, Stout, Amber Lager

 Pilsner Glass: Typically a tall, slender and tapered 12 ounce glass, shaped like a trumpet at times, that captures the sparkling effervesces and colors of a Pilsner while maintaining its head.

What to Drink: Pilsner, Dortmunder, American Lager, Bock, Pale Ale

Mug/Stein: Heavy, sturdy, large and with handle, the mug is a fun and serious piece of glassware that comes in many shapes and sizes.

What to Drink: Oktoberfest, Munich Dunkel

 Weizen Glass: These classy glasses, with their thin walls and length, showcase the beer’s color and allows for much headspace. Most are 0.5L in size.

What to Drink: Witbier White Ale, Bavarian Weizen/Weissbier, American Wheat Ale

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Is Your Restaurant Exhaust System Sucking Up Money?

Is Your Restaurant Exhaust System Sucking Up Money?The exhaust system in your kitchen is one of those essential pieces of equipment that you must have in order to operate.  And if your hood is like the ones in most restaurants, it has two settings: “on” and “off.”  When your line is operating at full tilt during the dinner rush, the “on” setting is probably perfect, quickly sending heat and fumes straight from your cooking equipment outside.  But what about afternoons or during light lunches?  You probably still have the ventilation on but your equipment is not creating nearly as much exhaust.

I don’t have to tell you how much energy that hood exhaust in your kitchen is using.  Here’s a few tips on making sure your restaurant exhaust system is running as efficiently as possible:

Get the system rebalanced. Your exhaust system needs some regular maintenance to run at optimal levels.  If too much smoke is building up in your kitchen, or if the system seems like it’s on overdrive all the time, a rebalancing by a trained technician is in order.  A rebalance ensures the system is keeping the kitchen safe but not sucking up too much energy by working too hard.

Maximize suction. If you’re paying to run your kitchen ventilation system, it might as well be pulling as much of the stuff you don’t want in your kitchen as possible.  To maximize smoke and heat capture, make sure your cooking equipment is pushed all the way up against the wall underneath the hood.  This prevents clean air from getting sucked up from behind the equipment and puts the maximum amount of hood over your line.  And if your hood doesn’t have side panels, you can install them easily and cheaply.  Side panels help trap smoke and fumes, making the exhaust system more efficient.

Install a demand ventilation control. If you really want to save some money on kitchen ventilation then a demand control is for you.  It senses the cooking volume in your kitchen and adjusts fan speed accordingly.  A ventilation control can reduce kitchen exhaust energy usage by 30% – 50% and can be either ordered with a new exhaust system or installed on an older unit.Is Your Restaurant Exhaust System Sucking Up Money?

Clean and maintain hood filters. The hood filters are the metal squares in the exhaust opening of your restaurant’s exhaust system that catch the grease in air as it gets sucked out.  The hood filter plays an important role, since grease buildup can become a dangerous fire risk.  As time goes on hood filters become saturated with grease and should be cleaned.  The dirtier the filter, the harder your exhaust has to work to suck air through them.  Also make sure they are installed correctly (with the baffles, or ridges, in the vertical position) and that there are no gaps between them.  Replace damaged filters immediately.  Click here for a complete guide to hood filters.

If you happen to be designing a new kitchen, you should account for a few factors in order to maximize ventilation efficiency:

Group heavy cooking equipment together. Whatever you’re going to be cooking with the most should all be right next to each other underneath the hood.  If you have a single heavy cooking appliance, like a charbroiler, and other lighter cooking equipment, it’s a good idea to separate the heavy piece from the lighter pieces and give it a dedicated high volume exhaust.  This allows you to run the lighter equipment under a hood that doesn’t have to be on full blast all the time.

Create a big overhang. While 4 feet is the industry standard, 5 or 6 feet of hood will capture more smoke and allow you to run your restaurant exhaust system more efficiently.

Making the kitchen ventilation system energy efficient not only saves you money, it ensures that the exhaust is capturing the maximum amount of smoke and fumes and getting them out of your kitchen.

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Commercial Gas Range Buying Guide

Commercial Gas Range Buying Guide

A commercial gas range

A good gas range is the center and the soul of a restaurant or commercial kitchen, and every kitchen is different.  Choosing the best unit to suit your specific needs can be a challenge, but if you keep a couple things in mind buying the range you need shouldn’t be hard.

BTUs and Gas Type

Commercial ranges vary in the heat output they produce, which is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).  Depending on the cooking application and energy usage concerns, you may want to purchase a unit with a higher or lower BTU rating.

Higher BTU ranges are going to heat things faster, but at a higher rate of energy consumption.  A higher BTU rating also means quicker heat recovery times

Lower BTU rates will heat things more slowly, but more efficiently.  Lower BTU ratings mean a slower heat recovery time

Most gas ranges are outfitted for natural gas.  Natural gas is the most common gas type and chances are you are hooked up to natural gas.  LP gas or liquid propane is the gas you get if your range is connected to a propane tank, usually for rural locations or portable operations.

griddle and Charbroiler Add-On Options

Griddles are ideal for cooking multiple foods at once.  The large, flat metal plate that makes up the griddle distributes heat evenly over the entire surface.  Heat can be controlled either manually or thermostatically.  A grease trough allows for easy cleaning.

Charbroilers allow you to broil poultry, seafood, and meat quickly and effectively.  Most restaurants and commercial kitchens purchase a separate charbroiler unit, but combination range and charbroiler units can be special ordered.

Necessary Accessories

Casters allow you to move your commercial gas range quickly and easily for cleaning or rearranging.  Manufacturers charge a ridiculous fee for casters that come with their restaurant cooking equipment.  Instead, buy your casters separately and save a bundle.

Gas hose connector kits allow you to connect your new restaurant range to your kitchen’s gas source, whether it’s natural or LP gas.  Make sure you check the diameter of your range’s connection before ordering.

Don’t Forget Your Altitude!

If your commercial kitchen or restaurant is above 2,000 feet in elevation, you may need to have the gas valves on your new range adjusted.  Make sure you tell the manufacturer or vendor you’re buying from if you are located above 2,000 feet.

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Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your Restaurant

Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your RestaurantEvery restaurant kitchen is full of tools of the trade, from heavy duty gas ranges to the lowliest spatula, it takes a lot of equipment to serve your customers right – day in and day out.  Keeping track of all the equipment and products that can help make your operation run more smoothly could be a full time job in itself, and I know you don’t have the time for another full time job.

These Back Burner posts cover some products that might be of use in your commercial kitchen.  Feel free to browse through and see if you find something you like:

Crocs Shoes For Food Service Professionals - These Crocs are designed specifically for the food service industry and have proven to be a hit with the chefs and waitstaff that have tried them.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt – There’s your standard, garden variety oven mitt and then there’s Tucker, which takes the commercial oven mitt to a whole new level of safety and convenience.  Learn the difference in this post.

Floor Matting - If your kitchen doesn’t have floor matting, or if you need to replace the worn stuff you’ve got now, this post will help you understand why you need new matting for the sake of safety and which type will work best.

The Poseidon: The New God Of Digital Portion Scales - If you haven’t heard about The Poseidon digital portion scale from Edlund, you’ve been missing out on one of the hottest new products in food service.

How Ice Machine Water Filters Can Help With More Than Just Ice - If you’re not filtering the water coming out of your glass filler, you should be.  Luckily, you can easily add a water filter just like the one you use for your ice machine to produce clean, fresh, great tasting water for your customers.

Restaurant Equipment Casters: Buy Smart – If you need to replace the casters on your restaurant equipment, or if you need to add casters to new equipment, read this post first to make sure you don’t pay too much and that you get the right casters the first time.

The EndoTherm Thermometer: Does It Really Help You Save Energy and Improve Food Safety? – The EndoTherm is a thermometer inside a liquid gel that mimics food product in your walk-in.  This allows you to check the actual temperature of your product rather than the ambient air temperature in the walk-in giving you a more accurate sense of food temperatures.

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone – Lincoln has four lines of cookware and each one is designed for a different chef.  No matter what, you’re going to find the line that’s right for you.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice – Hoshi ice machines are a great choice if you’re in the market for ice machines.  Learn more about their products here.

Krowne Underbar Equipment – You already know about Krowne’s great restaurant plumbing, but if you haven’t seen their modular underbar equipment, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your Restaurant

BONUS PRODUCT: Handle Bulk Vegetable Oil The Smart Spout Way – The Smart Spout makes pouring bulk vegetable oil safer and easier.  It’s one of those simple product innovations that really makes you wonder why you didin’t have one before this.

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