Brand Spotlight: Vulcan Restaurant Equipment

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Vulcan Brand Cheese MelterVulcan restaurant equipment started way back in 1890 with the formation of the Vulcan Gas Heating Company. For nearly 125 years, and through a few incarnations, the name Vulcan has been synonymous with quality heating and cooking equipment. Today a part of the ITW Food Equipment Group, Vulcan continues to expand its product line through an ongoing commitment to research and development.

Vulcan is the single largest manufacturer of commercial cooking equipment, distributing gas- and electric-powered ranges, ovens, and dozens of other cooking devices to commercial businesses from Los Angeles to London and Cordoba to Kyoto.

You can count on Vulcan to already know what food service needs are developing, and be in the process of making new products to address the needs of the ever-changing market. Boasting close affiliations with national organizations like Energy Star®, the National Restaurant Association, the School Nutrition Association, and the Foodservice Consultants Society International, Vulcan is right at the beating heart of food service both culturally and industrially. (more…)

Time to Buy a New Ice Machine? What to Look for

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Two Different Ice MachinesIce machines are one of the ‘grunts’ of the kitchen, constantly in use and long-suffering. It is easy to just keeping using yours until it breaks down and you have to buy a new one. But how do you deal with the sudden lack of ice? Is there a better way to handle the switch?

Signs You Need a New Ice Machine

Ice machines seem simple enough on the surface – their main function after all is to make ice. But there are a surprising number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to upgrade:

  • Energy efficiency gets better the newer your machine. In some cases, the cost of upgrading might be made up within a couple of years of energy savings, which makes it nearly a no-brainer.
  • Sheer volume might inspire you to upgrade if your old machine just can’t keep up with your customers’ needs.
  • Cubic footage is always at a premium in a commercial kitchen, and finding out that there’s a machine that makes the same amount of ice in half the space is huge.
  • Types of ice vary a surprising amount, and if you find that a new twist to your menu or prep process means suddenly you need more crushed than cubes or flake than blocks, a new machine can be the only answer.
  • Maintenance schedules are the final and most common reason why an ice machine gets replaced; when you reach a point where predicted maintenance costs outstrip new machine costs, the choice is obvious.

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The FDA Food Code and Your Restaurant: What You Need to Know

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Chef Preparing a SaladThere are a lot of rules in the 2013 Updated Food Code published by the FDA. Most of them are commonsense rules, but there are some very important bits that every restaurateur should know for fostering a safe work environment, safe storage and handling, cleaning restaurant equipment and much more.

The HACCP

The FDA strongly encourages the creation of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. Essentially, this is a document printed out and available to all of your kitchen workers that details what how to correctly respond to any form of common kitchen emergency. The FDA offers a useful document called “Managing Food Safety” that explains precisely how to execute this process. Having an HACCP isn’t mandated nationwide yet, but a good number of municipalities require it within their borders. (more…)

How to Save Space in a Restaurant Kitchen

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Restaurant Kitchen With Dishes Stacked Under CounterThink all professional kitchens looks like the spaces on Iron Chef? Think again. In reality, the fact is that professional kitchens are often small and cramped; hardly the conditions you see on TV. What’s more, there are two types of restaurant kitchens: those that run like well-oiled machines, and those that are chaotic and messy. Fortunately, by using space logically, following the rules of ergonomics, and leveraging some equipment that can perform several functions, you can create an efficient kitchen no matter how much restaurant equipment you have filling your space.

Less Is More

Finding items that can do more than they appear is the key to saving kitchen space. Don’t have room for a food processor, blender, coffee grinder, bread maker, and mortar and pestle? One good tool (be it a food processor or a Hamilton Beach blender) can do all of those things and more. And as much as chefs love knives, a kitchen only needs a serrated knife, a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a slicing knife. And the right box grater can take the place of a mandolin, a spice grinder, and multiple different kinds of shredders at the same time. (more…)

Guide to Buying Certified Restaurant Equipment

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

certified-equipmentBecause not all restaurant equipment is created equal, it’s important for your equipment to have the right certifications. But which one does your operation need? And what do all those acronyms stand for, anyway? Just FYI, here’s the DL on the NSF, FCE, CE, and more.

California Low Lead Qualified

Products bearing the California Low Lead Qualified certification are compliant with the California low lead law. To be compliant with this law, plumbing materials that convey or dispense water for human consumption are allowed no more than 0.2% lead in solder and flux and 0.25% in wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, as determined by a weighted average.

CE (Certified European)

Equipment with the Certified European label complies with the requirements the European commission has for the import and sale of products.

Energy Star® Certification

An Energy Star® certified appliance is backed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and has been proven to perform as well as or better than a product of its kind that consumes a higher amount of energy. The certification was created in 1992 to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today all kinds of appliances bear an Energy Star® label, from washing machines to ice makers.

EnerLogic™

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Quick Service, Full Service, and Fast Casual: What’s the Difference?

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Quick Service, Fast Casual, and Full Service: What’s the DifferenceIf you’re starting a restaurant, you’re facing a lot of decisions that determine how your business will be run. From the concept of your restaurant to the kinds of restaurant equipment you’ll need, there are a lot of factors that determine a restaurant’s success. If you’re not sure what kind of service format would best fit your restaurant, read on for ShortOrder’s breakdown of the types of restaurant service formats.

First, the quick service restaurant, or QSR. Also known as “limited service” restaurants, QSRs are all about fast service and convenience. The price point of the average meal at a QSR is about $5, and the meal might include “combo” options for a better price with additional sides or drinks. QSRs have no table service, have simpler interior décor and ambience, and are often structured with a single service counter and/or a drive-thru. Although food at QSRs is known for being of a lower quality, a trend toward upscale food in QSRs is currently on the rise. Expanded menus with specialty items are becoming popular. Although QSRs can be difficult to manage due to a high turnover rate, they are easier to franchise. Popular restaurant equipment items in a QSR could include Gen2 fryers, Vulcan ranges, and commercial microwave ovens.

Full service restaurants, which can include both casual dining and fine dining, include full table service and a “sit-down” meal with a relatively extensive menu. There is a heavier emphasis on décor and ambience in a full service restaurant. Casual dining is often accompanied by a family-friendly atmosphere and professional but informal service staff. Fine dining has upscale ambience and a professional, knowledgeable wait staff. Casual dining restaurants can attract a wide customer base with better affordability and wide menu selection, but must compete with a wide range of full service restaurants. Fine dining establishments are known for their quality service, food, and wine, but may find it hard to compete with the lower price points of casual dining restaurants, QSRs, and fast casual restaurants in a poor economy.

The fast casual restaurant—a relatively modern term—is sort of a hybrid between quick service and casual dining. Fast casual is all about speed and convenience, but sets a price point between $7 and $10 per meal and aims for better service and higher-quality food. Recently, new fast casual restaurants have become more concept-focused, like the idea of the fast casual pizza restaurant, or fast casual potato dishes. The focus may also be on customizing your food order, so fast casual restaurants often have restaurant equipment like combiwave ovens to produce hot, customized orders quickly. Fast casual restaurants also have a wide customer base. However, like QSRs, fast casual establishments can also experience a lot of turnover.

More Restaurant Equipment and Tips from ShortOrder

Want to keep up with the latest in the restaurant and restaurant equipment industry? Keep reading What’s Cooking, and follow ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook!

 

How to Keep Your Commercial Restaurant Equipment and Kitchen Safe and Clean

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Keeping Commercial Restaurant Equipment and Kitchen Safe and CleanA restaurant’s kitchen can be a hazardous place. It’s a fast-paced environment with all manner of dangerous areas and precision commercial restaurant equipment. Unfortunately, the best commercial restaurant equipment is also the equipment that is kept the sharpest or is able to heat the highest, so you and your kitchen staff need to exercise caution day in and day out in the back of house. Here are some guidelines to evaluate the level of safety and cleanliness in your kitchen so you can be productive and cautious at the same time.

Have a Cleaning and Safety Checklist

Sanitation and safety should the top priorities in the kitchen. Preventing food-borne illnesses and problems that stem from food allergies are major concerns for restaurants, and nipping those problems in the bud with a strict cleanliness policy is a must. Likewise, it is critical that you ensure that the kitchen is a safe environment. Creating a checklist for the end of the day can encourage good habits. A proper safety and cleaning checklist should include items like …

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Undercounter Glass Washers: The Busy Kitchen’s Secret Weapon

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This week at ShortOrder, we’d like to spotlight undercounter glass washers in keeping with the “undercounter” theme (see last week’s undercounter ice machine post), Although undercounter glass washers may be rather under-celebrated in the world of commercial restaurant equipment, the fact is that they’re an extremely useful asset in a kitchen or behind a bar. Read on for ShortOrder’s glass washer exposé.
Did you know that in order for dishes to be truly sanitized, the water they’re washed in needs to reach at least 140° F? Unfortunately, this scalding temperature can be hard to reach when washing glasses by hand. Additionally, washing glasses one at a time is slow work, which in turn slows down operations in the kitchen and behind the bar, two areas that require a quick and steady pace throughout the day. The advantage of undercounter glass washers is that they both save time and fully clean and sanitize your glasses. Glass washers like the Hobart Glass Washer LXEC-3 wash 34 racks per hour, and provide auto chemical priming, detergent, a rinse aid, and sanitizer pumps.

And undercounter glass washers aren’t just efficient; they’re good for your employees, too. Bartenders in particular have to wash a large volume of glasses over the course of a day, and doing so manually can be hard on the hands, thanks to the scalding temperature that true sanitization requires, as well as any harsh chemicals in the cleaner. Automatic glass washers eliminate this problem, as they generate the high temperatures and cleaning agents you need.

On the whole, when it comes to undercounter glass washers, it turns out that less is more. Undercounter glass washers tend to be less expensive than their full-size counterparts, they use less water per cycle, and most are designed to fit underneath a standard bar counter, so you won’t have to sacrifice space at the expense of efficiency.

Do you use undercounter glass washers in your establishment? Look up ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you think of your undercounter glass washer.

 

The Care and Keeping of Food Slicers

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Food slicers are a necessity in many kitchens. Useful for cold cuts, sliced bread, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and so much more, every good kitchen should have a food slicer on hand. Using a slicer is faster and more uniform than slicing large amounts of food by hand, so you end up saving both time and capital. This week in What’s Cooking, we bring you some quick tips so you can get the most out of your slicers and keep your kitchen running efficiently.

Care and Maintenance

Be good to your food slicers! Just as with any other piece of commercial restaurant equipment, food slicers can last a long time with the right maintenance and treatment. Keep these tips in mind as you operate your food slicers.

• Make sure that the blade diameter you choose is approximately equal to the diameter of the product being sliced.
• Lubricate your food slicer’s blade with mineral oil rather than cooking oil, since the latter can eventually jam up the machinery.
• Keep your food slicer’s blade sharpened.
• Lock your slicer’s blade when not in use.
• Return your food slicer’s blade to its original setting if you adjust it to cut thinner or thicker slices.

Slicing Meats

• Never slice frozen meat—it will damage the slicer.
• If your meat is of an uneven texture, it will slice much more easily if partially-frozen.
• Never use your hands to move meats toward the blade; instead, use the food pusher to steadily apply pressure and move the meat.
• Make sure the meat is completely boneless before you slice it.
• Choose light or standard duty slicers for slicing deli meats.

Slicing Cheeses

• Lightly wetting the slicer’s blade will produce a finer cut when slicing cheese.
• Cold cheese is easier to slice, especially if dealing with a soft cheese.
• Medium or heavy duty slicers are best for cheeses.

Slicing Produce and Breads

• De-seed fruits and vegetables before slicing.
• Produce is easiest to slice when cold.
• Always slice bread at room temperature.

Connect with ShortOrder

What do you use your slicers for? What kind of slicer do you prefer in your kitchen? Let ShortOrder know by finding us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know!

Into the Fryers: The Designer Doughnut Trend

Friday, September 13th, 2013

It all started with the Cronut.

Well, perhaps not, but it certainly exploded after the Cronut. Pastry-hawkers the world over have been heating up their fryers to participate in a deep-fried, sugar-glazed fad: the designer doughnut trend.

The Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, and it is just as delicious as it sounds. Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York launched the Cronut on May 10, 2013, and it has since exploded into viral fame and become a much-imitated favorite. However, the Cronut was not the first to use fryers to put a high-end spin on America’s favorite deep-fried breakfast food. Places like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon have been making unusual doughnuts since the early 2000s, and Psycho Donuts in Campbell, California has been in operation since 2009. Today, doughnut purveyors of all kinds are producing gourmet glazed goodness from their fryers. Designer doughnuts are showing up in all segments of the restaurant industry, from fine dining to fast food. In fact, according to Datassential’s MenusTrends data, doughnuts are now on 4% of all restaurant menus, a 27% increase since 2008.

Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of the many establishments capitalizating on the designer doughnut fad. Dunkin’, which seasonally offers pumpkin-flavored doughnuts, is adding a new one to its fryers this fall: a pumpkin pie doughnut filled with buttercream, topped with white icing and graham cracker topping. Likewise, Gourdough’s, a food truck in Austin, Texas that opened in late 2009 that serves up artisan dessert doughnuts from its fryers, expanded its options earlier this year by opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a menu full of savory doughnut dishes like chicken and doughnut hole dumplings, donut burgers, and salads that come served with a “piping hot garlic doughnut”.  And Earth + Ocean Food and Drink in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, which opened in February of this year, features Portuguese doughnuts (“malsadas”).

What do you think of the designer doughnut trend? Have you used your restaurant’s fryers or commercial restaurant equipment to create artisan spins on old fast food favorites? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us! You can also follow us to keep with more restaurant industry trends and tips.

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