National Food Safety Month: Tips for a Safe Commercial Kitchen

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Restaurant Kitchen Chef Slicing VegetablesSeptember is National Food Safety Month, and we at Short Order want to honor that by putting up a short summary of the most basic food safety tips that we hope all of our clients and customers are following this month — and every month.

The Biggest Dangers in a Commercial Kitchen

There are two food-related dangers in a commercial kitchen that outweigh all others. The first is cross-contamination; getting one food into another in a way that leads to unsafe circumstances. The second is improper temperature control, which gives maleficent bacteria and viruses a chance to multiply and become quite dangerous.

What Foods Can Cross-Contaminate

There are two basic groups of foods that can cause problems with cross-contamination. The first group is the food that nasty viruses and bacteria grow on (or in). That means raw meat, raw fish, eggs, and pasteurized dairy products among others. The second group is the major allergens; milk, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and wheat. Any time you handle any of these foods, you need to follow strict protocols to keep them separated.

Keep Them Separated, Seriously.

This means cleaning surfaces and tools between each food — and possibly even having entirely different stations for processing ready-to-eat vs. cooked foods and allergenic vs. non-allergenic foods. It means storing your food in containers that seal without leaking, and putting the food most likely to contaminate in the event of a spill on the bottom shelves. It means packing contaminating foods in separate containers from others when transporting them.

Temperature Control

The most obvious element of temperature control in cooking is making certain that all of those aforementioned raw foods get cooked to a safe internal temperature before they’re consumed, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Temperature control also means keeping food out of the ‘danger zone’ between 40 degrees and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. That in and of itself is a complex task involving a myriad of protocols for transporting, storing, thawing, preparing, cooling, storing the leftovers, and reheating the leftovers (make sure everything reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds before serving).

Food safety is a critically important element of every restaurant’s function. All it takes is some people getting sick from eating at your restaurant to have catastrophic effects on your business. Follow the rules, and keep you customers and your employees safe this September and all year long.

5 Tips for Restaurant Catering Success: Supplies, Ideas, and More

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Buffet Food by Catering ServiceIf you run a restaurant, it can be a very profitable (but very scary) notion to try to get into the catering business. On the one hand, you are already making a bunch of food every day and catering basically just increases your audience. On the other hand, catering offers its own unique set of challenges and potential pitfalls.

Want to up your foodservice game? Here are some tips for success moving from restaurateur to caterer.

1. Decide On Your Service

There are lots of different kinds of catering, and each comes with a unique set of operations. For example, catering a business luncheon, a wedding, and a kindergarten class field trip are three very different kinds of catering. Before you make any other decisions, decide what kinds of events you intend to cater, making sure they match the kinds of food you can produce. (more…)

Pros and Cons of Recycling at Your Restaurant

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Garbage and Recycling BinsRecycling: we know it’s good for the Earth, and thus by extension for humankind, but is it the right move for your restaurant? The decision isn’t as easy as you might think.

About 3 of 5 American restaurants recycle at least some part of the waste they produce; most of it in the form of plastic and cardboard packaging, or compost. Very rarely are major items such as unusable restaurant equipment, tables and chairs, or other durable goods recycled, even if they could be.

Right now, the most significant predictor of whether or not a given restaurant recycles is the quality of their municipal recycling program. But even in places where the program is excellent, there are several reasons a restaurant may decide against it.

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How to Maximize Your Commercial Restaurant Equipment’s Layout

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Designing a Commercial Kitchen Layout with EquipmentArranging a commercial kitchen can feel like playing Tetris… but instead of directing falling blocks on a screen, you’re moving around giant pieces of restaurant equipment to create the perfect kitchen floorplan. That’s because commercial kitchens have to be laid out correctly, or even a couple of minor inefficiencies can compound to slow down service for every customer. For this reason, focusing on eliminating bottlenecks and creating a high-flow workspace is critical. So turn up that MIDI-generated theme song, take a good look at your kitchen, and maximize your layout with these tips.

“Behind You!”

If you have watched more than one episode of Top Chef, you have almost certainly heard someone crying out “Behind you!” as they pass behind other chefs with a dangerously hot tray of hors d’oeuvres. That’s because a professional kitchen requires people to move hot food, large equipment, sharp utensils, and other dangerous materials very quickly from one station to another; and a jostle at the wrong time can spell injury or disaster. Having a kitchen that allows enough space for that kind of transport is a must.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics, in short, is ‘the science of minimizing the number of steps needed to accomplish your work tasks.’ Designing your kitchen so that each employee needs to change stations as infrequently as possible is one key to keeping things efficient. That means that the arrangement of restaurant equipment should facilitate the order in which a string of tasks occur.

Energy Concerns

In the same way that restaurants need to be concerned about efficiency and ease of motion, they also need to think about keeping costs down. Part of that is keeping the refrigerator and freezer as far away from the ovens and cooking surfaces as possible, so cooling equipment doesn’t have to fight equipment that is giving off intense heat. Additionally, it’s best to keep all of the heat-producing items close together under the minimum number of vent hoods.

Adapt or Die

The last key to kitchen configuration is recognizing that your configuration will need to change as time goes by. Keeping your options open and not permanently locking things in place (for example, by sinking bench legs into the floor) is an important part of being able to adjust to circumstances.

 

Maximizing a kitchen’s layout is half science, half art, and all focused effort. Do it well and your bottom line (and chefs) will thank you.

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…)

Fresh Convenience Store Food on the Rise

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Woman Choosing Drink at Convenience StoreMost of us remember our neighborhood convenience store. Before the days of instant streaming and iPhone games, there was sitting curbside in front of the 7-Eleven with a Slurpee brain freeze and a newly opened pack of gummies, wasting away the hot summer days. Things have changed a lot since then, and convenience stores have taken notice. More and more people these days are concerned with healthy living, cutting artificial flavors, gluten, and carbs from their diets. Fewer people are buying steamer rack hot dogs and increasingly opting for packaged salads and fruit instead.

So what happens to the Twinkies and potato chips of the c-store world? Some convenience stores are now offering fresher and more sophisticated food selections to keep up with the growing demand. These stores serve up a plethora of “food prepared on-site” items like sushi, prosciutto and cheese cracker snacks, and made-to-order sandwiches. A recent study found that a 2.4% increase of consumers cited “food prepared on-site” as motivation to visit convenience stores. (more…)

How to Create a Zero-Waste Commercial Restaurant Kitchen

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Short-Order_Compost-RecyclingRestaurant kitchens are notoriously wasteful. Not only does almost every piece of food come with some form of organic waste that you don’t actually want to cook with, but most of it also comes wrapped in plastic, which is wrapped in plastic again, and then in a cardboard box (which is itself sometimes wrapped in plastic!). All that plastic and cardboard can be recycled, but the organic waste has to be composted. So what do you do with everything else? Follow these steps to cut down on waste in your restaurant’s kitchen.

Step 1: Proper Prior Planning

The first step to a zero-waste kitchen is to consider what your kitchen does that produces waste in the first place. Trash and food waste are the two greatest culprits, and you should have a plan to deal with both on-site. Composting non-meat food waste is a no-brainer. Recycling what can be recycled is as well. However, what few people realize is that, in most metropolitan areas, there are recycling facilities that can handle 90% of post-consumer waste between them. Sit down and think about what you have that cannot be composted or recycled, and make a list. (more…)

Houston, We Have Contact: How to Clean Food Contact Surfaces

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Short-Order_Chef-CleaningIf there ever was a spotless way to cook and prep food, it would be something along the lines of ‘cooking in outer space.’ You wouldn’t have to worry about any cutting boards to clean or messy paper towels, and all your food would be floating across the cabin of your spacecraft. After all, you never hear astronauts say, “Houston, did you forget to pack the detergent and bleach?” If only we could cook and eat our food like astronauts in space.

Alas, our gravity-bound environment forces us to deal with the food contact surfaces that we use every single day. Bacteria and diseases are more prevalent than ever and proper sanitization and cleaning are vital to keeping a healthy lifestyle. Here are some down-to-Earth steps for keeping your kitchen countertops clean and sanitized.

Step 1:

The first step is to clean and give your surface a good scrub down. This is the hard work such as scraping and wiping down the food- contact surfaces. If any type of raw meat touched the surface in question, grab a pair of rubber gloves to prevent the spread of salmonella or other bacteria and scrub away.  (more…)

Summer 2014 Restaurant Prep Checklist

Monday, June 9th, 2014

summer-restaurant-prepMemorial Day weekend has kicked off summer festivities, and restaurants all over the nation should be looking forward to busier summer days. Be prepared for the hectic hotter months and make the most of the season with this short summer restaurant preparation checklist from Short Order:

1. Finish Any Last Minute Spring Cleaning

If you still haven’t gotten around to scheduling a cleaning day for your restaurant, do so before the busy summer season hits. Take a few days to freshen up your interiors and do the heavy cleaning that doesn’t get accomplished during daily sidework. For example, wait stations often accrue a lot of dirt and grime and could use a thorough cleaning, and any carpeting that gets a lot of foot traffic should be shampooed. Take the time to properly deep clean frequently-used restaurant equipment like fryers and stoves.

2. Service Your Commercial Restaurant Equipment

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New Technologies Debuting at 2014 National Restaurant Association Show

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Are you attending the National Restaurant Association Show this year? The NRA Show plays host to some of the industry’s top chefs, suppliers, and experts. The 2014 National Restaurant Association Show will be held May 17-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, and will feature educational sessions led by foodservice industry experts, plus more than 2,000 exhibitors. There are expected to be a lot of interesting, innovative products showcased this year. At Short Order, we’re big on having the right tools and restaurant equipment for the job, whether you’re in the kitchen, at the bar, or front-of-house. Here are the places you’ll find kitchen and restaurant technology showcased at the 2014 NRA Show.

The Kitchen Innovations Pavilion – Featuring recipients of the Kitchen Innovations Award, booth #2440 in the South Hall will showcase supplies that are in the business of creating forward-thinking technologies that focus on solving problems in innovative ways.

The Technology Pavilion – Located in the North Hall, the Tech Pavilion will feature demonstrations and presentations by operators and suppliers. Topics range from restaurant operations efficiency to customer satisfaction.

Keurig’s New BOLT Carafe Brewing System – The coffee brewer manufacturer is set to unveil a new brewing system that makes a 64-oz. carafe of coffee. It was created specifically to cater to QSRs.

Booth #5575: Exploring Technology Industry Trends with Hudson Riehle – Riehle, an NRA executive, will talk about how QSRs can integrate technology to differentiate their businesses and improve customer satisfaction. Visit booth #5575 on Saturday at 2 PM.

Booth #5575: The In-Store Experience – This presentation will outline how technology is changing QSRs and fast casuals. With a look at innovative additions like touch screens, on-table ordering, apps, and revamped POS systems, there are lots of new ways restaurateurs can take advantage of growing technology trends. Visit booth #5575 on Sunday at 2 PM.

Booth #6229: NCR Corporation – This tech company is planning to discuss the ways any restaurant can leverage new technology to its advantage. NCR will be showcasing some of its solutions including software, hardware, and services geared toward the areas of quick service & fast casual, table service, mobility, back-office, and innovation.

Are you at the NRA Show? What are you looking forward to the most? Let us know by finding Short Order on Twitter or Facebook!

 

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