Monthly Archives: January 2012

Commercial Cookware Cheat Sheet: Choosing the Best Pieces for Your Kitchen

cookware-hero

One of the biggest secrets of achieving restaurant-quality results at home is the right cookware. However, many home cooks never consider commercial cookware, opting to purchase well-known brands online or at a big box retail store. Built to withstand high heat, constant washing, and the scraping, banging, and bumping that goes along with a busy kitchen, commercial cookware usually lasts longer than the typical pots and pans you see at your favorite store. Surprisingly, it is also often cheaper than what you may already have at home. So how do you decide what is best for you? Focus on three factors: material, handle type, and how you will use your new pots and pans.

Materials

Cookware can be constructed using a variety of materials. A budget-friendly option, aluminum cookware is less expensive than most other types of cookware. Aluminum pots and pans are great heat conductors, cooking food evenly and quickly. However, because aluminum is a soft metal, cookware made from this material tends to scratch and dent easily.

Slightly more expensive than aluminum, non-stick cookware features a coating that eliminates the need to add extra butter or oil to prevent food from adhering to the pan. Although these types of pots and pans are easy to clean, special care must be taken when using them: the non-stick coating will scratch off with the use of metal utensils or abrasive scrubbing pads. Like aluminum cookware, non-stick cookware is also an excellent heat conductor, producing evenly cooked meals.

Stainless steel cookware is more costly than aluminum and non-stick, but it is also the most durable. Ideal for cooking slow and simmering foods, stainless steel cookware heats up slowly, resisting scorching from a quick high heat. Choose stainless steel stock pots and sauce pans to create perfect soups , gravies, and sauces.

Comparable in price to stainless steel, tri-ply cookware combines the benefits of aluminum and stainless steel cookware. With a stainless steel body and copper or aluminum bottom, tri-ply pots and pans stand up to frequent use and provide superior heat conduction.

When selecting the material for your cookware, also consider the cooking processes required by your recipes. Some materials, like non-stick, are not oven and broiler safe, preventing you from transferring dishes in a single pan from stovetop to oven.

Handle Type

Selecting the wrong handle for your cookware could result in injuries and undue frustration. An ergonomic handle makes it easy to transfer pots and pans from one location to another, ideal for those who spend hours in the kitchen. Heat proof handles prevent burns and are convenient for those times when your pot is boiling over and your pot holder is on the other side of the kitchen.  Long handles are great for sautéing, helping cooks avoid burns when moving the pan back and forth on the burner.

Uses

When choosing cookware, think about how often you will use it and what types of food you will prepare. For most cooks, three or four pieces of quality commercial cookware is all they need to make a wide range of main and side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Sauté pans, sauce pans, and stock pots are among the most versatile pieces of industrial cookware, must-haves for professional chefs and home cooks alike.

Sauté pans feature a flat bottom to provide even heat distribution. With traight sides, sauté pans keep liquids from spilling over the side when stirring or sliding the pan back and forth over the heat.

Like sauté pans, sauce pans have a flat bottom. Constructed with a round base and straight sides, sauce pans are not only ideal for sauces, but also rice, mashed potatoes, and steamed vegetables.

Stock pots have a thick bottom to prevent burning and double handles to make them easier to move. Extremely versatile, stock pots can be used to make soups, stocks, and pastas and braise meats. A stock pot with a 6 to 12 quart capacity is ideal for most uses.

Starting a Restaurant: Food Prep Equipment Primer

food-processors

An essential part of any restaurant kitchen, commercial food prep equipment improves operational efficiency by reducing labor. From food processors and blenders to mixers, grinders, and slicers, food prep equipment can reduce food processing time to mere minutes, compared to hours of manual slicing, dicing, chopping, blending, and mixing. Although restaurant owners recognize the benefits of stocking their kitchens with quality food processing equipment, many still find it hard to decide which pieces are best for their businesses. If you are starting a restaurant, you will want to consider five basic types of commercial food preparation equipment: food processors, blenders, mixers, slicers, and grinders.

Food Processors

Food processors come with a variety of interchangeable blades.  Switching out the blades enables chefs to puree fruits, slice vegetables, mix and knead dough, shred cheese, and grind meat using a single appliance.  Unlike blenders, commercial food processors can blend solid foods without adding additional liquids.

Blenders

Commercial blenders have many of the same functions as food processors. Equipped with a sharp fixed blade underneath the container, blenders can be used to mix and crush ice and ingredients for alcoholic beverages, smoothies, and iced coffee drinks, create vegetable and fruit purees, make peanut butter, and more.

Mixers

Designed to mix, blend, and beat ingredients, commercial mixers come in several different styles. Countertop or bench mixers have a capacity of 20 quarts or less, while floor mixers can handle up to 80 quarts or more. Commercial mixers can be fitted with a range of attachments, including dough hooks, bowl scrapers, and wire whips.

Slicers

Slicers make it easy to cut meats, vegetables, and cheeses in varying widths. Constructed for specific types of foods, slicers are available in a range of models, including cheese slicers, meat slicers, tomato slicers, and vegetable slicers. Some commercial slicers are even equipped with a motor that moves the carriage back and forth, freeing you to tackle other tasks while the slicing continues automatically.

Grinders

Grinders enable chefs to quickly prepare ground spices, meats and more. Available with an electric motor or hand crank, grinders are made for both light duty and heavy duty applications.

Adding just five simple types of food prep equipment to your restaurant kitchen can have a sizeable impact upon your bottom line, enabling you and your staff to more customers in less time.

Starting a Restaurant: How to Buy a Commercial Dishwasher

commercial-dishwasher

Buying equipment can be one of the most time-consuming (and stressful) experiences for a new restaurateur.  With so many options, how do you decide what restaurant equipment is right for your business? In part one of our Starting a Restaurant series, you will learn about the types of commercial dishwashers and gain insights about choosing the best unit to meet your needs.

Sanitation Cycles

Commercial dishwashers feature two different types of sanitation cycles. Low temp dishwashers use chlorine based chemicals to sanitize dishware, which could harm items made of plastic. Although they are more energy efficient and cost less upfront, low temp dishwashers use more water than high temp models and require an ongoing investment in chemicals. If your restaurant serves a lot of fried foods, you might want to consider a high temp dishwasher instead: low temp models are not as effective as high temp models at removing grease.

Unlike low temp dishwashers, high temp dishwashers do not use chemicals to clean dishware, making them a good fit for restaurateurs concerned about keeping ongoing operational costs low. High temp dishwashers utilize water heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit to kill germs and remove grease. Powerful and quick, this type of warewashing equipment washes dishes faster and flash dries them at the end of the wash cycle.

Styles

If your restaurant is low on work space, an under counter or built in dishwasher is a great choice. Compact and efficient, under counter dishwashers can wash up to 35 racks per hour, the equivalent of 100 meals. Great for increasing production behind the counter or in the bar area, under counter dishwashers sanitize dishes using a built-in heating component that flash heats dishes at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Perfect for smaller volume restaurants, door type dishwashers are capable of handling the demands of up to 150 customers per day and 150 racks of dishes per hour. Equipped with a door that opens and closes, these warewashing machines make it simple to move racks in and out. Some models even feature conveyer belts to make it even easier to maneuver racks.

Larger restaurants can benefit from using c-line or conveyer dishwashers. These units pull dish racks through the dishwasher while pushing the clean dish racks out, effortlessly accommodating restaurants serving between 150 and 300 customers per day.

Best suited for large institutional facilities, hospitals, cafeterias, and expansive hotels, a flight dishwasher operates using a continuously moving belt. Dishware is placed on pegs or fingers that move through the dishwasher, making it possible to quickly clean and sanitize large volumes of dishes and glasses.

Accessories

All restaurant dishwashers require racks to place dishes in before inserting them into the unit, with the exception of under counter models, which have built in racks, and flight types, which use moving pegs. Normally 20 inches by 20 inches, the dishwasher racks can wash two to three place settings depending on the size of the dishware.

Before buying a commercial dishwasher (or any other piece of restaurant equipment), always think about your goals and consider any space or efficiency restrictions. Doing so will help you make the best purchase decision, contributing to the overall success of your operation.