Monthly Archives: March 2012

Looking for new equipment? Look at the 4 Fs first.

food-equipmentIf anyone knows how to buy restaurant equipment, it’s Dick Bowder. As part of our Bids Team, Dick helps our customers outfit their operations with the right equipment at the best price. To teach the basics of buying restaurant equipment, Dick created his own course. Lesson 1: Before you go looking at equipment, look at your 4 Fs first.

Here are Dick’s 4 Fs for finding the best equipment for your needs.

FUNCTION – What end result are you trying to achieve?

Forget about what you think this piece of equipment should be. Focus on what are you want to achieve with this item. Here’s a simple example:  if you want a beautifully filleted fish, you don’t reach for a slicer or a pizza cutter even though both can cut. You pull out the trusty  filet knife because that’s the best way to achieve your end result.

To determine Function, you need to know:

  • What is the specific end result this item should produce  (the more specific you can be, the better the match)?
  • What is the volume this item must hold, process, or produce?
  • What about Wares and Accessories – for instance, what size pans should it accommodate or what accessories will it need?

Dick says, “Once we know the function, we can begin to look for the most suitable equipment that has the capacity and capability to produce the result you want.”

FIT – How big should it be and how much space do you have?

We’ve all heard about the restaurant owner who orders the state-of-the-art mega-range. And then finds out it won’t fit through the doors of his restaurant.  Here’s how to avoid that.

Some questions to consider:

  • Where is it going? Make sure that the location fits in with the work flow of that area.
  • How big does it have to be to do the job now? Should it be expandable or have a reserve capacity  for future use?
  • How big CAN it be? How much usable space do you have?  Can the installers get it through the doors and around the corner? What about local codes?
  • Will it hold/cook/display/wash the items you currently use? Or will also you have to buy new pots, pans, racks or other items that are designed to work with it?

FUEL – What makes it run and do you have access to that kind of power?

When we say fuel, we’re not talking gasoline vs. diesel here. We’re talking about what types of fuel this item has been configured for, which fuel works best for your needs, and can that fuel be delivered to where this piece is located.

Most equipment is powered by three “fuels”: natural gas, LP gas, and electricity. Variations of one piece of equipment may be configured for different power types.

Gas. You should know whether you have natural gas or LP gas at your location. The question you need to answer is whether gas is available at the point where you want to install the equipment. If not, then what will it take to pipe gas to that point and stay in compliance with the local codes?

Electricity. There are several different “types” of electricity and your equipment must match exactly the type available at that point. For safety reasons, there is no compromise. Dick strongly recommends you use a qualified electrician in compliance with the local codes to determine what types of power you have available and what you will need.

You are replacing an existing unit with another in the same location and you want it to work with the same power:

  • Determine what was powering the old equipment.  Look at the “data plate” on the old machine for the watts, volts, amps, and phase.
  • Inspect the machine’s breaker switch in the breaker panel to make sure it matches the data plate.
  • Check the plug on the machine and the wall socket where the machine was plugged to make sure they also match and neither has been altered.
  • Choose the best make and model machine for you that matches the existing power and performs the FUNCTION you require.

You are installing new equipment and/or installing in a new location and the type of power must either change or you must bring power to that location:

  • Choose the best make and model machine for you that performs the FUNCTION you require.
  • Consult its spec sheet for power requirements.
  • Check the panel box to see if that specific type of power is available.
  • Check the location to see if that power is available or if it can be run to that location in compliance with the local code.
  • Repeat until you find something that works. Or you decide to convert to hamster power.

FINANCE – What is the best piece of equipment within my budget?

Determine the ideal machine or class of machines using the first 3 steps. Then find the best price on it. At this point, many of our customers turn to Dick and the other experts on our Bids Team. Dick’s group works directly with the customer to find the best piece of equipment at the best price. The Bids Team can even arrange logistics and delivery for complex construction jobs.

Determine your budget independently of your machine selection. Yes, that means your budget could show you could afford a more expensive machine, or not.

Adjust your machine choice up or down to get the best your budget will allow. As Dick says, “Equipment is an investment in your business. You want to get the best quality you can possibly afford. Cheap equipment is much more expensive in the long run.”

Incredible Household Uses for Vinegar


White distilled vinegar is commonly used in the kitchen to tenderize meat and create delicious sauces and dressings. Vinegar is also a bit of a “miracle cleaner”, as it can kill most bacteria and molds without being toxic to humans. Not only is the cleaning power of vinegar incredibly effective, but the economical benefits are remarkable as well. You can potentially save a ton of money by using vinegar instead of buying multiple specialized products. Fill an old spray bottle with a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water for a quick and easy cleaning solution! Check out some of these incredibly versatile uses for vinegar that will help you save money and get rid of some of those pesky stains and odors:

Stainless Steel Appliances – Vinegar can be used to remove those stubborn smudges, streaks, and fingerprints from your refrigerator and other kitchen appliances. Instead of spending a fortune on specialized stainless steel cleaning products, you can simply use a small dab of vinegar. Apply the vinegar directly to a soft cloth and gently rub it into the surface of the appliance in a circular motion.

Sticker Removal – There are few things more irritating than stickers that won’t peel off cleanly, especially when you find them on newly purchased dinnerware. Apply vinegar to the stickers until they are completely soaked. Wait 5 – 10 minutes and then peel them off!

Garbage Disposal Cleaner – Is there a funky odor coming from your garbage disposal? Fill up an ice cube tray with a half-and-half mixture of water and vinegar. Once the cubes are frozen, drop them into the running disposal. After the cubes have passed through the system, continue running cold water through the running blades for at least one minute. You can also deodorize your kitchen drains by pouring a cup of vinegar into them once a week. Wait for 30 minutes and then flush the drains with cold water.

Showerhead Cleaner – Mix 1 cup of vinegar with ½ cup of baking soda in a plastic sandwich bag. Fasten the bag around the showerhead with a rubber band and let it sit for at least an hour. Remove the bag and wipe down the showerhead with a damp cloth, then run cold water through the shower.

Grill Cleaner – Spray vinegar directly onto a ball of loosely wadded up aluminum foil. Use the foil to scrub the grill, spraying more vinegar onto the foil as needed.

Grout Cleaner – Pour vinegar directly onto the grout and let it sit for 5 minutes. Scrub the grout with an old toothbrush and wipe it down with cold water and a damp cloth.

Grease Removal – Soak a sponge in vinegar for 5 – 10 minutes. Use the sponge to scrub grease off of a stovetop, oven, or exhaust fan.

Pest Deterrent – You can help keep ants and spiders away by washing floors, countertops, and doors with vinegar on a regular basis.

Clean Cloudy Glassware – Wrap the outside and inside of the glass in paper towels soaked in vinegar. Let the paper towels sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse the glass clean with cold water.

WARNING – Vinegar is a great cleaning solution, but it can’t be used on everything. Always test the vinegar on a small area of what you’re intending to clean. Remember to NEVER use vinegar on marble floors and countertops, as the acid can cause damage to the surface.

Be sure to check back next week when we’ll be taking a look at the practical uses of toothpaste around the home.


Should You Be Worried About Pink Slime?

pink-slimePink slime is one of the most talked-about food controversies in history, outraging people across the country. Also referred to as “lean beef trimmings”, pink slime is actually a mixture of connective tissue and low quality beef scraps used as filler for ground beef. The product is produced by Beef Products Inc., a meat processing company founded in 1981.


What’s the Big Deal about Pink Slime?

The parts of the cow that are used to make pink slime are among those that are most susceptible to E. coli and salmonella. Because of this, pink slime is treated with ammonium hydroxide to kill any bacteria before it is added to ground beef. Although the USDA has deemed pink slime safe, may people still question whether ammonium hydroxide can effectively kill bacteria that causes foodbourne illnesses and whether or not ammonium hydroxide is truly safe for human consumption.

Served since the 1990’s, pink slime has been used in everything from fast food burgers to school lunches. Chef Jamie Oliver brought the substance to the attention of the American public in his Food Revolution television series in the spring of 2011, prompting McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King to announce that as of January 2012 they would no longer use pink slime in their meat.  An estimated 7 million pounds of the 111.5 million pounds of ground beef the USDA contracted to buy for the National School Lunch Program contains pink slime. However, next fall schools will be given a choice between 95% lean beef patties made with pink slime or less lean bulk ground beef that does not contain the filler. Many school systems, including Miami-Dade in Florida, say that they will opt for pink-slime free ground beef next school year.

In March 2012, ABC News reported that 70% of the ground beef sold in supermarkets in the United States contains pink slime, a fact that was largely unbeknownst to most Americans. As of now, meat suppliers are not required to disclose the additive on labels for ground beef sold in stores.

How Can I Ensure that I Don’t Serve Beef with Pink Slime?

meat-grinders The best way to ensure that you do not serve beef with pink slime to your customers is to grind your own beef. Commercial meat grinders are inexpensive and easy to use. There are two basic types of meat grinders, manual and electric. Well-suited for light-volume applications and home use, manual meat grinders use a cranking handle and interchangeable grinding plates to grind beef to desired consistencies. Easy to secure to countertops or work tables, manual meat grinders can also be outfitted with sausage stuffers. Best for high-volume establishments, supermarkets, and butcher shops electric meat grinders are efficient and affordable, offering compact designs and a wide range of plates and attachments.