Monthly Archives: September 2018

How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances or Equipment

Stainless Steel Work TableThere is a reason stainless steel is the preferred material for restaurant equipment. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean, which are two key ingredients for an efficient commercial kitchen. Plus, some grades of stainless steel (like the kind used in commercial work tables and stands) resist bacteria and can be used as a food contact surface. However, if stainless steel restaurant equipment is not properly cleaned and maintained, it can corrode just like any other metal.

What Makes Stainless Steel Stainless?  

All stainless steel surfaces have a thin layer of chromium on the outside. The chromium layer chemically reacts with air to create a slick, hard surface that resists stains and corrosion. Anything that damages or interferes with that chromium/air interaction (like dirt, oil or scratches) will cause stainless steel to stain, corrode or rust. That’s why, especially in restaurants, frequent cleaning is necessary.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

Unlike other stain-resistant coatings that can wear away after repeated cleaning, the chromium layer will never wear away on stainless steel, so you can never clean stainless steel too much. Follow these cleaning tips to properly clean your stainless steel restaurant equipment:

  • Use a wet cloth and mild detergent. Oftentimes, the best cleaning solutions for stainless steel restaurant equipment is a damp bar towel, but, if you need to use a cleaning agent, add a mild detergent to the wash water.
  • Wipe in the direction of the finish. Some stainless steel surfaces have a brushed finish or grain. When cleaning, go with the grain, because scrubbing across the grain can damage the finish.
  • Use baking soda for baked-on grease. When water and detergent are not enough, add water to baking soda to make a paste to clean more difficult stains. You can also use a commercial cream cleanser, as long as it is non-abrasive.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Spilled food, especially acidic food, can damage the protective chromium layer if left too long, so wipe spills with a damp cloth as soon as possible. Doing this will also make it easier to clean later, because the food will not be dried or baked on.
  • Glass DetergentUse glass cleaner to remove fingerprints. Oil from fingerprints can etch or tarnish stainless steel, especially mirror-polished finishes. Wherever the stainless steel is visible, use a glass cleaner to remove fingerprints at the end of the day, before the finish is permanently damaged.
  • Rinse the surface after cleaning. Any residual soap or detergent can be harmful if left for a long period of time, so rinse your stainless steel restaurant equipment with clean water and a damp cloth after cleaning it.
  • Dry immediately. Water spots from hard water can also damage a stainless steel finish. Simply dry the surface after cleaning to prevent water spots from forming.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

When cleaning your stainless steel restaurant equipment, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

  • Chlorine does more harm than good. Chlorine, or cleaners containing chlorine, will definitely kill any bacteria on the stainless steel surface, but it will also break down the protective chromium layer. Instead, use an ammonia-based solution if you need more bacteria-killing power.
  • Never use rough abrasive sponges and steel wool. Abrasive cleaning tools, like Brillo pads and steel wool, will scratch the stainless steel and cause it to rust. Only use brushes and pads made from nylon, soft plastic or any other soft flexible material when more scrubbing power is needed.
  • Only use stainless steel cleaners as a last resort. Stainless steel cleaners or polishes should only be used if the surface does become scratched or stained, because it is an actual coating meant to repair damage. If the steel is undamaged, polish is unnecessary. The polish can help remove the stain and protect the scratched areas from corrosion.

Veggies A Perfect Low Carb, High Margin Pasta Alternative

Starting in Italy and spreading across every continent, pasta has been a staple at dinner tables for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. But in the 21st century, there is a growing trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Some think it’s a bit fusilli. Some would call it the impasta pasta. But for establishments looking to cater to the growing demand for low-carb and gluten-free pasta alternatives, vegetable noodles are where it’s at.

When it comes to making pasta out of vegetables, the Nemco Vegetable Noodler is in a class by itself. It can help you capitalize on the low-carb craze as the one and only zucchini-noodle machine that can deliver the commercial-grade speed and performance durability you need! Quickly turn zucchini and other firm veggies into a low-carb, high-margin pasta replacement.

The 55050AN-P is the only NSF-approved (What is NSF, anyway?) commercial grade device of its kind on the market. The Easy Vegetable Noodler lives up to its name in numerous ways—maximizing your profit potential on every low-carb,  gluten-free, spaghetti-noodle order. Most zucchini noodle makers are only available at the consumer retail level but Nemco’s Easy Vegetable Noodler is specifically built for commercial kitchens.

The Nemco Easy Vegetable Noodler is:
Easy to load: Cut the ends off of a zucchini, summer squash, sweet potato  or other similar firm veggie, mount one end on the drive plate and slide the face plate up flush against the other end.
  • Easy to use: The Noodler is securely mounted to the counter, perfectly  balanced, and specially equipped with an extremely smooth drive mechanism. So, cranking out mounds of noodles, even at high speed, takes little to no effort.
  • Easy to clean: Spin a few wing nuts and remove from the base mount.  Just like that, the Noodler is prepped for a thorough wash down in the sink.
  • Sound, simple mechanical design-operation minimizes potential for maintenance issues and makes troubleshooting a virtual no-brainer.
  • Sand-cast aluminum construction withstands anything the commercial kitchen, yes, even yours, can dish out.

Watch the Nemco Easy Vegetable Noodler in action above, and for all your pasta cooking and serving needs, make us your one stop shop and discover why, at Burkett, the pastabilities are endless!

Food Processors, Taco Baskets Make Mexican Food Prep Grate

For customers dining in restaurants, it’s all about time. How quickly can the drinks come out? What about appetizers? In Mexican restaurants particularly, how quickly before the chips and salsa arrives so customers can start snacking. And how quickly can you refill those bowls?

You might be saying to yourself I only have so much manpower. How quickly can I dice tomatoes and onions for my salsa or cheese for my queso? The answer to that question is continuous feed food processors that save time, money, and ingredients all at once!

Food processors are designed to slice, shred, chop, Julienne or do any other slicing task you can think of very quickly. When selecting the unit to suit your needs, you will want to consider the capacity, horsepower and the plates that are included. There are different container capacities for different needs, so if you plan to slice an entire bag of potatoes non-stop, you will want to get one with the largest capacity you can find. Another option to look for is a diversion chute. Rather than just slicing into the attached container, some models have a side chute that allows you to place a bowl or pan next to the unit and shred away. Horsepower is another specification to consider when looking for a food processor. This value tells you how “strong” the unit is, and the higher the number the more powerful it is. Establishments that will only be using the unit a couple of hours a day should only need something with 1 horsepower or less. Larger establishments that will be processing food all day long should look for something with a higher horsepower rating. A final consideration is the number and type of slicing discs that are included. Assess your specific slicing needs and check the product description for which discs come with the unit. If you cannot find the discs you need, additional discs can be acquired.

With brands you can trust like Berkel, Hobart, Robot Coupe (like the one in the video below), and Waring, these continuous feed processors make food preparation a cinch.

Enough About Appetizers, Let’s Talk Tacos

Now that we’ve addressed appetizers, what about those crispy, crunchy hard shell tacos and tostadas? Whether tostada shells, taco salad bowls, or classic hard shell tacos, taco baskets are a simple and easy way to fry tortilla shells into taco shapes for added freshness and crunchiness to your customers’ orders. And when you’re ready to serve them, taco serving racks, or taco taxis, are the perfect way to add a little flair to the presentation on the plate as well as making it easier for customers to manage the messy meal.

Tacos on a plate

Taco taxi on a plate for more manageable consumption.

Tacos are a crowd favorite and for good reason. Hard or soft, chicken, veggie, pork or beef, at home, in restaurants, at food trucks, and everywhere in between, we Americans consumed more than 4.5 billion tacos last year!

If you think that’s a lot of tacos, well, it is. If you think that there should be a celebration, well, there is.

Between Mexican Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, this centuries-old staple is always celebrated but on Oct. 4 it gets its own special day.

#NationalTacoDay celebrates the sandwich — that’s not up for debate, by the way, the word taco is the Spanish equivalent of the English word for sandwich – that is an essential part of the $40 billion Mexican restaurant industry.

Burkett account executives and representatives have plenty of experience working with some of the best Mexican restaurants across the country. They know what works, what doesn’t, what’s trending up and what’s trending down. Whether a startup or long-established business, call 800-828-8564 or log on to our Mexican Restaurant Business Type page and let us help you get to the next level.

Cloudy to Clear: Filtered Water Makes The Best Ice

Ice cubes in a glassWe’ve all been there. You’re at a restaurant and the server brings you your favorite beverage in a glass with ice. But as soon as it arrives, you can tell. Each ice cube in the glass seems a little cloudy, a little foggy, it may even have a taste or smell. It is not the usual clarity you are used to seeing.

What causes this cloudiness? Buildup. Anytime you see a cloudy ice cube, you should inform the restaurant manager that it might be a sign for either a new commercial ice machine or a new water filter. Think of ice as food. As with every other food, safe and proper preparation are the only ways to guarantee a healthy, tasty product. Installing an inline filtration system on your commercial ice machine’s water supply assures that residual bacteria, accumulated minerals and other contaminants are removed from the water.

Which Filtration System Should You Buy?

Commercial water filtration systems use one to three filters to totally clean your incoming water. The number you need depends on the size of your commercial ice machine. Ice filters need to be changed every 6 months. Failure to change the filter will cause your machine to work harder and wear it out faster. Ice-O-Matic, for example, offers a free extended warranty if you agree to change the water filter every six months.

The Dirt on Ice Contaminants

Ice is subject to a variety of contaminants. The most common occur when a machine is poorly maintained or the water supply has dissolved minerals or residual chlorine.

  • Mineral Deposits: Municipal water companies only remove contaminants that are harmful to human health. Many dissolved minerals are not harmful, therefore are not removed. Mineral laden water results in ice that appears cloudy and can make a drink smell and taste unappealing.
  • Slime Build-Up: Slime build-up can result from a poorly maintained ice machine. Ice made from a slimy machine will appear cloudy with a slight yellow, green or red tint and can cause illness, especially in those with weakened immune systems.
  • Chlorination: Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to water in order to treat it and kill harmful germs. Residual chlorine remains in the water supply giving the water an unappealing taste.

Water is clear and ice cubes should be, too. With the right attention and care of your commercial ice machine, you can guarantee crystal clear cubes in your drinks every time.

Brush Up on Food Safety Skills for Food Safety Month

September is National Food Safety Education month. With cold and flu season approaching, the beginning of a new school year and general changes around the kitchen, it’s a perfect time for restaurants, bars, cafeterias and other food service establishments to refresh safety skills and brush up on the local health code requirements.

Clean the Right Way

This may seem like a no-brainer, but cleaning is one of the most important things to do to prevent the spread of germs and illness-causing bacteria. Cleaning involves cleaning your hands, your utensils and food surfaces, and also your fruits and vegetables.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Wash after touching any part of your body, after sneezing or coughing, before and after handing food, and after handling money.
  • Wash food preparation surfaces and utensils right away after using. The best way to fully sanitize is to use a diluted bleach solution, which kills 99% of bacteria on contact.
  • Washing PepppersWash all produce, including fruits and veggies (but not meats, poultry, or eggs). Use a clean scrub brush and wash with clean running water, even if you plan to slice or peel the produce. Pat dry and enjoy!

Prevent Cross Contamination

Prevent contamination by potential allergens, bacteria and other harmful substances by keeping foods properly separated during every stage of storage, preparation and service. Be sure that raw foods are stored separately from cooked foods. If possible, use separate cutting boards to prepare different types of foods.

Cook Foods to Safe Temperatures

When you cook foods, the only way to ensure that any residual bacteria in the food is eradicated is by heating the food to 140°F or higher. This effectively raises the temperature out of the food “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F). Once cooked, keep the food hot using a chafing dish or food warmer. Foods become more susceptible to bacterial growth once the temperatures dip back down into the Danger Zone.

Chill Perishable Foods

Chilling perishables in a properly functioning refrigerator or freezer ensures that food is, once again, kept out of the Danger Zone. Be sure frozen food is stored at or below 0°F, and refrigerated foods are kept below 40°F. Never thaw frozen foods or marinate them on the counter. When serving food, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. When in doubt, throw out any questionable refrigerated foods.

RestaurantCommunicate with Your Employees

Your staff members are your allies when it comes to safety and sanitation, and their compliance and understanding is crucial to your restaurant or food service operation’s success. Communicate the importance of food safety and sanitation with your team, including the reasons why it is important. Once your staff understands how doing things the wrong way can actually prove harmful to your customers, your business and your reputation, making safety a team effort is less of a struggle.

Whether you run a restaurant, a school cafeteria or your own catering business, educate yourself and follow proper food safety procedures this month and all throughout the year.

Top 10 Tips for Opening Your Own Pizza Shop

A slice of pizza with gooey cheesePizza! Who doesn’t love pizza?! It’s the perfect food for nearly any occasion and that’s why it’s a beloved choice of so many diners eating in, carrying out or ordering delivery. With right recipe, for pizza and profits, you can open up your own pizza place and grab your own slice of this popular, and still-growing in popularity, food choice.

Top ten tips for pizza shop success

  1. Make good pizza. Seems fairly obvious, right? No matter how good everything else is, if the product doesn’t stack up your customers won’t last long. The first and most important thing you need when starting a pizza business is good pizza. A lot of people who go into the restaurant business have already tinkered around in their home kitchens or have an old family recipe that has been passed down for generations. For those who do not have such a solid foundation, there are several basic pizza types that you can choose to offer.
  2. Decide between franchising and going independent. More than half of all pizzerias in the United States are independently owned or small chains. Staying independent means that you have complete control over your business and your brand, which some people prefer. However, franchises already have brand awareness and have already solved some of the problems that new restaurant owners run into.
  3. Overestimate your startup costs. A lot of new restaurant owners underestimate how much it costs to open a restaurant. In order to plan for unforeseen expenses, adding an additional 15% to 25% to your budget will help you get through the crucial first year.
  4. Offer delivery and/or carryout. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people enjoy the convenience of being able to place a phone call and have a hot pizza delivered to their door in under an hour. With over 1 billion pizzas being delivered each year in the United States, having some sort of pizza delivery or carryout option will assure that you are not turning away customers that want to eat at home but do not want to cook anything themselves.
  5. Offer more than just pizza. Very few restaurants survive by offering a limited menu. Many pizza shops offer calzones, pasta or other Italian favorites to cater to individuals who are in the mood for tomato sauce and comfort food, but not necessarily pizza.
  6. Lock in commodity prices. Cheese and flour are the most heavily used ingredients in the pizza industry. Unfortunately, the prices for these basic ingredients can fluctuate greatly on a daily basis, which can affect your bottom line. To better control your costs, you can contract with a food supplier to lock in a price for cheese, flour or other commodities so your prices are not subject to the whims of the stock market.
  7. Control your portions. Portion control is crucial to controlling overall ingredient costs, reducing waste and providing a uniform product. Use food scales to measure dough ingredients, flat bottom ladles for saucing a pizza and measuring cups for your other toppings to ensure that you are not losing money by putting too many mushrooms on a pizza.
  8. Cater to the masses. If you provide delivery at your pizzeria, then catering should be easy to implement. Schools, offices or any event that needs to feed a lot of people can easily be catered by a pizza shop. For most parties, you can expect to serve two or three slices of pizza per person. You will also want to include some of your other menu items on the catering menu, at a discounted price.
  9. Insure your delivery driver. Restaurants are required to carry insurance against loss of their business, worker’s compensation and basic liability insurance. Establishments that provide delivery services will need to carry additional liability insurance to cover their drivers when they are on the clock.
  10. Be wary of discounting. Pizzeria customers are accustomed to the coupons that come on their pizza box. Coupons and discounts are a good way to bring customers in the door, especially during difficult economic times, but those discounts will eat into your bottom line. Also, if you discount too much for too long, it can erode your brand value. If you feel the need to discount, only do it for a limited time to protect your brand and your bottom line.

Starting any new business can be a daunting task. New restaurants in particular face a steep uphill battle, because the majority of the concepts fail within the first three years. Luckily, you have chosen to provide food that 94% of the U.S. population enjoys eating, so as long as you educate yourself on starting a restaurant, you stand a fair chance of succeeding where man others have failed.

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