Top 10 Tips for Purchasing Restaurant Equipment

  1. Look for the blue NSF sticker on any and all restaurant equipment. If the equipment has not been approved by NSF (http://www.nsf.org/), it is not suitable for use in a commercial kitchen. Hefty fines can be levied by inspectors who find non-NSF approved restaurant equipment in your kitchen.
  2. Limit the amount of restaurant equipment you buy. Keep your menu in mind and focus on keeping your kitchen compact and efficient. This means buying as few pieces of restaurant equipment as possible to fit your space.
  3. If you are buying used restaurant equipment, get to know the seller beforehand. Make sure that you are comfortable with the seller and you feel you can trust them.
  4. Make certain that all parts work. If you are looking at used equipment being sold by a restaurant owner, ask to come see the pieces in person so that you can make sure everything is in operating condition before making the purchase.
  5. Bring in a 3rd party resource. If you don’t know the dealer well, have a certified technician come in with you to inspect the restaurant equipment.
  6. Don’t get pressured into a purchase.  You want to feel comfortable with the restaurant equipment you end up purchasing, don’t let a salesperson sell you something you don’t need.
  7. Make sure your restaurant equipment will meet local codes. Your local health, fire and building code department will be able to provide you with spec sheets that detail what they do and don’t allow in a commercial kitchen.
  8. Be aware of your city’s zoning regulations. Many factors can contribute to restaurants receiving or being denied approval. The standards can be different on a city, county and state level.
  9. Make sure your building can support numerous commercial appliances. Despite their charm, many old buildings simply do not have adequate electricity to support a modern restaurant.
  10. Pay special attention to the type of commercial refrigeration you purchase. In hot months, commercial refrigeration equipment and commercial ice machines have to work harder to keep cool and can overheat, causing constant electrical outages.

A History of How Spun Sugar Became Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is a treat found at nearly all carnivals, street fairs and even some movie theaters. It is sold at ballparks and swimming pools around the country and has become a definitive summer treat. The airy sugar snack has century-old roots dating back to the 15th century to Italian elite society.

Cotton Candy’s Early Days
Cotton candy in its current form is a relatively new sweet at only a hundred years old, but versions of cotton candy called spun sugar were popular with the upper class dating back to the 1400s in Italy. Spun sugar was sugar that was melted and drizzled over sheets or objects to create various forms made from sugar. Because the process of creating spun sugar was so time consuming and used sugar, a luxury ingredient at the time, spun sugar was typically a delicacy only afforded to the wealthy or elite.

Spun sugar was typically made as an edible table centerpiece and accompanied by various fruits. In fact, there were chefs that were renowned to be spun sugar “sculptors,” and they would spend hours creating works of art from the liquid sugar.

This was the original form that cotton candy took and it was made this way until the turn of the 20th century, when the electric cotton candy machine was invented.

Spun Sugar Gets a Modern Twist
The patent for an electric sugar spinning machine was granted in 1897 to two men from Nashville, TN named William Morrison and John C. Wharton. They debuted their new invention at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and again at the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904. The duo called the expertly spun sugar “fairy floss” and charged 25 cents per box. That may not sound like much until you factor in inflation which means that each box cost roughly $6.

Regardless of the hefty price tag, Morrison and Wharton sold over 68,000 boxes of fairy floss during the six month course of the fair, earning around $17,000, or $370,000 in today’s terms.

The floss was such a hit that only a year later, a candy store picked up a machine and started selling the fairy floss for five to ten cents a serving. The sugar treat was referred to as spun sugar or fairy floss until the early 1920s, when the new name of “cotton candy” started to become the more popular term due to its similar appearance to cotton.

Cotton Candy Science
Since the invention of modern day cotton candy, very little has changed with regards to the floss machine. There have been improvements made to increase reliability, but the concept remains the same.

Flavored sugar, called flossugar, is placed in the center of the cotton candy machine in a spinning head. This head heats the sugar up to 300°F, when it begins to melt. When the head gets spinning, centrifugal force pushes the melted sugar out of the center and through a mesh screen around the spinning head. This breaks the sugar up into the fine pieces of floss that is customary today.

The fine threads are caught in a bowl that encompasses the spinning head. The bowl can be either metal or plastic. The bowl will typically have some sort of netting or thick wire mesh to catch and hold the flying strands of sugar more easily.

For nearly half a century, cotton candy machines were noisy and unreliable until the 1940s, when a company known as Gold Medal invented a cotton candy machine with a spring base which made the machine more reliable and more efficient.

That last innovation to the cotton candy industry was in the early 1970s, when an automatic cotton candy machine was invented. This allowed the production of cotton candy to become so automatic that it could be found in stores all over the city long after all the fairs left town. The machine makes uniform loops of cotton candy and then automatically bags it in an air- and water-tight bag.

Despite the advance in technology, the biggest advances in cotton candy production have actually come in the form of colors and flavors. While the pink vanilla flavor is still the most popular, there are a wide variety of flossugar flavors and colors nowadays ranging fromSour Raspberry to Watermelon.

Making Cotton Candy
The technical aspect of spinning sugar into floss aside, making cotton candy is a snap. Choose between flossugar or flossine as your base ingredient, set it to heat and get the floss machine spinning.

The traditional method of vending cotton candy is on a paper cone. To get started rolling your candy floss onto the cone, wet the edges of the cone just a bit to get the spun sugar to stick initially. Then begin rolling the cone in the opposite direction and wrapping the floss around the cone until it is full. Make a quick swiping motion through the sheet of cotton candy when you are ready to end one cone and begin a new one.

From royal delicacy to carnival treat, cotton candy has changed quite a bit in the centuries since this sweet snack was invented. From elite fare to carnival candy, this treat is known today for its fluffy, airy texture, whimsical colors and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. And while it is not quite the delicacy it once was, cotton candy is still a special treat to indulge your sweet tooth.

How to Ruin Your Non-Stick Pans in 5 Steps

I once splurged and bought a non-stick griddle for my house. I was 20, living with 5 or 6 other irresponsible adults in a smelly townhouse, and the picture on the box of bacon, eggs and pancakes simultaneously sizzling sent me into a frenzy.

I was so excited to christen my newly-acquired griddle that I didn’t take any precautions to ensure its longevity. Long story short, I ruined it instantly. Anything I could do wrong, I did wrong.

For those who have non-stick pans of any sort, it’s important to give them proper care so they continue to be non-stick. My poor griddle never stood a chance, but yours can—as long as you do the opposite of what I did. Here’s how to ruin your non-stick pans right out of the box, just like I did.

1. Don’t prep your non-stick pan before its first use

What I Did: When I brought my griddle home, I popped it right out of the box, plugged it in and threw on some sausage. The sweet sound of sizzling links was heavenly until I tried to turn the sausages and found they were sticking. I chalked it up as “breaking in” my non-stick pan. The rational college student in me should have reasoned there was a problem when my non-stick pan was sticking, but in the battle of common sense and breakfast, the latter will almost always win.

What I Should Have Done: Out of the box, non-stick pans need to be prepped before they enter a life of making glorious sunny-side eggs and perfectly round pancakes for their human masters. Before you so much as sauté an onion, wash and dry your non-stick pan with hot, soapy water and a paper towel. After that, it’s smart to “preseason” the pan by lightly rubbing oil into the coating with a paper towel.

2. Cook everything at a high temperature

What I Did: I now realize it’s never smart to fry or sauté anything on the highest setting, but I couldn’t wait for the inaugural griddle breakfast. So I did what any sensible 20-year old college student who had already gained 10 pounds that year and had just pulled an all-nighter: I cranked that sucker up to 10 and threw the sausage links on there. My deductive thinking told me I’d enjoy my maple-laden links sooner this way. But after a few minutes of crackling, I realized it wasn’t just the sausage that was making noise—it was the griddle, too.

What I Should Have Done: That crackling I just told you about was from the surface of the griddle. High temperatures cause the coating to crack, leaving your food cooked unevenly. Non-stick pans work much better at lower temperatures—the heat distributes evenly, and therefore cooks food more evenly. In my case, if I would have cooked the breakfast sausage at a lower temperature, they would have come out slightly blackened and crispy on the outside and steaming on the inside—not charcoal-burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

3. Use a metal or hard-plastic spatula

What I Did: At this point in the story, my maple sausages were producing a black smoke and the non-stick coating was cracking and peeling off.  But alas, it was time to turn over the links. The drawers in my kitchen only yielded one spatula the whole year I lived there. I’m pretty sure someone picked it from a garage sale or a dumpster—the metal on the front was rusted, the wooden handle was covered in some sort of grease, and a chunk of raw egg was permanently stuck to the left corner. When I used the spatula to turn over the sausages, I cut the non-stick surface and scraped it off. This only made the smoke worse.

What I Should Have Done: Non-stick coatings are sensitive in that sharp objects can easily cut them. Soft spatulas go with non-stick coatings like chocolate and vanilla and help ensure a long life for your non-stick pans.

4. Clean it in the dishwasher before it cools down

What I Did: Only after I cracked and scraped the non-stick coating did it occur to me that I should have washed the griddle before cooking the sausages. I decided to hold off on the eggs and pancakes until I could run the griddle through the dishwasher. When the cycle was finished, the non-stick coating looked like a rusted car that had been sitting in your grandfather’s garage for the last 45 years—half of it had come off in a spotty fashion, revealing a silvery surface that wouldn’t cook anything.

What I Should Have Done: Cleaning your non-stick pans is imperative after every use. But using your dishwasher for the deed is an expensive mistake. The high-temperatures and harsh detergents essentially chip away at non-stick surfaces, rendering them stickier than a fly trap. Instead, wait for your pan to cool down before scrubbing it with a soft sponge in hot, soapy water. Wipe off the excess moisture with a soft cloth or a paper towel.

5. Store directly on top of other pots and pans

What I Did: To be completely honest, at this point I was more upset about not eating breakfast than the fact that my brand-new griddle was now useless. Still, my anger led me to throw the griddle into the cupboard below the sink where all the other pots and pans lived. The already ruined surface became so scratched it looked like Mickey Rourke’s face in the final scene of “The Wrestler” than a griddle.

What I Should Have Done: Not that it mattered, but I should have placed the griddle in an area where the non-stick coating wasn’t at risk. If you have non-stick pans, hanging them on hooks is a great idea. If you can’t afford the space or have a phobia of hooks, you can stack them anywhere as long as there is a paper towel or soft cloth between each pan.

To recap, remember one thing: My tragedy doesn’t have to be yours. The ballad of your non-stick griddle could be a much happier story, so long as you do exactly what I didn’t.

Top 10 Professional Baking Supplies for Home Bakers

Home baking enthusiasts know that their success relies on having the right equipment and supplies for the job. In order for your recipes to look professional and taste delicious, be sure to choose commercial grade baking supplies for your home kitchen.

 1. Set up a sturdy countertop mixer. 
Using a countertop mixer is often preferable to using a handheld mixer. Handheld mixers are more affordable, but countertop models are more durable and can stand up to more frequent use and thicker batters. For the home, KitchenAid is the standard. However, professional chefs prefer commercial brand names like Globe, Hobart, Vollrath, or Waring, which are well-reputed in the food industry.

 2. Make way for measuring cups and spoons. 
Measuring cups and measuring spoons are essential for the home baker. Professional bakers know how important precise measurements are to the success of the end product. Although they often measure by weight using a baker’s dough scale, measuring cups and spoons are the perfect tools for making exact additions to any recipe in the home.

3. Weigh the advantages of a kitchen scale. 
A bakers’s scale weighs ingredients in a flash, giving bakers exact measurements in order to accurately follow recipes. For home use, choose a traditional mechanical kitchen scale for the most basic type of scale, or choose a digital portion control kitchen scale for a more modern look that is thinner and easier to store than its mechanical counterpart.

 4. Try a kitchen timer.
Many unfortunate instances of burned cakes and screeching smoke alarms might have been prevented if only a kitchen timer had signaled that an item was finished baking. Try a kitchen timer and set your mind—and your local fire department—at ease.

 5. Bake only on a nonstick baking mat. 
With nonstick baking mats, cookies and homemade candies will never again stick to the sheet pan, and the material prevents scorching for a more even bake. Silpat is a common brand that many home bakers prefer. Silicone baking mats are the ideal baking surface for a variety of baked goods, although you may also try parchment paper, which is a disposable non-stick alternative to reusable silicone mats.

 6. Fill a real pastry bag. 
Fabric pastry bags are the professional choice for equipping the commercial kitchen. They are reusable after a quick wash and they hold a good deal of frosting for when you need to decorate several cakes in one go. They fit snugly with a variety of pastry tips are ideal for creating high-quality piping on cakes or for frosting intricate details on cookies, petit fours or other baked items. Find them in a range of sizes from 10 to 24 inches long.

 7. Employ a candy thermometer.
These tools are mainly for measuring the temperature of sugar, chocolate and cooking oil. They will ensure that your ingredients are at the right temperature for the recipe, taking out the guesswork. Try a manual model candy thermometer over a digital one for easier calibration and longer life.

 8. Smooth things out with a rolling pin.
Many chefs use rolling pins, especially those committed to artisan styles of baking and cooking. A wooden rolling pin is a traditional favorite, with handles for an easy grip. For something a little different, try a French rolling pin. These have long, narrow and slightly tapered ends to offer greater control and maneuverability for delicate fondant and fragile tuile cookies.

 9. Light up a kitchen blowtorch.
In a professional bakery, the finishing touches on a dessert can be the most important part. Caramelizing crème brulée or browning the peaks of a meringue pie requires a meticulous yet delicate heat. Using a kitchen torch can be the ideal way to get the perfect finish on your professional desserts. 

 10. Use a multi-blade croissant cutter. A professional pastry chef often pumps out hundreds of croissants every day. In order to produce many croissants with precise size, shape and speed, use a multi-blade pastry wheel over cookie cutters or other single-blade cutters.

How to Care for Your Glassware

Glass is fragile and can break if not handled or cared for properly. In a busy restaurant or bar, accidents happen. Sometimes breakage is unavoidable, but you can minimize breakage by following these simple instructions.

Never stack your glasses

When glassware is stacked, unwanted friction occurs. This unneeded stress is not good for your glasses and over time can cause them to break. Stacked glasses are more likely to tip over, shattering the entire stack. Carry glasses in a glassware keeper or stacker, as opposed to stacking them individually.

Never carry glasses in bouquets

While this is a tempting way to carry several glasses at once, over time it does more harm than good. The clinking of the glasses against one another makes them weaker and prone to breakage. Use a serving tray or a glassware stacker instead.

Do not add ice to a hot glass

This temperature shock is detrimental to the glass as the cold ice in a hot glass makes it more likely to crack or break.

Keep an adequate supply of glassware on hand

If you do not have enough glassware, then you may be forced to use dishes straight from the dishwasher for drink service. These dishes will still be wet, and can develop unsightly water spots. Also, these glasses will still be warm and when subjected to ice will suffer thermal shock.

Never use a glass in place of an ice scoop

Not only is this an unsanitary ice handling practice, it can cause the glass to crack or break. Broken glass in an ice bin is very dangerous. It is difficult to locate and extract, and could end up in a customers drink. Use an ice scoop instead. 

Never use a glass to carry or store flatware

The clinking and banging of the metal flatware decreases the integrity of your glass, and can cause it to crack, chip or break. Avoid this by using a bus tray designed to divide up glassware and flatware for carrying.

Never let the beer tap come in contact with the glass

The constant clinking of the glass against the beer tap causes strain on the glass, making it prone to breakage.

Take care when bussing

Carefully place glassware in the carts and avoid stacking. In a rush period, you want to bus tables as quickly as possible to get the next group of customers in, but banging glassware around with dishes and flatware just makes it prone to breakage.

Never serve a beverage in a chipped or cracked glass

Not only is this bad for your presentation, but a chip or crack in glass means that the structure has been compromised. You do not want a glass to break when in use by a customer. Discard chipped glasses immediately.

Visit Us at the Midwest’s Premier Foodservice Trade Show

Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies is proud to once again be an exhibitor at the Mid-America Restaurant Expo, Jan. 13-14 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH.

We’ll be in Booth 723 and featuring the latest products from some of our favorite brands, including SEAGATE, Garland, Manitowoc, and APW. We’ll also be showing off some of our Burkett Certified reconditioned equipment from Star, and Hobart. If you’ve seen us at the MAR Expo before, you’ll be sure to recognize the photogenic and showstopping bright red Hobart floor mixer. It’s very popular with show attendees.

Our Burkett Concepts team will also be at our booth to talk to you about the latest trends in kitchen design, installation, and project management.

So make plans to stop by Booth 723, you can also RSVP via our Facebook Event. We look forward to seeing you at the MAR Expo!

Panini Grills Aren’t Just for Sandwiches

The word “panini” is actually a plural form of saying “panino”, which means “bread roll” in Italian. So in a literal translation, the panini grill is a grill for bread rolls. That is mostly right – but there is so much more to create with a panini grill. From breakfast to late-night snacks, this countertop cooking appliance proves to be a durable and versatile addition to any kitchen with limited space.

A commercial panini grill, also known as a sandwich grill, panini maker or panini press, fits perfectly on countertop areas. It’s because of this that bars, small restaurants and cafes find this piece of equipment beneficial. This small piece of cooking equipment can cook everything from wraps, burritos, vegetables, burgers and toasted sandwiches. Operating via heated top and bottom plates, the panini maker works by forming a press that grills items simultaneously on both sides.

wpg250-waring-panini-grill-inset1

The Waring WPG250 Panini Grill

Panini press plates are usually made from cast iron or aluminum and are either smooth or grooved in construction. Grooved plates provide the distinct grill marks for an added visual appeal and work well with meats, vegetables, fish and sandwiches. Smooth plates are typically easier to clean and are a great option for burritos, wraps and sandwiches. Split-top panini grills are also available for producing a larger volume of items at once.

Let’s take a look at some inspiring recipe ideas for your commercial panini maker:

Fresh Tortilla Chips and Guacamole

With the help from a blender and a cutting board, you can make fresh guacamole and tortilla chips without a fryer or full commercial kitchen. What’s better, you can make batches of chips and guacamole ahead of time for happy hour crowds or late-night revelers.

Inspiration: Grilled Tortilla Chips and Grilled Guacamole Recipe

Grilled Cheese and You Name It

Grilled cheese sandwiches have a low food cost and add value to a menu for food and beverage businesses with limited space and hungry customers. These sandwiches can be made fast and can be customized for variety. Offer different types of cheeses, meats and spreads to bring a truly unique dining experience to your customers.

Inspiration: Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry and Wine Jam

Stuffed French Toast On-the-Go

Do you see a large commuter crowd travel by your café or coffee bar? Why not offer something hot and sweet that they can tote along on the way to the desk. With a little preparation before the rush, you can boost profits and sweeten up the morning of under-caffeinated customers with stuffed French toast panini sandwiches.

Inspiration: Stuffed French Toast Breakfast Panini Sandwich

Offer a Fresh and Healthy Lunch Option

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can enjoy these easy to make grilled vegetables and mozzarella panini sandwiches on their next lunch break. With the help of a split-top commercial panini grill, you can grill vegetables and complete sandwiches at the same time. Keep the line moving and the cash register chiming with this quick and easy recipe.

Inspiration: Grilled Vegetable and Mozzarella Panini 

Learn more about what type of commercial panini grill is right for your restaurant by contacting one our superior sales specialists.

What is Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code?

IRS Section 179Most business owners think the IRS’ Section 179 tax deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn’t, we promise.

What Is Section 179?

Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the entire purchase price from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment more easily and invest in themselves quicker.

Section 179 allows businesses who finance their equipment purchases to write off full equipment costs in the year they buy it rather than capitalizing costs over the useful life of the equipment and waiting years to receive deductions.

For 2018, the maximum deduction you may elect to take for a year is $1 million. However, the equipment must be purchased and already in use by Dec. 31 of the tax year.

How It Works

So, let’s say you bought a $10,000 piece of equipment for your business. Under normal depreciation rules, you would only receive a portion of the cost in deductions each year over its useful life. Now, under Section 179, you can deduct the entire $10,000 from net income in the first year you own it. So, assuming a 35% tax bracket, that’s a tax savings of $3,500. That savings lowers the cost of your $10,000 purchase to $6,500!

What to do with the savings

Financing allows you to have cash on hand for emergencies or unforeseen business costs. The amount that you can write off in taxes can exceed profits, which allows you to finance more equipment and reinvest in your business!

If you’ve been thinking about making that major purchase, take advantage and do it today, 2018 is almost over!

Ready to get started? Still have more questions? Follow this link to email, chat, call, or visit one of the superior sales solutions specialists at our Perrysburg, OH headquarters.

Extended Warranty Offers Valuable Peace of Mind

You bought your shiny new piece of restaurant equipment. You pass on the warranty. Waste of money, you think to yourself. Besides, most manufacturers have a standard one-year warranty on parts and labor. That ought to cover it, right?

No matter how durable the equipment, no matter how well versed your employees are in its use, it’s bound to happen, something can or will go wrong.

It should come as no surprise, of course, that most problems occur after the first year is over and the standard warranty has expired. Then you’re stuck dealing with the inevitable problems surrounding costly repairs. Who do you call? Who’s reliable? Who’s cheap? How quick can they be there? Time is money.

Most manufacturers limit their warranty periods to one year. Be ready for whatever happens, whenever it happens. As an Authorized Consumer Priority Service Dealer, Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies can help extend your warranty by 4 years after the manufacturer’s warranty. That’s a total of five years of being worry free. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to protect your purchase.

CPS Protection Plans are an extension of manufacturers’ written warranties and include:

  1. 100% Parts & Labor Coverage
  2. Zero Deductibles or Service Fees
  3. Buy risk-free, cancel anytime
  4. Fast and Simple Registration

Consumer Priority Service partners with Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies to offer customers unparalleled product coverage at prices that make sense. Burkett and CPS are proud to offer customers premium warranty coverage. With no deductibles or hidden fees, you can count on Consumer Priority Service to take care of all your equipment purchases from Burkett.

Our partnership with CPS gives you superior protection for total peace of mind. And no matter how expensive your item is, for a business owner, there is nothing more valuable than peace of mind.

What’s a Ramekin and What Size Do You Need?

Ramekins are those handsome dishes that are typically used for baking and serving menu items such as soufflés, crème brûlée, puddings and other single-serve delectables. They are traditionally made from porcelain and feature fluted sides.

RamekinsThe term ramekin also refers to smaller dishes of the same shape that can be used to serve condiments or sauces. These ramekins can be made from any number of materials, from metal to plastic, as they are not intended for use in the oven.

In addition to baking and serving food items, ramekins also make for attractive household decorations that can be used to hold anything from tea lights to office supplies. Ramekins come in many sizes to help you attain the look you want to achieve.

So, what size ramekin do you need? Here is a breakdown of the different sizes, and what they are used for.

1 to 2 ounce ramekins

Small ramekins in the 1 to 2 ounce range are typically used for condiment sides, such as ketchup or mayo. These little dishes are also great for teeny appetizers like mixed olives.

For household decorators, these small ramekins can be used for tea candles, paper clips, or tiny bouquets.

3 to 5 ounce ramekins

3 to 5 ounce ramekins are still on the small side, though they can be used for items other than condiments. Ramekins of this size are great for mini-desserts or for sample platters.

6 ounce ramekins

If you are only going to stock up on one size, a 6-ounce ramekin is probably the best all-purpose option. These are great for single serving desserts.

7 to 9 ounce ramekins

These larger ramekins are great for lunch-sized pot pies and other small portion meals. They can also be used to make custards, molten lava cake and other desserts for two.

These also make great pet food bowls, and are typically cheaper than anything you’ll find in a pet store.

Other considerations

Besides calculating the capacity you’ll need, when choosing your ramekins you should also consider surface area. For dishes such as crème brûlée, in which the burnt surface is often considered the tastiest part, you’ll want a low, wide ramekin with a lot of surface area.

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