Restaurant Education

Buying Guide: All About Cookware

A set of saucepans, stainless steelAlong with your range and oven, good cookware is one of the most important long-term investments you can make for your restaurant, or even your home, kitchen. A well-stocked kitchen likely contains most of the pieces listed below. Browse our guide to build your perfect cookware collection.

Frying Pan

Frying pans have curved side walls for easy stirring and sliding food out of the pan. They’re ideal for scrambling, sautéing, searing, and…well…frying. Their sloped sides prevent steam from forming in the pan.

Sauté Pan

Sauté pans have a wide bottom area for maximum heat conduction. They are ideal for sautéing, searing, deglazing, poaching, and stir flying. Their straight, tall sides help contain food and expose all sides to heat and minimize spattering.

Stir Fry Pan

Stir fry pans offer deep, curved sides to promote excellent food movement. These flat bottom pans sit level on cooking surfaces as opposed to a traditional wok, which has a round bottom.

Straight Sided Sauce Pan

A wide bottom area allows for maximum heat conduction in straight sided sauce pans. They are ideal for creating and reducing sauces and cooking vegetables. They often come with a lid to control evaporation and accelerate cooking.

Tapered Sauce Pan

A tapered sauce pan features a small bottom diameter for less heat exposure. The flared sides allow for good stirring action. Tapered sauce pans are ideal when you need to cook at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.


The wide heating surface of braziers allows you to cook meats and vegetables in small amounts of liquid. Braziers are ideal for slow cooking and for hot baths along with tapered sauce pans for melting butters, heading sauces, or for blanching vegetables. With their large diameter and short side walls, they are a great multi-use pot in any kitchen.

Sauce Pot

Sauce pots are shorter and wider than stock posts to make it easier to work over the pot. They feature a wide bottom area for maximum heat conduction and they’re ideal for slow cooking stews, sauces, soups, casseroles, and roasts while reducing the amount of liquid. They often have two handles for easy pouring and movement.

Stock Pot

Stock pots have a smaller diameter and taller height to preserve liquids longer. Their dimensions force liquids to bubble up through the ingredients, maximizing your flavor. Stock pots offer a thick base for a good slow simmer and are ideal for soups, pastas, bulk vegetables and seafood.


A griddle pan is designed to heat or brown foods. It has a wide, flat bottom for a maximum cooking area. Griddles are a great place to cook eggs, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and sandwiches.

How To Build a Concession Trailer

SLE TrailerA well-designed food truck kitchen is an absolute must if you want your mobile kitchen to be efficient and safe. Careful planning in the design of the kitchen will save you money and time during the build-out phase and over time will increase the profitability of your truck.

A food truck kitchen design is primarily dictated by the minimal space you have as well as your required equipment and budget. If this all seems a little overwhelming, check out SLE Equipment ( in Antioch, TN. SLE Equipment offers fully customizable concession trailers. You can purchase a concession trailer with commercial restaurant equipment installed such as griddles, hot plates, steam tables, refrigeration, freezers, gas packages, and generators. Or you can work directly with SLE to design and customize your trailer with the equipment you need.

Each listing on SLE Equipment’s site has multiple pictures and offers a video tour of the trailer so you can get to know it inside and out. If you have a general sense of what you’re looking for but still want ideas, SLE Equipment also features previously built custom trailers on their site. You can peruse trailers of similar size and function. In fact, if you like a custom trailer so much, SLE can build an exact replica for you!

If you like the idea of starting from scratch, SLE will provide a dedicated CAD Specialist to work with you in developing a design that meets your business needs. Within 24 hours of the CAD drawing, SLE Equipment will send you a cost quote. After your approval, you can have your custom-built concession trailer in as few as 4 weeks. Financing is available through various SLE Equipment partners, helping you afford your dream.

10 Tips for Managing Your Fryer Oil

fryer oil managerI recently read an article by Rob Slattery of Restaurant Hospitality that listed 10 tips for effectively managing oil. The article was informative and concise (yay!) and the sort of thing our readers need to know. Allow me to pass along the pertinent pointers.

Managing fryer oil as an asset is as important as choosing the right commercial fryer, or selecting the correct oil formula. Fryer oil is a critical component of food flavor, and a costly one. How can you ensure you’re managing it correctly? Follow the 10 steps listed below, and you can deter oil degradation, reduce costs and deliver consistently quality food to your customers.

1. Choose decision-makers wisely. Generally, kitchen managers are the best judges of when oil should be discarded. Less-experienced restaurant workers may be tempted to throw away used oil too soon. Automated oil management systems have lockout functionality, which requires a key to dispose and thus can be better controlled.

2. Don’t just count the days. When deciding whether to discard used oil, consider the general quality of food coming out of the fryer, including taste, aroma, color and texture. It’s best to manage oil on a “vat-by-vat” basis, as opposed to revolving around a day of the week or crew convenience.

3. Know your chemistry. Oil expands as it’s heated. So check oil levels in vats on a regular basis and top-off as needed. However, do not overfill the vats.

4. Monitor temperatures. One main enemy of fryer oil is heat. Combined with oxygen in the air, heat accelerates oil breakdown and degrades food flavor. Be sure to turn off unneeded vats and use fire-up and shutdown schedules. It’s also important to check vat temperatures on a regular basis and regularly recalibrate thermostats, if needed.

5. Filter regularly. Filter oil on a daily basis. Never underestimate the importance of filtering cooking oil. One missed day can reduce oil’s fry life significantly and negatively impact food quality.

6. Filter before you throw. Before disposing used oil, filter it. Premature oil disposal can take dollars off the bottom line.

7. Size matters. It’s important to ensure the correct filter paper or pad size is used, as well as guaranteeing the filter box screen and weights hold the paper or pad firmly in place so crumbs are unable to bypass it.

8. Steer clear of water. When placing food into the fryer, never empty frozen products into baskets over vats. The ice that comes in contact with frying oil attacks fat molecules and imparts a smoky flavor. Also ensure the filter box is thoroughly dry before inserting the filter paper or pad.

9. Eliminate soap. Soap used to clean fryers is also an enemy of cooking oil. It can react with oil to degrade food flavor and color and also causes oil to smoke. When cleaning filter boxes do not use degreasers or soap, spray with hot water only.

10. When possible, upgrade your approach. Consider leveraging an automated oil management and filtration tracking solution. This will allow for easy monitoring of oil activity performance and identify problem areas that may be diminishing food quality and consistency and negatively impacting your bottom line.

Buy Now, Pay Later with Burkett’s Equipment Financing Program

LeasingBurkett offers customers the opportunity to get the equipment they need, for an affordable monthly price. We’ve partnered with QuickSpark Financial to offer financing on all of our new equipment. Applying is easy and there’s no obligation.

Why should you finance?

The Payments are Affordable – Choose from a variety of payment terms to ensure the best fit for your business. Terms range from 24 to 60 months. We also offer Variable Payments that can be matched to seasonal cash flow variations and other budget limitations.

It’s 100% Tax Deductible – An IRS Tax Code allows your business to deduct the full purchase price for the equipment you’re financing in the current tax year. You essentially get a year of equipment tax-free!

Get More for Your Money – Leasing your equipment minimizes initial costs and allows you to earn profits from your new equipment faster.

Keep Lines of Credit Open – Keep potential lines of credit open for financial emergencies and use leasing to help build your credentials with any bank.

Avoid Bank Restrictions – Leases do not include blanket liens, restrictive covenants, rate escalator clauses, “call anytime” provisions, compensating balance requirements, or many of the other surprises related to traditional lending arrangements.

Financial Reporting Advantages – We can structure leases to meet FASB requirements for “off balance sheet” accounting.

If equipment leasing sounds like the right solution for you, learn more and apply now at

Battle Back Winter with a Promotion

Blizzard Stops BusWinter is here…with a vengeance. Usually, winter in the foodservice industry means one thing: an increase in business. People are cooped up as the days get shorter and daylight wanes away. Eager to escape the cabin fever setting in, many find themselves at a local bar, restaurant, or coffee shop. Combine this with the return of football season and the holidays, and most in the foodservice industry will realize an uptick in business in the coming months.

However, this winter seems particularly harsh with most of the U.S. experiencing temperatures below freezing this week. This bleak weather can have a major impact on your business. Many restaurant owners will experience a sales decrease as a result of people less likely to go out in snow and ice. How can you fight back? The key is to increase foot traffic to your store, regardless of the conditions outside. The best way to do that is through promotions.

Have to close early one day? Offer your customers crummy weather coupons. Did the temperature drop particularly low? Offer delivery service so your customers can enjoy your fare from the comfort of their own homes. When you focus your message through promotion and start to drive foot traffic in, you beat the weather and keep up your revenue flow no matter what is going on outside. Give it a try and let us know how it works out!

Tips for Cooking with Convection Ovens

convection ovenConvection ovens are a common staple in commercial and professional kitchens. However, if you’ve purchased a new oven for your home in the past 10 years, chances are you have a convection setting too. There is also a big chance that you’ve never used that setting.

Despite rarely being mentioned in recipes, convection ovens are known for cooking food faster and more evenly thanks to the internal fan that circulates hot air around your food. They are also more energy-efficient, meaning your convection oven will cook many meals more evenly and up to 20 percent faster while using lower temperatures. For many chefs – both professional and at home – knee deep in planning holiday menus, this news is like a beacon of light!

The key for anyone new to cooking with convection ovens is that they often require adjustments to either time or temperature—and sometimes both. If you’re trying to figure out how best to cook with your convection oven, we have you covered. Here’s some helpful advice, most manufacturers of convection ovens recommend dropping the temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit and to start checking the dish when three-quarters of the normal cooking time has passed.

If you’re baking, take caution. The fan can sometimes splatter batters from pies, cakes and quick breads. That doesn’t mean bakeries should discredit convection ovens. Your baked goods will all be flakier, lighter, and loftier since butter releases steam almost immediately allowing your dough to rise higher. For cookies, take advantage of all available shelf space by baking with several trays at once. Because the fan disperses heat throughout the inside of the oven, you won’t have to rotate them as often as you would with a standard radiant oven. Follow these general rules and carefully monitor your first few attempts at cooking with convection heat. Before you know it, you’ll have a sense of how your convection oven cooks and what, if any, other adjustments should be made.

Interested in purchasing a convection oven for your home or business? Burkett Restaurant Equipment offers a range of options for you to shop from, including full size convection ovenshalf-size convection ovens, and light duty counter-top ovens for our residential customers. Follow the links to our site where you can find more information and chat with an equipment expert.

5 Tips for Renegotiating Your Restaurant Lease

publishing contractThinking your foodservice establishment could use a little extra money every month? Maybe you’re looking for a financial boost for remodeling or investing in new restaurant equipment and supplies. It’s not unreasonable to look to a lease renegotiation with your landlord as the answer.  There is a broad spectrum of reasons for re-evaluating your lease, including financial distress, property remodeling, or just looking to extend your current agreement. Lease renegotiation is more common now than in the past, and it’s possible for smaller chains and independent facilities. Right now, landlords are more willing to be flexible considering the low interest rates for refinancing and the attractiveness of property upgrades to other potential tenants.  Here are five tips for successfully renegotiating your lease:

  1. Review your lease, the marketplace and competition for similar tenants and stores. What are others paying in the same market for similar space? Is there competition in the same center or lots of vacancies?
  2. Be willing to share your financials with the landlord, especially if you’re asking for help because you’re struggling.
  3. Be confident with your redevelopment plans—structurally, operationally and through marketing—before asking the landlord to participate. There’s nothing that will strain a relationship more than to throw good money after existing problems and not change anything.
  4. Hire a professional to help. You’ve already got a full-time job running your restaurant, bar, or cafe and having a third-party in the middle creates a sense of urgency and importance.
  5. Come with an open mind and be willing to give something up. Both parties have to feel like they are getting some benefits from the new deal.

New Label Regulation for Gluten-Free Foods

GlutenFor those who suffer from gluten intolerance or are among the estimated 3 million Americans suffering from celiac disease – or preparing food for someone afflicted with this chronic illness – there is a new tool that will make food shopping easier. In August 2013, FDA announced a regulation that defines and standardizes the term “gluten-free” for food labeling.  The new definition ensures that gluten-free claims on products are consistent and standardized across the food industry.

  1. Why “Gluten-Free” Labeling is Important: Gluten is a protein found naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains. It gives breads and other grain products their shape, strength, and texture. But when someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, his/her body’s natural defense system triggers antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. This limits the ability to absorb nutrients, and can lead to other very serious health problems, too.
  2. Definition of “Gluten-Free”: FDA has set a gluten limit of less than 20 parts per million (ppm) for foods that carry the label “gluten-free.” This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods, and most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. The regulation also requires foods labeled “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” or “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”
  3. Timing for Label Compliance: Many foods that were labeled as “gluten-free” prior to the new regulation may already meet the new federal definition. Otherwise, manufacturers have until August of 2014 to make whatever changes are needed in the formulation or labeling of their foods bearing a gluten-free claim in order to legally market them in the United States.

Lead in Drinking Water Act: What You Need to Know before January

water safetyThe use of lead in drinking water pipes has been restricted since the 1920s but in a few short months a new law will be in effect for restaurants, bars, and other foodservice establishments. If you haven’t considered the impact of these new regulations on your business, there is no better time than September’s “National Food Safety Month” to prepare yourself and your patrons.

For several decades, scientists have warned about the exposure to lead and its effect on health. While concentrations of lead in drinking water are not typically derived from natural sources, one of the most common causes of lead concentration in water is contamination from the corrosion of water supply pipes and plumbing fixtures.

As a result, the United States began restricting lead use in water pipes due to public health concerns. In 1974, The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed to regulate the nation’s public drinking water supply. As originally implemented, the SDWA required public water systems to minimize lead concentrations by controlling the corrosion that resulted in lead leaching from water system infrastructure. This could be achieved via careful management of the water’s mineral content, acidity, temperature, and proper maintenance and replacement of a water system’s piping. However, these actions did little to remedy the original source of the lead found in drinking water.

Since the signing of the initial act, there have been several amendments. This includes a1986 amendment that mandated that all pipes, solders, pipe fittings, and plumbing fixtures used in the installation or repair of any public water system, or any residential or nonresidential facility that provides water for human consumption be lead free. By August of 2001, plumbing fittings and fixtures were limited to no more than 4.0% lead.

Most recently, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act signed by President Obama on January 4, 2011, reduces the amount of lead permissible in water meters to 0.25%. These new regulations will go into effect on January 4, 2014.

With a little over three months before federal regulatory requirements come into effect, many foodservice establishments are already converting to no-lead products to ensure proper inventory for 2014. Please note: if you’re located in California, Vermont or Maryland, your states have already passed comparable laws limiting lead content.

While replacing pipes and outfitting for new regulations is certainly an expense and may even require some serious renovation work, it is important not to overlook your plumbing fixtures. Regulations require that both plumbing and plumbing fixtures meet the new lead-free requirements. This includes updating old faucets and pre-rinse assemblies that do not meet the updated maximums. Taking these steps will help ensure uninterrupted customer service and contribute to the health and well-being of your guests.

Help Your Ice Machine Keep it’s Cool

ice o maticIt’s no secret warmer summer temperatures can impact foodservice equipment — including ice machines. Operators are sometimes unaware of the simple steps they can take to ensure machine efficiency during the hottest months of the year.

To guarantee maximum ice machine productivity during the dog days of summer, try these four tips:

  1. Proper Installation: Hire a factory-authorized service technician who understands installation requirements including maximizing airflow and reducing ambient temperatures in and around the machine.
  2. Machine Placement: Keep the machine in a temperature-controlled environment with at least six inches of clearance on either side of the machine.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Create a maintenance schedule and perform routine cleaning at least once every six months or more. Read our previous blog on how to clean and maintain your ice machine.
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