Buying Guide

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 (http://www.sleequipment.com) 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.

Top Eight Essentials Every Kitchen Should Have

Kitchen Essentials don’t have to be expensive. I asked our very own expert, Chef Jeff, to give me a list of kitchen gear that all chefs – both professional and home – will use on a regular basis. You won’t find anything here that requires a major investment, just reliable tools for real chefs who cook on a daily basis.

1. A Kitchen Timer Internaltional Update Kitchen timer

Ever pop a loaf of garlic bread in the oven and completely forget about it until you hear the smoke alarm going off? It’s okay, we’ve all been there. Keep the burning to a minimum with an electric kitchen timer.  This Update International timer, available at Burkett, has an easy to read display, a loud alarm, and a magnetic clip for easy mounting. What more could you need?

BUY NOW: Electronic Kitchen Timer

2. A Digital Thermometer Digital Thermometer

A good instant-read thermometer is the only way to ensure that your food come out at the perfect temperature, the perfect amount of doneness, every time. Relying on accurate timing or, even worse, cutting and peeking, isn’t worth ruining a perfect steak. Go ahead and buy a high-quality, fast, digital thermometer and never have a piece of undercooked meat again.

This digital pocket thermometer from Burkett is money well-spent. It’s waterproof, field calibration ready, and has a thin tapered tip for precision accuracy.

BUY NOW: Digital Pocket Thermometer

3. A Great Paring Knife Paring Knife

Let’s be honest, all of you professional chefs out there are probably saying, “What about a chef’s knife?!”, and you’ve got a point. However I have a feeling you’ll come around to the convenience of a paring knife for small, everyday tasks like cutting off a bit of butter, taking the rink off some citrus fruit, or slicking up garlic. This 3” Forschner paring knife has a large handle for bigger hands and is built to last.

BUY NOW: Forschner 3” Paring Knife

4. A Bench Scraper bench scraper

A bench scraper doesn’t seem like an obvious choice for the kitchen essentials list, but that’s because you’re not using it regularly. Just wait; it will become one of your favorite tools. Keep one next to your cutting boards. It quickly transfers chopped veggies into your pots and pans and scraps into the garbage. It has a variety of other uses, including cutting pizza dough, ground beef, and releasing those tiny bits of dried dough from your work surface.  This bench scraper makes picking up tiny bits of chopped herbs a breeze. With its comfortable wood handle and sturdy construction, you’ll wonder how you ever operated without it.

BUY NOW: Burkett Broadline 6” Scraper/Cutter

5. A Food Scale ditigal food scale

You might already know, from this blog post, that I’m a big fan of kitchen scales. Seriously, they take the guess work out of baking. The inaccuracies involved in scooping a single cup of flour (up to 25%, seriously) will send you running to the stores for a kitchen scale this instant. A good digital kitchen scale will make baking with weight measurements a pleasure, it will also help you determine how much moister your chicken lost during roasting, or exactly how far you’ve reduced that stock.  Important things to look for when shopping: Up to a 8lb capacity, a zero-out (tare) function, easy to read display, and a flat design for storage.

BUY NOW: Taylor Electronic Scale

6. A Good Pepper Mill 

Do yourself a favor, buy everyone you know a real pepper mill and save yourself, and your loved ones, from ever consuming ground pepper again. This Tablecraft Mahogany Pepper Mill is much better than the plastic disposable type, and it’s an investment that will improve almost every savory food you cook.

BUY NOW: Tablecraft Pepper Mill

7. A Mandoline Mandoline

This might be my favorite tool. A mandoline makes short work of all your slicing and julienning tasks. You’ll be surprised to find that most mandolines in your typical home goods stores are quite pricey. This Stainless Steel Mandoline from Burkett Restaurant Equipment is only $52.95. It slices a variety of foods and is constructed to last forever. Walk into any restaurant and you’ll see one or two of these babies.

BUY NOW: Winco Stainless Steel Mandoline

8. Metal Mixing Bowls Mixing Bowls

Forget the fancy designs and heavy lifting with fancy glass mixing bowls. Professional chefs know, metal mixing bowls are lighter, take up less space and last longer. With metal mixing bowls, you won’t have to worry about chips from your glass or ceramic mixing bowls landing in your batter, and most modern microwaves can handle metal these days. Bonus! You’ll find the metal bowls are cheaper at restaurant supply stores, like Burkett Restaurant Equipment, than anywhere else. We offer a variety of sizes to choose from to suit all of your needs.

BUY NOW: Metal Mixing Bowls

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.

4 Common Types of Commercial Pizza Ovens

conveyer pizza oven If you’re shopping for a commercial pizza oven, you might notice there are quite a few types out there to choose from.  There are pizza ovens made for high-volume pizza parlors and ovens made for artisan pizza cafes. Despite coming in all shapes and sizes, each type of commercial pizza oven has advantages. Each oven variety uniquely impacts the way the crust is baked, toppings are cooked, and cheese is melted. Let’s review your commercial pizza oven options below:

Deck ovens and conveyor ovens are the most common types of pizza ovens. Often used in quick service restaurants, deck ovens are best for quickness and ease of use. Deck ovens can have ceramic based decks that help in distributing heat evenly, and maintain heat between batches. Pizzas are set on the heated stone to cook and the result is crisp, authentic crust that closely mimics the flavor of pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven. While deck ovens require a little more attention, they’re also very eye-appealing, allowing customers to watch their pizza being cooked old world style.

Conveyor ovens make pizza cooking simple and quick. The conveyor oven cooks pizzas evenly and in a lightning-fast six minutes.  Raw pizza is placed on one end of the conveyor belt and comes out the other end perfectly done. Both gas (fueled flame) and electric coil conveyor models are available. You’ll more than likely see these at fast-food pizza parlors. Conveyor ovens have a long shelf life. If you’re considering a used conveyor oven, you can rest assured that you’ll be delivering delicious pizza for years to come.

Cart Ovens are perfect for street vendors or for making pizza at fairs and carnivals. They are small, easy to transport and can be powered by gas or electricity. Cart ovens are popular in Italy, where they’re typically seen at festivals and street fairs.

Convection Ovens cook pizza by circulating hot air inside the stove. A cheaper and efficient option, commercial convection cooking results in even cooking and is favored for all types of baking. Pizza cooked in a convection oven will be perfectly cooked with no hot or cold spots to worry about.

Buying Guide: Commercial Soup Kettles

Soup KettleSummer has come and gone and now it’s time for my favorite season of all. Fall is my favorite food season for many reasons, but mostly because it’s the perfect time to start adding soup back into my weekly menus. Serving soup is an important part of any restaurant or café menu. It’s quick, easy to serve, and (in most cases) a health conscious option.

If you serve soup in your business, chances are you use a soup kettle to keep it at the right temperature for the course of your business day. Soup kettles are excellent for serving soup, curry and chili at just the right temperature. Countertop commercial soup kettles are an essential tool in any commercial kitchen or catering business. If you’re in the market, keep reading below for some buying guide tips from Burkett Restaurant Equipment.

  1. Determine the correct kettle size: Soup kettles are great for smaller applications of soups, such as buffet style salad bars or catered events. The soup kettles are designed to fit a specific size of food insert, usually 7, 10 or 22 quart sizes. Calculating your soup sales is the best way to determine what size is appropriate for your establishment.
  2. Temperature Control: Commercial soup warmers include thermostatic temperature controls allowing you to adjust temperatures and ensure you’re heating and holding your food at a safe temperature for display areas.  Soup kettles provide the heating power to maintain the appropriate safe food temperature, keeping out bacteria and other possible food contaminates. Keep in mind that kettles featuring only an on/off switch are recommended for short-term use rather than all day applications.
  3. Dry vs. Wet Warmers: Most new soup kettles today are available with both wet and dry operation, cutting out your need to decide between the two. However, there are some that are available in wet or dry only.  Dry warmers, with encased heating elements, can be easier to operate, but might not offer the same type of heating as the boiled water (wet units).

Finally, unlike the traditional kettles, commercial soup kettles typically require electricity and appropriately sized food inserts because the inside of the soup kettle itself is not an approved food contact surface. These inserts are usually included with the unit, but if it is not, any standard size round insert will suffice. Soup kettles are available in a wide variety of finishes, and designed to function in both the front and back of the house.

Buying Guide: Door Type Dish Machines

door type dish machineDoor Type dish machines are the most popular style dish machine sold on the market and are used by a wide variety of food service establishments. Door type dish machines are available in two styles, including chemical or low temp dish machines, and high temp dish machines.

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approves both types for the commercial foodservice industry and provides specific standards for temperature ranges and chemical solutions to ensure the proper cleaning and sanitation of pots, pans, and utensils. Let’s take a deeper dive into both types of dish machines and review their standard features and tips for purchasing a pass through machine for your establishment.

Low-temp/Chemical Dish Machines

Low temp chemical door type dish machines utilize three types of chemicals that are dispersed via three separate chemical pumps. These chemicals include a liquid detergent for the wash cycle, a rinse aid for spots, and a sanitizing chemical for final sanitation. Low temp chemical machines require an incoming water temperature of 120 to 140 degrees for each of the cycles.  While the chemical pumps will arrive from the factory pre-set for the correct amount of chemical solution for each cycle, they can be field adjusted as needed. Cycle times for low-temp chemical dish machines average 60 to 90 seconds per cycle and can run 37 to 60 dish racks per hour.

Low temp chemical dish machines are ideal for leased locations that have limited access or prohibit you from installing an exhaust system and condensate hood.

High Temp Dish Machines

High Temp dish machines also utilize a liquid detergent and a rinse aid. However, they use a high temperature for sanitation in the final cycle, unlike the low temp machines which use a sanitizing chemical. Cycle times for high temp machines average 58 seconds per cycle and can accommodate up to 60 dish racks per hour.

High temp door type dish machines feature a built in booster heater and tank that raises incoming water temperatures to 180 degrees during the final rinse cycle to achieve proper sanitation.  Boosters are available in either a 40 or 70 degrees. It’s important to specify the booster size when you’re purchasing a dish machines as 40 degree boosters require an incoming water temperature of 140 degrees, while 70 degree boosters only require an incoming water temperature of 110 degrees to reach the final required rinse temperature.

Keep in mind that high temp dish machines do not come with chemical pumps, so you’ll need to contact a chemical company to provide the pumps and chemicals. Typically pumps are supplied with no charge upon an annual chemical supply contract.

Most state and local codes require a Class II Condensate Hood above high temp dish machines to exhaust the steam produced during the cycles. After you’ve made your purchase, you’ll need to contact a licensed plumber to install the water and drain lines as well as a HVAC contractor to install the vent duct, condensate hood, fan curb and exhaust fan.

Standard features for both low and high temp dish machines include the following:

  1. Type 304 stainless steel base legs, cross braces, front and side panels for durability and corrosion resistance.
  2. A stainless steel ¾ horse power water pump housed in the lower frame for the fill and dump cycle and a removable perforated stainless steel strainer for residual food by products.
  3. Removable stainless steel rack slides and stainless steel upper and lower wash rinse arms. These arms are interchangeable and are easily removable without the use of tools.
  4. Spring assisted doors that lift simultaneously.
  5. Easy field conversion from straight pass through to corner style.

A couple of final shopping notes: Door type dish machines require a dish table or soil table with a scrap sink for pre-rinsing utensils, as well as clean tables for utensils exiting the machine. Make sure you measure your warewashing area to ensure you’re purchasing the proper size. Finally, door type dish machines do not feature a cord and plug. You will need a licensed electrician to hard wire the dish machine to the buildings power source.

Buying Guide: Drawer Warmers

drawer warmerA few years ago, I worked as a server at a local Max & Erma’s during a summer home from college. The best part of that job? Working doubles on Saturdays. Yeah, I actually mean that. On Saturdays, I would get a short break to eat between shifts. I always – always – bought a breadstick with my meal. As a college kid not concerned with carb intake, those warm, buttery breadsticks were heaven.  I know now that those breadsticks kept their perfect consistency because of the built in drawer warmer in the kitchen. Below, I’ve taken a deeper dive into those drawer warmers with a brief overview and things to think about if you’re in the market.

Drawer warmers are located in the back of house and are used in a variety of restaurants and fast food chains. Drawer warmers hold cooked foods, such as breadsticks, rolls, and baked potatoes, at the correct moisture level and holding temperature until they’re ready to be served. There are two primary types of drawer warmers: free-standing units and built-in units.

Free Standing Drawer Warmers

Free standing warmers are the most popular due to their versatile application and their ability to be incorporated into almost any existing kitchen design. Free standing drawer warmers can be located on countertops, lower table shelves or on the floor next to the food prep line.

Free standing drawer warmers are available in one drawer, two drawer, three drawer, and four drawer configurations. Additionally, optional casters are available instead of legs if you’d like your unit to be mobile.

Built In Drawer Warmers

Built in drawer warmers are custom applications and are favored by restaurant design consultants because they are conveniently installed within stainless steel enclosed bases or custom workspaces.

Built in drawer warmers are available in one drawer, two drawer, and three drawer configurations. Also, they often have digital controls versus manual controls like free-standing units.

Standard features on both units include individual temperature controls, moisture controls, and a duel temperature gauge. Temperature controls the range from 100 degrees to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Drawer warmers have stainless steel fronts, sides, and drawer facings, while each drawer features a telescoping track and a full size (12” x 20”) stainless steel pan insert.

Drawer warmers are available in 120 volt, 208 volt, 230 volt and 240 volt options. When shopping, make sure you verify the voltage capacity within your workspace, as well as the voltage on the unit with the manufacturer.

Buying Guide: Undercounter Refrigerators and Freezers

Undercounter FreezerUndercounter Refrigerators and freezers are a great addition to any front or back-of-house food prep area due to their versatility of design. Below, we’ve provided a brief overview on the variety of worktops and models available to the foodservice industry.

Undercounter refrigerators and freezers provide a sanitary work surface for food prep as well as a convenient refrigerated base to aide efficiency in your foodservice establishment. Typical undercounter refrigerators and freezers have a 35 ½ inch working height. Worktop units come standard with a 4 inch back splash. In addition, custom applications are available on standard flat top design units that do not feature a back splash.

Undercounter units are available in a variety of sizes and widths. When you’re ordering your new or used undercounter refrigerator or freezer, make sure you first verify and then specify your counter height. Low profile casters are available to ensure counter height clearance.  Single door units are available in a range of sizes, including 27 inches wide, 36 inches wide, and 48 inches wide. If you prefer a two-door under counter refrigerator or freezer, a 60 inch wide unit is available; as well as a three-door 72 inch unit.

Standard Features Included on all undercounter refrigerators and freezers include:

  1. Stainless Steel top, front, and sides
  2. Front-breathing, self-contained refrigeration
  3. Castors on the bottom of the unit
  4. Positive Seal magnetic door gaskets ensuring freshness for your contents

Additional options available include the following:

  1. Single or double over shelves
  2. Poly cutting boards
  3. Drawers in lieu of doors
  4. Glass doors
  5. Remote refrigeration

10 Reasons to Buy True Manufacturing

TRU-T49-2There’s a reason True Manufacturing has been rated Best in Class for twelve consecutive years. Well, there are actually 10 reasons, and we’ve listed them here:

1. Refrigeration System

True produces environmentally friendly refrigeration systems by matching and balancing oversized compressors, evaporators, and condenser coils. These refrigeration systems include shorter run times, lower energy consumption, and the industry’s coldest holding temperatures. True’s evaporator coils have 20%-40% more surface area than the industry standard resulting in faster pull down of product temperatures and quicker recovery times. By utilizing large condensers with more standard passes, True units will ensure better food preservation in the hottest, most extreme foodservice environments.

2. Fan Motors

True’s low velocity motor fans are completely sealed, oil-filled, and self-lubricating. They have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years! The motors are matched with larger fan blades giving True cabinets high volume low velocity airflow that produces a large volume of air passing across the evaporator at a slow rate. This allows for faster recovery and better uniform temperature throughout the refrigeration unit.

3. High-Density Insulation

True continues its commitment to sustainability by pioneering the use of Ecomate, a foamed in place, CFC free polyurethane, high-density insulation. Ecomate provides unparalleled strength, rigidity, and an increase to an already industry-exceeding insulation factor, with zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and zero global warming potential (GWP).

4. Outstanding Aftersale Support

Along with their 3 year parts & labor warranty, True’s exclusive unit warranty is the envy of the industry. At no additional cost, customers enjoy the option of having the entire condensing unit replaced. This consists of a new compressor, condenser, start components, and fan motor; all of which are pre-assembled and shipped from the factory.

5. Shelving

True internally manufactures their own heavy-duty shelves, utilizing larger diameter steel for strength. The shelves are bonded with powdered PVC to prevent chipping and peeling.

6. Customer Service

True employs their own internal customer service, parts customer service, and technical support to be there to help at any time throughout the life of your unit. True’s dedicated staff is a great source for educated sales, design and after sale support.

7. ENERGY STAR

True is committed to eco-friendly manufacturing by meeting and surpassing the energy standards while not sacrificing performance. By using oversized, higher capacity, balanced refrigeration systems, true outperforms industry efficiency expectations.

8. Made in the USA

True is committed to producing high quality products that are manufactured in the USA. True manufactures each cabinet using an industry leading combination of high quality metals and components designed to optimize cabinet performance.

9. 100% Run Testing

In order to verify that all units re manufactured properly and to specification, True run tests every single model as a part of the final quality inspection before releasing the unit into finished goods inventory.

10. Availability

By maintaining an extensive level of inventory in their Missouri based manufacturing facility, True can fill nearly 100% of standard items within 2-3 days of receiving and processing your purchase order.

Commercial Cutlery Buying Guide

cleaverCutlery is an important commercial and home kitchen staple that can directly impact the preparation and presentation of food.  Ever start chopping away inside your kitchen and wonder if you’re using the right knife? You’ll typically see key points such as size, shape, blade and type of edge when specifying the appropriate knife for cooking and food prep. Here, we’ve taken it a step further by offering general descriptions to serve as a basic guide for the most common knife types.

Boning Knives

Boning knives have a sharp point and narrow blade. Typically available with blades ranging from 3″ to 8″ in length, boning knives are used in food preparation for separating and removing the bones from poultry, meat, and fish. Boning knives are not as thick as some of other popular kitchen knives, as this makes precision boning, especially in deep cuts and holes, much less difficult. A stiff boning knife is good for boning beef and pork, but a very flexible boning knife is preferred for poultry and fish.

Bread Knives

Bread knives are designed with serrated edges to cut soft bread and fruits like tomatoes without crushing them. Bread knives can have straight or slightly curved blades and range from 6-10 inches in length.

Butcher Knives

Butcher knives are designed especially for breaking through larger, tougher cuts of meat. A slip resistant, nylon or fibrox handle is ideal for slicing and dicing an assortment of meats, ensuring that the user maintains a firm grasp. Butcher knives have heavy, wide and slightly curved blades.

Carving Knives

With a thinner handle and wider blade than traditional slicing knives, these sturdy cutting tools are perfect for separating larger pieces of meat, such as poultry, roasts, and hams into thin, precise slices.

Chef’s Knives

Chef’s knives are ideal for everything from slicing meat to chopping and dicing fruits and veggies. Available in sizes ranging from 6 to 12 inches, chef’s knives are designed to perform a variety of tasks in busy kitchen. These versatile knives feature sharp, high carbon steel blades for more precise cutting, slicing and mincing.

Cleavers

Cleaver knives are ideal for slicing meats as well as chopping or mincing vegetables, and can even be used to crush bulbs of garlic or ginger. Cleavers feature large, stainless steel blades with wooden handles.

Churrasco Knives

Designed specifically for Brazilian steakhouses, churrasco knives are the perfect cutting tools for slicing large chunks of meat directly from spits onto the plates of hungry customers. Constructed almost as a mix between slicing and carving knives, these unique cutting tools are great for slicing through cooked meat at all different angles.

Paring Knives

Paring knives are used for small, intricate work like peeling and coring. A good paring knife typically measures between three and five inches on the blade.  Paring knives are designed to be an all-purpose knife, similar to a chef’s knife, but on a smaller scale.

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