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  • Receiving Food | National Food Safety Month

    Every September, the foodservice industry celebrates National Food Safety Month. Everyone knows there's no easier way to lose customer loyalty than being the culprit of a patron's food borne illness. Because restaurant kitchens breed team environments, it's important for everyone, from the executive chef to the dishwashers and porters, to be educated on proper food safety.  Doing so not only keeps the restaurant up to code but also maintains a high quality standard for the business, not to mention a strong reputation. In  honor of National Food Safety Month, we will be posting a series of educational blog posts pertaining to all aspects of food safety, from receiving food to storing it, serving it, and the many steps in between.

    Screen shot 2015-08-26 at 9.09.32 PM Photos courtesy of www.foodsafetymonth.com

    Food safety education isn't just for professional chefs either. In fact, everyone can benefit from food safety knowledge because we all eat and handle food, therefore we're all at risk for the same illnesses and repercussions. Some of the upcoming blogs will feature helpful information for both residential and commercial cooks, while others will pertain more to the professional industry. This year's Food Safety Awareness theme is "Let it Flow," which focuses on the flow of food in restaurants. Knowing some basic rules will definitely help kick start your food safety practice. This blog begins with "Receiving" food. Here are a few tips.


    What Temperature Should Food Be Received At?

    This question is dependent on the kinds of food you're receiving, though most potentially hazardous foods should be received at 41ºF or lower. Below are a few exceptions.

    • Live Shellfish, Shucked Shellfish, and Milk: Should be received at an air temperature of 45ºF or lower then cooled to 41ºF or lower within 4 hours.
    • Eggs: Should be received at an air temperature of 45ºF or lower.
    • Frozen Food: Should be frozen solid when received.

    Why Does Food Need To Be Received at these temperatures?

    Three words: "The Danger Zone." These three words probably ring a bell, and rightfully so! The Danger Zone is the temperature bracket (41ºF to 135ºF) where bacteria grows most quickly on food. Leaving food out in these temperatures can cause bacteria to double in as little as twenty minutes. Therefore, there is urgency in making sure food is at the proper temperature when it's received and then promptly stored.

    What Should Be Done Upon Delivery?

    When food arrives at the establishment, there is a checklist to be aware of. When food is in transit there is an increased opportunity for items to shuffle around and for cross contamination to occur. Knowing this, it's important that whoever is receiving the shipment inspects it thoroughly. Here are the common questions to ask and the things to look for when receiving a shipment. Should any of these not adhere, you have the right to refuse the delivery.

    • Are the food containers in good condition? Check for any damage as they can often crush or tear in transit, thereby leaking and potentially cross contaminating.
    • Are the temperatures where they should be? It's important to check them with a sanitized thermometer before signing for the delivery. These pocket thermometers do the trick.
    • If you're receiving canned goods, make sure they're not swollen anywhere as this may be a sign of product spoiling or damage.
    • Mark the delivery date on food products before storing away.
    • Are the delivery vehicles in good, clean condition?
    • Are frozen foods completely frozen? Make sure there is no thawing occuring upon delivery.
    • Lastly, does the supplier deliver product on a timely schedule? It's important that food is stored away quickly after it's received to keep food held at the right storage temperature. Hold your suppliers accountable to the scheduled delivery time.

    These are some of the most important tips for receiving food product.
  • Introducing Portacool™

    The Portacool Islander is designed for patios, thanks to a small footprint and tower design. The Portacool Islander is designed for patios, thanks to a small footprint and tower design.

    In the Southern United States, where the temperatures are hot almost year-round, cool air is a cause for celebration. In many trades and businesses,  having cool temperatures to work in is essential and can actually boost efficiency and productivity. Portacool™ recognized a need in the market for an economical, effective cooling system that could be used in locations and businesses of all shapes and sizes. And so they went to work designing a solution. In 1990, they created the first portable evaporative cooler. Today, 25 years later,  Portacool™ is a growing global leader with distributors in 56 countries and in all 50 U.S. states. The company is headquartered in the town of Center, Texas, roughly 20 miles west of Louisiana where the conditions are hot and humid. Their products are a favorite to industries of all types (see more below!) and investing in one brings a breath of fresh air to any working environment. Learn a little more about the brand with these commonly asked questions:

    Why Should I Buy A Portacool™ Cooler?

    For comfort, first off. If you're working in an industry or any place that is without A/C, the Portacool™ evaporative coolers are made for you, designed to keep the space surrounding cool no matter the outside temperature. Secondly, for productivity. According to a study on Portacool's website, you risk a 16.6% decrease in productivity at temperatures of 92 degrees or higher.

    What Temperatures Are Ideal For Portacool™ Coolers?

    Portacool™ units will bring the temperatures down in nearly every environment, making the conditions more cool and comfortable. However, for optimal performance, the temperature should be 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher with a relative humidity of below 75%.

    Who Benefits?

    Just about everyone! Here are a few industries and places that use Portacool™ daily:

    1. Agriculture: Barns, Stables
    2. Aviation: Hangars, Repairs
    3. Automotive: Garages, Dealerships
    4. Military: Mess Halls, Training Areas
    5. Restaurant / Event: Outdoor Dining or Parties, Amusement Parks, Tents
    6. Home: Garages, Patios, Decks
    7. Sports Venues: Gyms, Workout Rooms
    Plus any business with warehouse facilities!

    Will It Mist?

    Unlike a misting system, these units use evaporation to emit cool air, keeping excess moisture to a minimum.

    So What Is Evaporative Cooling?

    Evaporative Cooling 101. Evaporative Cooling 101, courtesy of Portacool

    As you can see in the graphic above, evaporative cooling is essentially the cooling of air with water. This is how it works:  water is consistently spread over a cooling media (the brown figure above.) Air sifts through this media via negative fan pressure, and evaporation occurs when the air meets water. When water evaporates, the air it comes in contact with lowers in temperature. There's a cooling sensation that occurs, very much like the feeling one gets when climbing out of a swimming pool. 

    Are Chemicals Used?

    No. Unlike an air conditioner, Portacool's evaporative coolers do not use chemicals or refrigerants to cool down the air.

    How Hard Is It To Assemble?

    One of the great perks of buying a Portacool™ Cooler is that it's easy to assemble. Almost all models are ready to use straight from the box!

    What Options Do I Have?

    Lots! There are a number of models to choose from depending on your needs. The largest unit will cool up to 4,000 square feet and there are smaller units designed for smaller spaces. Models such as the heavy-duty Hurricane 3600 have a unique airflow pattern designed to reach farther distances while the Cyclone 1000's small footprint can be easily used in residential spaces.

    Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call us at 1-800-319-0690 from Monday through Friday 8 AM to 6 PM Central Standard Time. We look forward to helping you!

  • Mission Restaurant Supply Acquires Dallas-based Fixture King


    (Click here to View the Full Release)

    Mission Restaurant Supply Acquires Fixture King, Corp.

    Mission Restaurant Supply has expanded its footprint after recently acquiring Dallas-based Fixture King, Corp.. 

    June 3, 2015 (San Antonio, TX) – Texas-based foodservice dealer Mission Restaurant Supply continues to grow and now maintains an even stronger presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area after the latest acquisition of Fixture King.

    The latest addition marks a continued strategic move for the Mission brand, with branches now representing the North, South, Central, and East Texas territories along with the Rio Grande Valley. Owner/CEO Jack Lewis says, “We are genuinely thrilled about this opportunity to expand in the North Texas market. Both our companies share the same family dynamic and dedication to help improve businesses in the foodservice industry.”

    Ayman Alkurdi, original Fixture King Owner adds, “We grew from selling store fixtures into a full-service store for the foodservice operator. Now, after serving the business community for 20 years, we have found a perfect match in Mission Restaurant Supply to continue what we started.”

    The Dallas showroom will operate under the direction of new General Manager Joshua Folan, and is already open for business. “The transition has begun,” says Folan. “Members of the Alkurdi family along with a long-time employee will be joining our team, and we are excited about our future together!”

    Mission Restaurant Supply is the leading foodservice equipment and supply dealer in South Central Texas. The family-owned company also operates a bid contract department, an engineering design team, a custom metal fabrication shop, an e-commerce store, and six Texas showrooms with Leasing and Service Departments in San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Fort Worth, and Dallas. For more information, visit www.MissionRS.com or call 210-354-0690.


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  • The Barrios Family Restaurants, San Antonio, Texas

    From left: Diana, Louis, and Teresa in front of a portrait of their mother, Viola. Image courtesy of mysanantonio.com From left: Diana, Louis, and Teresa in front of a portrait of their mother, Viola. Image courtesy of mysanantonio.com

    The restaurant industry is a tough, yet rewarding one. Businesses come and go, but those that stay – those that endure - find a winning combination in creating great food and serving happy, loyal customers. For the Barrios family of San Antonio, their customers are more than just diners and patrons - they are an extension of the family.

    Los Barrios, San Antonio’s beloved Mexican restaurant, began in 1979 with Viola Barrios, the matriarch of the Barrios family. After her husband passed away in a car accident, Viola needed to find a way to support herself and her three children, Teresa, Louis, and Diana.

    “She always loved cooking,” said Diana Barrios of her late mother. With $3,000, she started her restaurant in a rented boat garage in downtown San Antonio before buying an old Diary Queen building on Blanco in 1980, where the restaurant remains today. When she first started, she had to do everything and the kids got involved from a young age. “Los Barrios became our home,” said Diana, who admits she and her siblings have always been surrounded by food. For Viola, the restaurant became her passion.

    Frozen beverages await at the Viola's Ventanas bar. Frozen beverages await at the Viola's Ventanas bar.

    Today, the family has added two more restaurants to their name, La Hacienda and Viola’s Ventanas, which were added in 2004 and 2013, respectively. At each of the three restaurants, one of Viola’s kids can always be found, a familiar face in an inviting home. “We are still there on a daily basis, still very connected to the business,” she said adding, “We are owners and operators.” Between the three children are eight grandchildren, the latter of which are lovingly called “The Board of Directors”; they’ve all worked in the restaurants at one point or another. It’s a family establishment through and through, and because of this, customers dining there feel like they're home.

    On the Los Barrios family website, this quote greets visitors: “Eating together is how San Antonians celebrate family,” and indeed, San Antonio's family-friendliness – from sports to arts to entertainment and food – is one of the many things that makes it unique.

    San Antonio has always had a warmth, charm, and rich cultural texture to it, all of which combine to create an atmosphere of inclusivity – something best witnessed at any of the Barrios family restaurants! However, over the years, San Antonio has often remained in the shadow of other Texas cities, such as Dallas and Austin. Thankfully today, the Alamo City is on a path of great growth with well-deserved recognition in all arenas, including the food scene.

    Viola's Ventanas at sunset. Viola's Ventanas at sunset.

    “Finally, San Antonio is being recognized for the great food it’s serving up on a daily basis, in all quadrants of the city,” said Diana of the "Tex-Mex capital of the world." And just as every region in Mexico produces different styles of Mexican food, so too does San Antonio. After all, Texas was once a part of Mexico, and the collaborations created here were entirely unique, an influence of French, Spanish, Vaquero, and Native American. “San Antonio’s style (of Mexican food) is habit-formingly delicious!” said Diana, who is a popular fixture on many national television outlet, including Food Network. Be sure to check out Diana's Puffy Taco Throwdown with Bobby Flay! (Can you guess who won?!)

    The menus at the Barrios family restaurants are extensive, but all of them are reflective of the family’s emphasis on casero-style cooking, which is essentially Mexican home style cooking. It’s not fancy food, but it’s quality driven, authentic, and simple, and it’s served in a homey, attractive setting. This style of cooking is best encapsulated in The Los Barrios Cookbook, which has become a seminal piece of Mexican food literature.

    The Los Barrios Family Cookbook. The Los Barrios Family Cookbook.

    “I like to say it’s the perfect gift for any homesick Texan you might know,” said Diana of the book, which compiles the best of their casero-style recipes, all of which are fun, easy, delicious – not hard. These recipes are for novices, to be loved and enjoyed as family favorites, much like the ethos of the restaurant.

    For a first timer to Los Barrios, Diana recommends the cheese enchiladas, a dish people have come back for since Viola started the restaurant thirty-six years ago. The business is a safe haven for family traditions, and often, the employees share their own talents. Enrique, a Los Barrios waiter who has worked with the family for over thirty years always makes secret salsas, something different and delicious that keeps people guessing and craving more.

    Kitchen Action: A peek into the back of the house. Kitchen Action: A peek into the back of the house.

    What's next for the Barrios family? In the months and years ahead, they will continue to do what they do best, and no doubt, their family of customers will continue to come. “We will continue to do like we’ve done for the last thirty-six years, offering our guests a wonderful dining experience and a great meal in an environment that makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s house.”

    As the brand has grown over the years, Viola's spirit lives on through the lives of her children and all those who come back to Los Barrios year after year. The family's greatest accomplishment? Keeping the customers that they’ve had since their mom started the business. Now, they see 2nd and 3rd generations coming in on a frequent basis.  Keeping her memory alive is a priority for her children and in recent years they’ve started the ‘Viola’s Huge Heart Foundation’ which gives high school scholarships to young ladies with great potential.

    Next time you find yourself in a Mexican food mood in San Antonio, be sure to stop by one of the Barrios family restaurants for warm hospitality and a memorable casero-style meal. Thank you to the family for chatting with us!

  • Introducing Paragon Products

    Who doesn't love a little extra profit at the end of the day? Concessions - whether it be snow cones, hot dogs, or tubs of popcorn -  are a great way to add a little more to your bottom line, not to mention they are a satisfying treat that everyone can enjoy. One of the latest brands to come to MissionRS.com is Paragon, a professional concession equipment and supply manufacturer. Below are a few quick things you should know before enjoying their products!

    paragon-banner
    AMERICAN MADE

    Paragon is an American manufacturer that designs and manufacturers all of their products right here in the U.S.A. (In the town of Nevada in Central Iowa, to be exact.) The only exception to this is their Yeti cooler, but otherwise, every purchase is an American investment! 

    FAMILY OWNED FOR OVER 40 YEARS

    That's right! In addition to being an American company, Paragon has been family owned since Day 1. They began making popcorn machines over forty years ago and have transformed into a one stop shop for all your concession equipment and supply needs.

    COOL TIDBITS

    Paragon was the world's first manufacturer to introduce a  4 oz popcorn machine! Today, the bestseller, which is priced at $356, is a customer favorite for home theaters and residential use! (Of course, they also have much larger poppers and popcorn machine stands in a number of colors.)

    The 4 oz Popper by Paragon The 4 oz Popper by Paragon

    "DON'T BE THE LARGEST, JUST BE THE BEST."

    Their motto carries through in the entire ethos of the company, from the technology employed, to the materials used, and the dedicated, local employees that work at the business. In this way, every product can be purchased with confidence.

    AFFORDABILITY

    Given their commitment to quality and American manufacturing, it's refreshing to see such competitive, low prices across the product line! The company prides themselves on building solid, user-friendly, and safe equipment at prices that won't break the bank. What's not to love?

    PRODUCT VERSATILITY

    One of the biggest perks of Paragon is that they have something for every concession size and application. Whether it's a hot dog steamer, a snow cone ice shaver, cotton candy machines, pump-action warmers, condiment servers, LED signs, or steam table pans, there is something to satisfy your needs. At MissionRS.com you will find a large assortment of Paragon's concession equipment in varying capacities, in addition to a large array of their supplies, all of which will complement your set up! Be sure to check out the Mighty Corn Dog ParaFryer 3000, the compact, portable fryer that can cook 12 corn dogs at a time!

    The Mighty Corn Dog Parafryer 3000. The Mighty Corn Dog ParaFryer 3000.

    WARRANTY

    Most Paragon products have a 3-year parts warranty, although others have a 5-year offering!

    Should you have any questions, feel free to call us at 1-800-319-0690 from Monday through Friday 8 AM to 6 PM! We'd love to chat with you!

  • The Origins of the Dishwasher

    There are certain tools that are ubiquitous in commercial and residential kitchens today, and dishwashers are one of them. With all the technology available to end users, it's relatively easy to find a unit that will save space, deliver a quick, deep clean, and do so with conscious energy and water usage. But that wasn't always the case.
    The dishwasher, like all things, developed out of a curiosity and a desire to fix a problem. The following blog will uncover its history and show how far it has come over the years.

    dishwasher L.A. Alexander's patent drawing from 1865
    When was the first dishwasher made?

    In 1850, a man named Joel Houghton created a patent for a device that is now credited with being the origin of the American dishwasher. It was a hand cranked wooden tool that sprayed water on dishes, but was known for its slowness and inefficiency. There was another patent created in 1865 by L.A. Alexander, yet that model turned out to be largely inefficient as well.

    The Cochrane Dishwashing Machine The Cochrane Dishwasher
    So who created the first functional, practical design?

    Josephine Cochrane was a wealthy Illinois socialite born to a family of engineers. An avid entertainer, Cochrane noticed that her family's fine china, which dated back to the 17th century, was chipping after perpetual hand washing. As a result, in 1886, she decided to come up with a design that would eliminate the problem. She measured out all of her china and  manipulated wire racks to keep the dishes in place. These compartments were then set into a wooden wheel, which rested in a copper boiler filled with hot water. With a crank or the activation of a small motor, the wheel would turn, splashing the hot water onto the dishes. Word of her design spread fast. After getting a patent and going into production, she decided to formally debut her Cochrane dishwasher at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. While there, she won the highest prize for her design's durability, adaptability, and mechanical construction. Soon, restaurants and hotels were buying it up. Cochrane then started the Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company which would eventually become KitchenAid, and later, Whirlpool.


    Josephine Cochrane Josephine Cochrane
    Then what?

    Until her death in 1913, Cochrane continued to update her dishwasher designs, adding centrifugal pumps, drains, revolving washing systems, and other features that have carried over into modern day equipment. At the turn of the century, various other innovators and engineers worked to create a more efficient dishwashing system, utilizing plungers, dish cradling techniques, and propellers, to name a few. They also began to utilize sprays of water, an early version of water jets, which are commonplace in dishwashing equipment today.


    What were some of the challenges the dishwasher faced over the years?

    Commercial Dishwashers are one of the largest energy and water consumers in the back of the house. Water was a huge obstacle in the evolution of dishwashers, and even still, it is a key issue for manufacturers when designing new models. The large size of early dishwashers was also something that people had to deal with, and manufacturers today continue to strategize how to maximize output while minimizing the physical footprint. The introduction of detergents in the mid 1900s replaced the fatty soaps priorly used for cleaning. These helped usher in an easier, quicker, more efficient means for washing dishes.

    cma_cma-180sb_6
    What features do modern commercial dishwashers have today?


    Since Cochrane's inception all those years ago, manufacturers like Hobart and CMA to name a few have been creating new standards of innovation and excellence in the dishwashing industry. Modern day commercial dishwashers are loaded with features and benefits, sleek aesthetics, and water + energy saving designs thanks to ventless technology, Energy Star ratings, and more. It's also easier than ever to find machines that cater to a wide range of dishwashing needs, from delicate glassware to heavy, grimy pots and pans, and for all different dish volumes.  Machines today are also quieter in operation, more conservative spatially, while utilizing strict sanitation elements, like high heat cycles that ensure the deepest clean. There are also more sizes and models to choose from than ever, including conveyor dishmachines, door-type dishmachinesundercounters, and glasswashers.


    Images via Uncle John's Bathroom Reader, Neatorama.com, Engines of our Ingenuity
  • Thinking About Buying an Alto-Shaam?

    In today's restaurants, hotels, hospitals and institutions, the kitchen is the heart and soul of the workplace. Never has there been such technologically advanced equipment and innovative tools to keep operators productive, efficient, and meticulously precise in the back of the house. Brands like Alto-Shaam have been pioneers in this movement, engineering and manufacturing equipment that is boldly innovative, and yet easy to operate. Furthermore, in this age of ecological awareness, Alto-Shaam continues to create equipment that is conscious of its footprint, while saving time, energy and costs for the end user.

    Alto-Shaam Versatility Alto-Shaam Versatility

    Can You Give Me A Quick Thumbnail Sketch Of Alto Shaam's Story?

    Alto-Shaam's founder, Jerry Maahs, entered the industry as one of the first Chicken Delight franchise units in the 1950s. As the chain expanded to home delivery, Maahs sought out a way to keep food hot, particularly in the wintertime. By the 1960s, Maahs learned about thermal heating cables. He discovered that when wrapped around the oven cavity, they provided gentle, even heat to the product within it. This led to the introduction of Halo Heat, which nearly sixty years later is a staple to the brand's product line today. And so, in many ways, Alto-Shaam's beginnings were driven by innovation. By the 1970s, Alto-Shaam introduced their Cook & Hold ovens which provide low temperature overnight cooking. By the 1980s, the brand had moved beyond low temperature cooking and introduced Combi Ovens to their line, becoming one of the first U.S. manufacturers of this type of equipment. Today, Jerry's son and daughter run the company and continue to take Alto-Shaam to the forefront of the industry.

    The AS-250 Countertop Cook & Hold Oven. The AS-250 Countertop Cook & Hold Oven.

    What Does Alto-Shaam Manufacture?

    Alto-Shaam manufactures a full line of commercial kitchen equipment with products thatcook, hold, serve & more. Below is a break down of the most popular equipment:

    A full list of Alto-Shaam's product line. A full list of Alto-Shaam's product line.

    Why Should I Buy Ovens, Chillers, Rotisseries, From Alto-Shaam Over Another Brand?

    There's a reason that people all over the world have Alto-Shaam equipment in their kitchens. First is the quality manufacturing, the technological innovation, and the versatile design. Alto-Shaam units can cook, hold, display and chill, to name  a few. For nearly 60 years, the brand has been pioneering solutions for commercial kitchens and helping to create profitable businesses. (Should you need some more convincing, take a look at the long list of equipment awards and Best In Class ratings that the brand is honored with year after year.) Though more expensive upfront than other options, the food created from an Alto-Shaam is better tasting, not to mention the equipment is designed with eco-efficiency in mind. Their products will save you considerably in the years after your investment. Alto-Shaam's product line helps operators and end users re-imagine performance. It helps them to elevate their menus and to meet the demands of their market. Each unit is equipped with unparalleled innovation and technology for consistent, flavorful results time after time.

    The 500-2D Electric Warming Drawer The 500-2D Electric Warming Drawer

    Why Should I Buy Alto-Shaam From Mission?

    Mission has been a partner in the foodservice industry since 1988. Our tenure over the years has allowed us to secure strong partnerships with manufacturers like Alto-Shaam. In addition to having the most competitive prices on the market, we also offer Free Shipping and financing on all of the Alto-Shaam on our website. 

    The 750-TH/III Cook & Hold Oven. The 750-TH/III Slow Cook & Hold Electric Oven.

    Is Alto-Shaam "Green?"

    Alto-Shaam's commitment to the environment reaches far back, way before the waves of "green" thinking were mainstream. In the 1960s,  Alto-Shaam's founder, Jerry Maahs, innovated the brand's 'Halo-Heat' technology. This essentially replaces the convention of fan-driven heat with a slow, motionless, low-temperature heat in the oven cavity. The result is a cooking process that doesn't dry out or shrink the food or zap it of its flavor. Instead, it retains moisture, naturally tenderizes meats, locks in flavors, plus a whole lot more. Today, this innovation is ubiquitous to the brand. And while it may result in better tasting food, it also results in energy efficiency. Alto-Shaam has found that excessive water and energy aren't required to make quality food, and so by efficiently using the two resources, they can control not only the quality of their menu, but also their bottom line. Alto-Shaam's Cook & Hold Ovens can cook a load of food overnight for less than $1 of electricity. Best yet, because these ovens have such low emissions, they don't require a hood. (A hood generally costs $2 per hour when in operation, which can quickly turn into $30 per day savings!) The bottom line: The company is committed to sustainability in all of their products.

    Screen shot 2015-03-04 at 1.43.30 PM
     
    What Markets Can I Find Alto-Shaam In?

    Casinos, universities, catering companies and banquets, hotels, full service restaurants, quick service and fast casual restaurants, correctional facilities, K-12, convenience stores, supermarkets, and more. Alto-Shaam has a huge product selection ranging in size and task and can be found in all different foodservice businesses, large and small. 

    Let us help you find an Alto-Shaam solution for your kitchen. Our team of commercial kitchen experts are available by phone from Monday through Friday 8 AM to 6 PM Central Standard Time. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you find the right unit for your business.

  • Concession Food Trivia


    Image from www.hot-dog.org Image from www.hot-dog.org
    Whether it is nachos or hot dogs at a ball game, cotton candy at the rodeo or carnival, popcorn at the movies, or snow cones at summer festivals, classic concession food never goes out of style! Read on for a few historical tidbits that may surprise you about these trusty staples.


    • NACHOS: Any ideas how these gooey, decadent snacks came about? Or what the significance is behind the name? In 1988, a lady named Adriana P. Orr, a researcher with the Oxford English Dictionary, set out to discover the meaning behind the "nacho." What she found took her all the way back to Piedras Negras, Mexico, in 1943, when a group of army wives first ate nachos at a restaurant called the Viceroy Club. The chef was not at the restaurant, and so the maitre d', Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya, threw together the ingredients that he could muster from the kitchen (cheese, tortilla chips, and jalapenos.) Anaya later called the dish "Nachos Especiales" and the rest is history. Read this article for the full story.

    • COTTON CANDY: This sugary treat carries with it a surprisingly lengthy history! Spun sugar dates back all the way to Italy in the 1400s, when upper class families would enjoy it for dessert. It continued to be made and served throughout Europe over the centuries. Then, in the late 1800s, a European duo by the name of William Morrison and John Wharton created a "Fairy Floss" machine that would take sugar and melt it before turning it into strands. They would then mold the strands to a paper cone for convenient serving. They patented this machine and took boxes of their fairy floss to the St. Louis World Fair in 1904, where the crowds went wild over it. The product wouldn't be coined "Cotton Candy" until the 1920s.

    • HOT DOGS: Historians have long disagreed over the precise moment that hot dogs crossed into American culture, how they came to be served with bread, how they got their name, and how they became the standard at ball parks. Over the years, the stories seemed to tangle. The Germans have been said to be eating frankfurter (or sausage) since the late 1400s! Other stories reference "dachshund" sausages (smaller versions) coming to America through German immigrants in the 1800s. Legend has it that the name "hot dog" came from a cartoonist at the New York Polo grounds who was working a cart selling "red hot dachshund dogs," though he was unable to spell dachshund and printed "hot dogs" instead.

      www.smithsonianmag.com www.smithsonianmag.com
    • POPCORN: America's affinity for salted, buttery popcorn is undeniable and is best seen at your neighborhood movie theater. However, contrary to popular belief, movies and popcorn didn't always go hand in hand. Since the 1840s, popcorn was ubiquitous to American life and entertainment, with the exception of movie theaters. Why, you ask? Most operators didn't want to deal with the trash and mess that popcorn can make or the sounds of people crunching and snacking (in the days of silent film.) Then, around the time of the Great Depression, theater operators saw the treat as a way to boost revenue and sustain their businesses. Needless to say, popcorn and movies would never be apart again.

    • SNOW CONES: On sweltering summer days, there is nothing quite like an icy snow cone to satisfy the soul. These treats debuted at the 1919 State Fair of Texas when Dallas resident Samuel Bert sold them for the first time. That next year, he patented his ice crushing machine. During the Industrial Revolution, wagons would carry blocks of ice from New York to the Southern United States. When they passed through Baltimore, they handed out ice shavings to kids whose families would then flavor them. These "snowballs" as they are called continue to be a tradition in Baltimore today. (FYI: Snow cones have crushed ice and Snowballs have finely shaved ice and oftentimes more syrup!) But perhaps the most well known of all these snowball/snow cone influences is a man named Ernest Hansen of New Orleans. Hansen created the first electric ice-shaving machine called the Hansen Sno-Bliz, and his wife, Mary created all of the syrups to go with it. Their shop first opened in the 1930s and the snowballs are still a massive hit today in the Big Easy! In 2014, the Hansen's were the recipient of an America's Classics award via the James Beard Foundation.
  • Chef Diego Fernandez of Starfish, San Antonio

    Starfish on South Alamo Street, San Antonio Starfish on South Alamo Street, San Antonio

    It's not every day that a father and son have restaurants located on the same street, just a few doors from one another, but such is the case for Rene and Diego Fernandez. The father-son duo are marking the King William neighborhood with new foods and flavors to inspire the ever-changing San Antonio dining set, first with Azuca, and now with the seafood-focused Starfish. The dining experience at Starfish is accented by the beautiful historic building which is filled with wonderful seaside delights, from vibrant paintings to gorgeous glass jellyfish, which dangle from the ceiling. We had the pleasure of talking with Chef Diego who filled us in on his much-buzzed about restaurant, which opened in June 2014. Read on to learn a little more about the Chef's beginnings, inspirations, favorite culinary destinations, and his advice for prospective cooks and restaurateurs! Thank you Chef Diego for sharing!


    From left: Diego Fernandez, wife Maria del Carmen Fernandez and Evan Martinez From left: Diego Fernandez, wife Maria del Carmen Fernandez and Evan Martinez

    When did you first realize you wanted to be a professional chef?
    The first time that I realized that I wanted to be a professional Chef was probably my first day in a professional kitchen. I began working at Azuca as a prep cook at the age of 16.

    Tell us about your career path- where did you start off, what were you doing before? Soon after I started working at Azuca I enrolled at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in San Antonio. I would say the journey started there. During the nine month training at the CIA I was part of  the opening Team as a line cook at the Grand Hyatt. I would wake up early to go to school and get to work right after I got out. After graduating I transferred to Hyde Park , NY and finished my studies there. During a seven month externship at a prestigious boutique restaurant in Cape May, NJ I honed some of the skills and work ethic I carry on today. Under the tutelage of Chef Lucas Manteca i understood more than ever who I wanted to become. Soon after that I traveled to Orlando, FL and worked for three years at the Ritz-Carlton. Much of who I am today is due to the military style brigade they ran at this particular property.

    The interior of Starfish with its historic brick walls, glass jellyfish lights, vibrant art and fish sculpture. The interior of Starfish with its historic brick walls, glass jellyfish lights, vibrant art and fish sculpture.

    It's special that your family has been so incorporated in this line of work, especially with your dad just a few doors down from you at Azuca! What is that like and what can you say about your family-foodservice connection?
    We are beyond blessed to be right next to each other. My father has been the role model, mentor, friend, and now best business partner I could ever imagine. Our relationship at work is just that. I think we both subconsciously leave our titles at the door once we step out through the restaurant doors.  It's a wonderful balance we have. My wife is soon to give birth and so she is no longer cooking at Starfish. During the first few months she would be in charge of all the baking and pastry. Now those roles have been distributed throughout our team. Being a Peruvian national provides me with yet another perspective of the food and beverage world.  All in all the we are there for each other emotionally and professionally.

    Tell us a little bit about Starfish: the title, the concept, and what drew you to creating a seafood-focused menu? Has your love for seafood always been important?
    An actual starfish is able to regenerate a limb if throughout its life it happened to lose one. I believe our menu concept and ideology  is somewhat resemblant. As we continue to grow and change we keep in mind that in order to succeed you may have to lose a limb or two. We have changed our menu about four times in the time that we have been open. We do this to challenge ourselves and continue to evolve as cooks.  I think our love for food in general is a common thread that connects us as a team. Seafood to me is personal. It's an intimate relationship that I grew up with. For most of my childhood there was a body of water within walking distance. Deep down I am biased towards marine life.

    The whole aesthetic at Starfish from the furnishings to the integrity of the building, to the food is really something. What were you trying to achieve?
    Honestly we did not have to do much to the building itself. For one, the building is part of the historic society so you can't do much changing structurally. Secondly, the shape the building was in gave Starfish its persona. As far as the artwork, we connected with several talented artists in San Antonio to give the place its justification, from reclaimed wood acrylic paintings to jellyfish lights hanging below the bar. For me there is a fine line between classy sealife motifs and going “overboard” with fish nets and life savers. We certainly wanted to give the place a sophisticated look yet relaxed ambiance.

    Father / Son Duo: Chef Rene Fernandez and Chef Diego Fernandez Father / Son Duo: Chef Rene Fernandez and Chef Diego Fernandez

    What is your earliest and/or most treasured food memory?
    The first memory that captivated me took place in Puerto Rico. I was probably five years old. My mother took my brother and I to visit my father at the Dorado Hyatt. That day fisherman had caught what was probably an eight to nine foot marlin. We walked into the hotel's back entrance and met my dad in the butcher room. As we were entering he was making the initial cut. The rest is history.

    Could you share some advice for aspiring chefs, students and hopeful restaurateurs?
    To me as a student the most important part was to ask questions. In an age where everything can be found on the internet perhaps current students do not ask as much. Have a notepad with a pen or pencil on you at all times.  If you think for a second about asking a question that you think you should know, whether it concerns a technique, method, history, etc. I can guarantee there are about five more students that are wondering the same thing. When you're working as a paid employee or a commis or stage, be humble, respectful, and quiet. At home, stay in tune with your career choice. Read, explore, and experiment to give yourself the best possible choice to succeed.

    What experiences do you think have shaped you most as a chef?
    There are many to name. But as a whole I could remember one common thread between all of them. The building of a team that has one goal in mind. There is power in that. And after your first couple kitchen experiences you thirst for that feeling. Lastly I would say that I gave myself at least one year at any job before moving on. It's important that as a professional you never burn bridges.

    Where do you see the San Antonio food scene heading and how do you think it stands out in relation to Austin, Corpus, Dallas and Houston?
    Its hard to say about the surrounding major cities because I haven’t visited them in a while. But as for San Antonio, I am very proud to be back in this city. Not only are we NBA champions but the food scene here is progressing every day. I see the food scene being par with any major metropolitan city in the next five years. With outstanding restaurateurs like Andrew Wiseman, Johnny Hernandez, Jason Daddy, Mark Bliss, among many others we have the recipe for a success story.

    One of the bold fish paintings that hangs on the establishment's walls. One of the bold fish paintings that hangs on the establishment's walls.

    What are some of your most prized tools in the back of the house?
    The Vita-Mix is probably one of the more important pieces of equipment that we have. Pots and pans are also important to us. We take good care of these knowing that they will provide our guest with an exceptional end product.

    The Mission Team is very excited to have you all in the neighborhood. Tell us a little bit about the building, being in San Antonio, and what your Southtown/ King William location adds to the experience.
    The building has taken many roles throughout its existence. Originally this location was a hub for paint and sheet rock. The name was Menny’s Paint Shop. For a time it served as a small market which I had the pleasure of visiting many times. Currently, I believe Starfish adds some nostalgia for people who may have lived in other major cities like Chicago, New York, or San Francisco. I’ve had several guests tell me that Starfish reminds them of a previous spot they would go to in one of these cities.

    Which tastemakers, mixologists & foodservice professionals inspire you?
    Heston Blumenthal, Morimmoto, Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Alain Ducasse, Wyle DuFrense, Ferran Adria, Joan Roca, Voltaggio Brothers, just to name a few.

    Can you share with us your favorite culinary destinations?
    There is no other city like New York City to dine in. Probably one of my favorite places. Also Lima, Peru changed my life. The freshness, variety, and application of chefs there is unbelievable. Mexico City is another mecca for humble food origins with an aftermath that makes you want to return.

    A delicious tuna dish accented with flowers. A delicious tuna dish accented with flowers.

    Which places are you’re dying to go and explore for yourself? Any particular dining destinations on your list?
    I really want to go to Spain and Italy. I think I'm half Italian and half Spanish deep down. Mugaritz is one of the restaurants i would love to dine at. Also Noma in Copenhagen.

    Do you have a personal creed or ethos that you live by?
    “Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards.” -unknown-

    Lay out a perfect meal and wine/cocktail pairing for a first timer to Starfish.
    For any first time diners, let me know and we will make a perfect custom meal for you!

    What has been the biggest surprise in your life?
    My wife surprising me with the news of our first baby.

    Any fun quirks you can share about yourself?
    In the mornings when I wake up my hand are raised in the air. Not sure why that happens.

    Lastly, what’s up next for the Starfish team?
    James Beard.

    Starfish is located at 709 S. Alamo Street San Antonio, Texas 78205
    www.starfishsa.com 210-375-4423
    Images courtesy of 10 Best, San Antonio Express News & Starfishsa.com 
  • Food Processing Made Simple With Robot Coupe

    robot_r2nclr_2
    One of the biggest time savers in any kitchen large or small is a food processor. These powerhouses are known and respected across the industry for their extreme time and labor saving capabilities and consistent results. Robot Coupe has made a name for itself in the foodservice industry by manufacturing food processors that exude quality and reliability while delivering great returns on your investment. Perhaps the most popular of their machines is the R2N. Here's everything you need to know about this time-saving unit:


    1. Two In One: The R2N food processor comes with both a 3 quart cutter bowl and a continuous feed vegetable preparation attachment, each designed to fit on one single motor base. The design team at Robot Coupe recognized the importance of maximizing the different preparations common to most foodservice businesses and accomplishing those preparations with one unit. So when you purchase an R2N Food Processor, you're essentially getting two units in one: a bowl unit and a continuous feed unit.
    2. Ergonomics: There are a number of ergonomic attributes on the R2N that make operation easier and more convenient for the end user. For instance, the polycarbonate cutting bowl has a lid designed to quickly add additional ingredients and/or liquids while processing.
    3. Precision: The Robot Coupe R2N has a pulse function/button on the front of the unit that will deliver that extra control and precision-driven performance that you expect from your foodservice equipment.
    4. Versatility: Chopping, grinding, kneading, mixing, pureeing.... these are just a few tasks that can be quickly tackled with a Robot Coupe food processor. The R2N comes standard with a patented stainless steel "S" blade and 2 discs, a 4 mm slicer and a 2 mm grater, which will cover a large range of preparation tasks. However, there are also many add-ons that will make your unit more versatile and will offer different cutting capabilities for your menu demands. (See #9)
    5. Time-Saver: Did you know that in under two minutes this food processor can whip up a homemade bowl of mayonnaise, a steak tartare, or a fruit compote (to name a few)? The investment will pay for itself thanks to the sheer speed in which it gets work done day after day
    6. Sturdiness: The R2N food processor is equipped with a heavy-duty industrial induction motor that is engineered for durability and reliability in rigorous commercial applications. The direct-driven motor is also built on ball bearings for silent operation without vibration, and because there are no belts or brushes, maintenance is minimal! So whether you're preparing ten meals a day or hundreds, Robot Coupe food processors will get the job done.
    7. Space-Saving: The R2N features a slim, compact design that is invaluable for commercial kitchens, which are notoriously short on space. At just over 8 inches wide, the R2N will fit just about anywhere on your countertop, without sacrificing any additional space.
    8. Applications: Robot Coupe's ubiquity to the foodservice market is testament to its quality and proven success in the workplace. Commercial kitchens everywhere, from schools, to hospitals, catering businesses, and restaurants large and small, trust Robot Coupe to deliver high performances and consistent results, while helping to streamline the daily operations, thereby saving time.
    9. Additional Options: In addition to the two discs that come standard with your R2N purchase, there are over 20 discs that can be purchased additionally to add to the range of cuts and techniques out there. There are also two different blades that can be purchased including a coarse serrated "S" blade, used to knead and grind, and a fine serrated "S" blade, which is used to chop fine, leafy produce. Finally, there are also different bowl types available for you, including a clear polycarbonate, a grey polycarbonate and a stainless steel option.
    10. ETL & UL LISTED: This Robot Coupe food processor is ETL and UL listed meaning it has met the rigorous safety specifications set by two of the industry's largest and most respected certifying and testing agencies.
    Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 12.52.00 AM
    Invest in a machine that has transformed the foodservice industry and saved operators significant time and money over the years. Should you have any questions or if you simply want to learn more, please call us at 1-800-319-0690 from Monday through Friday 8 AM to 6 PM (CST) and let one of our agents help you! Many of our Robot Coupe machines are now also available for financing!

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