Author Archives: Chris Collins

  • Knife Buying Guide

    Executive chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, culinary students, housewives, and just about anyone that's ever prepared a meal all have something in common: the tools they use in the kitchen. Most novices, at-home cooks, and even respected chefs don't need the expensive specialty tools sold at high end outlets to whip-up a meal. If every executive chef in the US were asked to pick the three tools they use most often during the course of their work day I'd be willing to bet one tool would find itself on every single list: a knife. Obviously, the shape and size of the knives would vary, but the fact is kitchen knives are one of the most essential culinary tools. That being said, it's important to pick the right knife for the job. FORGED KNIVES VS STAMPED KNIVES: Forging is a method that involves heating steel or steel alloy at extremely high temperatures then setting and hammering the steel into a desired blade shape. Once the steel is forged into a blade it's heat-treated, ground, polished and sharpened. The end result is generally a thicker and heavier blade that's able to retain its sharpness longer while remaining properly balanced. Stamped knives are "stamped" or cut out of sheets of rolled steel. Although stamped knives are lighter and more affordable, they lack the quality and balance of forged blades and usually need to be sharpened more frequently. DIFFERENT STYLES:
    Mundial Chef's Knives CHEF'S AND COOK'S KNIVES:
    • All-purpose knife
    • Vary in size (6-12 inches in length), 8 inch being the most popular
    • Wide, curved edge ideal for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing
    Mundial Paring Knives PARING KNIVES:
    • All-purpose knife
    • Vary in size (usually 2-4 inches in length) and style (sheep's foot, spear point, chef's style, clip point, tourné)
    • Smaller size ideal for garnishing and peeling
    Mundial Utility Knives UTILITY KNIVES:
    • All-purpose knife
    • Between paring and chef's knives in size (6-7 inches generally most popular)
    • Useful when cutting non-solid fruits and vegetables, like oranges and tomatoes
    Mundial Santokus SANTOKUS:
    • Commonly referred to as the "Asian Chef's Knife"
    • All-purpose knife generally lighter, shorter (5-7 inches in length), and thinner than chef's knives
    • Straighter, more blunted edge ideal for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing
    Mundial Slicers SLICERS:
    • Primarily used for cutting and slicing meats
    • Long and narrow knife (usually 8-14 inches in length), often has a rounded tip
    • Long, flexible blade makes it easy to cut meat into thin slices
    Mundial Boning Knives BONING KNIVES:
    • Used to separate bones from meat
    • Narrow blade (4 to 8 inches in length), either flexible or stiff
    • Flexible boning knives are great for fish and poultry, while stiff boning knives are better suited for beef and pork
    Mundial Bread Knives BREAD KNIVES:
    • Serrated knife used to slice loafed bread or food with a hard outer surface and a soft center
    • Shorter and heavier than a slicer (6 to 12 inches in length)
    Mundial Butcher Knives BUTCHER KNIVES AND CIMETERS:
    • Suitable for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing meats, as well as trimming and cutting joints
    • Long, wide knife with a breaking blade (8 to 12 inches in length)
    Mundial Oyster Knives OYSTER KNIVES:
    • Used to pry open oysters
    • Short knife (3 to 4 inches) with blunted edge and tip
    Mundial Cleavers CLEAVERS:
    • Used to cut through and split bones
    • Thick, heavy blade is rectangular in shape and very stiff
    • Light-duty "Chinese Cleavers" are similar in shape but aren't intended for the same use

    Choosing the correct knife for different culinary duties usually isn't difficult. Obviously, it makes more sense to use a large chef's knife to slice a watermelon than it does to use a small paring knife! There are other things to consider when choosing the right knife, though. The blade of a knife is extremely important, but the handle can't be overlooked when deciding which knife to purchase.

    Food-borne illness is a genuine scare in the food service industry so cleanliness keeps the doors of restaurants, bars, hotels, and other eateries open for business. An easy way to avoid contamination and keep the health department happy is to use knives with anti-microbial handles. These handles act as a safeguard against the growth and spread of microorganisms. Although there are a number of materials used for knife handles, in the food service industry it's absolutely necessary to use a handle that's going to reduce the risk of food related infection.

    For more information on knives for your food service establishment, visit Mission Restaurant Supply!

  • The Benefits of Filtering Your Fryer Oil

    Although most restaurants have become more conscious of adding healthy menu items or offering fewer dishes perceived as unhealthy, you'll still find deep fried entrees on the carte du jour. It's hard to resist a heaping mound of crispy, golden french fries or beer-battered southern fried chicken! If you have a hamburger on the menu more often than not it's accompanied by some form of deep fried goodness. It doesn't take a lot to make fried fish or onion rings taste delicious but it also doesn't take much for them to taste inedible either. The number one priority of restaurant owners and operators is to make sure the customer is satisfied with their meal when they leave. Their second priority is keeping food and operating costs low. The oil used in deep fryers is not only responsible for making fried food mouthwatering, it's also a HUGE operating expense. To ensure the flavor of fried food is never compromised and the cost of shortening remains low, it's absolutely necessary to filter your oil! We've already established the importance of filtering your fryer oil: assuring food quality and reducing operating costs. But what choices are there for filtering?

    Grease

    The least expensive way to filter oil is to use a grease filter cone rack. These are perfect for restaurants and bars that only have a few fried items on their menu. All that's needed is a grease filter cone rack, grease filter cones, and a large stock pot. To filter the oil, insert a grease filter cone into the rack and then place the rack on top of the stock pot. Fryers have a drain valve in front of the unit. Attach a separate hose or over-flow pipe to the drain valve and gradually let the oil run through the filter cone into the stock pot. The paper filter cone will collect crumbs and food particles that can cause unwanted taste transfers. By reducing the number of contaminants in your shortening you'll also maximize the life of your oil. Not only will your fried food taste better, you'll also get more use out of your expensive oil!

    Portable

    For high volume restaurants that primarily offer fried menu items it's probably necessary to buy a portable fryer filter machine. When using a fryer filter machine you simply roll the low-profile, portable unit under the fryer's drain valve and slowly drain the oil from the fryer into the filter. Once the oil has been filtered, a return hose pumps the oil from the filter back into the fryer's vat. There are also fryers that have built-in filtration systems installed by the manufacturer but they are often expensive and unnecessary for Mom and Pop restaurants. Of course, oil has to be replaced regularly; but to enhance the taste of your fried food and reduce operating expenses it's important to filter your oil weekly if not daily. For more information about fryers, portable fryer filter machines, and grease filter cone racks visit Mission Restaurant Supply!
  • Hoshizaki America, Inc. Ice Usage Guide

    If you live in North America you've undoubtedly become accustom to having ice in most, if not all, of your beverages. Nobody wants to drink hot tea, or any other hot beverage for that matter, when it's reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside! A cold glass of just about anything on a blistering summer day is what patrons expect when they enter a bar or restaurant. That being said, it's important to know how much ice your foodservice establishment should have on hand. Below is an Ice Usage Guide from Hoshizaki America's website that will give you a better idea of your ice needs: Restaurant: 2 lbs. per person Cocktails: 3 lbs. per seat Water Glass: 4 oz. per 10 oz. glass Salad Bar: 30 lbs. per cubic foot Quick Service: 5 oz. per 7-12 oz. cup 8 oz. per 12-16 oz. cup 12 oz. per 16-24 oz. cup Buying the right ice maker for your bar or restaurant doesn't have to be frustrating. Of course, you don't want to choose an ice maker that's too small; but most places won't require 1000 pounds of ice each day either. Hoshizaki America's Ice Usage Guide makes it easy to select the right commercial ice machine for your application. For information about Hoshizaki commercial ice machines visit Mission Restaurant Supply!
  • Commercial Refrigeration Maintenance: Cleaning Your Condenser

    Buying restaurant equipment is no different than buying a new car. Once you drive off the lot there are certain things that need to be done regularly to keep your car from breaking down. Every 3,000 miles the oil needs to be changed. Tire pressure should be checked frequently. The air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced after a while. Although commercial refrigerators don't have radiators to flush or windshield wiper blades to replace, there is a certain amount of preventative maintenance that needs to be done to ensure they don't fail. Service companies are more than happy to stop by your restaurant and "fix" the problem. They're also more than happy to give you the bill for their service. To avoid product loss, lost sales, and staggering service bills the condenser must be cleaned regularly! • Unplug your commercial refrigerator so there isn't any electrical power. • Depending on whether the condenser is mounted on the bottom or top of the refrigerator, remove any protective housing or louvered grills. You'll need a screw driver for this step. • You'll probably see dirt and dust on the condenser coil. Using a brush or a vacuum, remove any visible debris. Compressed air can also be used to blow out debris. • Once all of the debris has been removed replace the protective housing or louvered grill and plug the unit back in. No matter how clean your commercial kitchen is your condenser will inevitably accumulate dirt and dust particles. If too much debris from the air is pulled through the condenser it can lead to a failed compressor. By cleaning the condenser monthly you'll be able to avoid those expensive service bills and even lower your electric bill! For more information about True Manufacturing commercial refrigeration visit Mission Restaurant Supply!
  • Ways to Combat Foodborne Illness

    Proper food handling and preparation play a major role in preventing the spread of foodborne illness. Bacteria and microbes are often introduced to food by human contact and cross contamination. In order to avoid the dangers of food infection, the following food safety steps should be implemented and practiced in every commercial kitchen:

    Cutting Board Chart

    With the help of San Jamar's original Kolor-Cut® system, food preparation of different types of food can be monitored safely. And when each cutting board is coupled with a matching knife the possibility of cross-contamination is significantly reduced! Below is an informative video from San Jamar explaining the benefits of their Cut-N-Carry® Cutting Board Systems:

    For great deals on San Jamar Cut-N-Carry® Cutting Boards and matching anti-microbial chef's and cook's knives visit Mission Restaurant Supply!

  • Food Storage Guide

    Storing food and other food products at the correct temperature may prevent food-borne illness but it can also increase the shelf life of certain items. Here's a useful guide for properly storing food so it stays fresher for longer! 32 DEGREES IDEAL -- STORE IN BACK OF COOLER:
    ITEM TEMP. STORAGE
    Apples* 31-32 Avoid excess movement. Do not rinse.
    Broccoli 32-35 Store in covered box with drain shelf.
    Cabbage 32-35 Leave wrapper leaves on. Store covered.
    Cantaloupe* 38-42 Ripen at room temperature.
    Carrots 32-35 Do not wash until ready to serve.
    Cauliflower 32-35 Briefly store in single layers.
    Celery 32-35 Keep covered and sprinkle with water.
    Corn 32-34 Allow good air flow.
    Grapes* 32-40 Air circulation causes wrinkling. Store only briefly.
    Lettuce 32-35 Store tightly with drain shelf or colander.
    Mushrooms* 34-40 Put in cooler immediately. Keep dry.
    Oranges*(FL) 32-35 Need good air circulation.
    Peaches 32 Store at 65-70 until ripened.
    Pears* 32-35 Store at 60-65 until ripened.
    Radishes 32 Rinse, remove tops, and drain before storing in covered containers.
    Strawberries 32-35 Do not wash or trim before storing. Store only briefly.
    45-55 DEGREES IDEAL -- STORE IN WARMEST PART OF COOLER OR COOLEST PART OF KITCHEN:
    ITEM TEMP. STORAGE
    Avocados* 40-45 Handle gently. Ripen at room temperature.
    Cucumbers 45-50 Do not wash or sprinkle with water.
    Lemons* 45-50 Absorbs odors easily.
    Onions 45-50 Keep cool, dry and ventilated.
    Oranges*(CA) 45-50 Proper rotation will maintain good fruit.
    Peppers 45-50 Very susceptible to chill damage.
    Pineapple 45-50 Won't ripen after harvest. Handle gently.
    Squash 40-55 Soft shell cooler than hard shell.
    55-65 DEGREES IDEAL -- STORE IN COOLEST PART OF KITCHEN. DO NOT REFRIGERATE.:
    ITEM TEMP. STORAGE
    Bananas* 56-60 Do not refrigerate.
    Potatoes 60-70 Store in dark area. Cooler temperatures cause accumulation of sugar.
    Tomatoes* 55-65 Keep out of direct sunlight.
    Watermelons 50-60 Store green side up. Cut pieces should be stored in the cooler.
    REFRIGERATOR TEMPERATURE RANGE: DOOR(FRONT) -- 40-45 DEGREES Melons Citrus Cantaloupe Pineapple Green Beans Cucumbers Eggplant Avocados Red potatoes Peppers Summer Squash MIDDLE -- 35-39 DEGREES Squash Zucchini Sprouts Green Onions Herbs Pears Parsley BACK -- 33-35 DEGREES Artichokes Asparagus Broccoli Carrots Cauliflower Celery Cherries Grapes Peaches Radishes Apples Apricots Blueberries Cabbage Corn Kiwi Leaf Lettuce Mushrooms Strawberries ******WHAT IS ETHYLENE GAS?****** Items marked with an asterisk (*) produce ethylene gas, an active plant hormone required for the ripening process. While this is good in certain quantities, some produce can be damaged by ethylene gas exposure, especially leafy vegetables. Be sure to arrange your produce carefully!
  • Equipment Care and Cleaning Tips

    Cleaning your commercial restaurant equipment is necessary if you want to keep your doors open for business. Not only are health inspectors constantly breathing down the necks of food service operators, but restaurant patrons also know when a kitchen isn't meeting code thanks to local news reports and other inside sources. When it's time to clean restaurant equipment more often than not people don't use the correct cleaners or solvents for the job. Using abrasive, chlorine based cleaners can cause serious damage to equipment. Here's a a few tips to ensure cleanliness while also avoiding premature deterioration of your stainless steel equipment! CLEANING STAINLESS STEEL EQUIPMENT: 1. USE THE PROPER TOOLS: Make sure you use non-abrasive tools like soft towels and plastic scouring pads. 2. CLEAN WITH THE POLISH LINES: Always scrub in a motion that is parallel to the stainless steel grain. 3. USE ALKALINE, ALKALINE CHLORINATED OR NON-CHLORIDE CONTAINING CLEANERS: Chlorides can cause your stainless steel to pit and rust. 4. TREAT HARD WATER IF POSSIBLE: Softening hard water will reduce deposits that can be corrosive. 5. RINSE, RINSE, RINSE: Rinse thoroughly and wipe dry immediately. ***AVOID USING: STEEL PADS, WIRE BRUSHES AND SCRAPERS*** WHEN CLEANING VINYL CLAD, GALVANIZED, AND ALUMINUM SURFACES: Use soap and warm water to clean these sensitive surfaces.
  • Standard Weights, Measures, & Temperatures

    Whether they want to admit it or not, even the most experienced chefs forget simple things like standard weights and measurement conversions from time to time. Don't feel bad if you don't remember how many tablespoons are in a cup or how many ounces are in a pound. You're not alone! Below are a few useful tables that will ensure you don't ruin any meals because you added too much salt or didn't set the oven to the right temperature! Click on a link below to be directed to the correct table: Basic Liquid Equivalents Liquid Capacity Dry Capacity Household Capacity Disher Capacity Ice Cream Scoops Boiling Temperatures of Water at Various Altitudes Oven Temperatures BASIC LIQUID EQUIVALENTS:
    Dash less than 1/8 teaspoon
    3 teaspoons 1 tablespoon
    4 tablespoons 1/4 cup
    5-1/3 tablespoons 1/3 cup
    8 tablespoons 1/2 cup
    10-2/3 tablespoons 2/3 cup
    12 tablespoons 3/4 cup
    14 tablespoons 7/8 cup
    16 tablespoons 1 cup
    1 cup 1/2 pint (8 fl. ounces)
    2 cups 1 pint (16 fl. ounces)
    2 pints 1 quart (32 fl. ounces)
    4 quarts 1 gallon (128 fl. ounces)
    16 oz. 1 pound (dry weight)
    LIQUID CAPACITY:
    LITER
    1 gill 7.219 cu. in. 0.1183
    4 gills 1 pint 28.2875 cu. in. 0.4732
    2 pints 1 quart 57.75 cu. in. 0.9463
    4 quarts 1 gallon 231 cu. in. 3.7853
    31.5 gallons 1 barrel liquid 119.24
    42 gallons 1 barrel petrol 158.98
    DRY CAPACITY:
    LITER
    1 pint 33.6 cu. in. 0.5506
    2 pints 1 quart 67.2 cu. in. 1.1012
    8 quarts 1 peck 537.6 cu. in. 8.8096
    4 pecks 1 bushel 2150.4 cu. in. 35.238
    1 barrel 7056 cu. in. 115.62
    HOUSEHOLD CAPACITY:
    1 teaspoon 1/8 fl. oz.
    3 teaspoons 1 tablespoon 1/2 fl. oz.
    16 tablespoons 1 cup 8 fl. oz.
    2 cups 1 pint 16 fl. oz.
    2 pints 1 quart 32 fl. oz.
    4 quarts 1 gallon 128 fl. oz.
    DISHER CAPACITY: Find great deals on serving dishers at Mission Restaurant Supply!
    COLOR DISHER SIZE BOWL DIA. FLUID OZ. WT. OZ. PATTIES/ LB. SCOOPS/ GAL. EQUIV.
    White 6 3" 4.66 4.86 3 16 2/3 Cup
    Grey 8 2-3/4" 3.64 3.80 3-1/2 22 1/2 Cup
    Ivory 10 2-5/8" 3.19 3.33 4 24 5/8 Cup
    Green 12 2-1/2" 2.78 2.90 5 26 1/3 Cup
    Blue 16 2-1/4" 2.07 2.16 6-8 35 1/4 Cup
    Yellow 20 2-1/8" 1.77 1.84 9-10 42 3+ Tbsp.
    Red 24 2" 1.49 1.56 11-12 51 2-2/3 Tbsp.
    Black 30 1-3/4" 1.03 1.07 13-14 62 2+ Tbsp.
    Orchid 40 1-1/2" .68 .70 15-16 70 1-1/2 Tbsp.
    ICE CREAM SCOOPS: Find great deals on ice cream scoops at Mission Restaurant Supply!
    SIZE EQUIVALENT SCOOPS/QUART
    No. 6 2/3 Cup 3-5
    No. 8 1/2 Cup 5-7
    No. 10 5/8 Cup 7-8
    No. 12 1/3 Cup 7-10
    No. 16 1/4 Cup 10-13
    No. 20 3+ Tbsp. 14-17
    No. 24 2-2/3 Tbsp. 17-20
    No. 30 2+ Tbsp. 21-25
    No. 40 1-1/2 Tbsp. 25-28
    BOILING TEMPERATURES OF WATER AT VARIOUS ALTITUDES:
    Sea Level 212 degrees F 100 degrees C
    2,000 ft. 208.4 degrees F 98.4 degrees C
    5,000 ft. 203 degrees F 95 degrees C
    7,500 ft. 198.4 degrees F 92.4 degrees C
    OVEN TEMPERATURES: Find great deals on oven thermometers at Mission Restaurant Supply!
    Slow 250-300 degrees F
    Slow-Moderate 325 degrees F
    Moderate 350-375 degrees F
    Moderately Hot 400 degrees F
    Hot 425-450 degrees F
  • Stainless Steel Flatware 101

    Have you ever wondered what differentiated 18/0, 18/8, and 18/10 stainless steel flatware? Flatware is just flatware and stainless steel is just stainless steel, right? Actually, the decor of your food service establishment, the price of your menu items, and most importantly your budget will determine the quality of the stainless steel flatware you purchase. You may never serve French cuisine at a chic bistro but it's still important to know the grade of your stainless steel flatware. 18/10 STAINLESS STEEL FLATWARE: The 18 stands for 18% chrome and the 10 stands for 10% nickel. 18/10 stainless steel flatware is the standard in Europe and represents the heaviest and usually most expensive flatware available. The higher nickel content adds a luster similar to silver and helps resist corrosion and staining. 18/8 STAINLESS STEEL FLATWARE: Similar to 18/10 stainless steel flatware, 18/8 stainless steel flatware has slightly less nickel and is very popular in the United States. 18/8 stainless steel flatware feels great in your hand but doesn't cost quite as much as 18/10 stainless steel flatware. 18/0 STAINLESS STEEL FLATWARE: 18/0 stainless steel flatware doesn't contain any nickel, making it the lightest and least expensive. You'll be able to use a magnetic retrieval system with 18/0 stainless steel flatware because all 18% chrome patterns are magnetic, but your pocket book won't hurt too bad if some of your flatware gets thrown away! Although 18/0 stainless steel flatware is the most economical choice, there are still heavier patterns available. For great deals on stainless steel flatware shop at Mission Restaurant Supply!
  • Need Help Sizing Your Tablecloths?

    Picking the right tablecloth color or pattern can be a daunting task. There seem to be so many options for someone looking to liven up their dining area. Do I want a bright and colorful look? Maybe something more muted and neutral? Making those decisions seems like a breeze for most people once they realize they have to choose the right tablecloth size. You don't have to recall your high school geometry class to accurately size your tablecloths. Sizing your tablecloths is easy!
    • It's important to know the size of your tabletops because that's the biggest factor in accurately sizing your tablecloths.
    • Once you've got your tabletop measurements it's time to decide how long you want the tablecloth "drop" to be. The drop is the length of tablecloth that's going to hang over each side of your table. This can be tricky because everyone's opinion differs but a safe drop length is between 8 and 12 inches on each side. If you're going for a more formal look the drop length should increase to 29 inches, assuming your table height is a standard 30 inches.
    • It's also a good idea to factor in a few more inches because some tablecloths have a tendency to shrink after they're washed.
    ROUND TABLECLOTHS:
    Table Sizes 12" Drop 29" Drop
    24"R 48"R 84"R
    30"R 54"R 90"R
    36"R 60"R 96"R
    48"R 72"R 108"R
    60"R 84"R 120"R
    72"R 96"R 132"R

    SQUARE TABLECLOTHS:

    Table Sizes 12" Drop 29" Drop
    24" X 24"SQ 48" X 48"SQ 84" X 84"SQ
    30" X 30"SQ 54" X 54"SQ 90" X 90"SQ
    36" X 36"SQ 60" X 60"SQ 96" X 96"SQ
    48" X 48"SQ 72" X 72"SQ 108" X 108"SQ
    60" X 60"SQ 84" X 84"SQ 120" X 120"SQ
    72" X 72"SQ 96" X 96"SQ 132" X 132"SQ

    OBLONG TABLECLOTHS:

    Table Sizes 12" Drop 29" Drop
    6' Banquet Table 60" X 108" 90" X 132"
    8' Banquet Table 60" X 120" 90" X 156"

    TABLE SKIRTING:

    Table Sizes 3 Sides Full Coverage
    6' Banquet Table 11' 17'
    8' Banquet Table 13' 21'
    36"R N/A 10'
    48"R N/A 13'
    60"R N/A 16'
    72"R N/A 19'

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