• Preparing for a Restaurant Grand Opening

    If you are new to the restaurant business you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. No matter how ready you feel for the big day when you finally open your doors to the public you may not realize that you actually have a lot more work to do. You will be competing with huge franchises as well as small family-owned restaurants that have been around for years and have a strong reputation. There is nothing wrong with being too prepared. Here is a simple guide to being ready for your restaurant's grand opening.

    Make Sure That You Have Well-Practiced Chefs and Cooks

    Nothing is worse than having multiple individuals in your kitchen that have their own cooking styles and habits. The minute your chefs and line cooks step into your restaurant they should have a strong understanding that the food will be prepared to your liking and that everyone must prepare it the exact same way. Consistency with your food keeps people coming back because they expect to get the dish they loved the time before. If there are any flaws or changes, the patron will notice and most likely they won't return. Your cooks and chefs should be well-versed in the recipes, serving sizes, cooking styles, and flavors of the dishes on your menu, and should be tested until there is consistency across the board.

    Prep Your Servers, Bartenders, and Hosts

    Your hosts should have a general idea of what food you serve and certain menu items to suggest to guests, especially appetizers. Simply by mentioning that the patron would love a certain dish will most likely result in more sales. Your servers should not only be able to suggest dishes, they should know what their favorite items are, what all of the ingredients are (in case of food allergies), and be able to suggest a drink that would go great with the meal. Your bartenders need to take it one step further. They need to know a lot of information about your specialty drinks and wines. Knowledge of good wines means selling more expensive wines by the glass and bottle, which results in much higher revenue. Sales from the bar can be most lucrative. Lastly, make sure that all of your staff works together and helps each guest individually.

    Marketing is Key

    Not only do you need to know how to market your restaurant, but you also need to know where and who to market to. Most likely there is a magazine or newspaper in your town that features certain restaurants, especially if they are asked to come to your grand opening and be a special guest. Marketing for others will create allies and will greatly help your reputation just by word of mouth. Know what kind of crowd you want to market to and what part of town would be the best to reach out to (at least in the beginning).

    Plan a "Soft Opening"

    Soft openings are a great way to bring attention and new guests to your restaurant. The idea is to have a special event before you open your doors to the public for those individuals that helped your restaurant in some way or will be able to help your restaurant in the future. This includes wine reps, liquor reps, important figures or officials in your city, journalists, and family members of your employees. Family members will be the most likely to bring in more guests with them the next time they come and journalists will be grateful and willing to write you a wonderful review. This event also allows you to work out last minute kinks with your food or presentation (even though there really shouldn't be any at this point) and make your staff feel more comfortable about the big day.

    Plan Future Events

    Other than your soft opening, your grand opening is your first opportunity to market your restaurant even more. Planning events that will be taking place at your restaurant in the near future will prompt guests to make plans to return. Some ideas for this are hosting a wine dinner where your food is paired with some of your delicious wines, having a food tasting where guests can try small samples of certain items (drinks not included so you can make a profit), and offering to cater private events at a discounted rate to guests that plan to book their events before a certain date.

    EXTRA TIPS:

    - Make sure to have a take-home menu for guests, starting with your soft opening. They need to be able to study your menu before returning and it will allow them to work up a craving for something new. - Plan events that will make guests feel like it is free, but where you are making some kind of profit. Offer free food with a cash bar or a few free drinks with the purchase of a meal. - Have a food tasting with your entire staff so that describing the items is a breeze for them. - Introducing your head chef and managers to guests will make them feel important and they will want to become regulars at your establishment.
  • 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.
  • 9 Tips for Keeping Buffet-Style Food Safe

    Never leave perishable foods sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours.

    Never

    Buffets are an easy and popular way to serve food at parties. However, if food is left out for long periods, bacteria that cause foodborne illness can become an issue. Bacteria are everywhere, and unlike microorganisms that cause food to spoil, disease-causing bacteria cannot usually be smelled or tasted. Prevention is key, and the best way to prevent foodborne illness is to practice safe food handling. 1. Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Keep kitchen, dishes and utensils clean as well. 2. Cook foods thoroughly. If cooking foods ahead of time, be sure to cook them thoroughly to safe minimum internal temperatures: Beef steaks & roasts should be cooked to 160° F (medium) Pork chops & roasts should be cooked to 160° F (medium) Poultry (turkey/chicken) should be cooked to at least 165° F 3. Keep food hot in the oven (set at 200° - 250° F) or cold in the refrigerator until just before serving. 4. If foods need to be warmed, reheat them to at least 165° F. 5. Hot foods should be held at 140° F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays on the buffet table to keep foods warm. 6. Cold foods should be held at 40° F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. 7. Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. 8. Always serve food on clean plates. Replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food in it. 9. Don't let foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard any perishable foods that have been sitting out for two hours or more. Post By: NSF International 789 N. Dixboro Road, P.O. Box 130140, Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0140 Consumer Hotline: 1-888-99-SAFER Website: www.nsf.org
  • 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

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