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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Griddle Shopping? Here's what to look for:

Vulcan MSA36 Gas Griddle

Vulcan MSA36 Gas Griddle

Take a look in most food service kitchens and you'll most likely find a commercial griddle.  They're as commonplace, and as necessary as a refrigerator or stove.  Nearly anything that can be cooked in a pan can also be cooked on a griddle -- pancakes, bacon, eggs, grilled sandwiches and more. 

With the updated Energy Star specs released in 2009 and the revised specs for electric griddles, released in 2011, manufacturers have been improving griddles energy efficiency to meet the new specs, also improving their performance.  If you're in the market for a new griddle, the chances are you'll not only end up with a model that saves you money, but it will also outperform your older model. 

Like other pieces of equipment, those made with heavy-duty materials tend to last the longest and the more solidly constructed your griddle is the longer it will provide you with trouble free performance. Here's what to look for if you're in the market for a new Griddle:
  • Griddle Surface -- not only does the thickness of the surface matter, but the material does too.  Typically you will choose one of these:
    •  Mild Steel which is durable but porous, so foods will stick more easily ad it will be more difficult to clean
    • Polished Stainless which is easier to clean because it is more reflective and less porous than mild steel and it is also pretty durable
    • Chrome-plated griddles are the smoothest of all cooking surfaces so they are a breeze to clean and they are relatively non-stick making this the easiest to clean option, it is also the most expensive, but you will save on labor.
  • Construction -- you'll want the parts that come most into play when you are cooking; the front, sides, splash guards, grease trough and drip drawer, to be made out of stainless.  Some manufacturers will use aluminized or galvanized steel for bottoms and back to reduce expenses.  Make sure that the frames are fully welded aluminized steel and check to be sure the entire seam of the splash guard is welded, not spot welded.
  • Splash Guards -- heights on the back and side splash guards will vary from model to model and brand to brand.  Higher is safer and cleaner. 
  • Grease Trough  -- generally, you will find the grease trough in front, but there are models available with this feature on the side.  The grease tough is usually 1inch deep, but the width varies from 2 to 4 inches. 
  • Drip Drawer -- The drip drawer or container should be easy to remove and it should have a sizable capacity so that you don't have to empty it frequently.  Also make sure that the drain from the grease trough to the drip drawer is easily accessible and large enough to handle significant amounts of excess grease. 
Cook's Direct carries a wide variety of gas griddles and electric griddles in our restaurant equipment offering.  For questions about any specific model you can contact our sales team.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What's hot for 2014? BBQ, Asian Small plates and more!

All things BBQ is one of the 2014 Trends
Have you seen the current trends impacting foodservice in 2014?  Technomic released its latest report indicating that it’s all about BBQ, Asian small plates, fancy non-alcoholic beverages, and less choices on a menu.   

Having just returned from our local Ribfest, I can attest to overall love of BBQ foods.  What’s new and trending is using BBQ flavors on sandwiches and other menu items to blend a traditional entree with BBQ flavors.   

Dim Sum style Asian plates are growing in popularity.  Big flavor in small bites makes this type of dish perfect for an appetizer for a table to be shared.  

I have noticed lately the number of tea shops opening in my town as well as the new assortment of fancy beverages offered.  And, I don’t mean Arnold Palmers or Blueberry lemonades from Red Robin.  Smoothies with tapioca balls, beet juice smoothies, and homemade sodas are becoming more common than ever.  

And lastly, if you are like me, the paradox of choice when reading a menu creates a difficult decision on what to have for dinner.  I welcome smaller menus that are more focused and more likely to have great food choices rather than more “ok” choices.  I think these trends are  consistent with how I eat and dine out and I agree 100%

Jeff Breeden - guest blogger, CEO, Cook's Direct

Monday, July 7, 2014

Check Out the Newest KitchenAid Mixer Accessories

KitchenAid Stand MixerMost people would agree, that if any brand of stand mixer can be considered iconic - it would be KitchenAid.  The popularity of the KitchenAid brand is because it's a high quality product, known for it's reliability.  You can also do a wide variety of tasks in your kitchen with your KitchenAid - in part because of all the different accessories.  Here's a short list of most popular new KitchenAid mixer attachments that we have at Cook's Direct:

KitchenAid KGM All Metal Grain Mill -- grinds wheat, oats, corn, rice and other low-moisture, low-oil grains.  Step up the freshness factor in your cooking with this accessory by incorporating freshly milled grains to your baked goods.Works with all models of KitchenAid Stand Mixers.

KitchenAid KN3CW 3-Quart Bowl Combi-Whip -- looking to whip small batches of cream or egg whites, then this is for you!  The smaller 3-quart size makes this perfect for single batches of toppings, fillings, batter or cooking dough.  It is also ideal to have an extra bowl around for any multistage food preparation. Designed exclusively for select 5- and 6-Quart Bowl-lift stand mixers.

KitchenAid FVSFGA Fruit and Vegetable Strainer Set -- Easy to use and easy to clean, this fruit and vegetable strainer works with all models of KitchenAid mixers.  It attaches right to your mixer and uses the help of the food grinder to break down ingredients, while the strainer cone removes any peels, leaving you with finely pureed fruits and vegetables.

KitchenAid K5GBF 5-Qt. Tilt-Head Frosted Glass Bowl -- Elegant looking and practical, this bowl is microwave and freezer safe.  The frosted glass bowl features a convenient pouring spout and easy-to-read, graduated measurement markings.  It fits the 5-Quart Tilt-head Stand Mixer models; KSM150PS, KSM152PS and KSM155GB.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

4th of July - Hot Dog Holiday!

Happy 4th of July! 

We're all getting ready to celebrate Independence Day here at Cook's and hope that you are too.  And what better way to celebrate than a cook-out with Burgers and Hot Dogs? Independence Day is the biggest holiday for the Hot Dog  -- more than 155 million hot dogs will be eaten on the 4th of July holiday, According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council.  Who would have figured? While you probably know that Cook's Direct is the best place to go for your hot dog equipment and other concession equipment, you may not know that Nathan's Famous in Coney Island is the best place to go for a Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Check out the video from last year's 4th of July event where Joe Chestnut set a new World Record - finishing 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes:

Enjoy the holiday and be safe!  From all of us at Cook's. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bottled vs. Tap – how are you meeting your customers' preferences?

Do you remember the days before bottled water?   

Once upon a time, everyone drank their water from a tap.  Bottled water, as a product, has been around for about 40 years and with only a slight decline during the recession years of 2008 and 2009, sales just keep increasing.  It is now the second largest commercial beverage category by volume in the US, with the majority of it being sourced domestically.   Bottled water sales, in fact, are growing twice as fast as the economy itself. 
But even with the continued growth, many restaurants are seeing customers increasingly reconsider the selection of bottled water and choosing tap water.  As sustainability grows in importance, consumers are evaluating their choices in light of their environmental implications and returning to the tap.  In fact, several universities across the US and Canada – including Washington University, DePauw University, Harvard’s School of Public Health and Loyola University, have banned bottled water sales on campus, often under pressure from student organizations. 
Yet, all tap water isn’t created equal.  While tap water is regulated for safety by the EPA, the mineral content which can add taste or smell to your water is generally based on your location and water source.  In fact, this year’s “Bestof the Best” Tap Water Taste Test winner was Boston – and their secret ingredient?  Watershed protection.  The Quabbin and Wachusetts reservoirs to Boston’s west are the sources of Boston’s largely pristine water. 
But if your operation is not in Boston, how can you ensure great tasting tap water?  Depending on the specific concerns regarding your tap water, commercial-grade water filters are available that use many different technologies, including calcite/carbon blends, Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), hexametaphosphate crystals, KDF media, UV light and reverse osmosis.  These technologies use different techniques to remove particles or kill germs, and some are more effective for certain filtering needs than others.  Whatever technology the filter uses, the most important information for you to know is whether the particular product you are using is appropriate to filter the substances you want to remove. 
Other factors to consider when purchasing a filter include the capacity of the filter, water efficiency (reverse osmosis filters are less water efficient than carbon filters), and hidden costs, such as installation maintenance, and replacement filter costs.  In addition, many filters are sold specifically for use with restaurant equipment such as ice makers, coffee makers, steamers, etc. 
Some research may be necessary to determine what water filter is best to suit your restaurant’s needs.  You can always contact your restaurant equipment dealer for assistance.  We work with Everpure, Watts, Hoshizaki, Manitowoc’s Arctic Pure, and several other brands of filters.  Depending on your specific needs, there's sure to be a filtration system that will allow you to serve tap water that tastes great and add to your eco-friendly practices.