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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gifts for the Professional Chef

We're all searching for the right gift for our friends and loved ones right now.  Is there a professional chef on your list?  If so, then we can help you with our Gifts Guide - Gifts for the Professional Chef which includes great gift ideas starting as low as $30!

One of the most important kitchen tools for the professional chef are their knives.  Good cutlery is critically important.  We recommend Mercer Cutlery, which is used in culinary academies across the country - our favorite is the Mercer 7-piece Forged Knife Roll Set.  

Also from Mercer, we recommend the 7" Santoku Knife with it's beautiful wood handle and high quality stainless steel blade.  This knife has a limited, lifetime warranty. 

Other ideas include the Vollrath Mirage Cadet Countertop Induction Range.  While you may not be familiar with induction cooking, you can bet that your Chef is!  There are several benefits to induction cooking - no flame, extremely fast to heat up and precise temperature control.  They are also energy efficient.  This Vollrath model is NSF listed, features 20 power levels and has a 1 year warranty.  

There are more ideas available in our gift guide section.  You may want to take a look at the following guides:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fun Facts and Thanksgiving Trivia

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Cook's Direct!
All of us at Cook’s would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for your business!  We know that without you, we wouldn't be here.  

To get you in the holiday spirit and help you wow your fellow guests with Thanksgiving trivia, here are ten fun facts about the holiday:
  1. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days!
  2. The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.  He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast
  3. Thanksgiving holidays were once commonly celebrated around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620.  It was not unusual in England and many parts of Europe to frequently set aside days of giving thanks to God. 
  4. 91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.  To feed all those hungry people, there are about 280 million turkeys sold annually, which is nearly 7 billion pounds of turkey! 
  5. Cranberries are another Thanksgiving favorite and nearly 20% of all cranberries consumed in the US each year are eaten on Thanksgiving Day.
  6. Thanksgiving came into being a holiday under President Lincoln, although Sarah Joespha Hale, best known as the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, lobbied for 20 years to five different presidents, numerous governors, congressmen and media sources.  Lincoln decided on the last Thursday of November as a national Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. Thanksgiving was moved up a week by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 & 1941 to extend the Christmas shopping season – but several states didn’t go along with the move.  Congress stepped in to unify the holiday and in October of 1941 set the date for the 4th Thursday of November where it is now.
  8. Starting in 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey along with two dressed turkeys to the President.  The President then ‘pardons’ the live turkey to live out its life on a historical farm.
  9. The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in the 1920’s.
  10. Americans aren't the only ones celebrating Thanksgiving, our neighbors to the north do too. Canada celebrates on the second Monday in October.  
Have a great holiday!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sharpen your Knife Knowledge

Mercer 8" Millenia Primary 4 Chef's Knife
A chef's daily work load cannot be completed without his or her arsenal of high quality tools of the trade.  One of the most important tools for a chef is the high quality professional knives that he or she relies upon to get the job done right. Chopping, dicing, slicing, mincing, and other important food preparation tasks can only be completed well if the chef is using good knife that they is comfortable for them to use.

Here is a list that Cook's Direct has developed of some of the most popular professional knife styles and purposes.

Chef's Knife 
Chef's knives are some of the largest knives in a professional kitchen. They are used for slicing, chopping, and dicing a variety of different foods.

Cleavers are large knives with a rectangular blade.  The cleaver is intended to be used for hacking through bone.  The broad side of the knife can be used for crushing food, like garlic cloves, in food preparation. In contrast to other kitchen knives, the edge of your cleaver is strong so that it can withstand repeated blows directly into thick meat or bone.  The cleaver is designed to be swung like a hammer, which is very different from the way other knives are used.

Boning Knives
Boning knives are used to remove the bones from meat that is being prepared in a professional kitchen. A boning knife is quite sharp and very sturdy, which provides the cook with greater control during the boning process.  

Slicing Knives
Slicing knives, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for easy slicing of foods like cheese, vegetables, and fruits. The knife is designed to cut smoothly through the item being sliced without crushing or smashing it.

Paring Knives
Paring knives are the petite knives of the professional kitchen. These are often shortest and lightest knives in a chef's arsenal. Paring knives must be small and easy-to-handle because they are used to navigate across the curving slopes of fresh fruit and vegetables. Paring knives are also made much smaller than other knives to minimize the risk of a cutting injury when using them. High quality paring knives are incredibly sharp, and they are designed this sharp so that the knife can glide smoothly between the peel and flesh of the fruit or vegetable being peeled.

No matter what type of knife you use, it's important to choose knives that are made of high end materials and created by trusted brands and manufacturers. Most professional chefs find a brand they can depend upon, and they refuse to buy any brand of professional cutlery besides the ones created by that brand. Testing out different professional knives in different styles will help you choose the brand that suits you best.

You can find a comprehensive offering of professional knives on Cook's Direct.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Roll-In Rack Oven Basics

Nu-Vu UB-12R Roll-In-Rack Electric Oven
Nu-Vu UB-12R Roll-In-Rack Oven
The Roll-in rack oven is a specialized piece of restaurant equipment commonly used at bakeries.  Because of the design, large quantities of food like breads, pastries, and cookies to be baked at the same time in a minimal amount of space with minimal labor.  Roll-in rack ovens are ideal for applications where larger amounts of product need to be prepared in a  short amount of time.  The oven cavity is large enough that you are able to place an entire rack filled with pans or trays can be rolled into the oven and all the food will be cooked evenly at the same temperature.  

Time and labor savings are also captured during food prep because you are preparing larger batches of product to be cooked all at one time.  Using a rack oven also eliminates the step of moving pans from a rack into the oven and then back out of the oven onto the rack after baking is complete, improving efficiency even more.

Along with bakeries, roll-in rack ovens are ideal for schools, hotels, hospitals, resorts or any facility that needs the advantages of a full rack production.  You'll find roll-in rack ovens in gas and electric models.  At Cook's Direct, we carry Roll-in rack ovens from Nu-Vu along with a Roll in Rack from F.W.E.