Monthly Archives: April 2018

  1. Edible Science For Fun Meals

    The rise of molecular gastronomy and the discovery of some new ingredients such as “miracle fruit” have introduced a strange, fun new world into the restaurant industry, and to the palates of restaurant patrons. Of course, it takes a great deal of training and expertise to make use of some of the more expensive equipment that gets used to make exciting, stimulating food science experiments, but a good restaurant supply company carries many more things than you would think to incorporate some edible science into your menu, and endear your business to the hearts of your clients. There are a few different things to look into, if the idea interests you, and we will discuss a few of them here.

    One of the biggest trends in desserts in the past several years has been nitrogen-chilled ice cream; where traditional ice cream takes a considerable amount of time, and requires a specialized ice cream maker to churn and slowly freeze a cream-and-flavor base, nitrogen ice cream uses the gas--which boils at a temperature of -320 degrees Fahrenheit--to rapidly freeze similar cream bases, making it possible to make small batches of highly individualized ice cream in a matter of minutes. Not only is it efficient--the nitrogen gas (very safe) billowing out over the bowl creates a mysterious, exciting effect. While restaurant supply stores may not carry all of the components you need to make nitrogen ice cream, you can certainly find many things that will come in handy such as thermal gloves, safety equipment, and tools to manipulate and mix the ice cream you make.

    Another area in which molecular gastronomy has taken off is the creation of inventively-shaped foods, from appetizers and amuse-bouches to desserts. The product of choice for making both brilliant, jewel-toned fruit caviar as well as something as intriguing and novel as arugula spaghetti is agar-agar, a vegetable product from seaweed that functions very similarly to gelatin. With this ingredient, a few restaurant supplies, and an imagination it’s possible to create dishes that will stick in patrons’ heads long after they’ve left your restaurant, from turning purees of fruits and vegetables into delicious caviar that pops on the tongue to decorative shapes that can also be eaten. Agar-agar is vegetarian--being derived from a plant instead of animal bones and cartilage the way that gelatin is--and has a melting temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit after it sets, meaning that it can be served warm.

    One of the more playful tricks that science-based cooking has come up with in recent years is the development of transparent noodles and dumplings, along with other food items--courtesy of soy lecithin and a few other clear, starch-based products. Ferran Adria of famed restaurant el Bulli brought the trend out into the world, pioneering menu items such as transparent ravioli. The wonderful thing about products like soy lecithin is that they are generally flavorless--meaning that whatever you show inside of a lecithin wrapper will be all that is tasted. It is also used as a thickening and emulsifying agent for many sauces--so it is not expensive to buy, though it can be tricky to work with.

    The rise of molecular gastronomy and science-based cooking has shown that there are lots of ways to get creative in the kitchen, and to create foods that people have never seen before. While it can seem intimidating to incorporate some of the mainstays of this innovative, high-end cooking technique, there are many ways to look at the principles and the basic components of this subgenre of cuisine, and incorporate them safely into the kitchen to produce dishes that are completely unique. Of course, even though some of the products and equipment that you will need will have to be purchased from specialty providers, there is still a lot that you can get from a good restaurant supply store that can help you to make these dishes and many more for a solid value on the tools of the trade. Multiple scientists who have an interest in food, along with mixologists and other hobbyists, have put a wealth of material online for novices to look at and learn from--consider incorporating a flashy new technique into your kitchen today.

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  2. When Food Ideas Fail

    Because the food industry is constantly evolving, and tastes change so quickly, it’s inevitable that even the most respectable, wealthy, and well-staffed companies make some bad choices. Even taking focus group input, and developing recipes based on feedback that should normally be foolproof, sometimes--occasionally for reasons that aren’t clear--a seemingly great idea can go wrong. Of course, with the right restaurant supplies, it’s easy to make a rebound, but it always stings to find that something that you’ve worked hard to create just hadn’t come across the way that you want it to. The remedy to that pain is to remember some of the ideas that just haven’t gotten success--from some giants who went on to dust themselves off, and shift gears to a new success.

    Colored ketchup

    In theory, the concept of appealing to kids by providing them a chance to decorate their food with a condiment that many already love--ketchup--was a sound one. Colored ketchup, in green and purple and other colors, seemed to be a brilliant marketing and packaging plan when Heinz developed it in the early 2000s. However, Heinz didn’t consider the way that people depend upon their foods to look less like a Jackson Pollock painting and more like food; while the green ketchup saw early success as a novelty item, follow-up colors didn’t exactly meet the same interest. The product became an example of an idea that seems good until it’s actually executed--and, of course, of the problem with products that are marketed only solely to young children, without considering their parents’ possible views. Of course, the loss that this product caused to Heinz wasn’t exactly a huge issue for the company; after quietly discontinuing the color line, they have continued to be as successful as always with their standard offerings.

    Vegetable Jello

    If you look at cookbooks from the 1950s and 60s, it’s possible to have an inflated notion of how popular Jello for dinner was. There has long been a history of aspic dishes and entremet--savory dishes with vegetables and meat inside of gelatin. However, it became clear that in the 20th century, when people had access to meals served hot, and with discernible components, the popularity of savory gelatin had waned; but before that happened, Jello released its vegetable gelatin packets. The brand launched its hopes with four flavors: Italian, mixed vegetable, seasoned tomato, and celery. But while the prospect of molded, wiggling, fruit-flavored desserts has remained popular even beyond its peak in the 60s and 70s, vegetable-and-meat Jello just didn’t have the same appeal. To this day, Jello doesn’t like to draw attention to its failure; instead they focus on where their strength has always been: easy desserts.

    Chantico drinking chocolate

    Given the success of such seemingly strange concoctions like the unicorn frappuccino, it’s hard to believe that there have been items that Starbucks has put together and released that just didn’t make it; even their peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice latte are so popular that the company limits the availability of them to the fall and winter months--though technically one can get peppermint-flavored mocha in the cafe any time of year, just not with the jaunty decorative sprinkles. But when Starbucks launched Chantico, an innovative “drinking chocolate” beverage, in January 2005, it was not met with nearly the excitement that the brand expected. The thick, high-calorie drink required a special mix to make, and was served in special cups. While there are some die-hard Chantico fans who have continued to ask the company to bring it back, the drink barely lasted 11 months, and was quietly discontinued in favor of other chocolate drinks.

    All of the companies mentioned of course went on to other successes after their flops, which is a good lesson to take from such cautionary tales overall. While not every menu item or idea that your business comes up with will meet with massive success, there is always room for a rebound and a comeback. With the right restaurant supplies to help, you can always come up with another new idea--and move beyond even the most embarrassing defeats.  

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  3. When Should You Buy New Equipment?

    If you’re running a restaurant, you know that equipment can be a major expense, and restaurants often have very little spare money in the budget. At the same time, there are so many improvements on restaurant supplies and equipment from year to year that it’s also easy to get excited about buying up new things. It can be difficult to know exactly when you need to replace equipment--from large to small. There are a few key signs to keep in mind when assessing your existing equipment, and there are also some things to know in general about buying new equipment.

    How to know it’s time to replace

    There are a few signs and indicators that equipment in your kitchen needs to be replaced. Of course, there are some general guidelines for lifetime use of particular items, but we all know that those guidelines are--in general--for an ideal world. In the real world, sometimes things last longer than they should and sometimes they don’t last as long as they’re projected to. In light of that, there are a few key indicators.

    The first is that you’re spending too much money on repairs. There comes a point in every life cycle of a machine where the cost to repair it is greater than the value left in it; not to mention the fact that there are advances and developments in machines and equipment every day. So as an example, if repairing a cooktop, or an oven, or something of that nature would cost more than it would take to replace the item, it’s an obvious decision to make. Another factor that you should keep in mind is how efficient the existing equipment is. Restaurant supply stores carry a range of options for any given item, and every year products become more and more efficient from the perspective of energy usage and other factors. If your electric bill or gas bill are eating into your profits, it may be time to consider investing in something that will save you more money over time. Finally: if something just isn’t working the way it did when it was new--not because it has stopped working or needs specific repairs, but because it’s just gotten old--it is time to start looking at replacing it.

    Lifespan of equipment

    Without obvious indicators, there are other ways to know when you should start thinking about replacing equipment in your commercial kitchen. Most large appliances have a projected lifespan, and in some cases that lifespan isn’t just a matter of when it gets more expensive to fix them; it can also indicate the point at which certain parts break down in such a way as to make it dangerous--either specifically to the user, or in general--to keep using the item. For example, the lifespan of a commercial refrigerator is about 10 years; at that point it’s definitely time to start looking at how well the door seals, how good the hinges and interior liner function. Beyond the excess energy a leaky fridge needs to keep things inside of it cold--and the health and safety disaster that can happy if it doesn’t--at 10 years there is a chance that the refrigerant is no longer staying contained, as well. Ventilation systems generally have a lifespan of around 15 years, with proper maintenance; of course, without that proper maintenance, their lifespan may be as short as 5 years.

    To find out how long you can expect your restaurant equipment to last, it’s definitely worth looking at the warranties provided by the manufacturer, as well as reading the user manual and guides. Nothing lasts forever, but knowing what to look for and how to determine whether you need to replace your equipment is a step towards keeping things from becoming chaotic in your business. Instead of finding yourself in a tough situation because some machinery breaks down entirely during the dinner shift, or in an even worse problem due to something not just malfunctioning but harming someone in the process, take stock of how your equipment and tools are performing, and visit a restaurant supply store to get the best replacements for a reasonable price.

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  4. Are You Neglecting Your Hot Beverage Equipment?

    One standby of a good restaurant meal--especially dinner--is a hot after-dinner drink like coffee or tea. These comforting beverages stimulate and soothe at the same time, and help to give a warm, pleasing endnote to a great meal. However, if hot beverage equipment isn’t properly taken care of, that sweet and satisfying moment at the end of the meal can turn into disappointment--and that is definitely not the note anyone wants a meal to end on. There is a lot of confusion about how to maintain restaurant supplies of various kinds, but the worst offenses seem to come from coffee makers and other hot drink stations. With that in mind, there are a few things to know.

    The first thing to consider is how often the machinery should be cleaned. There are food safety standards that include minimums for cleanliness, but those only affect basic safety of the product--they don’t actually have much to do with the overall taste. How often your equipment needs to be cleaned will depend in part on volume of service that your restaurant experiences and in part on the type of equipment it is--and there are a few different variables to consider within those questions. For example, an espresso machine has different cleaning requirements than a standard drip coffee system; the level of difficulty when it comes to cleaning these two things is also different. If you add in automatic systems like Nespresso machines or Keurig brewers, that is a more complicated issue, particularly since many of the relevant parts are difficult to access directly. For the most part, however, it’s worth making the decision that any machines should be thoroughly cleaned at least every other day, and ideally every day, for restaurants.

    Then, of course, there is the question of how to go about cleaning your coffee maker, or other hot beverage station. This will vary, and most units that you can purchase from a restaurant supply company will come with detailed, step-by-step instructions, but there are a few things that can apply across all machines of a certain type. For drip coffee brewers, the first basic step is to run cleaner through the system: many companies have their own proprietary cleaning powder or liquid, but in a pinch--if you don’t have the right cleaning products--you can use distilled white vinegar or even lemon juice, in a proportion of 1 part acidic ingredient to 2 parts water. Brew as usual, and allow the acidulated, hot water to rest in the pot or urn for 20 minutes before pouring it out. Then, if needed, scrub out the container, and brew just water through the system to rinse everything. More intensive cleaning of brewing stations can include measures like taking apart the dripper and scrubbing or otherwise washing those components.

    With espresso machines, it’s important to stick with the kit that comes with the machine: usually with a blocked portafilter, specialized brushes, and a cleaning product geared towards the machine in question. In addition to soaking and scrubbing the brewer heads using the cleaning portafilter and brushes, it’s important to take off the screens from the heads, and take apart--if possible--the milk wand assembly, to get to the inner workings of those parts. The latter should be done a few times a week, to make sure that residues don’t create off flavors in the finished drinks.

    Beyond these two types, there are ways to clean all of the kinds of hot beverage equipment that your restaurant might use. Generally, the machines come with their own user guide, which provide advice and tips for cleaning--and if you’ve lost the guide, many of them are available online as well. Be careful when attempting to do cleaning and maintenance for your beverage station that you don’t damage anything; follow the instructions you have, and if you don’t have any available, err on the side of asking a professional, or on doing the least invasive forms of cleaning that you can. With proper maintenance, your hot beverage equipment--no matter the form--can provide delicious drinks for years; and when the time comes for you to replace it finally, or if you need extra parts or cleaning products to do your own maintenance, restaurant supply companies have everything you need to keep the coffee or tea or hot chocolate flowing.

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  5. Do Prix Fixe Right

    Prix fixe menus have been popular across Europe for decades, but it’s only been fairly recently that they’ve gained a presence in the US--thanks in no small part to the recession in 2009. It’s a great way to get new customers in the door, and it’s also good for generating some creativity in the kitchen--as well as a chance to test out some new restaurant supplies. But as with everything, there is a right way and a wrong way to do prix fixe menus, and going about it the wrong way can be just as bad as not doing it at all. With that in mind, here are the things you need to know to successfully launch a prix fixe menu option.

    Know your options

    There are a few different ways to incorporate prix fixe into your restaurant’s rotation, and there are advantages and disadvantages to consider with them all. But first, you should consider whether or not the option is even worth it, or doable, for your operation. In essence, a prix fixe menu is a combo meal option: generally there’s a starter, a main, and possibly a dessert all for a standardized price. One benefit to this is that with a prix fixe menu, it’s much easier to have a per-head cost in your calculations. On the other hand, the menu may scare away some less adventurous diners who don’t want to make the initial commitment.

    With that in mind, there are a few ways to incorporate the concept into your restaurant business: you can exclusively have a fixed price meal for either lunch or dinner, offer it in tandem with the regular menu, or do it only for special events. Obviously the easiest to implement would be to have a fixed-price meal available for specific occasions, such as Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day. Such meals are a good way of putting your toe in the water, and getting a chance to see how those events go over. Another way to look at the idea is to find out which service period is slower--lunch or dinner--and either replace regular service with the set menu, or add the set menu in addition to the regular service.

    Plan your rollout

    Once you’ve made the decision to incorporate a prix fixe menu into your restaurant’s rotation, plan how to make it happen. This includes making menu decisions, as well as deciding how to price your fixed price menu. On the menu-planning side, an important decision to make is whether you want to stick with dishes that your restaurant already makes, or introduce something new. Both approaches have their merits: by using items your business already offers, you can stick with the usual orders for components, but offering new items for a fixed price can be a way to attract existing customers and new ones alike with the prospect of something new. Whichever way you choose to go, it’s important to stay on-brand; don’t go too far afield with new dishes, or else it won’t make any sense with the rest of your restaurant’s offerings.

    From the pricing standpoint, a lot will depend on which choice you made in regards to the menu offering. The goal is to make sure that the prix fixe menu offers a value to customers--less than they would pay for individual items, if you’re using existing menu options, for example--while also making sure that costs are covered. This consideration can also play into menu choice if you decide to offer items that are not already on your menu; it’s important to find out how much the cost per head for a dish will be, and conservatively estimate early interest in the item for the sake of ordering things. If you succeed in that end of things, you’re likely to be able to find a price point that will more than justify the added menu and some additional work, while still offering a value to customers.

    The great thing about prix fixe menus is that they are easy to promote, they allow chefs some creativity in the kitchen, and they are a way to control costs in a straightforward manner. By promoting your restaurant’s new menu and the great value that it offers--through social media, and possibly a few simply-designed notices in the restaurant itself--you can draw in new customers as well as bringing in existing customers more often. With a little bit of advance planning and thought, your restaurant can incorporate this clever trick that has been so popular across Europe and in other countries for so long; and in doing so, increase revenues, which you can then invest at least some of back into the business--getting new restaurant supplies to continue developing and growing.

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  6. Increase your Restaurant's Instagram Following

    Whether you’ve just created your restaurant’s Instagram page, or you’ve had it for years, increasing your following is always in your best interest. Using Instagram accurately can be overwhelming, especially with all the new marketing information that’s put forth daily. We’ve come up with a few quick, simple ways which you can utilize to increase your restaurant’s Instagram following and influence.

    1. High Quality Images

      Make sure the images you’re using are of the highest quality, and be strict about what you post. If you have nothing to share that day, don’t share anything. It’s best to keep the aesthetic of the page instead of crowding the content with low quality images.

    2. Focus on What You Have to Offer

    In addition to making sure all your images are of the highest quality, highlight the food you have to offer with quippy quotes, cool descriptions, and interesting captions. The goal is to make people want what you have to offer, and the best way to do this is to promote what you have. If you have an interesting special, make sure you post about it.

    3. Follow Other Restaurants

    Increase your following by following other restaurant pages. Not only will this give you inspiration about what to post, but you’ll also get follows back. Make sure you also follow all customers that follow you, and find related pages through the Explore page.

    4. Personal Touch

    Stick to your brand identity, and make sure you know what it is. Create a solid foundation for the content you wish to produce based on the theme of your restaurant and what you stand for. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what this is, and then create posts that fit the theme.

    5. Go Behind the Scenes

    Customers love to see behind the scenes action! Give a little history on the food, how it’s made, etc. so that customers have an inside look into what goes on in the restaurant. Not only will this make you more endearing to your loyal customers, but it will also create more interesting content.

    There you have it! Try out those simple tricks and techniques and let us know how it goes. With a little legwork, you can increase your Instagram following in no time.

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  7. How to Keep Restaurant Renovations Cost-Efficient

    Restaurant renovations can be a big driver of increased business, drawing in people curious about the new equipment or decor; but they can also be a seemingly-endless quagmire of unforeseen expenses and frustrations as plans run over and deadlines fall by the wayside. If you are planning on renovating your restaurant--whether to put in new equipment and other restaurant supplies in the back of house, to re-imagine the look in the dining room, or some of both--there are some ways that you can plan, and think ahead, to avoid the pitfalls that can make a renovation so expensive.

    First, and perhaps most obviously: if something isn’t broken, or is working just fine in the flow of business, don’t “fix” it. When you’re planning and working with contractors or a restaurant supply company for renovations, focus on the things that actually need fixing first. Make a list, if you can, with separate categories for “need” and “want.” Things that are annoying, but functional--such as, for example, color scheme of appliances in back of house, or mis-matches--should be kept in the “want” list. Things that are structural issues, safety issues, or basic workflow problems should stay in the “need” list. You can always tackle the “wants” if you find yourself coming in under budget, starting with the least expensive items on that list.

    Be careful as you do this, however, not to let yourself overlook things that actually need to be taken care of in the renovation; if there are fixes that need to be done, but aren’t visible to customers, those fixes still need to be done--even if they are pricier fixes. It will become more expensive by far to take care of them down the line than to address them while you’re already doing work on your eatery. For example, if there’s a problem with the cook-tops that isn’t necessarily making work impossible, but does make the workflow unpredictable, that should be addressed. If there are issues of minor structural problems now, those could become major problems later--and thost major problems are almost always more expensive to fix than the minor ones.

    Consider buying some equipment second hand. While there are certain things that you should definitely buy brand-new, there are other items that last a long time, and can be used over and over again, by one restaurant after another; why not let the bad luck of one restaurant’s poorly-considered purchase or tough financial times benefit you? Restaurant supply stores often have well-maintained second hand appliances and other items, as well as brand new equipment, tools, and implements to take care of every need. Equipment that can be easily sanitized, made of durable and non-porous materials, along with certain kinds of appliances that are easy to maintain, are good candidates for second-hand purchase.

    When you’re renovating your restaurant, it’s a good time to take stock of all the things that need fixing, and take care of them accordingly. Especially if you’re going to be shutting down for days or weeks in order to take care of large projects, take advantage of that time to get a few smaller jobs done, too--as long as they’re needed jobs. By going into the renovation with sufficient forethought and a clear concept of what needs to be done versus what you want to do, you can avoid the financial pitfalls that can happen. As a final thought: for decor, there are some DIY projects that you--or your staff--can undertake that not only will keep costs down, but also can give your restaurant a unique flair. By incorporating touches like these, and making sure that you have a solid plan before you even start, you can get through renovations without spending more money than you intend--or, at least, by not exceeding budget too much.

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  8. Ice Cream or Gelato?

    One of the new debates that has come to rage in the foodie circles of the world is the question of ice cream versus gelato. While both are delicious, frozen desserts, there is still good degree of confusion about how they’re different from each other, and which one is better. While we can’t say that one is definitely better than the other, we can certainly provide a crash course for the frozen dessert novice looking to potentially incorporate them into the menu--and luckily, restaurant supply stores have the equipment to make both; in fact, the equipment to make either one is largely the same, so you could make both.

    There are a few key differences between ice cream and gelato, but the first major difference is in the ingredients list for the two. Ice cream recipes vary somewhat by tradition, with some recipes calling for eggs, some calling for cooked custard, and some calling for pure dairy; but heavy cream is used in just about all of the recipes you can find. Gelato, on the other hand, uses a lower-fat dairy option--generally whole milk or something similar. This one aspect of difference is the key to the other differences between the two finished products: higher butter fat in ice cream (the USDA requires a minimum of 10% butter fat to qualify as “ice cream,”) creates a firmer, richer product, which takes on more air and melts more slowly. The higher fat content in ice cream also means that the flavors tend to be a little more subdued in general; the rich fats coat the tongue to a degree. While there are of course many, many options for flavoring ice cream, the medium tends to lend itself more to robust, dairy-loving flavors--caramel, strawberry, peach, chocolate, vanilla, and so on.

    Gelato also differs from ice cream in its texture, as we briefly mentioned above; where ice cream is dense and rich, gelato tends to be softer. The high butterfat concentration in ice cream means that the base it’s made of can take on more air in the churning process--up to 50% in fact. Gelato has a lower air content, generally around 25%, so the resulting dessert isn’t as “fluffy” and dense in the mouth. However, those same quality lend themselves well to the intense flavors that gelato traditionally comes in: by using a lower-fat dairy and processing the dessert into a warmer temperature, more intense flavors--fruit, coffee, dark chocolate, and so on--are easier to taste. This is part of why gelato has developed a reputation for being a “fancier” alternative to ice cream: the base that it’s made from is versatile, so more powerfully-flavored ingredients can be added without risking that they’ll be lost in the creaminess or the cold.

    Finally, there’s the question of how the two products are stored. Ice cream, to maintain its integrity, must be stored and served at about 10 degrees Fahrenheit--a very chilly temperature, but one which allows the air bubbles to remain in place while also keeping the fats from freezing into harder crystals. Gelato can and should be stored at a slightly higher temperature, to keep it from becoming hard and overly crystallized. Of course, this is a challenge if you wish to serve both at your restaurant, but there are ways to get around the issue; keeping the gelato at the same temperature as ice cream for storage is okay, but it should be taken out a little longer before serving, to let it reach the proper temperature.

    Luckily for those who can’t decide, most of the basic tools to make either of these delightful confections are the same: apart from storage and scoops and other restaurant supplies that are needed to serve, gelato and ice cream are both made with ice cream makers. There are a wide variety of machines to choose from, with different capacities to suit the demand whether you want to make small batches of very specific and highly curated flavors or large amounts suitable for an entire dessert service. Particularly with summer right around the corner, it’s worth considering adding gelato, ice cream, or both to the menu--patrons will appreciate the fresh taste and the interesting desserts they can sample from a restaurant that makes its own frozen confections.

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  9. Are Your Blenders Doing The Job Right?

    Are Your Blenders Doing The Job Right?

    In the realm of restaurant supplies, one of the pieces of equipment that does a surprising amount of work--and which gets a surprising lack of attention--is the blender. From smoothies to pureed soups to vinaigrettes and frozen cocktails, a blender is an indispensable item for almost any restaurant operation; but not all blenders are created equal. There are a few key features to look for, and a few characteristics to keep your eye on, when shopping for this essential, whether you’re buying for the first time or replacing worn down equipment. For canister blenders--which we’ll be focusing on in this article--the three main criteria to keep in mind when making your choice are capacity, durability, and power; but there are a few other things to consider as well.

    Capacity is an important consideration because, of course--there is going to be a lot going through the blender, and being able to handle a range of quantities and volumes is important. A blender for a restaurant bar is not going to need the same capacity as most commercial kitchen blenders; at most your bartender will want to make two drinks at a time. But for the kitchen, the capacity should be much higher--most commercial models come with jars of large capacity, from 130 ounces (4 quarts, or a gallon), up to 832 ounces (26 quarts, or 6.5 gallons). Of course, it’s rare that you’d need five or more gallons of capacity at a given time--but one-gallon capacity is a good range to consider.

    Durability is also a major concern, and it mainly comes down to materials. Depending on how--and how much--your blender jars will be used and washed, one type of material may be better for your business than another. Stainless steel jars are durable, easy to clean, and great for foods of different temperatures; however, they are obviously opaque, which can create some problems for certain applications. Polycarbonate is virtually unbreakable, so this type of jar works great in fast-paced environments but the material does contain BPA and so shouldn’t be used for hot foods. Glass blender jars are popular for home use, but in a fast-paced environment like a busy kitchen or bar, they’re not an entirely practical choice--even if they are easier to clean in some respects. The final choice to consider is copolyester, which are ideal for a wide range of applications, and can stand up to heat better than polycarbonate. It may even be advisable for you to choose one or two of each type, for a range of uses; but consider your budget and needs.

    Last but not least, you should have a clear idea of the need your blenders will have for power. More power isn’t always the better option; how the machine uses the power is important as well, and for some environments you just don’t need a super-powered blender. As a shorthand guide, using common ratings: ½ HP is good for light preparation, no more than 50 uses per day, while 1 to 1 ½ HP is acceptable for up to 75 servings per day. 2 HP works well for a volume of up to 100 servings per day, and 3 ½ HP is needed for over 100 servings per day--or heavy food and beverage preparation.

    With those guidelines out of the way, all that’s left is to consider the ease of use, and the budget you have in mind; there are a wide range of options for every price point, so you are likely to have multiple choices that all work to the level you need. Restaurant supply companies usually have at least a few of multiple kinds with multiple variables changed to get exactly what you need. Ultimately, your blenders should be easy to use, powerful enough to get the job done, and easy to clean and sanitize, without tons of parts but the ability to break them down to clean and maintain them individually. If you keep these objectives in mind, you should be able to easily find the right blender to make food prep and drink production easy.

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  10. Kitchen Hacks to Make Prep Easier

    One of the most time-consuming aspects to cooking--whether in a commercial kitchen or at home--is prep-work: chopping up vegetables, making stock, grating cheese and so on. So it’s always a relief when we find ways to make the most frustrating problems of food prep and organization a little easier to tackle with some food hacks. A little knowledge and some key restaurant supplies are all you need to take the annoyance away, and save time.

    Plastic wrap, also known as cling film, can be a pain to grapple with--sometimes literally, if your hand or arm catches against the serrated cutting surface attached to most plastic wrap packages. But there is an easier way: store plastic wrap in the fridge or freezer to make it easier to work with. The cold and dry keeps it from sticking to itself and minimizes some of the static, making it easier to get a clean sheet of the material without having to wrestle it into submission. As a bonus trick: if you find that the plastic wrap isn’t adhering properly to the container you’re putting it on, a little bit of water along the edge of the bowl, plate, or other container, and the plastic wrap will cling perfectly.

    Another thing that can cause frustration is grating semi-hard cheeses, like dry mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, or fontina; the high fat content of these cheeses can make them fall apart as you grate, and also tends to get them stuck against the grater. A simple way around this is to put such cheeses into the freezer for about 30 minutes before attempting to grate them; the frigid temperatures firm the fats and water in the cheese up more, making grating a much smoother, faster experience.

    Almost everyone loves at least a little garlic in their savory dishes; but peeling cloves of garlic can be a time-consuming process. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to make the process go faster. You may already be familiar with the “shaking” trick, but it is still one of the best: put unpeeled garlic cloves either in a jar that has a lid, or in a metal or ceramic bowl, cover (with another bowl, in the case of using bowls), and shake vigorously for about a minute. The collisions and friction of the cloves against each other and against the surfaces of the jar or bowl knock the skins off. Another trick though is just as easy and quick: make a tube out of a silicone mat, and hold it sideways as you put the cloves of garlic in. Place the tube down on a flat surface--such as a cutting board--and press down gently while rolling back and forth. The silicone grips the skins and tugs them lose, and the movement pulls them away from the garlic cloves. The tube shape the silicone mat is wrapped into ejects the skins from either side, leaving clean, peeled garlic.

    The freezer can play a role in helping prep meat for super-thin slices, as well as keeping plastic wrap from clinging to itself: for ease in getting thin slices of meat--or also getting even, consistent chunks of fattier cuts like pork belly or bacon--throw the meat into the freezer for about thirty to forty-five minutes, depending on size. The water in the meat will begin to freeze, firming it up and making fine, precise slicing easier and faster to achieve; this method is great for getting lardons of bacon or salt-pork for a variety of dishes, as well as getting the perfect thickness for beef preparations like carpaccio, or minute steak.

    One final tip, perfect for home cooks: make red wine taste better by putting it in the blender. It sounds strange, but America’s Test Kitchen discovered that processing cheap red wine in a blender for 30 seconds on high made it taste remarkably better. The finding makes sense: well-aired red wines in general taste better than fresh out of the bottle, and the blast from the blender does an excellent job thoroughly incorporating air into the wine.

    With a few key restaurant supplies, a little forethought, and the knowledge that you’ve gained from this article, kitchen prep work doesn’t have to be the pain that it often turns out to be; instead, you’ll be able to devote more time to the more interesting parts of cooking a dish or an entire meal.

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