Monthly Archives: May 2018

  1. How to Start a Restaurant

    There are many restaurants today. If you are the average American who has never owned a restaurant before, then it can be quite daunting to know where to begin. So we decided to do all the research and compile it into one easy-to-read article. Let’s begin!

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    Here are the things you need to know! What is the statistics? According to a recent study done by results show that 60% of businesses fail in their first year. Of course, none of us want to be part of that statistic. We do not want to discourage you from opening up that dream restaurant; however, this is to serve as an eye-opener to see the practicality of the advice we are giving you. The biggest thing that contributes to failure is lack of planning. In other words, when you lack solid planning you can plan to fail solidly. As you will see in this article, planning is the most important part, even before worrying about the money. Planning involves preparing for possible roadblocks, minute details and preparing yourself to take responsibility.

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    Have the right motives. Now we all like money. Money is both a necessity and a luxury. In addition, we as humans love time. Do you often hear yourself saying “I wish I had more time?” We know we do! Some may reason that opening up their own business will offer them more money and time. Is this true? The answer, not necessarily! The truth is money and time doesn’t come automatically. In fact, owning your own restaurant would require even more work. So if money, time, or some other force is motivating you to start a restaurant maybe you should reconsider. Ask yourself, will I love what I will be doing? Am I willing to put forth the necessary effort and time to see my restaurant succeed? Will I be motivated to wake up in the morning and put in a hard day of work? If the answer to any of these is no then you should reconsider.

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    Your target market. Who are you looking to appeal to? There are different generations, different preferences and different views. Remember in the restaurant business one size does not fit all. You have to choose your target market before you even think about your restaurant name much less your restaurant itself. Is it a family style or is it more for adults, children, or teens? You may think about what a teenager would like, and how it is different from a child, or how a child would differ from an adult. Things you can consider is who would you see being at your restaurant? Who would they recommend to come?

    Begin your business plan. This is where the brainstorming begins. This is where all your ideas can come together in an array of excellence. What are somethings you should think about? What is the atmosphere you are planning to create? What is the theme? What are the hook’s that drive customers in? How does your restaurant differ from other similar restaurants? Why will customers like my restaurant? Where is the restaurant’s location, and how will that adds to the experience of the restaurant? Here are some of the fundamental parts of a business plan you’ll need to think about. These are followed by:
    • Executive Summary
    • Company Description
    • Products and Services
    • Market analysis
    • Strategy and Implementation
    • Organization and Management Team
    • Financial plan and projections
    You are well on your way to starting your new restaurant business and restaurant supply is here to help! We have the right supplies for anyone even you! Let us know what you need!

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  2. Making the Most of a Food Processor

    Making the Most of a Food Processor

    Food processors are essential restaurant equipment, so much so that any restaurant supply store worth its salt generally has multiple models in several sizes to accommodate the needs of a variety of food service operations. But while there are some obvious uses for this kitchen staple, many people don’t think beyond the essential functions (chopping, grating, shredding). But by looking a little more deeply into what your food processor can really do, you can make even more use out of it, whether in a commercial kitchen or at home.

    Some cooks--professional as well as home cooks--have noticed already that food processors, especially newer-generation models, do an excellent job of turning raw ingredients into sauces; not only does the food processor chop vegetables into tiny bits, but the action of so much movement can even pulverize them, emulsifying the raw ingredients into a satisfying puree as well as any blender has ever done--without a need to pre-cook the ingredients first. Some new generation food processors even generate enough heat to cook the ingredients as they chop them, meaning that you can make cold or (in some cases) hot soups easily.

    Another little-known function that food processors can accomplish is grinding; while the chopping action of the blades is not as fine as an actual mill, food processors can be used to grind peanuts down into peanut butter, or other nuts into small enough micro-chunks to use them in crusts and other applications. Your food processor can even help you save some money on flour and salt--high end models make it possible to get an artisanal flour from dried grains, and even the most basic models can, with a handful of pulses, transform coarse salts into the same fineness that pickling or popcorn require. Of course, a good food processor is going to function better--and provide more general value--than grain mills for most kitchens, since in addition to being able to process grains down to flour they can also accomplish regular chopping and shredding tasks. A well-made food processor can transform rolled oats into fine flour, and wheat into a product that rivals high-end branded products. You can even use a food processor to make existing flours finer, and it makes a good replacement for finicky sifters in pastry applications, not only aerating but combining flour with salt, baking soda or powder, and so on. Many pastry chefs already understand the usefulness of a food processor in quickly bringing together butter or shortening with flour to quickly create pastry dough while avoiding the risk of a tough final product.

    You can also use a good quality food processor to grind meat, especially delicate seafood: while the fine chop that processors accomplish is not exactly the same as what a meat grinder creates, it does provide for a more texturally interesting finished product, and in the case of fish or other seafood, there is less risk of damaging the delicate meat in the process of developing it into something you can form and shape--so salmon burgers, or cod burgers, are an option you can explore much more readily.
    Overall, a food processor is a vital piece of equipment for any kitchen environment, with a wide range of possible applications. When choosing a food processor, take a look at a few specific characteristics: volume of the work bowl is an important factor, as well as the quality of the blades and motor. Commercial models, designed for intense use in demanding kitchens, are a great investment--and newer versions can include heating elements in the housing as well as other features that make for a processor that can accomplish complete dishes on its own without any need for pots and pans. Some brands also come with additional work bowls of different sizes, since some applications--which, by nature, produce a small quantity of finished product--need to be brought together in a smaller space than standard.
    There is a reason that one of the key inventories of any reputable restaurant supply store includes a range of different food processor brands and types. While it is certainly possible to accomplish much in a kitchen without a food processor at your disposal, there are dozens of ways that you can use your food processor beyond relegating it to quickly chopping ingredients to go into a dish.

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  3. Have You Thought About Your Safety Mats?

    Have You Thought About Your Safety Mats?

    When shopping for these mats, there are a few considerations to keep in mind: while there are many different thicknesses for wellness mats, the thickest is not necessarily the best fit for your kitchen. Find mats that provide proper springback and support without increasing the risk of tripping on uneven surfaces. Another factor to think about is the ease with which you will be able to clean the mats. The best commercially available anti-fatigue mats are made of durable, water-resistant materials like rubber, PVC, or nitrile, which also means that cleaning them is as simple as hosing them down--and maybe, occasionally, scrubbing them with a floor brush--and letting them dry. A good restaurant supply store will have a variety of options to choose from, which will allow you to make sure that your employees can work not just in safety but in better comfort--and more comfortable employees are employees who can work harder and longer.Safety is a primary concern in the kitchen, whether it’s a restaurant kitchen, catering area, or home kitchen; and one of the most important--but least thought about--factors in maintaining safety in the cooking environment is floor mats. While restaurant supply stores carry a wide array of options, many buyers are somewhat guilty of looking at the issue as one of minimizing cost; they stick to the bare minimum of what they need--in their opinion--to prevent the most obvious injuries in the kitchen area. But there is a factor that many people don’t consider: while anti-slip mats do indeed help prevent people from injuring themselves from sliding on a hard surface, they don’t necessarily work as hard at preventing the full range of injuries that can happen from the floor.

    Most kitchen managers and other staff responsible for keeping things safe in the back of house recognize the need for anti-slip mats as a general rule: any environment where food and/or beverages are prepared is going to have spills happen. Water gets on the floor, even if nothing else does. But preventing slip-and-fall accidents is only the beginning of what mats should do in the restaurant or home kitchen environment. Especially in the commercial kitchen, where staff stand for hours on end, mats should not just prevent slips--they can and should be an important tool to combat the kinds of injuries and physical stress that come from impact against hard flooring, and fatigue.

    Enter wellness mats; while anti-slip mats function specifically and only to provide friction to avoid slipping on a wet surface, wellness mats provide an extra layer of cushion and shock absorption to prevent fatigue as well as repetitive stress injuries that can inevitably arise from walking, running, and otherwise moving on top of an unyielding surface. While most, if not all wellness mats also provide anti-slip properties, their focus is just as much on putting a buffer between the foot and the hard surface underneath. Generally, they are made of similar materials to anti-slip mats, but thicker, and with a slightly different design from top to bottom, in order to allow for a sort of “springing” action. The best wellness mats have a sloped edge to reduce tripping, and are easy to clean.

    Of course, when discussing this particular investment, many restaurant owners, kitchen managers, or even home cooks will ask what difference it makes. Hours of standing on tile or other hard floors create stress injuries through the feet, legs, and even up into the back--which can lead in business environments to increased absenteeism, and of course the problem of work-injuries that cost increasingly more money to treat. Lack of cushioning can lead to problems ranging from plantar fasciitis to lower back injury, to knee conditions--all of which can be very costly indeed to treat, and which are, of course, very painful to live with.

    A general guide for placement of wellness or anti-shock mats is to keep them in areas where the most traffic and standing occur. This seems obvious, but there are some areas of a kitchen that clearly are not going to present as much hazard as others; as a result, you should focus efforts on providing the cushioning benefits of the mats where people are more likely to be standing for the longest periods--so for example, in front of the range, or along preparation areas. By using anti-fatigue mats that also have anti-slip properties, you can take care of two issues in one.

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  4. Material Matters When it Comes to Cookware

    Material Matters When it Comes to Cookware

    When it comes to cooking, any chef can tell you that pairing the right tools with the right methods is a vital component to getting the results you want. That need to use the right tool extends even down into the materials that the tools are made of--especially when it comes to cookware. Although anodized aluminum and stainless steel have been trendy for several years, and more and more silicone baking supplies seem to be developed every year, it can be difficult to know which material to invest in. Ultimately it comes down to what tasks you’re doing, and what kind of budget you have at your disposal. Of course, any good restaurant supply store carries cookware in all kinds of shapes and sizes, as well as a variety of materials, but having a starting point in making your choices can make a big difference.

    Cast iron is a tried and true favorite in both commercial and home kitchens, and for good reason: it’s durable, versatile, and relatively inexpensive compared to some other materials. For searing well as stovetop-to-oven applications, its difficult to beat, as the material retains heat extremely well, and distributes it throughout the cooking surface. While it can take time to heat up fully, cast iron can take a huge amount of heat, again and again, without warping or wearing out. The downside to this is that acidic foods and sauces are not always best-suited for the surface, and of course there is the requirement to regularly “re-season” the cast iron to maintain it’s almost-non stick properties. It also isn’t the best for delicate foods like eggs.

    Stainless steel is also a popular option in home and commercial kitchens alike, largely because it tends to be more lightweight than cast iron, as well as rust-resistant and easy to clean. However, stainless steel doesn’t typically conduct heat as well as cast iron does, so most heavier pieces will include a layer of copper or aluminum in the bottom for better performance. Dishwasher safe, and resistant to scratches and dents, it’s an excellent material for a wide range of cooktop uses from soups and stocks to sauces. It tends not to be a great surface for cooking eggs on, lacking non stick properties, and it can be in the pricier range, but general purpose cookware in stainless steel is highly reliable.
    Aluminum, being the least expensive metal in use for kitchen materials, tends to also be one of the most popular, especially for those on a budget. From sheet pans to sauce pans, cake molds to pie tins, it’s a versatile material that does clean easily, and has the benefit of being widely available. Its downsides are worth considering when it comes time to purchase, however: while aluminum heats quickly, it also loses that heat quickly. In addition, untreated aluminum is not great for acidic dishes--the acid can leech the aluminum into the liquid, creating metallic taste and, in large doses, toxic reactions. But this can be overcome by using coated aluminum.
    Finally, silicone, which seems to be appearing more and more in baking materials as well as cooking tools--though not, thankfully, as a material for pots and pans themselves. Silicone makes an excellent material for baked goods like cakes and muffins, being non-stick and flexible. It also makes it possible to created molded cakes easily, and is durable enough to stand up to aggressive washing and high heats. Since silicone doesn’t conduct heat itself, there’s no browning that occurs where objects are in contact with the surface--but this can be an excellent thing, and the insulating properties mean that it cooks gently and evenly.
    When it comes to cookware, the best approach is to include a mixture of materials; each popular surface has its own particular strengths and differences. Depending on what you do most in the kitchen--whether it’s searing and long-cooking stews, soups and sauces, sauteing or pasta, or baking--the materials you buy will inform how well the end result comes out. Restaurant supply stores carry all kinds of cookwares in all kinds of materials, so use this guide as a starting point to finding the right tool for the right applications, and take your cooking efforts to the next level.
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  5. Find the Perfect Craft Cocktails For Summer

    Find the Perfect Craft Cocktails For Summer

    As the warm weather deepens and the threat of late-season icy blasts goes away, more and more people are enjoying the outdoors, and hand-in-hand with enjoying the sunny weather comes the craving for interesting cold drinks to enjoy it with. Restaurant supply stores carry all the hardware needed to craft beautiful, intriguing cocktails, but just as important as the tools to make drinks are the ingredients you make them with. With that in mind, there are some great sources of inspiration not only in curated lists but also in just the fruits and vegetables available in the season. By taking a new look at a few different alcohols and the way they can combine with the best flavors of the season, you can create cocktails that will encourage people to keep sipping.

    The first thing to look at when considering summer cocktails is the base liquors best suited to the season. Consider focusing on those liquors that were developed in warmer climates, like Southern Italian limoncello or India-inspired gin. Bright, crisp flavors pair well with summery fruits like citrus--take for example this recipe for a modified Tom Collins, which pairs limoncello with lemon and gin to create a sweet, sharp drink that will cool even the most heated heads.

    Frozen drinks are also a traditional summer favorite, but there is something to be said for incorporating unusual ingredients into them. While cucumbers have long been a favorite for drinks like the Pimm’s Cup, they also can make for a satisfying texture and not-too-sweet flavor for daiquiris, as in this recipe for a cucumber daiquiri. Another option to consider is an avocado margarita; the avocado adds a creaminess to the sour lime, sharp tequila, and salt of the mainstay beverage, and of course there are few things that play better with avocado than lime. You can also go in the direction of using unusual liquor combinations to craft frozen drinks--gin and tonic comes together beautifully in a blender to create a beverage that’s even more cooling than the original, and the classic negroni becomes something even more interesting when it’s frozen as opposed to on the rocks.

    Of course, another mainstay of summer drinking is wine--particularly white or blush wine. But it doesn’t have to be boring. In addition to sangria, made with summer fruits like peaches or strawberries, you can look into wine cocktails like this white wine paloma, which uses sauvignon blanc in place of tequila to make a refreshing drink that isn’t quite as potent as the original--but which is every bit as flavorful. For something a little harder, think about combining the best of the margarita with the best of sangria, as in this recipe for the “sangrita”.

    Another trick for sprucing up summer cocktails is to incorporate different flavors through flavored syrups or other accessory ingredients; thyme-infused simple syrup can elevate a classic Collins to the next level, while pepper-infused simple syrup can add a sharp, spicy counterpoint to a rocks margarita. The flavor combinations are almost endless--especially if you make your own syrups for flavoring your drinks.

    Of course, not everyone will want something alcoholic to drink; non-alcoholic beverages can also be exciting in the summer. Mexican agua fresca offers a wealth of possibilities to play with simply by changing up the fruit you use to make the simplified punch: while watermelon is a traditional flavor, cantaloupe is delightful too, and strawberry is a long-time favorite. You can also use your flavored syrups to add interest to lemonade--lavender syrup makes for a particularly delicious and relaxing drink. Non-alcoholic punches don’t have to be boring and overly sweet; you can switch out traditional ginger ale for sharper, less-sweet ginger beer to change up the syrupy taste, or use fresh cherries instead of jarred ones to make a beverage that won’t give you a toothache. Consider also incorporating aromatic bitters--just a dash--into your punches; while they do contain alcohol in most cases, the amount you add is minimal, on par with what you’d add of vanilla extract to cooked items.
    Whatever your tastes, there are ways to bring the summer into any cocktail hour that you want--and with a few good recipes, along with some solid restaurant supplies, you can make delicious and intriguing drinks all summer long.

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  6. Switch Ingredients Around For Great Pizza

    Switch Ingredients Around For Great Pizza
    Summer is just around the corner, and one of the most popular menu options for the season is pizza: it’s a great, easy-to-eat meal, friendly to people on the go, and satisfying without being too weighty on the stomach. But if you’re going to be making pizza this summer to delight your guests--be they home guests or restaurant patrons--you are going to need a few good restaurant supplies, and you should also consider changing things up a bit when it comes to the ingredients you include. Of course, there’s nothing quite like the classic pizza margherita--mozzarella, tomato, and basil--but because it’s so iconic, it’s a go-to for many restaurants. But if you want to create an iconic experience, the first place to look at making a change is in the cheese. Mozzarella has always been a pizza standby for good reason: it melts beautifully, and creates wonderful strings that people love to pull on as they devour their pizza. But there are many other cheeses with similar profiles and reactions--and by changing the cheese you can look at a range of toppings that complement the cheese you’re using. For example, barbecue pork or chicken go amazingly well with cheddar. Fontina cheese with its nutty sweetness can be the springboard for a gourmet option with fresh, seasonal veggies. Blue cheese may not have the satisfying pull that some others do, but it’s a great pairing for buffalo chicken and many other toppings. You can also rely on changing around the sauce that you use as a base for your pizza. Of course, tomato-based sauce is the classic, but more and more people are turning to different sauces to accompany more adventurous toppings; “white” pizza usually has a cream-based sauce or a base of ricotta and garlic, for example. Other popular sauce options include barbecue sauce and pesto. But don’t let existing ideas hem you in; as long as the sauce is fairly thick, and will mostly stay put on the pizza without causing toppings and cheese to slide around too much, it’s definitely worth trying! You can even explore sweet sauces for the sake of making a dessert pizza. Of course, the easiest switch-up to make is on toppings themselves. If there’s anything that pizza parlors have discovered over the years, it’s the fact that there are few things that don’t work on pizza. If you’re looking to truly create a unique pizza experience, look away from traditional toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, or green peppers and consider some more unusual ideas. In France, pizzas topped with honey and goat cheese are extremely popular, as are pizzas topped with smoked salmon; pre-cooked ingredients like blanched asparagus or caramelized onions can also make for a unique and delicious pizza experience. There are tons of options available to you--you can even create pizzas that you add raw ingredients to after the pizza is done cooking, like the now-famous Caesar salad pizza. When you’re looking at elements to switch up for the pizzas you want to make, it’s a good idea to consider the process of making a pizza, and what you want the end result of your experiment to be. Of course, you should definitely let your imagination run away with you--but keep in mind that there are some things that are simply unlikely to work on your finished pizza: some raw vegetables are just too wet when exposed to the heat of a pizza oven to be tenable, for example, and some meats won’t cook properly (burning on the outside while remaining under cooked on the inside) in the relatively short period that the pizza stays in the oven. The best plan is to make up a few different sauces you think will work well, have a few different cheeses to play with, and a variety of toppings, and have a tasting party; you can weed out the recipes that don’t work out, and develop and refine the ones that do. Once you’ve got a few different combinations under your belt, you can go from there, creating new and better recipes with the help of a few good restaurant supplies. Summer is a great season for pizza, and this summer can be a wonderful opportunity to change things up while still relying on an old standby. Don’t let tradition control your attempts; instead, look at unusual combinations and a variety of approaches, and make something delightful for your guests.
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  7. A Quick Guide to a Perfect Pie

    A Quick Guide to a Perfect Pie
    There are few things more heartbreaking than working hard on a dessert, anticipating beauty and deliciousness--only to discover that something went wrong. Pies are considered the most traditional American dessert, having been developed and changed from tarts and other similar sweet pastries from Europe, adapted to tastes and circumstances. Of course, the Pennsylvania Dutch are the best known for making amazing pies--but each region of the US seems to have its own traditional pie. Making a glorious pie from scratch can be a daunting prospect; however, with a few tips, and the use of some restaurant supplies, your pies will come out right every time. Tip one: chill out! The first hurdle to making a delicious and beautiful pie is the crust, and the most common problem that arises in making crust from scratch is the tendency for the butter or shortening to become too soft from the heat of the kitchen or even the baker’s hands. This leads not only to crust that doesn’t cooperate when you’re trying to get it into the pie tin or plate, but also greasy or improperly cooked crusts out of the oven, which of course is not what anyone wants. To avoid this, you should consider cutting up the fat in question into small cubes and then briefly freezing it before you go to make your crust. Another good option is to use a food processor to mix the ingredients, pulsing to cut the butter or shortening into the dry ingredients. Another tip is to make sure to chill the pie crust dough thoroughly before rolling it out, and to put the rolled out dough--on the pie tin or not--into the fridge for a few minutes before filling or baking. Tip two: use fresh ingredients There’s a reason that apple pie and pumpkin pie taste best in the autumn--and it isn’t just the chilly air. Using fresh, high quality fruits and other ingredients for fillings makes a huge difference, even if it does require a little more legwork than pre-made fillings. For fruit pies, it can be a good idea to partially pre-cook particularly juicy or wet fruits like cherries, peaches, or strawberries or apples. Blueberries rarely need pre-cooking, but be careful in the measurement of cornstarch or other thickening agents that you use. By using ingredients at the peak of their ripeness and flavor, you can guarantee that the resulting pie is going to be as delicious as possible. Tip three: let it cool As unbearable as it may be to wait, it’s important to let your pie cool properly before giving into the temptation to cut the first slice. When the pie comes out of the oven, the starches that make up the key components--the crust and the thickened sauce of the filling--haven’t had time to set. They’re still molten; therefore, cutting too soon means not only a messed up crust, but also that the filling will run out everywhere, which is not what anyone wants. By letting the pie cool to at least close to room temperature, you’ll give the starch in the crust time to harden, and the starch in the filling an opportunity to come to its full potential of thickening, resulting in a pie that holds together from the pan to the plate in a beautiful slice. If you follow these three tips, you can be sure that the pies you make will come out--if not perfectly--than perfectly edible each time. Of course, there are slight differences to take into account when you’re dealing with cream pies and other types that require “blind baking” the crust first, but for the most part, following these key tips will ensure that you have an excellent and mostly stress-free baking experience. By making sure you have the right restaurant supplies at your fingertips, you can also ensure that you have all the things you need for a pie that isn’t just delicious, but is also beautiful.
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  8. Do You Need a Convection Oven?

    Do You Need a Convection Oven?
    One of the favorite gadgets for both home and restaurant cooking is a convection oven; with fast cooking times and efficient design, it combines practicality with a kind of futuristic luxury. But it may seem to some people like an extraneous purchase. After all: regular ovens still exist, and are a mainstay of restaurant equipment and home kitchens alike. Most reputable restaurant supply stores with large appliance inventories carry both conventional ovens and convection models. Truly, it’s a matter of taste and necessity; there are some kitchens both home and commercial that benefit more from installing a convection oven than others. But there are a few things to consider when making the decision. First, there is the question of what exactly makes a convection oven different from a standard or conventional oven. Where a conventional oven uses radiant heat to cook foods, a convection oven uses a combination of radiant heat and moving air, which allows for faster, more even cooking. Many fast-casual restaurant chains put this capability to good--if limited--use in quickly heating and toasting items they carry; for example, Starbucks uses a high-end convection oven to warm its signature sandwiches and toast or warm its pastries, all in a manner of about a minute. Of course, for restaurant and home applications, a convection oven will still take longer than a couple of minutes to cook most dishes completely, but time in the oven will be significantly shorter. The main factors to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a convection oven are the efficiency you need in oven cooking and the budget you have. Since convection technology has been around for decades, it’s no longer as expensive as it once was to purchase these appliances, however, they do still tend to be pricier than conventional ovens, and can in some respects require more maintenance. If you are a home cook who has a consistent need to cook meals quickly, or a restaurant operation that has a lot of turnover for the oven, it can be a worthwhile investment indeed. Convection ovens can cut down cooking time for baked goods and other items alike to half what it would be in a conventional oven--and that’s a significant benefit for cooks pressed for time. If you have decided that a convection oven might be a good choice, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind while shopping for one: for example, gas versus electric is an important factor not only to the cost of the oven itself, but also the integration into the existing system you have. In addition, gas-powered convection ovens have a slightly different strength compared to electric ones; the gas convection heating process produces moisture as a byproduct, which makes it ideal for baking, while electric convection ovens are better suited for cooking operations that require more even, stable temperatures. Another major question is the size of the convection oven you want to buy. Because they’ve been around for so long, convection ovens exist in a variety of sizes, from full-size floor models to tabletop ones, and even in between. Depending on what use you intend to put your convection oven to--whether it’s toasting and warming things quickly, or a full baking operation--along with the floor space you have available, different options may be more useful or less useful to your particular operation. Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that the amount of space that your convection oven will take up is directly related to the yield it will have--that’s basic math. But whatever your need, there is a convection oven that is suited to filling the role. If your home or commercial kitchen could benefit from a more efficient, faster cooking system, then it’s possible that a convection oven is a good decision. Restaurant supply stores often carry a variety of models for whatever your level of need, and the long history of the appliance’s existence in both commercial and residential spheres means that it is an affordable piece of equipment. Do your research to find out which model and what type of convection oven will work best for the use you intend to put it to, and take advantage of one of the most clever innovations in cooking technology in the past 50 years.
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  9. What You Should Know About Plastic and Styrofoam Bans

    What You Should Know About Plastic and Styrofoam Bans

    As pollution and climate change become a greater and greater concern, states and cities alike have begun discussing and in some cases implementing bans on plastic and Styrofoam products, especially in the food service and food container industries. While it can seem like a daunting prospect to give up the familiar takeout containers and plastic straws we’ve all grown so used to, restaurant supply stores often carry great alternatives that do the job just as well--if not better than--the standbys. By knowing the laws in your area you can not only avoid fines, but also take a more ecologically-friendly approach to providing takeout service to customers. First of all, it’s important to know the states that have styrofoam or plastic bans on some level or in some areas. As of March 2018, the following states have at least one town or city (and usually several) that have implemented bans: California Florida Maine Maryland Massachusetts Minnesota New Jersey New York Oregon Texas Washington Washington, D.C. In addition to the Styrofoam bans present in these states, two--California and Florida--have also enacted bans in some areas on plastic straws, and other states have enacted regulations or legislation to limit plastic in general. If you’re not sure whether your local government has banned Styrofoam or plastics, it’s worth getting in contact with your town, city, or municipal representatives to find out. With that out of the way, we can discuss the alternatives. Even if there is no ban on styrofoam or plastics in your area, it’s worth considering moving to a more sustainable, less-polluting option for your takeout containers: it can also be a selling point to your customers, who may be impressed at you taking a stand on environmental causes. For styrofoam or expanded poly containers, there are a few very good options for replacement: PET Plastic Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is flexible, lightweight and recyclable. PLA Plastic Polylactic acid (PLA) plastic is a biodegradable plastic. Paper/Double Poly Coated Paper Double poly-coated paper products are durable and moisture resistant. Sugarcane/Bagasse Sugarcane/bagasse is a biodegradable, compostable material designed with grease-resistant properties. Post-Consumer Paperboard This paperboard’s post-consumer makeup combines environmentally friendly properties with the durability of paperboard construction. These replacement materials provide an excellent alternative to styrofoam because, unlike the materials that styrofoam originally replaced, they combine solid thermal properties with moisture-proofed surfaces. The fact that they’re readily recyclable or biodegradable makes them a clear improvement on styrofoam or expanded poly; even though styrofoam containers technically can be recycled, facilities that accept them are few and far between, and generally require the styrofoam to be cleaned and dried before recycling--something that makes it incredibly impractical to recycle them, which is why they generally end up in landfills. On the issue of plastic straws, recent studies of marine ecology have suggested that one of the biggest culprits for ocean plastics pollution is the preponderance of plastic straws from all areas of the world. With that in mind, more and more coastal areas are discussing bans on plastic straws, with a few localities in Florida and California having already enacted them. The argument that drinking straws are a fairly modern invention--and that people consumed drinks just fine for many centuries beforehand--is facile, especially given the convenience that straws allow. Nobody wants to go back to the days before straws, and while metal straws do exist, they are not exactly practical for the purposes of takeout. However, there are a few options that exist to replace plastic straws that are disposable and inexpensive: PLA straws actually are plastic, but they’re a corn-based material that biodegrades, unlike traditional plastics. Another option is paper straws, which come in a variety of festive colors and designs, and are--of course--very readily biodegradable. Switching to one of these options is not difficult at all, and even if your local government hasn’t banned plastic straws yet, it’s something to consider to minimize your restaurant’s carbon footprint. As consumers and government representatives alike become more and more concerned with pollution and climate change, it’s more and more certain that they will push for alternatives to plastic and styrofoam containers and implements for takeout and other uses. Fortunately, restaurant supply stores carry a wide array of replacement materials and products that will help your business to make the switch and do your part to work towards preserving the environment for generations to come.

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  10. Foster Engagement with In-Restaurant Cooking Lessons

    Foster Engagement with In-Restaurant Cooking Lessons

    Spring and summer can be a tricky time for restaurants; on the one hand, the warmer weather encourages people to leave their homes more often, which can lead to a natural increase in business. On the other hand, many areas tend to lose patrons in the warmer months as tourists go on vacation to other places. This does mean that spring and summer can be a good time of year to begin engaging with the local community, although of course, engagement is something that restaurants should be cognizant of and working towards year-round. One of the more innovative and unexpected ways that your restaurant or catering operation can foster that engagement is through cooking lessons and demonstrations; with a few good restaurant supplies and a little bit of planning, you can create an event that will keep people coming in.

    It can seem counterintuitive to teach the general public tricks of the trade behind your dishes, but they are an excellent way to not only keep people informed but also increase their appreciation of what it is that goes on behind the scenes. Cooking demonstrations and lessons give your chefs or bakers the opportunity to show off their skills for an appreciative audience, giving them peace of mind and fulfilling their curiosity. Cooking classes also give customers a great experience to associate with your brand, which they can take to friends and acquaintances to increase brand recognition in the community. With more and more people becoming health conscious, it’s also a way to showcase the quality of ingredients that your operation uses.

    If you do decide to go about offering cooking classes or demonstrations, the first central question to answer is what format to use. The two basic types to use are a lecture-based lesson or a hands-on experience. Of course, a key factor in that decision will be the space and resources that you have available for the event; a cramped kitchen does not make for a lot of space to get hands-on, and without access to tools or restaurant supplies needed for the endeavor, it can easily get out of hand. A lecture-style class allows customers to sit back, relax, and watch as the chef explains step-by-step the process of making a key dish, generally while sipping wine or other drinks, and ends with sampling the dish. Hands-on classes, obviously, allow customers to actually duplicate the dish themselves, to the best of their abilities, under the careful guidance of the chef.

    The other questions to consider are: how often should you hold such events, how many people should you allow to participate, and how much to charge for the event. These, of course, will all vary on a lot of factors. To be practical it’s a good idea to offer the lesson or demonstration on a one-time basis to begin with, and see what the response to it is; you can also use that test case to figure out whether a certain format needs to be tweaked moving forward. From that point, you can set a fairly regular schedule of events either once or twice a month, weekly, or around major holidays. For price, it’s a more-or-less simple matter of looking at what you plan to serve, the quantity that you’ll need--based on how many participants there will be--and whether or not to include snacks or drinks in the event. In addition, of course, a well-known chef will command a much higher price for admission than one who isn’t known at all. On the question of how many to admit, the main criteria will of course be how much space you have and what kind of restaurant supplies you can purchase or otherwise make available for use for the demonstration or class.

    While it may seem like a good deal of effort, hosting a cooking class or demonstration can be an excellent way to engage with the community around you, and bring more people into your restaurant or generate more clients for your catering business. With a little bit of planning, a suitable concept, and a few key purchases from a reputable restaurant supply store, you can create events that will bring people to your business to learn, and keep them coming back not just to discover more tricks of the trade but also to eat and enjoy the food you have on the menu outside of what you’re teaching. Consider too that it makes for an excellent opportunity for social media marketing--Instagram-worthy pictures and Facebook posts about how much fun your event was are practically guaranteed to bring more people into your business.

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