Kettle tools for food service

Kettle Tools for Food Service Operations

Kettle cooking in corrections is a staple for food production and serving. Obviously, the amount that will need to be prepared is usually in huge proportions. Even in smaller, local jails, food preparation is typically done at large scale. Do you or does your corrections facility use kettles to prepare inmate meals? It probably does, and if you are looking to learn more about correctional quality kettle tools, you have come to the right place.

Minimum Security Correctional Facilities or Restaurant

Kettle tools should be durable enough for your food service operation and you will know by daily use and the level of wear and tear you see on your tools. Minimum security correctional facilities as well as restaurants that only use their kettle once a day or a few times a week can get away with using lighter weight tools like these medium duty kettle tools. Another benefit to the medium duty kettle tools is that they are easier to handle because of the lighter weight which is why we recommend them for juvenile and women’s facilities. These tools come at a lower price point and have enough durability to get the job done consistently, but aren’t suggested for operations where inmates abuse equipment such as breaking up frozen foods with the end of the kettle tool. Check out more information on these and all of our kettle tool grades below:

Heavi-“er” Duty Kettle Tools

Not that the previously mentioned kettle tools are flimsy or anything but our Cook’s brand heavy duty and extra heavy duty kettle tools are what you want if your tools are being used over and over again throughout the day or in an environment where the inmates are hard on the equipment. Are you somewhere in-between? You should be just fine with the heavy duty kettle tools. All of these lines have an oar shaped handle for superior grip when working with extra heavy foods. The main difference between the different lines is going to be the gauge of the 304 stainless steel handle (11 gauge for the extra heavy duty, 16 gauge for the heavy duty and 18 gauge for medium duty), tool length (36 or 48 in.) and in some cases the widths of the heads.

Whether you’re a correctional facility of any size or a restaurant interested in finding the perfect kettle tools for your food service operation, has the perfect set for you.

Your Guide to Disposable Plastic Glassware

Restaurants, bars and caterers often use plastic glasses rather than traditional glass for durability and affordability. However, if you have shopped for plastic glassware you know that there are various types of plastics to choose from. So, what’s the difference?

Each type of plastic has its own characteristics. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you know what you’re getting when you choose one over the other to help you select the type of plastic you require.


polycarbonate plastic glassware
This is a very durable, hard-wearing plastic and is used to make riot shields and crash helmets. It is often touted as unbreakable, and it’s close to that. Glasses made from polycarbonate are dishwasher save up to and beyond 500 washes. Because of this, these glasses are the recommended choice for use in nightclubs, bars and pubs. Polycarbonate glasses can also be recycled.



SAN, or Styrene Acrylonitrile, is a very hard and long lasting plastic, but it does crack when put under significant pressure. SAN glasses are dishwasher safe and are able to withstand the high temperature and chemicals in commercial dish machines. For this reason, glasses made of SAN are a good fit for restaurants as well as household use. San is also a recyclable material.


Polystyrene Plastic Cups
Polystyrene (PS) is a hard and somewhat brittle plastic that is used to make reusable, as well as disposable, plastic tumblers and glasses. One of the benefits of polystyrene is that it can be recycled.


Polypropylene Dinex Plastic-ware

Polypropylene (PP) is used in many different applications beyond food service. A thermoplastic polymer, you will find polypropylene in stationary, packaging, textiles as well as disposable plastic glasses. Polypropylene can be recycled just as polystyrene can be; however, polypropylene glasses are not reusable, where there are reusable polystyrene glasses.

You can find a variety of plastic tumblers and other types of plastic drink ware at Cook’s Direct.

The 3 Most Important Tips for Selecting an Insulated Tray

When it’s time to select an insulated tray for your facility, there are three critical components that must be considered:

1. What is your menu like?

Tray configurations can range from 3-6 compartments depending on your menu (4 and 6 being the most popular). Begin by analyzing your menu for a month to determine the biggest serving sizes and type of food served. Next, decide if you want two items to share the same compartment or if you want each item to have its own compartment.  Then, if the inmate receives a spork with every meal, decide if the spork will have its own compartment or be placed in a compartment with other food (normally, dry food, like bread). Check out the 4 compartment Gator Tray or Grizzly Tray for ideas of this style of tray. If a dedicated flatware compartment is important, check out the 6 compartment Gorilla Tray or Marathon Tray.

2. How do you serve your inmates?

Do the inmates eat in the dining room or in their pods?  For pods, insulated trays or heated carts are necessary to maintain food at the proper temperature.  If you are re-therming in the tray, you will need trays that tolerate a wide temperature range, like the Cook’s Flex Trays.  Its temperature range exceeds 450 degrees F. Check out the video below to see them in action.  If you are serving in a dining room, we recommend a standard, co-polymer 6 compartment tray.

3. How do you transport your meals?

Do you prefer to transport in an open cart or enclosed cart?  Are your required to deliver the meal with hot food above 140 degrees or does the food need to be above 140 when it leaves the kitchen?  Two shelf or flatbed carts provide economical transport of insulated trays.  Trays transported using this method generally hold temperature for 30 minutes.  Enclosed carts will hold temperature slightly longer, especially when transporting outside.  Cook’s has a wide range of two shelf carts, flat bed carts and enclosed carts.

Cook’s has an extremely deep assortment of insulated trays to meet all of your correctional serving needs, for more information visit the Tray Buying Guide or check out the best meal trays for Correctionals.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Slicer

One of the great benefits of social media and the web is the increase of communication tools. Many of us have used YouTube to find music or entertainment – who knew so many people loved to watch cat videos? And, I personally never imagined how many people loved making cat videos. But entertainment aside, video also offers us a great opportunity for learning and education.

We love receiving videos from vendors that provide product demonstrations, new product introductions and more. Especially helpful training videos, like the one below from Vollrath. vollrath

When it Comes to Disposable Flatware, You Have Many Choices

When it comes to disposable flatware, you can either settle for flimsy, substandard plastic flatware that will snap the second pressure is applied, or sturdy, appealing flatware that functions properly and offers some additional benefits at the same time. If you have ever been on the receiving end of plastic ware that delivers headaches and not much more, then you know just how important making the right choice is. Throw security considerations into the mix and you are faced with one huge challenge. We found three of the most innovative and economical disposable flatware on the market.

FSE disposable flatware is a top performer because of its durability and cost-effectiveness. You can get teaspoons, forks, knives, soup spoons and even flatware kits to really make things easy.

Ecotensil has moved to the top of the market particularly for high security applications. This large, silky-smooth, spoon is easy to use and recyclable-plus, it comes in a variety of different sizes and made in the USA. The best part is, they remove worry from situations where safety is important and crucial.

With the strength to stand up to everyday dining tasks like cutting foods and piercing meats, and offering great looks in the bargain, Hoffmaster flatware is the clear winner. This flatware is also biodegradable and 100% compostable. Their spoons, forks and knives will hold up well in the dining room and is surprisingly economical. An all-around outstanding choice.


How to Choose the Right Material for Meal Serving Products

One of the questions we frequently hear from our customers is ‘how do I know what material is the right choice for my trays and other meal serving products?’ To best answer that question, we put together this video that reviews the different materials and shows you the properties of each. There are four different types of materials that we use in meal serving products:

  • silicone
  • soft hybrid plastic
  • copolymer
  • polycarbonate.

The Flex Line and Sentry Series both have security benefits while copolymer and polycarbonate are all about durability and great value. You’ll see demonstrations of all these products in the following video.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 800-956-5571 and we’ll be happy to help you!. And be sure to check out our other videos on the Cook’s Correctional YouTube Channel.


Cook’s Kitchen Equipment Sizing Guide

Year-end spend deadlines are looming and many of our customers use this as an opportunity to replace equipment that’s nearing the end of its life. If you are considering a new piece of equipment for your facility or replacing an existing piece, it’s a good idea to review the Cook’s Equipment Sizing Guide to be sure that whatever you purchase has the capacity to meet your production needs. The equipment sizing guide will help you find the right sized pieces for your population. Read from left to right for the number of inmates. If you need any assistance, our sales reps are always happy to help you.

Equipment Sizing Guide