Month: May 2014

Keep it Simple and Strong (part 2 in a series)

Cook's Correctional Kitchen Equipment and SuppliesThe KISS method of kitchen design; Keep it Simple and Strong, is the innovation of Howard Breeden, the co-founder of Cook’s Correctional.  Having spent many years in correctional kitchen management along with a formal culinary education, Howard understood the environment and the demands of the correctional kitchen and addressed these in kitchen design method.  The following is our second installment from an article that appeared in Corrections Forum in 1996, written by Howard. It’s as relevant today, as when it was written.  (click here to see the first post)

At Cook’s Correctional Kitchen Equipment and Supply, we encourage our customers to identify the number of meals needed, with specific times and time limits.  In dining room feeding where food must be held, it is critical to determine the time span of service and the time allowed for each inmate to consume the meal.

This timing issue determines the amount and size of holding equipment and cooking equipment.  Longer feeding times may permit batch cooking if the institution has enough paid labor to supervise the kitchen.

Future needs should also influence kitchen design.  Depending on an area’s inmate population growth rate, it may be cost-effective to specify equipment sized to handle twice the current inmate population because of probable growth or double-bunking.

Flow is a key element for design for all kitchens, but especially in corrections.  There must be a natural order of progression from the dock, storerooms and coolers to prep area to serving line, and for dirty trays from dining site to dishroom to storage and back into serving line.  If you don’t have good flow, you may not be able to make the operation work without losses of efficiency.

Some maximum security institutions have installed a partial wall down the front of the food line to separate inmates from servers because of the potential for intimidation.  Trays are assembled on one side of the wall and handed through a window at the end of the line.  This blind feeding system provides greater security in dining room feeding.

The serving line issue also involves control and speed.  For some inmate dining areas, guard rails can deter inmates from walking away.

For other operations, turnstiles with counters help prevent inmates going through the line more than once.  Turnstiles also provide the food director with accurate meal-served counts.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

This is the second installment in a series of posts.

Kiss your Kitchen Design – Keep it Simple and Strong (part 1)

Cook's Correctional Kitchen Equipment and SuppliesThe KISS method of kitchen design is the innovation of Howard Breeden, the co-founder of Cook’s Correctional. Howard had spent a lot of time in corrections – in the kitchen, not as an inmate, gaining a first-hand understanding of the environment. He also had a culinary background. Combining his education and experience and you get KISS. The following post is an excerpt of an article that appeared in Corrections Forum in 1996, written by Howard. It’s as relevant today, as when it was written.

If you can “think like a con” when planning or renovating a correctional kitchen, you can outwit even the most ingenious inmate. Since inmates see everything as a potential weapon, they look for opportunities to collect contraband and destroy or exploit the equipment and system. The planner’s job is to prevent problems as much as it is to design an efficient feeding operation.

That’s because the presence of inmates in the correctional kitchen means no aspect of design can be taken for granted:

  • Ceiling height: Kitchen ceilings should be high enough so that an inmate cannot stand on a cart of counter and stash contraband in a ceiling panel. Or ceilings should be dry walled or fixed security ceiling panels, which are sealed surfaces.
  • Lighting: Above average light levels create the perception in an inmate’s mind that “I’m easily seen.”
  • Equipment: There should be no parts or protuberances that could be broken off and fashioned into a weapon. Easily said, but tough to make happen.

The correctional kitchen designer should focus on three key items when planning a kitchen:

  • Client goals
  • Continuous open space
  • Simple, correctional equipment.

We use the acronym KISS: Keep it simple and strong. When you start to plan to build or renovate, develop the food service goals before retaining a designer. Your consultant / designer should understand your goals before beginning the space planning and equipment layout. Discussion of the goals and the implications for cost or space may require altering the “I want it” attitude to an “I need it” realization, resulting in a more effective and efficient objective.

This is the first in a series of posts from this article.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Innovation. Helping me to help you.


4S-CP Co-polymer Tray from Cook's Correctional

4S-CP Co-polymer Tray from Cook’s Correctional

Often when we are speaking with customers we will ask “Is there an item you have been looking for that you can’t find?” If the answer is yes, we frequently discover that the item does exist, but isn’t readily available to the correctional marketplace.  In situations like this we can usually locate the item through our vendor network and provide this to our customer. However, there are those moments when there really isn’t an item on the market made to do what they need.

That’s when we go back to what started Cook’s…Innovation.

630-200SS Sentry Series Spork

630-200SS Sentry Series Spork

We take our knowledge of your operation and begin to brainstorm with you about how or what can achieve your goal.  This is how many of the Cook’s Brand products have come to market.  In solving your problem, we’ve designed and manufactured a product that does what you need it to do.  If you take a look at our Cook’s Brand Catalog, you’ll see that it’s filled with products that were created from customer input; items like the 8 oz. Disher, the Full-Tang Dough Cutter and the flexible Sentry Series Spork.

However this is not the only instance that we go into our brainstorming sessions. Just recently we worked with a customer that was spending a large amount of money on disposable trays. They, like every other customer, were looking to cut costs wherever possible. So as we assessed their situation we were able to design a tray called the 4S-CP tray that would replace their disposable tray while reducing their cost and becoming friendlier to the environment. The ROI on this product is 3 months and the customer will save approximately $100,000 their first year on disposables. That’s a pretty good solution, don’t you think?

That tray is now in place at the facility and they are very happy with the results.  It took some work from all of us – as you know, implementing a change to your feeding process is a big deal no matter how small the change.  There were issues regarding the cleaning of the trays would work with their specific ware washing equipment but we worked through that issue too.  But these are the situations where we really get to do what we do well and we enjoy helping our customers to meet their goals.

Max Lecaros, National Sales Manager, Cook's

Max Lecaros

New to Cook’s Correctional: Useco Tray Drying Racks

TGS48-3-C-AF SS HD Tray Drying Rack from Useco

TGS48-3-C-AF SS HD Tray Drying Rack from Useco

We are continually looking to add new kitchen equipment products that fit the requirements of the correctional kitchen so that we have more options for our customers.   This year, one of the more exciting additions are Useco’s Stainless Steel Tray Drying Racks in a variety of sizes. Useco, a division of American Foodservice, is well-known for their superior meal delivery systems, which include banquet carts, hot and cold carts, holding cabinets, and conveyor systems. American Foodservice, is located in Savannah, TN and is part of the Standex Foodservice Group.  The Savannah facility has over 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space.  I believe that our customers will like that all of their products are manufactured to UL and NSF standards and are labeled with the regulatory seals of approval, because we know how important NSF is to the correctional industry.

These heavy-duty welded stainless tray drying racks are designed to position trays, pans and lids to accelerate drying. Laser cut openings provide paths for air circulation to promote drying. Stainless steel construction will put your mind at ease with no rust and years of durability.

Claudia Santangelo, Product Merchant

Claudia Santangelo

You can see our Useco Delivery Cart and Tray Drying Rack offering by visiting the Useco page in our Shop by Brand section on Cook’s Correctional.

Misonmers creeping into your kitchen?

Hobart 84186-1 Buffalo Chopper

Hobart 84186-1 Buffalo Chopper

Let’s face it, there are more kitchen products available today than you or I can comprehend.  I must admit that I am the first to think “well, that just doesn’t exist”, when I am called and asked about some items, only to find out that it does exist and has for years!  Also, it seems to me that there are certainly a fair amount of odd named items made for food service too.  And the more I talk to customers, I think that everyone has their favorite.  I have been repeating the names of these items for years without much thought – probably just like you.  But let’s take a break from the serious and look at some of the strange named items we deal with, and use, on a regular basis:

  •  Buffalo Chopper — really, it just sounds gruesome
  • Mop Towels — mop the floor, then your counter?
  • Scratch Brush — will definitely scratch everything, guaranteed
  • Waste Receptacle — come on, it’s a garbage can!
  • Bouffant Cap — any one out there still wear a bouffant hairstyle?
  • Half-dice Ice Cuber — Half dice? Full Dice?  Andrew Dice Clay?  what gives
  • Blixer — isn’t that one of Santa’s Reindeer?
  • Beverage Server — mind only holds beverages, it doesn’t serve them
  • Cam-anything — Cambro: the McDonald’s of FS equipment naming
  • Dead Man Box — aka Pirate’s of the Caribbean part 4
  • Dredge — something to scrape the bottom of a lake with?
  • Scraper or Spatula — can you remember which is which shape?
  • Disher — wouldn’t “scooper” have made more sense?
  • Cateraide Carrier — just sounds too much like Gatorade…
  • Dough Cutter — fact:  use on dough only 3% during its lifetime.

Who knew the correctional kitchen was so chock full of odd named items?  Even though I’ve worked with Cook’s Correctional Kitchen Equipment and Supplies for nearly 9 years, I’m still surprised by how easy it was to put together this list!  Want more – just grab the Cook’s 2014 Correctional Buyers Guide and peruse.  Find your favorites and email them to me!

Tim Saner, Sales Manager Cook's

Tim Saner

Hydro Force Filtration Systems from Watts Div. of Dormont

Lime Scale in a pipeIf you were to overlay an annual rainfall map of the US with that of water hardness it would show “the dryer the area, the harder the water”.    One exception might be the Florida Peninsula.  The worst states for water hardness are Utah, Colorado and Wyoming.  Water is considered hard at 4 grains per gallon and very hard at 10 and up.  Hard water doesn’t pose any hazards to your health, however it’s a nuisance and in the kitchen it can quickly diminish the efficiency of your kitchen equipment and if left unchecked eventually lead to replacement.

In Pueblo Colorado a school district suffered from hard water for over 5 years before they tried fixing the problem.  They turned to a division of Dormont Mfg. called Watts Water Technologies.   Watts OneFlow technology was implemented into this school to reduce water hardness, which it did quickly.  At first glance the OneFlow system looks like a water softener mineral tank with no control valve.  It’s a simple inlet/outlet connection with no pumps, meters or valves to confuse the end-user.  Watts water filtration systems can be purchased on Cook’s Correctional/Watts Water Technologies.

If you would like to read the article in it’s entirety on how the Pueblo Colorado school solved the hard water problems click here on Contractor

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson


Online shopping at

Online-ShoppingIs shopping online your preference?  If you’re trying to place an order before you get breakfast going – it may be your only option!  Our customer service team gets here early – but we’re not here round the clock., however, is open 24/7.

We want you to have a great experience when you shop on our website.   To make that a reality, we’ve done our best to include as much information for you as possible to help you with your purchasing decisions.

Each item has a lead time stated on the description of the item. This allows you, as the customer, to know when the item will be shipping out before you make your decision. It’s important to understand that this is an estimated time based on the information we have available to us.  You should also note that we call out our shipping time in “business days”.  While we inventory a significant amount of the products that we sell, we also work with our vendor suppliers to drop ship items directly to your facility.  This saves time and expense.  We address shipping time in business days because we do not ship on Saturday’s or Sunday’s and our vendor partners don’t either.

When you are on a product page, you will see the information specific to the product under Product Details.  There are three additional tabs next to Product Details, each leading to more information about the item.  You’ll find any Customer Reviews on the second tab.  The next tab is for Questions and Answers – where you can enter a question about the product you’re looking at and we’ll get back to you within 12 hours.  The question and answer will stay on this tab for future viewers.  Finally, we have a tab called “education center” which includes specification sheets for the item as well as warranty information.  We try to include PDF’s for your convenience. In these PDF’s it shows a more detailed description of the item and what the item comes with. If there are parts or extra accessories, it would state what those are and the items numbers that relate directly to them, for easy ordering purposes.   Also, if there are any articles that we’ve written that relate to the item, they will be linked here too.  Occasionally a tab will be blank because the item doesn’t have more relevant information to be included.

Janet St. Clair, Customer Service Manager Cook's

Janet St. Clair

If you have suggestions on how our website can be improved, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or let us know.