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.
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.
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.
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:
- soft hybrid plastic
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.
Listen to CEO of Cook’s Correctional, Jeff Breeden, share the story of how Cook’s began 18 years ago and flourished into the success it is today.
This handy little guide will help you determine how much time is required to set up and a wide variety of kitchen equipment. You can also download it here Kitchen Equipment Installation 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.
I want to introduce you to our latest Cook’s Brand product: The Rhino Cart
- The Rhino Cart is an extremely durable, one-piece insulated tray delivery cart.
- Made from FDA approved high impact polyethylene and fully insulated for strength and superior heat retention.
- The Rhino Cart is only 29 ¾” Deep so it fits through narrow 30” doorways – going where many other carts can’t go.
- Rugged molded-in hinge pin doors open 260o giving you unobstructed access to the interior for easy loading, unloading and cleaning.
- Quick delivery time of approximately 2-weeks from order date (excludes shipping time).
But while a picture is worth a thousand words – a video is even better! Take a look at our Rhino Cart demonstration video featuring Jeff Breeden, CEO of Cook’s.
When it’s time to select an insulated tray for your facility, there are three critical components that must be considered:
What’s your Menu?
How do you serve your inmates?
And how do you transport your meals?
The first step is to analyze your menu and determine the appropriate tray layout. Tray configurations can range from 3-6 compartments depending on your menu requirements (6 being the most popular). It is best to begin by analyzing your meal schedule for a month. From there, determine what is the highest number of items you serve in one meal and that will tell you how many compartments you’ll want to get in your tray. The final consideration is your flatware and condiments, there are trays with flatware compartments(check out the Gorilla Tray or Marathon Tray) and tray’s without them (see the Gator Tray or Grizzly Tray).
Next, you need to determine how your meals are served. If you serve in a cook/chill or re-therm environment we recommend that you research trays with a wide temperature range, like the Cook’s Flex Trays–best for high security environments. With the cook/serve method, first determine if you have a cafeteria style environment or you transport to a pod. Depending on your situation, you need to consider tray stacking and ways to avoid overflow.
Finally, the tray you choose is influenced by a wide variety of elements-from what you serve to how you serve it. You can transport your trays in an open or closed tray delivery cart (see Cook’s Brand Carts). It is critical you keep temperature around 180 degrees so you can deliver and serve at a minimum temperature of 140 degrees.
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 wide selection of trays available at cookscorrectional.com.
To meet the various needs of your food service operation, you’ll find baking pans in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials. When you’re choosing a pan, be it a loaf pan, muffin pan or sheet pan it’s good to see what the market says about those pans or to see what you are using currently that you prefer to cook with in your operation. The different materials, thickness and design of the pan will impact your final product – and you don’t want to end up with foods that stick to your pans or are burnt on the edges and not fully cooked in the center.
Following is a break down of options you’ll find in baking pans:
Popular brands: Carlisle, FSE, Focus Foodservice, Vollrath, Economy
Types of pans: Bread Pans or Loaf Pans, Cake Pans, Cupcake Pans or Muffin Pans, Pie Pans, Hot Dog Pans, Sheet Pans, Springform Pans, Hamburger Bun Pans
Baking Pan Sizes: Varies on application. The size of baking pans depends greatly on its type. Loaf pans range from around 6 x 3 inches to 12 x 4 inches. Cupcake pans or muffin pans accommodate 24 3-1/2 oz cupcakes and cake pans are available up to 18 x 24 inches. Sheet pans come in full (18 x 24 inches), half (13 x 18 inches) and quarter (9 x 13 inches) sizes. These will accommodate many different types of baked goods.
Materials: Stainless Steel, Steel, Tin-plated, Aluminum. Baking pans are generally made from aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is a better conductor of heat and less expensive than stainless steel is and it will promote more even baking, however, it is reactive to acidic foods so this can give food a metallic flavor which will not happen with stainless steel. Aluminized steel baking pans, which are steel that is coated with aluminum-silicon alloy, are the most common./
Finish: Non-stick or Natural. Some baking pans have non-stick surfaces while others retain their natural, uncoated surfaces. The obvious benefit to a non-stick pan is that foods are easily removed from the pan and edges stay intact. Often these pans are darker in color and require an adjustment in the baking temperature and time. The finish is often up to the preference of the chef.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes minimum internal temperatures for cooked foods.
It is important to remember that these values can be superseded by state or local health code requirements, but they cannot be below the FDA limits. Temperatures should be measured with a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the meats, or the center of other dishes, avoiding bones and container sides. Minimum internal temperatures are set as follows:
165 degrees F (74 degrees C) for 15 seconds:
- Poultry (such as whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck)
- Stuffed meats, fish, poultry and pasta
- Any previously cooked foods that are reheated from a temperature below 135 degrees F (57 degrees C), provided they have been refrigerated or warm less than 2 hours
- Any potentially hazardous foods cooked in a microwave, such as poultry, meat, fish or eggs
155 degrees F (68 degrees C) for 15 seconds
- Ground meats (such as beef or pork)
- Injected meats (such as flavor-injected roasts or brined hams)
- Ground or minced fish
- Eggs that will be held for a length of time before eaten
145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for 15 seconds
- Steaks and chops such as beef, pork, veal and lamb
- Eggs cooked for immediate service
145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for 4 minutes
- Roasts (can be cooked to lower temperatures for increased lengths of time)
135 degrees F (57 degrees C) for 15 seconds
- Cooked fruits or vegetables that will be held for a length of time before eaten
- Any commercially processed, ready-to-eat foods that will be held for a length of time before eaten.
In addition, hot food must be held at a minimum internal temperature of 135 degrees F (57 degrees C) if it is not immediately consumed. The temperature must be checked every 4 hours or else labeled with a discard time. Although monitored hot food can be held indefinitely in this way without a food safety concern, the nutritional value, flavor and quality can suffer over long periods.
You can find more helpful cooking information in the resource section of the Cook’s Correctional Buyers Guide which is available for viewing on CooksCorrectional.com.