Cook’s Brand Products

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.

The new Correctional Buyers Guide is out!

Cook's Correctional Buyers GuideWe recently mailed the 2014 Correctional Buyers Guide for August and if you’re on our mailing list, you can be looking for that in your mailbox!  We publish our Buyers Guide three times a year – and in this version you’ll find mid-year product introductions and updates.

Some of the exciting new products that you’ll find in this catalog include the new Cook’s Brand 16 oz. Correctional Tumblers and the

Cook's Brand 16 oz Tumblers

Cook’s Brand 16 oz Tumblers

Cook’s Brand Reusable Meal Tray.  The tumblers are a new addition to our popular Cook’s Brand tumbler line and have all the features that you’re accustomed to in these products.   Available in Orange Copolymer or Clear or Transparent Blue Polycarbonate, these tumblers have a thick-wall construction to provide durability in the correctional environment.  They are textured to minimize surface scratches and designed for easy stacking and separation.  The Reusable Meal Tray was designed specifically to replace disposable Styrofoam trays for a positive environmental impact and a significant cost reduction in operations that utilize disposable trays for meal delivery.

We’ve also introduced the Caterseal Food Pan Gasket, which is a rubber gasket in sizes to fit half or full size steam table pans.  This rubber gasket fits around the edge of your steam table pan providing a tight seal between the well and the pan surface.  This also allows for staff to more easily remove the pans from the steam table.  And this gasket works with bent and dented pans.

There’s more to see in the catalog too.  We continue to strive to put together a collection of products that are appropriate for the correctional kitchen which includes heavy-duty equipment, smallwares and supplies designed to withstand the day-in day-out abuse of the jail and prison kitchen as well as cost-effective alternative commodity products as alternatives to higher priced brand names.   You can view the new 2014 catalog at http://www.cookscorrectional.com by clicking here:  2014 Correctional Buyers Guide.  If you would like a copy of the catalog mailed to you, please give us a call at 1-800-956-5571 or send an email to customerservice@cookscorrectional.com.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

 

5 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Cook's Correctional Kitchen Equipment and SuppliesReprinted with permission from Summer 2014 INSIDER Magazine, the Official Magazine of the Association of  Correctional Food Service Affiliates.  By Linda Mills, MBA, RD, FADA Corporate Dietitian – Community Education Centers.

Food costs continue to increase and food budgets continue to decrease in many cases.  Fiscal health of food cost control is not cutting corners.  It is keeping a tight control on food costs.  So where can you find extra money?  Often the answer is right in your operation.  Have you looked at food waste recently as a source of losing money?

Over ProductionDo you know how much food is needed for a meal?  How many people are you serving?  What is the portion size?  How many ounces are in a pan?  How are recipes scaled to provide the necessary quantity?  These are just some of the questions related to over production that a manager needs to consider.  Yes, you want to have a little extra, but what percentage over is reasonable to allow for spillage in your operation?

Over Portioning — This is a universal issue.  Is the proper serving utensil being used.  Is the staff trained to know what portion goes with each color scooper or ladle?  Are portions served level or heaping?  When portions are heaping, what is the chance you will run out of food or need additional food for the meal?

Not Following Recipes — Typically the cost of a recipe is determined when a menu is developed to make sure the menu is within budget.  The cost of the recipe is determined using specific ingredients and specific quantities of those ingredients.  When standardized recipes are not followed there are a number of potential issues related to the cost.  Is the correct product used for that recipe or is the product used more expensive?  Is the correct quantity of an ingredient used?  If not, over or under purchasing may occur.  Both of which can impact the bottom line.

Not Rotating Stock — We have all heard of FIFO — First In, First Out.  However, FIFO may not be happening all the time in an operation and result in spoilage.  Proper rotation of all food items will prevent wasting money with the need to throw out an item because it is rotten or out of date.  It will also help determine if the order guide needs to be adjusted so less of an item is needed to adequately prepare the menu.

Time and Temperature Abuse — Time and temperature abuse will result in the need to throw out food.  Lack of controls and follow-up with time and temperature standards in an operation can be very costly.  It most likely is a result of staff not properly doing their job.

The Bottom Line — Any and all of these practices can result in throwing money down the drain and having a negative impact on the bottom line of an operation.  What will you do TODAY to stop throwing money down the drain?

Linda Mills, MBA, RDN, FADA

Linda Mills, MBA, RDN, FADA

 

Bright Colors Reduce Loss

Cook's Brand Economy Spork

Cook’s Brand Economy Spork

A common issue in the correctional kitchen and any institutional operation is the loss of flatware and utensils.  It’s easy for these items to get thrown away.  They often go right into the trash when trays are cleared and if your flatware is beige or brown, staff may not even see that they’ve thrown it away.

Knowing this is a widespread problem which is both a nuisance and an unnecessary expenses, we made sure to include a bold color option in all our flatware and tumbler products in the Cook’s Brand line.  We offer a very bright orange for all our flatware, tumblers and some other items.  This can make it very obvious when the items make it into the trash can.  The color allows the item to visibly stand out, to minimize your loss.

We also have some of our trays in very bright colors for your convenience and we sell clear trash can liners so that you can see what’s getting thrown out as well as minimize the opportunity for contraband being hidden in the trash.  Our bright orange flatware products are the highest selling color in our offering.

Janet St. Clair, Customer Service Manager Cook's

Janet St. Clair

Keep it Simple and Strong (part 5 in a series)

Heavy-duty Globe Whip made just for Corrections

Heavy-duty Globe Whip made by Cook’s just for Corrections

Specification and selection of appropriate equipment is the third key to good correctional kitchen design.  While some standard institutional equipment can be used in corrections, the details must not inspire exploitation.  Handles should be welded on, not screwed.  Stainless steel equipment should be specified as 14-gauge heavy-duty steel.  Coolers should have bar locks, and walk-in coolers should have an interior escape mechanism.  Knives and other implements should be stored on shadow boards in a lockable 14-gauge steel cabinet.

Storage cabinets should have strong locks with hasps, bars, or other secure devices.  In many cases it is advisable to have separate locked storage within the storage area for high contraband items like spices, coffee and sugar.  Since manufacturers have discovered the correctional market, many new products designed specifically for jails and prisons are now available.  There are many new systems on the shelf awaiting the right application.

A word to the wise, however – a thorough evaluation, with a cautious eye, should always be used when evaluating options presented to you from different manufacturers.  One quick way to analyze a system or piece of equipment is this:  When an explanation of how it works and what benefit it delivers takes longer than a minute, ask if the system is too complex or too fragile for inmate use and probable abuse.  When you build and renovate a kitchen, remember the KISS dictum:  keep it simple and strong.

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

Sneak Peek: a 16 oz. Cook’s Brand Tumbler is Coming

Cook's Brand Co-polymer Tumblers

Cook’s Brand Co-polymer Tumblers

In 2005,  Cook’s Correctional launched their own Cook’s Brand Co-Polymer Correctional Tumblers and Cook’s Brand Polycarbonate Correctional Tumblers. When these were launched, we rolled out three different sizes:  the 8 oz., 9.5 oz and 12 oz. size tumblers.

Our customers have been very happy with the quality of our co-polymer tumblers and how well they hold up in the harshest of correctional environments.  During the design process, we spent reviewed many of the products that were in the market currently.   As with all our Cook’s Brand products, our goal wasn’t to just introduce a new tumbler that was the same as the other tumblers on the market — we wanted to introduce one that was better and designed specifically to stand up to the abuse of the correctional environment.  That’s why we engineered the Cook’s Brand Tumblers to have a base and rim that are thick-walled for longer life.  We also textured the surface slightly to hide scratches and minimize everyday wear.  The smooth lip of the tumbler ensures it is comfortable to use.

Cook’s has sold over 1 million correctional tumblers in the last 9 years. In July 2014 Cook’s will launch a new size to the popular product line in a 16 oz capacity. We are making this size, because our customers asked and we listened. The new 16 oz. Cook’s Correctional co-polymer and polycarbonate materials will be available for sale in the August 2014 Cook’s Buyer’s Guide.

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

What makes a good tray delivery cart?

Cook's Brand Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

Cook’s Brand Stainless Steel Tray Delivery Cart

We have a ton of experience with tray delivery carts, so much that a few years ago we felt we could design and build carts that were superior to anything on the market.

So what makes a good cart…

To start with, you need a strong frame for the entire cart and shelves. One of the biggest areas of failure on a cart is the front of the shelf, where it is typically just welded. On our carts, we reinforce the top/bottom shelves with square tube so when the inmate sits on it or overloads it, the shelf won’t break.

Next, you must have great casters. Casters that are large enough to be pushed easily through the yard or down to the housing unit at the end of the facility. We like 6” polyurethane, non-marking casters which hold about 2000 lbs. Yes, no one will ever put 2000 lbs. on it but why take the chance!

Beyond casters and a sturdy frame, corner bumpers, welded handles and heavier gauge stainless steel are also very important. But when purchasing a new 2 shelf cart, the primary focus should be on the frame and casters. IF the frame and casters are made to

Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

Jeff Breeden

withstand corrections abuse, the cart will last you a long time.

Your cart can be Stainless Steel or Aluminum – we carry Cook’s Brand carts in both materials and have many customers who purchase each of them.  The difference in the materials really won’t affect the life of your cart so much as the appearance, weight and the price as aluminum is less expensive than stainless. If you in the market for a cart, make sure to look at how it’s built to be sure it will last in your operation.

The Origins of the Flex Tray

Cook's 335 Brown Flex Trays

Cook’s 335 Brown Flex Trays

Did you know that the super durable, NSF approved Flex Trays originated with the simple bakeware found at Bed, Bath and Beyond. When silicone was introduced to the consumer market 8 years ago, we thought that it would be a great material for correctional trays.

Now, there were a lot of things we needed to address…it needed to be super sturdy, incredibly durable and meet all foodservice standards. It took us 2 years to find the right silicone (all silicone is not the same) and engineer the product so it would stand up to corrections abuse.

After we had this figured out, we worked with NSF to certify the product which is the only flexible corrections tray to carry this certification. We now have six different Flex Tray designs to choose from along with Flex Tumblers, Flex Mugs, Flex Bowls and the Flex Spoon.

Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

Jeff Breeden

The Cook’s Brand Flex Products are a great line of correctional meal serving products and currently being used in 100’s of facilities across the country.

Custom Colors are Getting People’s Attention!

Custom Color products from Cook's

Custom color products from Cook’s

You can always count on Cook’s for new innovative ideas to the Correctional Market. One of our latest initiatives is our new custom color program for trays, tumblers, and flatware.  While custom colors programs exist from other vendors, we launched our custom color program on Cook’s Brand products to allow for very low minimum order quantities. Cook’s understands that a facility may have the need for more than the standard 2 or 3 color choices. Having a variety of colors available for your meal serving needs allows you to offer different color choices for Segregation units, Special Diet, or just a different color for a specific housing unit. Whatever the reason, Cook’s has provided you with the flexibility in your operation to use a variety of colors for all your dinnerware needs.

We have had over 20 of our customers purchase our custom color meal serving products since we began this product offering in 2013. Some of our customers include the Rivers Correctional Institute in Winton, NC, Dallas County Correctional Facility, and a new color co-polymer tray concept for the Cook County Jail in Sioux Falls, North Dakota.

Claudia Santangelo, Product Merchant

Claudia Santangelo

 

Custom colors are available in all Insulated, Sentry Series and Co-polymer trays and lids, co-polymer and polycarbonate tumblers, flatware, and Flex trays. There is no minimum order requirement for special color orders on Flex products and a 10 case minimum order