Cook’s Brand Products

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

Cook’s Knife Leash Kit

What happens when a knife or other sharp kitchen tool goes missing in your kitchen? If you’re like most of our customers, its lock down time until it gets found. The Knife Leash Kit was one of our first Cook’s Brand product introductions. It’s a simple, yet ingenious, tool to improve safety in your kitchen – and to reduce the time you spend searching for misplaced professional kitchen knives. Take a look at our video to see just how the knife leash kit works.

3 Things to do Now so Your Kitchen Project doesn’t become a Kitchen Nightmare

If you’ve been through a kitchen renovation in your career, you know that without proper planning – there will be a lot of pain!

John Yeager, Business Development, Cook's

John Yeager

And yet, much of that pain is avoidable if you take the time before the project starts to do some simple and relatively easy preparation.  Here are three things that we advise all clients do if they see a renovation in their future:

#1 Equipment Inventory

One of the first tasks you should do is to compile an inventory of all the kitchen equipment. A worksheet should list the manufacturer, model number, options, utilities, date of purchase and estimated life span of the equipment.  Warranty information and any maintenance agreements should also be included. Without this information equipment replacement becomes a year to year program rather than a well thought out program. Getting through a future large renovation budget or RFQ requires an understanding of the current state of operations.

#2 Does this kitchen work …..?  

This can be as simple as does this piece of equipment still meet our needs. Replacing a piece of equipment with the same piece of equipment is easy but take a moment to answer why exactly are we doing that.  More specifically, evaluate the equipment.  What exactly did you like or dislike about the equipment.  Then ask these questions:

  • Has the menu changed?  Or will the menu be changing
  • Has technology changed?
  • Has the population changed?  Or will the population be changing
  • How often is the equipment used?
  • Is the kitchen equipped to handle special diets?

This will help you assess whether replacement of the existing piece is the right choice or do you need to open up your consideration to different options.

https://www.cookscorrectional.com/product/cooks-57inx29in-stainless-tray-delivery/meal-delivery-carts

Insulated Trays / Meal Delivery Cart

A more complex situation to evaluate is to determine if the flow of the kitchen works.  Some facilities were originally created to accommodate bulk feeding; however, over the course of time may have moved to tray delivery.  In instances like this, you may find your kitchen has a tray assembly line that is placed where there was room rather than where it would best fit the workflow of the kitchen.  Your dish room may not be the ideal set up for insulated trays and other issues too.  Operations evolve over time, so a renovation is the perfect opportunity to build for what you are doing now rather than what you were originally set up to do.

#3 Future goals or shifts dietary requirements:

Now that you’ve reviewed the work flow of your kitchen today as it compares to what the kitchen was originally built for, you need to look into the future and ask yourself the same questions.

  • Are there any plans for expansion, renovation or any other construction?
  • Major repairs on the floor are inevitable, will those affect the kitchen area or will they be an opportunity for you to make needed structural changes?
  • What is the expected population over the course of the next five years?

You also want to consider potential menu changes or other production related changes:

  • Will you be accommodating more / less special diets?  do you have sufficient area and tools to do this?
  • Will you be making a shift to cook/chill from cook/serve or vice versa?
  • What about off-site provisions?  Will you be preparing food to be transported to other facilities or for use in community programs like a meals on wheels operation?

After you review these questions – you need to consider if your design can accommodate your needs in the future as well as today, and bring that perspective into your design planning.

Being prepared before you start the planning with a good view of your operation now and in the future will make a world of difference in your outcome.  If you’re going to go through the disruption of a kitchen renovation, you want to be happy with the final result!  At Cook’s Correctional, we have worked with clients across the country on projects and we’ve found that the more work that’s done on the front end, the better the outcome.

What?….that’s another way to use that, go figure!

Max Lecaros, National Sales Manager, Cook's

Max Lecaros

Have you ever taken an item and used it for something completely different from what it was created for? Take a credit card for instance. It’s used all the time to buy stuff, little stuff, big stuff, useless stuff. What else can you use that for? Look around, is there a loose screw somewhere. Just grab your trusty purchasing partner and tighten that screw. That’s right…I am sure you have at one point or another used a credit card as screwdriver.

Cook's 630-862 Full Tang Dough Cutter

Cook’s Brand 630-862 Full Tang Dough Cutter

Through our many conversations with customers, we’ve found that in a Correctional kitchen the ingredients of necessity and ingenuity work together to frequently serve up these a-ha moments. Let’s start with an easy one…the Dough Cutter. Traditionally used for what it’s named after, to cut dough. However many facilities have decided to replace all of their knives with dough cutters. That substitution was a catalyst for Cook’s to enhance the existing dough cutter design. We revamped it by adding silicon to the handle to provide more comfort when using it as a knife. Since it had a full tang blade, we added an eyelet to the side,  so that it may be tethered down to a table for security.

Just recently I learned from a customer of another a-ha moment. This facility is using the Cook’s Brand Cake Marker in a way we never thought!  While marking their cakes to create exact portions every time was the original use for their cake marker, they discovered the same grid creating those portions perfectly solved a different kitchen challenge. They make biscuits and didn’t have a way of keeping them from overlapping each other. So they use our cake marker to space out the biscuits so they do not overlap.

So what item do you use differently? Let me know, I would love to hear about it!   Leave a comment below with your a-ha moment.

Introducing the new Cook’s Brand Special Diet Label

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

by Brian Richardson

Cook’s recently launched a new product designed specifically for correctional meal delivery in our 2014 Correctional Buyer’s Guide, the Cook’s Brand Special Diet label.

Over the last 5 years, we’ve had many customers looking for a way to designate special diet meals for their inmates.  Those requests lead us to begin work on the Special Diet Label.  We started the process by talking to our customers and uncovered that the most common special diets were Kosher, Halal and low sodium, and that it was important to accommodate all of these because not all inmates have the same dietary restrictions.   In our design, we included each of these three different special diets with a check box as well a check box for ‘other’.  We also included a line to use for notes, for example to specify what ‘other’ means, or as a place to identify the inmate or location that the tray needs to be delivered.

Cook's Brand 2" x 3" Special Diet Label

Cook’s Brand Special Diet Label #630-SPD2

Under our Cook’s Brand private label you can now purchase these Special Diet labels to help you designate what type of meal you are serving so you do not mix up your special diet meals with your general population meals.  The best thing about this label is it’s dissolvable.   After the inmate is through with their meal and the tray is sent to  the dish room, the label will dissolve during the dishwashing process.  No more paper or gummy residue left on the tray or the lid from using a regular label – which was another concern uncovered in discussions with our customers.

We’ve launched this new label in two sizes; the Cook’s Brand Special Diet Label 630-SPD1 is  ½” x 2” and the Cook’s Brand Special Diet Label 630-SPD2 is  2” x 3” so that you can select the best fit according to your tray size.  Both sizes are sold in rolls of 500 labels.

As with all of our other Cook’s Brand products, we’re able to customize an item to fit your specific needs.  If you have a label size requirement that you don’t see available for sale, call us, we can make any size label you need.  We can make labels that are for a specific special diet, in different colors or in different sizes.  We’re always interested in hearing from our customers!