Cook’s – Company News

Happy Thanksgiving from Cook’s!

from all of us at Cook's!

from all of us at Cook’s!

All of us at Cook’s would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You for your business!  We know that without you, we wouldn’t be here.  To get you in the holiday spirit and help you wow your fellow guests with Thanksgiving trivia, here are ten fun facts about the holiday:

  1. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days!
  2. The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.  He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast
  3. Thanksgiving holidays were once commonly celebrated around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620.  It was not unusual in England and many parts of Europe to frequently set aside days of giving thanks to God.
  4. 91% of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving.  To feed all those hungry people, there are about 280 million turkeys sold annually, which is nearly 7 billion pounds of turkey!
  5. Cranberries are another Thanksgiving favorite and nearly 20% of all cranberries consumed in the US each year are eaten on Thanksgiving Day.
  6. Thanksgiving came into being a holiday under President Lincoln, although Sarah Joespha Hale, best known as the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, lobbied for 20 years to five different presidents, numerous governors, congressmen and media sources.  Lincoln decided on the last Thursday of November as a national Thanksgiving holiday.
  7. Thanksgiving was moved up a week by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, 1940 & 1941 to extend the Christmas shopping season – but several states didn’t go along with the move.  Congress stepped in to unify the holiday and in October of 1941 set the date for the 4th Thursday of November where it is now.
  8. Starting in 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a live turkey along with two dressed turkeys to the President.  The President then ‘pardons’ the live turkey to live out its life on a historical farm.
  9. The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in the 1920’s.
  10. Americans aren’t the only ones celebrating Thanksgiving, our neighbors to the north do too. Canada celebrates on the second Monday in October.

Wishing you a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Cook’s Correctional Kitchen Equipment and Supplies!

Meet me in St. Louis!

The 2014 Annual International Conference for the Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates is going on right now in St. Louis.  Here’s a picture of the opening reception (courtesy of the ACFSA):

2014 Opening Reception at the 2014 ACFSA Conference

2014 Opening Reception at the 2014 ACFSA Conference

If you would like to see pictures from the show as they are posted – you can go to the ACFSA’s Facebook page (click here:  ACFSA Facebook Page).  You can also learn more about the show itself at

We’re excited this year to be participating in a panel discussion that was held on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. called  From Idea to Reality:  the Story of a New Product.  The panel discussion features Jeff Breeden, Cook’s Correctional, Cathy O’Shia, New Age Industrial and Mark Easterday, Star Manufacturing in an open forum to discuss how new products are developed and come to market in response to the operational challenges faced by our customers.

We hope it’s a great show!

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou


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 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

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou


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


Keep it Simple and Strong (part 4 in a series)

BR inmage kitchenWhether you’re using a dining room system or insulated tray service, there’s only one efficient shape for the correctional foodservice work area and that’s rectangular.  Alcoves, hallways, and other possible hiding places must be designed out.  The old style of many small rooms is dangerous as well as inefficient.  For institutions with populations exceeding 2,000 inmates, however, multiple work areas in multiple rooms may be necessary.

Good design with unobstructed sight lines can keep labor costs down.  And, good design with no visual obstructions generally equates to fewer security risks and better inmate behavior.  This will result in lower maintenance cost and less equipment replacement.  Hiding places should be eliminated.  Any place where a #10 can could be hidden is a spot for brewing hootch.  Favorite places are behind large rotating ovens, between free-standing equipment and walls, and in other similar spaces.

Even experienced designers can unwittingly cause security problems by creating visual barriers.  While typical institutional kitchen designs include a ceiling-high wall behind cooking banks of ranges, ovens and kettles, a partial or half wall will improve visibility in the correctional kitchen.  Food service management and security offices must have complete visibility of the entire kitchen, dining room, receiving and storage entry areas.  Any necessary tall equipment should be located against exterior walls of the space.

Inmate break areas must be visible to security officers without requiring a walk around corners or past walls.  Office space for the kitchen manager should offer full views of all inmate work areas and provide lockable space for records and civilian personal belongs.

The selection and specification of appropriate equipment is the third key to good correctional kitchen design.  We’ll cover more on that in our next post.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Keep it Simple and Strong (Part 3 in a Series)

Meal Serving in CorrectionsIn the last post, the concept of ‘flow’ as it relates to your kitchen design was covered.  The importance of thinking through your process and reviewing how your kitchen layout will either direct your flow or impede your operation should be done during the design process so that you can create an efficient and safe design.

Options like a blind feeding system, guard rails and turnstiles direct the flow of meal serving and they also help speed people through the process.  This is especially helpful when you need to feed two to three groups in an hour. An efficient system depends on the security level of inmates to be fed, the number of people who come through, the amount of time for feeding and the method of service delivery.

Each of the three variations of correctional kitchen design is based on delivery system and menus.  In prisons, dining rooms are the most common, while in jails, thermal insulated trays are the most popular.  In the past few years, cook-chill has also become an alternative.

The cook-chill system has proven effective in multi-site feeding where bulk rethremalization is used.  The alternate delivery system for cook-chill is the rethremalization of individual trays.  Each type of system directly affects costs.  The least expensive is generally feeding in a dining room, while thermal trays are a close second.  However, selecting a system must be based on local conditions.  There is no “right” system.

The key to controlling food costs in correctional feeding is controlling both raw food product and portions.  Accurate portioning onto a tray in a dining room or onto a tray in the kitchen can make the different in meeting – or busting – the budget.

There is no one right system, each has pluses and minuses.  Dining rooms require more space than tray feeding in cells, while cook-chill kitchens require more refrigerated storage space.  Insulated tray service requires added space for tray drying (when using a dishwasher) and tray assembly.

Whatever the system chosen, there’s only one efficient shape for the work area — rectangular.  More about that in our next segment.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou


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

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