Correctional Kitchen Operations

Mixers 101 – common misconceptions that impact performance

Content adapted from Hobart & FES magazine

Whether you need a mixer for continuous use or the occasional batch, it’s important to have the right equipment for the job. A mixer that isn’t sized right can affect performance and increase costs. Learning these common misconceptions about mixers will help you make the best selection for the tasks performed and provide a long life in your correctional kitchen.

Misconception 1: Larger Motor Equals More Power

When it comes to mixers, remember that advertised horsepower won’t give you a complete picture of expected performance. A larger motor doesn’t mean the mixer will provide you with more power. Instead, check the mixer’s efficiency and torque, which affect the ability to drive the agitator into the bowl. This ensures that product is mixed thoroughly. The type of drive system the mixer has is a key factor here. For example the Hobart® Legacy® mixers with Variable Frequency Drive use a variable-speed motor and a single gear train to regulate the frequency and voltage of the electric current to the motor. This drive regulates the mixer speed so that it will increase or decrease to put the right amount of torque into the bowl to make sure ingredients are consistently mixed every time. If a mixer needs a larger motor to drive the same amount of torque as a smaller motor would drive, too much energy is being used to accomplish the task. When this is happening, components can become hotter faster and it can lead to premature motor failure, costly repairs and even replacement.

Misconception 2: More Is Always Better

It is best to determine the size and type of mixer you require by reviewing how you will be using the mixer. First, be sure to select the correct bowl size so that you won’t tax the motor. Sometimes a larger bowl will be needed, but not always; you use the absorption ratio to determine this. To calculate the absorption ratio, water weight is divided by flour weight. This is important because the recommended maximum capacity of the mixer depends on the moisture content of the dough. For example, on the Hobart mixer capacity chart, the capacities are based on an absorption rate calculation formula of 12% flour moisture at 70-degree Fahrenheit water temperature. Also, your kitchen may not require a maximum heavy-duty mixer. If the mixer is used periodically for heavy dough or limited batch use, a standard heavy-duty mixer would be a better choice. A good rule of thumb is if you are doing less than four hours of mixing daily. Anything more than that is better served with a maximum heavy-duty mixer.

Misconception 3: Routine Maintenance Isn’t Critical

Routine maintenance is important for any piece of kitchen equipment to reduce problems and extend the productive life of the equipment. Mixers have lubrication points like the actuators which are involved in lifting and lowering the bowl that need regular attention. You can save yourself future trouble by following the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how much and how often you grease these points. Also, you need to be sure you do not wipe off all the grease when you are cleaning because this may prevent the bowl from moving up and down correctly.

It is important to pay attention to the bowl clearance to see that it stays consistent. You can damage the bowl if the agitator is hitting the bottom and if the agitator isn’t positioned properly in the bowl, your ingredients will not get mixed thoroughly. You can refer to the operator’s manual for adjustment instructions.

It’s also recommended that you have your mixer inspected by a service provider annually as a proactive means of equipment maintenance. Taking care of heavy-duty kitchen equipment with regular maintenance will reduce your expenses in the long-term and extend the life or your equipment in your correctional foodservice operation.

What can you do with a Tilt Skillet?

The Tilt Skillet or Braising Pan is one of the most versatile pieces of correctional kitchen equipment available. With the capacity to saute, grill, fry, steam, or braise, these multitasking dynamos are all about helping institutional kitchens do more with less. We recommend them when you have limited space because one tilt skillet can be used to steam, grill and even to fry foods.

Below is a quick demonstration of the Vulcan V-Series Tilt Skillet. We recommend Vulcan equipment because it has proven itself many times over in correctional kitchen applications throughout the years as highly durable and long lasting heavy-duty kitchen equipment.

If you’re interested in learning more about tilt-skillets or other Vulcan Foodservice Equipment, give us a call and we will be happy to assist you. We have access to their full line of commercial kitchen equipment and are fully trained on their product line.

Made For Corrections Mondays – Rite-Size Servers

Happy first day of Autumn and another Made For Corrections Mondays. This week’s edition features our Rite-Size Servers. These portion control serving utensils come in seven sizes to accommodate most anything on your correctional menu. We have 2,3,4,6,8,10 & 12 oz servers. Each Cook’s Brand Rite-size Server is a different color to make it easy to visually identify if the right size is being used on the tray assembly line and the capacity is marked clearly on the handle. In this video Jeff Breeden, CEO of Cook’s, tells you how these servers are Made for Corrections.

Visit Cook’s online – The leader in correctional kitchen equipment and supplies.

Made for Corrections Mondays is a video series featuring a variety of foodservice kitchen equipment and supplies and highlights how they are Made for Corrections. All the videos are short and informative.

Be sure to check back next Monday to learn the unique challenges facing jail and prison foodservice operations and the corresponding Cook’s Brand product solutions that are Made For Corrections.

New Multi-terrain Mobility™ Carts

Lakeside introduces their new heavy duty utility cart with features that could revolutionize the utility cart as we know it.  The unique articulating handle design on these carts allows for the maximum leverage with heavy loads over all types of surfaces.   The 42” handle height is ergonomic for utmost leverage and easier push/pull maneuverability. If you need two-person guided transport for challenging outdoor use, you can take advantage of the dual-handle design included on this cart.

These mobility carts are equipped with rugged casters, two rigid and two swivel with brake. The large wheels roll smoothly over thresholds and uneven surfaces. Casters are 6″ or 8″ pneumatic.

The rugged design on these stainless steel carts feature durable U-frame welded construction, reinforced top shelf, and a 700 lb. total load capacity. The shelves have edges on three sides to hold cargo securely while providing easy loading and unloading. They are built to carry the heaviest cargo loads across rough terrains and long distances making them an ideal cart in the correctional environment.

Lakeside set out to build a cart that would allow operators to transport items across a variety of terrains easily and improve efficiency, under the toughest conditions.  And that’s exactly what they did.  They plan to offer this option on their full line. To learn more about these carts, you can view the spec sheet or call Cook’s at 800-956-5571 for additional details.

Welcome to Made for Corrections Monday

We’ve been in corrections for over 20 years, and so have many of our customers. It’s always interesting; maybe even amusing, when someone who isn’t in the industry finds out that you specialize in correctional foodservice. The first question is often something like – how is that a specialty? I like to respond with the obvious”picture yourself in a confined area with several inmates using very sharp knives.” It is fun to watch the dawning of awareness in their eyes and then the questions about how you address the unique challenges of the correctional kitchen begin; like sharp knives and inmates to start.

That’s what Made for Corrections Mondays is all about. This new series will introduce you to a variety of correctional foodservice kitchen equipment and supplies and highlight how they are Made for Corrections.

In these videos Jeff Breeden, CEO of Cook’s, will demonstrate kitchen products that help solve a challenge that is unique to corrections. Usually these product will help you improve security and safety or they are made to outlast inmate abuse. But some items have very specific backstories, like a spork that is designed to be flushed down a toilet and not cause an overflow. All of the videos are quick and informative.

We’re glad to have you join us for Made for Corrections Mondays. And if you have a product suggestion, question or a challenge in your facility that you need help solving, send an email to cmeneou@cooksdirect.com or give us a call at 1-800-956-5571. Thanks for watching and be sure to come back next week for another edition of Made for Corrections Monday.

Designed for Tray Make-Up in Corrections

The Correctional Tray Assembly Line from Cook’s is one of the earliest Cook’s Brand Products. In this video, Jeff Breeden, CEO of Cook’s, demonstrates many of the features that make this heavy-duty tray assembly line unique from other similar equipment solutions and how it is designed and engineered for corrections.

We introduced the Cook’s Brand Correctional Tray Assembly Line because the tray lines available on the general market aren’t built to be operated by staff that wants to break the legs, punch out the controls, turn over the tray line or destroy the rollers so they can make a weapon from the parts. And in a hospital cafeteria, that’s okay; but in a jail, you need corner braces, cross channel supports and welded leg gussets to keep things intact. You need a recessed control panel with a locking cover and a wide base so the line is too big to turn over easily. You also need one-piece rollers that are easy to clean, but don’t come apart so an inmate can use the shaft as a weapon and you get all this with the Cook’s Brand Correctional Tray Assembly Line. Plus your time to deliver meals will be faster because this line is designed to place inmates at optimal distance apart and from the food for efficient tray make-up. The gravity conveyor will also keep trays moving at the ideal speed; 17 to 20 trays per minute, providing an hourly production of about 1,000 + trays.

If you want to learn more about the correctional tray assembly line – watch the video and give us a call at 1-800-956-5571. Because it’s a Cook’s Brand product, we have standard models that can be fitted for your operation or customized to meet your specific needs.

Have you seen Gordon Ramsey Behind Bars?

1st video in the Gordon Ramsey Behind Bars Series

Most of us have heard the name Gordon Ramsey and have a sense of his aggressive kitchen management style that is a hallmark in his TV shows. Gordon Behind Bars is a British television series in which Gordon Ramsay teaches inmates of Brixton prison, just about five minutes from Ramsay’s residence, how to cook.

While it’s in Britain and not the US, there’s plenty that should feel familiar. The objective is to get the inmates working and generating income for the facility and in the process, learning a skill that will give them a future. Many of our contacts have culinary programs in their facility with the goal of educating inmates for their future on the outside. Take a look at the video. Do you see any similarities to your correctional foodservice operations? Does the correctional kitchen equipment look like what you are using here? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Correctional Kitchen Equipment from Cook's

Correctional Kitchen Equipment

Our tagline is The leader in correctional kitchen equipment and supplies.  That’s because Cook’s is built on a foundation of correctional operations experience.  Prior to launching Cook’s, our founder spent 20 years as an operator and recognized first-hand the importance of portion control, security and durability in correctional foodservice operations.

We absolutely understand how a kitchen operates in a correctional facility. Whether you are cook/serve, cook/chill, or have bulk transport needs, we provide the best products possible.  Matching your facilities requirements with the right equipment is what we do best.

With Cook’s you’ll get the right equipment for your kitchen, rooted in a deep understanding of how the correctional kitchen works and the demands unique to corrections.

View Cook’s Heavy-duty Correctional Kitchen Equipment Offering

Kettle tools for food service

Kettle Tools for Food Service Operations

Kettle cooking in corrections is a staple for food production and serving. Obviously, the amount that will need to be prepared is usually in huge proportions. Even in smaller, local jails, food preparation is typically done at large scale. Do you or does your corrections facility use kettles to prepare inmate meals? It probably does, and if you are looking to learn more about correctional quality kettle tools, you have come to the right place.

Minimum Security Correctional Facilities or Restaurant

Kettle tools should be durable enough for your food service operation and you will know by daily use and the level of wear and tear you see on your tools. Minimum security correctional facilities as well as restaurants that only use their kettle once a day or a few times a week can get away with using lighter weight tools like these medium duty kettle tools. Another benefit to the medium duty kettle tools is that they are easier to handle because of the lighter weight which is why we recommend them for juvenile and women’s facilities. These tools come at a lower price point and have enough durability to get the job done consistently, but aren’t suggested for operations where inmates abuse equipment such as breaking up frozen foods with the end of the kettle tool. Check out more information on these and all of our kettle tool grades below:

Heavi-“er” Duty Kettle Tools

Not that the previously mentioned kettle tools are flimsy or anything but our Cook’s brand heavy duty and extra heavy duty kettle tools are what you want if your tools are being used over and over again throughout the day or in an environment where the inmates are hard on the equipment. Are you somewhere in-between? You should be just fine with the heavy duty kettle tools. All of these lines have an oar shaped handle for superior grip when working with extra heavy foods. The main difference between the different lines is going to be the gauge of the 304 stainless steel handle (11 gauge for the extra heavy duty, 16 gauge for the heavy duty and 18 gauge for medium duty), tool length (36 or 48 in.) and in some cases the widths of the heads.

Whether you’re a correctional facility of any size or a restaurant interested in finding the perfect kettle tools for your food service operation, cookscorrectional.com has the perfect set for you.

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.