Correctional Kitchen Operations

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.

CCP – Critical Control Point

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes minimum internal temperatures for cooked foods.

FSE Precision Digital Thermometer

FSE Precision Digital Thermometer

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)
  • Stuffing
  • 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
  • Fish
  • 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.

 

Hints for Tray Assembly Lines

400_Cooks_GC100

Cook’s Correctional Tray Assembly Line

Pre-portioning meals on insulated trays for delivery to pods or units is efficient and economical.  Yet it’s amazing how many tray assembly operations end up inefficient because of the order of foods on the line.  Hot foods should go on trays last, not first.  Start with room temperature foods like bread and rolls, and next add cold foods.  Last, add the hot portions.

Ideally, cold food should be kept below 40 degrees F and hot food above 165 degrees F.  Minimize the distance a worker has to move food from well to tray.  Be sure to keep the conveyor line moving fast enough to keep workers busy with no time for mischief.

Here are some easy to follow guidelines for your conveyor line set-up:

  • Allow 30” per worker for adequate shoulder space.
  • Using 16” wide hot and cold steam tables keeps workers close to the conveyor
  • Pitch the conveyor line ¼” per 1’0” from the head of the line to the end.
  • Cover hot food after portioning as quickly as possible to keep heat in or store trays in a heated cabinet.
  • Since cold trays chill hot food fast, keep trays in a warm tray washing or other area.
  • Always strap together for transport to retain temperature.

When planning your line, use this guide to steam table pan portion capacities:

  • 2 ½” D Full Size Pan:  9 Quarts = (72) 4 oz. portions
  • 2 ½” D Half Size Pan: 4 Quarts = (32) 4 oz. portions
  • 4” D Full Size Pan:  15 Quarts = (120) 4 oz. portions
  • 4” D Half Size Pan: 7 Quarts = (56) 4 oz. portions
  • 6” D Full Size Pan:  22 Quarts = (176) 4 oz. portions
  • 6” D Half Size Pan: 10 Quarts = (80) 4 oz. portions

If you’re looking for additional capacity guides you can go to the resource section at the back of the Correctional Buyers Guide (click here to view the catalog online).  You can also contact your Cook’s Correctional Sales Representative for any help you may need with

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

New hope for damaged steam table pans!

CaterSeal Steam Table Pan Gasket

CaterSeal Steam Table Pan Gasket

If you are tired of damaged steam table pan lids raise your hand!

If you are tired of noisy pans rattling as you transport them through the kitchen Raise your hand!

If you are tired of your portion utensils falling into your pans of food, one more time, Raise your hand! 

We are pleased to introduce you to the new CaterSeal Food Pan Gasket!  New to Cook’s Correctional, the CaterSeal Food Pan gasket is here to help and solve this problem for you.  Just wrap the CaterSeal gasket around your steam table pan and lid and your operation has improved instantly.  No more mess from spillage and easier clean up in your foodservice operation.  You’ll also improve the efficiency of your serving line because the gasket is a barrier to steam escaping from the gaps between pan and well. 

You can now put your hands down, no more rattling, denting, spilling or noisy pans!

Brian Richardson

Brian Richardson

 

Food for thought: Tray Delivery Carts (part 3 of 3)

Cook's Aluminum 40-Tray Delivery Cart

Cook’s Aluminum 40-Tray Delivery Cart

This is the third and final post (in this series) on Tray Delivery Carts and things to know or think about prior to purchasing.  Our first blog post was on the questions we ask our clients before recommending or quoting carts (click here for Part 1).  Our second blog post was on general facility and cart questions that should be answered before making a purchase (click here for Part 2).  This post is going to cover some of the various cart options available to you that you should consider as you review your Tray Delivery Cart options.

1.  Will you be holding or transporting things on the top of the cart?  You can find carts that offer a sheet pan rack for 18″ x 26″ pans.  These can be open, enclosed and even insulated.  You will want to think through how many pans you would want to carry and the spacing.  If you do this, you need to also consider how much space you will need above the cart to fit the rack.

Rather than product on sheet pans or in steam table pans, will you be transporting Beverage Servers?  You’ll want a rail on the top of the cart to keep them in place.  You also want to consider how tall the cart is because someone needs to be able to put the fully loaded beverage servers on top of the cart.  If you have a five gallon beverage server – it will weigh 40 lbs. fully loaded, as a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs.

A rail can keep wash racks in place too, if that’s how you’re transporting tumblers or mugs.  A top rail can be three-sided which allows you easy access to load the top of the cart or it can be four-sided which keeps things in place more easily.

2.  Will you be doing any assembly at point of delivery?  You may want to consider a work shelf option.  These are available in pull out or flip-up styles.  You will need to consider where you would like it located on the cart, the size and the height you want it to be above finished floor.

3.  Are you purchasing heated carts?  If you are, do you want a thermometer on the outside of the cart that tells you the internal temperature of the cart?  This is a really good idea because then you’re not opening the door and letting the heat out in order to make sure it’s at temperature. Consider how many thermometers do you want on the cart and where you want them to be.

A nice option to consider is a cart with a removable heater because it can extend the life of the cart.  By removing the heater before you wash the cart you minimize potential for damage to the heater.  Additionally, with a removable heater – if the heater goes, you can replace it pretty easily.

4.  Have you experienced damage in your facility from carts or have specific failure areas on your current carts?  You may want to review options for special bumpers beyond the standard 1″ vinyl.  You may also consider wear plates, which are extra stainless.  Be sure to specify where you need these to be located.  There are also options for a top bumper which adds additional protection to walls and cart.

5.  Do you want to gang carts together?  A tow hitch can be used to create a string of carts.  Tow hitches can be ball style, pin or ‘C’ Clamp.  If this is a new option, you’ll want to consider who will actually tow – is it the inmate or the staff, and how many carts will be towed at one time.  Keep in mind that there is typically NO warranty beyond towing ONLY two carts at one time.

Finally:

6.  Do you have any special considerations regarding the doors?  There are options like a magnetic latch which helps to keep heat in by closing and sealing the doors.  Do you want your  door pulls to be flush?  This can ensure there are no handles to get in the way in tight spaces.  A special transport latch will keep the door latch covered so that it stays closed. You may need to specify a security latch or locking latch so that you don’t have any concerns about contamination during transport.

Meal Delivery Carts are a large investment for the correctional kitchen and they will impact your meal serving operation significantly.  Any time you spend before hand making sure you get what you need, what you want and what will work is time well spent, and possibly dollars not thrown away.  If you need help with on carts or other equipment, all the Cook’s Correctional sales reps are trained on our products we have lots of experience that we’re ready to share with you.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou