Kitchen Equipment Maintenance

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.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Slicer

One of the great benefits of social media and the web is the increase of communication tools. Many of us have used YouTube to find music or entertainment – who knew so many people loved to watch cat videos? And, I personally never imagined how many people loved making cat videos. But entertainment aside, video also offers us a great opportunity for learning and education.

We love receiving videos from vendors that provide product demonstrations, new product introductions and more. Especially helpful training videos, like the one below from Vollrath. vollrath

The Cook’s Correctional Dishmachine Installation Checklist

Hobart AM15VL Ventless "Door-Type" Dishwasher

Hobart Door-type Dishwasher AM15VL

In follow-up to our last post, I want to introduce to you our Dishmachine Installation Checklist.  This checklist is designed to help our sales representatives ask the questions needed to ensure our customers have a smooth, trouble-free Dishmachine Installation.  At Cook’s Correctional, we are continually working to improve the expertise of all our staff, and sales and customer service in particular since they are directly in communication with you, our customer.  While much simpler than the Dishmachine Checklist from our last post, the Installation Checklist is no less important.  This checklist is designed to understand the scope of work involved in the installation, to ask questions that will help uncover potential problems in the installation before they occur and to identify the resources that you’ll want to have on hand as the installation takes place.  If you are considering a purchase of a new dishmachine or in need of replacing your old machine, we suggest that you review the Dishmachine Checklist from our previous post and the checklist below.  Thinking through the process before you buy will help you to get the best product to meet your needs and to have a worry-free installation when the time comes:

Resources to have contact information for in case of questions/problems:

  • Factory:
  • Factory Representative:
  • Local Rep Group:
  • Cook’s Correctional Contact:

Scope of Work:

  • Will we remove the old equipment?
  • Are we delivering to the site or to the installers warehouse?
  • Does the machine need to be uncrated by the installers or will maintenance do it?
  • Does it need to be moved to its final destination?
  • Does it need to be set in place?
  • Does it need to be bolted down?
  • Verify the location of the utilities; water, gas, electric, steam?
  • Who will make the final connections?
  • Disposal?
  • Does the end-user have any additional information about the site/job?

Other Questions to Ask:

  • Is this a new placement or a 1 for 1 replacement?
  • Are the utilities within 3 feet of the machine?  if not they will need to be relocated for the installation.
  • What are the delivery requirements for this project?
  • Will the kitchen still be serving during this transition?  what accommodations need to be made? (for instance – disposable trays for a day)
  • Will there be a menu change for a day?
  • What clearance (security) requirements are needed for on site installation and delivery crews?
  • Is there adequate room to move the equipment? as well as remove old equipment?
  • What time can the work be done?
  • Will on staff maintenance be involved in the project?
  • What is the expected timeline?
  • Any other client expectations that need to be identified up front?

Our goal at Cook’s Correctional with your dishmachine installation, as well as any installation of Kitchen Equipment, is to be an expert for you and to guide you through the process.  We want to remove the unexpected and to make the process as painless as possible.  Replacing equipment can be very difficult for corrections because you’re serving three times a day, seven days a week without a break.    If you’re looking to do any work in your kitchen, be sure to give your sales rep a call and let us show you how we can help.

We’re happy to share this Dishmachine Installation checklist with you and hope you find it helpful.  Our next post will be specific to Flight Type dishmachines, commonly found in correctional facilities, with specific questions that you should ask prior to considering the purchase and installation of a flight type dishmachine.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou

Without a filter change, you’re water filtration system isn’t working.

Dirty water filters.

Filters after various levels of use.

Do you ever think about how much water consumption you have in your operation?  Dishmachines, ice machines, coffee brewers, kettles, steamers…they all require water for operation.  And the quality of your water not only affects the product but it affects the efficiency of the equipment.

All water contains minerals that can make it hard.  Calcium and magnesium are the main culprits.  Lime scale deposits, formed by these two minerals can clog pipes, reducing flow and coat heating elements, requiring more energy to heat water.  When our customers let us know that they have water issues, we will steer them toward a water filtration system.  There’s several brands; Everpure, Watts, Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki just to name a few.  Not only will a water filtration system reduce lime scale deposits, it will also filter out chemicals, like chlorine, minerals and small particles found in many water supplies with the potential to cause valve failure and plugged nozzles.  By using a water filter system, particles, as well as chlorine, will be reduced and likely extend the life of your equipment.

But, just because you’ve got a system in place, doesn’t mean you’re finished.  The system can only help you if you stay up with filter maintenance.  The filter cartridges are designed to remove contaminants and particles from the water.  The cartridges will eventually plug as this material is removed.  When filters get plugged up, it means that they are working.  In order for your filtration system to continue to working, the filters need to be replace periodically.

The frequency of changes depends upon your water quality and usage.  For example, if you have a high level of particles in your water they you will have to change your filters more than a location with little or no particles. Here are a few guide lines for filter changes:

Prefilter – the prefilter (coarse) cartridge should be changed when it becomes dirty to within 1/8″ of the core.

Submicron Cartridges – cartridges should be changed at the first occurrence of any of the following:

  • the gallon rating stated on the label
  • every 12 months
  • the pressure gauge needle of the filter system falls in the red zone while your equipment is calling for water.

A simple rule of thumb is to replace your filters whenever you notice a decline in the performance, whether it is a drop in flow rate and/or pressure or an unusual taste in the water.

Marketing Manager, Cook's

Candace Meneou