Restaurant Kitchen Supplies

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, has the perfect set for you.

Holidays mean baking! Understand your baking pans.

Loaf Pans from Carlisle

Loaf Pans from Carlisle

To meet the various needs of your food service operation, you’ll find baking pans in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials.  When you’re choosing a pan, be it a loaf pan, muffin pan or sheet pan it’s good to see what the market says about those pans or to see what you are using currently that you prefer to cook with in your operation. The different materials, thickness and design of the pan will impact your final product – and you don’t want to end up with foods that stick to your pans or are burnt on the edges and not fully cooked in the center.

Following is a break down of options you’ll find in baking pans:

Popular brands: Carlisle, FSE, Focus Foodservice, Vollrath, Economy

Types of pans:  Bread Pans or Loaf Pans, Cake Pans, Cupcake Pans or Muffin Pans, Pie Pans, Hot Dog Pans, Sheet Pans, Springform Pans, Hamburger Bun Pans

Baking Pan Sizes: Varies on application.  The size of baking pans depends greatly on its type.  Loaf pans range from around 6 x 3 inches to 12 x 4 inches.  Cupcake pans or muffin pans accommodate 24 3-1/2 oz cupcakes and cake pans are available up to 18 x 24 inches.  Sheet pans come in full (18  x 24 inches), half (13 x 18 inches) and quarter (9 x 13 inches) sizes.  These will accommodate many different types of baked goods.

Materials: Stainless Steel, Steel, Tin-plated, Aluminum.  Baking pans are generally made from aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is a better conductor of heat and less expensive than stainless steel is and it will promote more even baking, however, it is reactive to acidic foods so this can give food a metallic flavor which will not happen with stainless steel.  Aluminized steel baking pans, which are steel that is coated with aluminum-silicon alloy, are the most common./

Finish:  Non-stick or Natural.  Some baking pans have non-stick surfaces while others retain their natural, uncoated surfaces.  The obvious benefit to a non-stick pan is that foods are easily removed from the pan and edges stay intact.  Often these pans are darker in color and require an adjustment in the baking temperature and time.  The finish is often up to the preference of the chef.

All types of baking pans can be found on Cook’s Correctional in the baking pan category.


Cost Savings Tools to Manage Portion Control

Cook's Brand 630-609 AC 10 oz. Disher

Cook’s Brand 10 oz. Disher


In these days of leaner budgets, we’re all looking to reduce costs.  Most of you are serving inmates for somewhere less than $1 per meal already and reducing that even more is a challenge.   But like Barry Martin, food service administrator for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, you are striving to shave costs.  Mr. Martin was recently featured on in an article titled Prisons, Jails Change Meals to Meet Budgets, Stay Within Guidelines.    Along with food substitution and purchasing savvy as covered in an article posted on Cooking in Corrections that was written by Linda Mills, of CEC International, you can also maximize your budget with proper portion control.

To understand the impact portion control can have, consider this scenario:  if you are feeding 300 inmates and you reduce the cost of each meal by just a penny, you would add $3,285 to your bottom line every year.  Having the right size serving every time ensures that you’re not giving away pennies with every tray.  To help you get portion sizes under control, we’ve rounded up the TOP TEN portion control tools for the correctional kitchen:

  1. Rite-size 8 oz. Disher – made for heavier, sticky foods and great for starches like mashed potatoes, rice, macaroni and cheese or casseroles.  Heavier foods with appropriate nutrition at low costs.
  2. FMP FIFO Portion Control Bottle – want to cut costs quickly, stop buying prepackaged condiments and dispense perfectly measured portions directly into trays with the Portion Pal.  Dispenses portions from ¼ to 1 oz.
  3. FSE Pancake Dispenser –uniform pancakes every time.  Dispenses as little as ½ oz and up to 3 oz of batter.
  4. Revolving Dough Cutters – precise cutting of biscuits or rolls with minimal scrap.
  5. Cook’s Brand Cake Marker – sheet cakes are cost-effective but not if you have to throw away the ends because the pieces aren’t evenly cut.  The Cake Marker ensures every piece is identical in size, every time.
  6. ISI Flex-it Measuring cups – we like these for corrections because they are made of silicon, like the Flex trays, so they cannot be broken or shattered.
  7. Vollrath  EZ Dishers – available in a 6 oz. and 8 oz. size, with a spring free, inmate-safe design.
  8. Carlisle Measure Mizers – ideal for the serving line, in 1 oz to 8 oz. sizes. Flat bottom design easily spreads sauces or toppings. Long or short handle and solid or perforated bottoms.
  9. Cook’s Brand Square Rite-Size Servers – perfect for use with Flex trays or trays that have a square or smaller rectangular compartment.  Stops the practice of ‘topping-off’ a serving because food fell outside the food compartment to decrease waste.
  10. Edlund Poseidon Digital Scale – we selected this scale because you can total submerge it to keep it clean and this scale will re-calibrate itself to ensure accuracy.

    Marketing Manager, Cook's

    Candace Meneou

Fiscal Health – The 5 Rights of Purchasing

Cook's Correctional Pancake Batter Dispenser

Consistent portions help you control costs and make better purchase decisions.

Reprinted with permission from Spring 2014 INSIDER Magazine, the Official Magazine of the Association of  Correctional Food Service Affiliates.  By Linda Mills, MBA, RD, FADA Corporate Dietitian – Community Education Centers.

Food costs continue to increase and food budgets continue to decrease in many cases.  Fiscal health or food cost control is not cutting corners.  It is keeping a tight control on food costs throughout all the phases of food service — purchasing, delivery, inventory, menu planning, preparation, and service.  So where can you find extra money?  Often the answer is right in your operation.  However, the source of the money is often overlooked.

Purchasing is the first function to evaluate.  Are you purchasing the right product, of the right quality, received at the right time, at the right price, from the right supplier?

Right product — Are you purchasing the product with an eye on the price?  When lettuce doubles in cost, do you look for alternatives for salads which are less costly?

Right quality — Are you purchasing the best product for the intended purpose?  For example, why buy more expensive peach halves when less expensive sliced or diced peaches would be appropriate for the peach cobbler recipe?

Right time — Over and under purchasing is a common mistake which results in a loss of money.  Under purchasing can mean higher cost for the product, the use of a more expensive product to replace the missing product, or increased labor costs.  Over purchasing increases the risk of theft, and increases the possibility that food will spoil before it is used.

Right price — When you realize that the purchase price per unit is not the determining factor in choosing a food item, the next step is to evaluate how many edible portions are produced and service.  Often the lower-priced products actually cost more because they have a lower yield.

Right supplier — Do you use a prime vendor?  If so, when was the last time you checked the prices between your prime vendor and other multi-line vendors?  If you get too comfortable with the relationship with your prime vendor and do not regularly shop around, you may not be getting the best prices after a period of time.

Any or all of these practices can result in throwing money down the drain.  More practices to stop throwing money away will be in the next issue of Insider.

Cook’s Correctional is a proud supporter of the ACFSA and we will be at the upcoming 2014 International Conference in St. Louis.

Linda Mills, MBA, RDN, FADA

Linda Mills, MBA, RDN, FADA


Got small flies or gnats in your kitchen? They’re probably fruit flies!

Defender FFF-13 Starter Kit Fruit Fly Fighter

Fruit Fly Fighter from Defender

Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but as the weather warms up; temperatures in the kitchen heat up and windows and doors are opened, so you typically start seeing them in spring.

We’ve created this fact sheet for you to explain how infestations originate and how you can prevent them in your correctional kitchen this year:
Biology and Behavior
Fruit flies are common in all types of kitchens; correctional operations, restaurants, school cafeterias and even homes. Anywhere with unrefrigerated produce will attract fruit flies.

  • The adults are about 1/8th inch long and usually have red eyes. The front portion of the body is tan and the rear portion is black.
  • Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials.
  • Upon emerging, the tiny larvae will feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. Because the larvae feed only on the surface on the over-ripened fruits and vegetables, the damaged area can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae.
  • The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous, laying anywhere from 400 to 500 eggs. The entire lifecycle from egg to adult takes about one week.
  • Fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetable, but they also breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash containers, mops and cleaning rags. Any area that has developed a moist film of fermenting material.
  • Infestations can originate from over-ripened fruits or vegetables that were previously infested and brought into the home. Also, the adults can also fly in from outside through inadequately screened windows and doors.
  • Fruit flies are primarily nuisance pests. However, they also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms.

The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction:

  • Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated.
  • Bruised or cracked portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded because eggs or larvae may already be in the damaged area.
  • All areas where food is stored should be cleaned out. A single rotting onion remaining at the bottom of the bin, or fruit juice spillage under a refrigerator can breed thousands of fruit flies. So can a recycling bin with soda cans that aren’t rinsed which is not emptied or cleaned.
  • Windows and doors should be tightly fitted with 16 mesh screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors.

Once your operation is infested with fruit flies, every area that is a potential location for breeding must be located and eliminated. Until all breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults:

  • Locating the actual source of attraction and breeding can be challenging and can require thoroughness, diligence and persistence. Potential breeding sites like garbage disposals and drains can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.
  • After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide made for janitorial supplies for foodservice may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area.
  • Alternatively, you can construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook or butcher paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar or a slice of banana. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple trap will soon catch any remaining
    Marketing Manager, Cook's

    Candace Meneou

    adult flies for removal from your kitchen.

The busy correctional kitchen is a great location for the fruit fly to set up house! Working with facilities across the US, we’ve had plenty of customers come to us with this problem – and Cook’s Correctional has been able to help them with easy-to-implement, cost effective solutions. If you are concerned about a potential fruit fly invasion, give us a call and let us get you set up to stop them before they start this year.

Information courtesy of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment / UK Entemology webpage on Fruit Flies.


Is Stainless Steel stronger than Aluminum?

How strong is it?

How strong is it?

We carry a lot of Stainless Steel and a lot of Aluminum products – most often you’ll see both materials in transport products like meal delivery carts .  In fact, our two most popular meal delivery carts are the Stainless Steel Meal Delivery Cart and our Aluminum Tray Delivery Cart, both from Cook’s Brand.


So this question is pretty common and most assume that stainless steel is indeed stronger.  And the answer is…’s really about the gauge (or thickness) of the aluminum and stainless.

There are very heavy gauges of aluminum that are much, much stronger than light gauge stainless steel. One more concept to keep in mind is that aluminum gauges are not the same as stainless steel gauges. A 2 gauge aluminum sheet is thicker than 2 gauge stainless steel.

Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

Jeff Breeden

Want to know more?  Here is a good link to check different thicknesses of metals…

Need a lighter weight food transport solution? Meet the Kanga Box.

Kanga Box Transport Carrier

Kanga Box Transport Carrier available at Cook’s Correctional

Does your staff complain about the food transport carriers being too heavy? “I can’t lift the top loader when the pans are full of food”? I need another worker to help me lift the End Loader so we can load the pans correctly?

If these are all comments your staff has made in the past, then we have a new product that we want to introduce to you. Say Hi to the Kanga Box Transport Carrier product line.

This innovative new food storage and transport product line of pan carriers is available in four different styles, and all of these are available in six different eye-catching colors. What makes these carriers so unique is the material that these are made from is lightweight yet strong.  You’re staff will love that the Kanga Box is a durable, lighter solution to standard pan carriers.

Not only are these very light weight, the Kanga box has a perfect closing lid, is totally impermeable to liquids and hot steam, and has ergonomically shaped handles for easier lifting and carrying. The Kanga box is dishwasher safe to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brian Richardson

Director of Merchandising, Cook’s

If you require a food transport option that is durable for your correctional kitchen, consider the Kanga Box as a new solution!

Common Plastics used in Correctional Foodservice

Cook's Plastic 6-Compartment Tray

Cook’s Brand Plastic Tray

Plastics are used in a wide variety of products that are in your kitchen in almost every category.  In meal serving products you’ll find plastic insulated trays, cafeteria trays, tumblers and more.  In your storage and transport items there are plastic food storage containers, ingredient bins, beverage servers and more.  You’ll even find plastic in your janitorial products like trash cans.  But just as different as all these foodservice equipment and supplies items are from one another, so is the plastics used to make them.  Here’s a quick guide to the different plastics used in corrections:

  • Co-polymer– Co-polymer plastic is typically a blend of polypropylene and polyethylene. There are many different blends that have unique characteristics. Co-polymer has a reputation for being fairly flexible, super durable and inexpensive.
  • Polycarbonate– Polycarbonate is one of the strongest plastics available. If molded without any color, it is extremely clear and typically used for tumblers. Polycarbonate tends to be expensive material and has been replaced by co-polymer in corrections.
  • TPE– Thermoplastic elastomer is a very soft plastic that can be used like co-polymer or polycarbonate. TPE feels a little like rubber and is extremely bendable and flexible creating a safer work environment in corrections.
  • Silicone– While silicone is not plastic, many products in corrections are made from silicone. The most expensive of all the raw material, silicone offers some unique characteristics that many plastics don’t. It has a very wide temperature rating, NSF approved and, of course, is super flexible.

    Jeff Breeden, CEO Cook's

    Jeff Breeden

If you have a question about which material is best for the application specific to your jail or prison kitchen and your available options, you can contact your sales representative or our customer service team at 1-800-956-5571 and we can help you make the best choice.

New product introduction – the Vapor Towel

Tucker Burnguard is a manufacture of high quality oven mitts and aprons made for the commercial foodservice kitchen. Last year, they launched a new product called “The Vapor Towel”. The value of this towel to the end user is that it lasts “7” times longer than standard Foodservice Mop Towels or rags.

Tucker Burnguard 88900 Vapor Towel

Tucker Burnguard 88900 Vapor Towel

That’s seven times longer!  If you have ever used the industries standard White Mop towel with the bluish green stripe than you know what I am referring to, they just don’t last.  And in corrections, they get pretty dirty pretty quick because they are used for everything – as a hot pad, a mop towel, under cutting boards to keep them from slipping and so on.

The Vapor Towel features ‘Steamguard’ protection, which is a liquid and vapor barrier that effectively protects the user from steam, hot liquids and grease. A majority of the burns in the foodservice kitchens are caused from one of these three things.  Additionally, the Vapor towels can be machine washed up to 100 times; yet, because of their quality they will last through several

Brian Richardson

Director of Merchandising, Cook’s

wash cycles.  The Vapor Towel also has an antimicrobial agent built into the cloth yarns to minimize the transmission of germs and bacteria.

If you are tired of continually replacing your low quality rags and mop towels in your commercial kitchen, it’s time you considered the Tucker Burnguard Vapor Towel.

There’s more to an oven mitt than meets the eye!

Many people don’t give too much thought to the purchase of oven mitts for their kitchen, but here’s a few things you might want to think of the next time you go to make a purchase:

Brian Richardson

Director of Merchandising, Cook’s

There are 3 major things to consider when making your decision:

  • Insulation Value
  • Maintenance
  • Sizing

Insulated value indicates the highest heat temperature you can hold with the mitt for up to 15 seconds before you begin experiencing discomfort. Typically this discomfort comes in the form of burning. It is estimated that 80% of foodservice burns are caused by hot liquids, grease or steam, so you need to consider the environment that the oven mitt will be used in too and whether or not a liquid or vapor barrier is required to fully protect the user.

Tucker QuickKlean 18" Oven Mitt

Tucker QuickKlean 18″ Oven Mitt

Maintenance is the second thing on the list. Proper maintenance of your oven mitt extends the life of the mitt. Consider the ease in washing and drying when you choose a mitt and make sure you pay attention to the cleaning instructions. Most oven mitts can be laundered, but there are specific mitts on the market like the Quicklean Oven mitt from Tucker Burnguard that can only be rinsed clean. Should you choose to launder this product, it will be ruined and unusable, but that’s only because you need only rinse it off rather than launder it to clean it.

The final thing to consider is the Size of your Oven mitt.  There are several different lengths to choose from 12”, 15”, 18” and 24”.  Traditionally, the 12″ offers protection up to the wrist.  The 15″ and the 18″ offer extended protection and the 18″ length will protect the user up to the elbow.

Before your next purchase of oven mitts, take a minute to review where they are being used.  This will help you decide if you need a longer length, an oven mitt that must rinse clean or can be laundered and if the user will need protection for hot liquids or vapors.  The whole purpose of an oven mitt is to protect the user, and if you don’t have the right product for the application – your oven mitt won’t be doing its job!