Category Archives: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About BTUs

BTU is a unit of measurement often seen attached to the specifications of certain cooking equipment. But what do they represent, and what do they tell us about the product itself? Here, we answer some common questions about BTU, including what they are, where you can expect to see them, and why they’re important.

What are BTUs?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it’s one major specification to look for on gas-powered cooking equipment. Essentially, BTU is a unit of measurement that represents the amount output gas-powered cooking equipment has and can be read as the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one-degree Fahrenheit. 1 BTU equals 1,055.06 joules.

On what products can I expect to see BTUs?

The BTU unit is commonly associated with cooking equipment like commercial ranges, gas fryers and charbroilers. At Central, we make it easy to browse products by BTU. Where applicable, you can select the BTU power(s) you want to browse by on the left-hand side of the web page.

Navigating by BTU

Why are they important and what do they mean for me?

Product specifications can often be overwhelming, especially for first-time buyers of commercial foodservice equipment. However, BTUs are an important unit to pay attention to because they offer perspective on expected production. It’s critical to keep the BTU in mind if you will be doing any cooking that requires high temperatures or fast recovery times. Essentially, you can read the BTU level as the higher the number, the higher the production.

Higher BTU levels can never hurt production speed and quality, but some things to consider when shopping based on BTU is that the higher the BTU, you’ll be more likely to see a higher energy bill. Not to mention, the higher the cost of the unit. However, the main takeaway is equipment with higher BTUs offer more cooking efficiency, cooking products faster and more thoroughly, and, in turn, increase kitchen production levels.

When in doubt, we’re always here to help! Give us a call at 800.215.9293 to speak with a knowledgeable product consultant.

Blenders vs Choppers vs Processors

Food Processor vs Blender vs Chopper – Which Do I Need?

Ensuring that you have the right equipment in your kitchen is essential to the success of your business. Just like you are not going to make french fries in a steamer, you are not going to make a smoothie in a chopper. Some kitchens may see that they need a food processor, a blender, and a chopper; however maybe you can get by with just one! It all depends on what the equipment is being used for. Let Central help you figure out what you need!

Blenders vs Choppers vs Processors

Food Processors 

  • Purpose: Strong and sharp blade to easily cut raw, hard-to-chop ingredients
  • Good Foods to Use For: nuts, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Recipe Ideas: nut butters, pesto, curry paste, hummus, homemade salad dressing
  • Bonus: Many food processors utilize attachments which allows operators to slice, dice, grate, grind meat, puree vegetables, knead dough, and more!

Food Blenders

  • Purpose: To combine ingredients that have a liquid base
  • Good Foods to Use For: soups, cocktails, smoothies, salsa, etc.
  • Bonus: Operators are still able to chop and grind with a blender, but this is meant to be done with softer foods unless otherwise noted. Many commercial blenders can still chop and blend hard ingredients if done properly.

Food Choppers

  • Purpose: Quickly cuts fruits, vegetables and meats in uniform pieces
  • Good Foods to Use For: onions, diced chicken, peppers, lemons, etc.
  • Bonus: Want to give the same results every time? Food choppers give operators the option of changing out blade sets to get the size of cut desired. Want 1/4″ slices of onion on each burger? That’s quick and easy to do with a food chopper!

Food Processor vs Blender vs Chopper

 

2017 Back to School Kitchen Equipment Guide

Is your school’s kitchen prepared for another year? From elementary up to universities, we rounded up a few of the most important pieces for a successful year! For additional helpful information, visit Central’s School Homeroom page.

True TMC-58 Forced Air Milk Cooler

A staple for the lunch line, keep milk cartons within reach for kids of all ages! The oversized refrigeration system provides better tasting milk and increased sales.  Plus, show your school pride with 26 color options! Trust the reliability of True products!

 

True T-49 Reach-In Refrigerator

The True T-49 reach-in refrigerator is one of the best in the industry, and has a five star rating on our website! It’s spacious 49 cubic foot interior is ideal for storing anything you need for your school’s cafeteria. With a temperature range of 33°F to 38°F, you will get the best possible food preservation and safety.

 

Metro C539 Holding and Transport Cabinet

Often times in school foodservice operations, food is prepared in advanced and has to be stored for the various lunch periods. The Metro C539 holding and transport cabinet is the perfect solution to hold food. It comes with the choice of Lexan (clear) or solid doors that are insulated to keep in heat. The adjustable digital thermostat is easy to use with recessed controls for safety. It also includes 17 slide pairs and can hold 34 full-size sheet pans.

 

Flatware Holders and Cylinders

Central has stainless steel and plastic flatware holders and cylinders, which allows flatware to dry in the vertical position.

Leaving flatware on it’s side doesn’t make for a very sanitary situation as lipids, acids and chemicals are laying on each other.

The stainless steel holders have a stainless steel construction with rubber feed for stabilization.  They’re also dishwasher safe. Plastic flatware holders and cylinders are heavy duty and long wearing.

 

Compartment Trays

Styrofoam trays cause cafeterias to throw away money on a monthly basis, plus have several negative effects to the environment too.

There many types of non-disposable trays out there constructed of a variety of materials. Read our compartment tray buying guide to see which trays excel in certain areas to find the perfect one for your foodservice. You can also look into ENERGY STAR® rated dishwashers to save on your water costs as well.

 

Need Help?

Central hand-picked all the items in our School Homeroom section of our website! Feel free to contact us at 800-215-9293 with any questions for your school foodservice needs. Working on a grant or bid? We can help with that too! We work with schools to get you the total amount or quote needed so you can finalize your application. Call or live chat with us now for details.

 

Top Image Credit: USDA

Customer Spotlight: The Broken Beaker and the Artisan Distillery Trend

FullSizeRenderThe craft beer and winery experience has exploded onto the scene. Over the past decade, we have seen more and more local breweries and wineries pop up all across the country, and consumers are drinking it up. Depending on the state you live in, a similar trend may be observed among artisan distilleries.

The Broken Beaker is one of the newest in the Indianapolis area. Located in the center of the Mass Ave strip in downtown Indy, they are surrounded by local eateries, bars and other nightlife hotspots that residents flock to for weekend festivities. But they stand apart, offering a refreshingly new experience. Perhaps this difference can be reflected in the way they distill their own high-end vodka right on site. Or the fact that there are very few local distilleries in the Indianapolis area (or Indiana in general), juxtaposing against the backdrop of a craft beer mecca. Maybe it’s their unique theme, paying homage to the wonders and mysteries of science, that nicely wraps the experience up in a periodic table of excitement.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the husband and wife team behind the Broken Beaker to learn more about their unique concept, the process of distilling, what separates a good vodka from a bad, and the local legalities regarding artisan distillation.

Chemist + Engineer = The Inspiration

molecule mule edit

The Molecule Mule

When asked how they came up with the concept, Heather, an engineer by day, said they first got the idea to open a distillery ten years earlier while visiting friends in Oregon. They were inspired by the amount of distilleries there, and the unique types of liqueur that were being produced. Heather recalls, “There were all types of crazy liqueurs. Liqueurs I had never heard of before, or didn’t think you could make into a liqueur, and it was an amazing experience. We were kind of leaning in that direction anyways because we wanted to differentiate ourselves. We wanted to hit the basic spirits – the vodka, the whiskey, the gin, the rum – but from there, where do we go?”

But it’s not just enough to want to open a distillery. Thomas, a chemist, stresses the importance of your product’s story. He says you can’t just think of yourself as producing and selling some type of alcohol. It all depends on branding, how you want to market the product so it stands apart and offers the consumer something new. Given the nature of their professions, science was the obvious choice for concept.

Their vodka products are currently branded under the Pendulum label, inspired by physics, and they are hoping to expand into “Isotope Liqueurs,” a tribute to chemistry; “Hypotenuse Gin,” relating to math; and “Mitosis Whiskey” for biology. You can buy bottles on site, or enjoy entirely unique cocktail concoctions served out of laboratory beakers, some even over dry ice to create a visual, smoky perception! You can also tour the distillery located in a room right next to the dining area to learn more about where and how the process occurs.

Everything’s an Experiment: The Process

“Everything’s an experiment” is one of their taglines. “We do a brand new weekly infusion every Wednesday, and so every Wednesday it’s an experiment. What we’re essentially doing is, well, do this and this and this taste good together? And so far they’ve all worked out well, but it’s an experiment so we’ll see what happens,” says Heather.

And because of the delicacy of the distilling process, the same can be said for every batch of vodka they produce. But, Thomas notes, the constant focus is always on quality. He attributes this to the artisan character of their product.

distillerySo what separates a good vodka from a bad? Heather says that one of the benefits of making it yourself is you can taste it every step of the way to identify the bad compounds versus what they themselves would want to be served, using that as guidance when selecting what to serve to customers. “It’s really interesting because now in hindsight, I’m used to tasting where that cut is between the bad stuff and the good stuff, and I’m sitting here thinking when I was in college, the stuff that I was drinking tasted a lot like the stuff that first comes off the still, which is bad for you, is bad tasting, and that’s why you had the hangovers. But boy was it cheap! And now I know why,” she jokes.

When it comes to buying vodka off the shelves, they advise not to go too cheap. “With the cheap stuff, manufacturers have a high volume to produce so they are very liberal with their cuts, scooping in the bad stuff at the beginning and at the end, which leads to a bad taste and bad hangover. You don’t have to buy super expensive, but never go cheap.”

Thomas and Heather also recommend using wheat to ferment over corn, even though corn is arguably the most popular source due to its inexpensive cost and access. They vow that wheat provides more flavor and is more forgiving than the flavor offered by corn, making for a better product.

There are a lot of steps to the distilling process, and it is not uncommon for one batch to be slightly different than the one before it. In (very) layman terms, here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. Choose your grain (in this case wheat) and convert it from starch to a sugar by applying high heat.
  2. Add yeast, which will eat away at the sugar and turn it into alcohol.
  3. Let ferment for five days to a week.
  4. The distillation process is basically the act that immediately follows fermentation, where you filter out the solids from the liquids, tasting along the way to identify (and remove through boiling) the compounds that taste bad.

Again, that’s a very brief description of the actual process. If you are interested in ever trying it out, Thomas and Heather highly encourage taking a class and touring as many distilleries as you can. They gave a special shout out to Six & Twenty Distillery in South Carolina.

Image courtesy of www.distillerytrail.com

Image courtesy of www.distillerytrail.com

Indiana Legalities

It turns out, it is much harder to open a distillery in Indiana than it is a microbrewery or winery, as evidenced by the disproportioned ratio of Indianapolis-based distilleries to breweries (two to, like, fifty). This is mostly due to current Indiana liquor laws.

There is risk involved when opening any business, but for distilleries, the stakes are much higher. The old Indiana laws prohibited tasting rooms. Heather recounts, “It’s not like beer or wine where you can make a little bit in your basement until you get the feel for it. You had to get a permit, pay a whole bunch of money for the equipment, and hope you could do something with it.” You also couldn’t sell directly to the public. Instead, you had to find a distributor and pray they would push your product.

Indiana passed a new artisan law roughly three years ago, permitting a tasting room. Now local distilleries can have more control over their product and how much it is pushed, as well as establish more of a connection with customers.

#Trending

The reason you are more likely to see more wineries and breweries in Indiana is that you can legally ferment certain amounts of beer and wine in your house, allowing owners time to perfect their product before setting up shop. That’s not the case with distilleries. “There is no quantity you can make in Indiana in your house without a federal permit. Other states are more lenient.” Heather elaborates that the big difference between the competition among breweries/wineries over distilleries is that the entry point is much easier and cheaper, both for equipment and the legalities already discussed that favor beer and wine over spirits. Before opening, Heather and Thomas had several investors lined up, but they wouldn’t invest until they could sample the product. They described this as a cyclical catch-22, because they couldn’t produce the product until they could afford the equipment and space to do so.

Now that they are up and running, they are eager to expand their selection to encompass other spirits, and are excited for the future of artisan distilling and what the possibilities the new(ish) artisan distilling law offers.

The Concoctionsbb drinks 1

Their most popular drink, Heather says, is their Bill Nye Elysium that mixes a strawberry-basil infused vodka, grapefruit juice and orange zest syrup. My personal favorite was the Tiny Rick, combining jalapeño-infused vodka with raspberry and jalapeño syrup, and grapefruit and lemon juices making for a delicious mixture of heat, sweet and tartness.

Other crafty cocktails include the Molecule Mule, French 76 and the E=MC?. To check out their menu in its entirety, click here.

Liftgate Service: What is It, and Why Do You Need It?

If you are ordering one of the thousands of pieces of restaurant equipment that Central Restaurant Products offers, you will need to consider how the product will be received. Typically, heavy equipment is shipped on a pallet and will need to be delivered on a semi-truck. If you have access to a loading dock at your facility, that’s great! The truck will pull up and you should be good to go. But what if your business doesn’t have access to one? How will you get your product off of the truck? That’s where a liftgate comes into play.

Liftgate Service

A liftgate is a hydraulic lift on the back of a truck that lowers freight from the truck to the ground. It is an essential feature to have if you do not have a way to get the product off of the truck yourself.

What’s important to note is that not every truck is equipped with a liftgate.

Image Credit: SupplyHouse.com

Image Credit: SupplyHouse.com

It is a service that is available at an extra charge from the freight carrier. So in order to be guaranteed a liftgate delivery when you order from Central, you will want to make a note at check out or tell your Product Consultant that you will need liftgate service. If you’re not sure whether you need it, please ask your Consultant. If you don’t request liftgate service and your delivery is unable to be moved off the truck, the carrier will likely charge you a redelivery fee in addition to the liftgate fee that you’ll also have to pay.

Time to Shop

Now that you know about liftgate service, it’s time to take a look around and find the perfect commercial restaurant equipment for your kitchen. If you are in need of assistance, our Product Consultants are here to help answer any of your questions. Give them a call at 800-215-9293 or chat with them live now.

Top image credit: PoolHeatPumps.com

Finance Your New Manitowoc Ice Machine with Available 1.9% APR

What can you do when your current ice machine is reaching the end of its useful life but a new unit is just not in your budget? You could hope that every morning you arrive to a full ice bin, keep throwing money at the machine to keep it running, or scrounge enough money together to purchase a basic machine that likely won’t fully meet your needs.

Another (and better option) is to consider leasing a new Manitowoc ice machine from Central Restaurant.

Manitowoc Special Offers

Ask about 1.9% financing for 24 months on all Manitowoc products

1.9% for 24 months on all Manitowoc

While financing at competitive rates is available on almost any equipment purchase from Central Restaurant, occasionally our partner vendors will offer special promotions or rates. Through the end of 2015, Manitowoc is offering 1.9% APR rate for 24-months on any ice machine (or other Manitowoc group product) purchase of $1,000 or more. This rate alone can produce considerable savings for you.

When coupled with our current Manitowoc Ice promotion, it also means you get the best pricing on thousands of ice units that are in-stock and ready for free delivery immediately upon your lease financing approval.

Why Lease Financing?

As a restaurant owner, most of your working capital is tied up in your everyday operating expenses like keeping your freezers filled with food and your employees paid. Of course you need costly equipment to keep your whole operation moving, but it’s your employees and the quality of your end product – not the ownership of equipment – that drives profitability. Lease financing eliminates that large cash outlay and moves you to affordable monthly payments more consistent with the profit that your equipment helps your produce each month.

It also may allow you to outfit your establishment with the equipment that best fits your needs and production output instead of what you are limited to by available cash. Central’s leasing FAQ presents additional advantages:

  1. Conservation of Capital: Cash remains untouched and available for other profitable purposes.
  2. Tax Savings and Improved Cash Flow: The full cost of leasing can often be treated as an expense deduction for income tax purposes and may result in a larger tax deduction than if you were claiming a depreciation expense. This can mean substantial tax savings and improved cash flow.
  3. Better Terms: Lease payments usually can be extended at fixed rates over a longer period of time than conventional bank financing and without large downpayments.
  4. Simplified Recordkeeping: One monthly rental covers the entire cost of the equipment.
  5. Easier Allocation of Cost: Costs of individual equipment or systems can be better analyzed, controlled and reduced because of direct allocation. No hidden costs.
  6. Leaves Bank Lines Untouched: Normally, a lender will not reduce a line of credit when equipment is leased. However, when the equipment is financed, it consumes available credit.
  7. Cleaner Balance Sheet: Lease payments may be entered as footnote items on a balance sheet and may not increase your liabilities as a loan does. This is important to obtain additional credit.
  8. Helps Overcome Budget Limits: Since a lease is generally treated as an expense rather than as a capital expenditure, room can often be created for monthly rentals.
  9. More Liberal Credit Criteria: In many cases, leasing can be completed when conventional bank or other financing may not be possible.

Applying is Easy

Central Restaurant works with one of the largest foodservice equipment lessors to create a simple and seamless customer experience. Just pick your new equipment and fill out our online equipment lease application to get the process moving quickly. Our in-house leasing department then works side-by-side with the leasing company to get you a quick approval – usually the same business day. Next, your product consultantCRP-LeasingSteps will help to create a purchase quote, coordinate delivery options and co-ordinate the final contract between you and the leasing company which will detail monthly payments and end-of-contract options, including a lease buyout opportunity.

Still have questions? Whether it is product selection or financing, your knowledgeable product consultant will be there every step of the way. To get started, give us a call at 800-215-9293 or start an online chat.

What Do They Mean: NSF, UL and Energy Star Rated

While shopping for restaurant equipment, you will find NSF® listed, UL® certified and ENERGY STAR® rated items.  In many cases, people do not always know what these mean. We’ve compiled this list based from the  CFSP (Certified Foodservice Professional) guide and each of their websites to explain everything.

NSF LogoNSF®

What it stands for:  National Sanitation Foundation

Who they are: A non-profit, non-governmental organization, also known as the Public Health and Safety Company™, who describe themselves as the “world leader in standards development, product certification and risk-management for public health and safety.”

Why they are important: The CFSP guide says NSF has the following three purposes for equipment in the foodservice industry:

  1. Assure all equipment meets health standards and passes critical inspection at the facility
  2. Allows manufacturers to apply uniform construction methods to all NSF listed equipment
  3. Provide health authorities throughout the country a “united front or voice” to require basic elements of equipment sanitation

What NSF listed means: In order to obtain the NSF listing, the equipment is reviewed and tested before approval. As there several types of equipment, NSF says on their website they have developed “over 50 voluntary American National Standards under the scope of health and safety” for foodservice equipment.  They look closely at these standards before granting the NSF listing.

Below is a very brief and general overview from the CFSP guide of some of the things NSF looks into (keep in mind there are different standards more specific to different kinds of equipment):

  1. Physical design and construction evaluation for ease of cleaning
  2. Materials (look for corrosion or heat resistance, durability, nontoxic)
  3. Performance
  4. Sanitation effectiveness
  5. Accuracy of control systems

UL Logo

UL®

What it stands for:  Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Who they are: UL is an independent, non-for-profit and non-governmental organization who describes themselves as “a global independent safety science company offering expertise across five key strategic businesses: Product Safety, Environment, Life and Health, University and Verification Services.”

Why they are important: With over 75 years of experience, the CFSP guide says the UL listing evaluates gas, electrical and sanitation safety on cooking, refrigeration, food processing and food prep equipment. They look at the most current standards and follow up after approval to ensure standards are maintained. A very brief overview of their mission on their website is below, view their full list here. They:

  1. Promote safe working environments
  2. Support the production and use of physically and environmentally safe products to prevent or reduce loss of life and property
  3. Advance safety science

What UL listed means: To receive the UL listing, companies will have received the proper testing for a specific product based on their over 20 safety standards. UL has worked with many organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), National Electrical Code (NEC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to determine and maintain current standards. The CFSP guide also adds the UL listing can also be reviewed for custom built equipment as well. To read how the entire process to make a product UL listed works, click here.

Are products with the UL Sanitation mark also NSF listed? According to the Underwriters Laboratories, they are accredited by the American National Standards Institute to certify products to NSF standards. This applies to food equipment, drinking water chemicals and products, and swimming pool equipment. For more information on UL products being NSF listed, check out this Code Authorities — EPH FAQs article. You can also review the “UL Food Program: Acceptance of the UL Mark” which includes information about the UL sanitation classification mark.

Energy Star LogoEnergy Star®

Who they areEnergy Star® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.  They have created a partnership with the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and the U.S. Department of Energy that uses methods to protect the environment with energy efficient products and practices.

Why they are important: Energy Star® rated products are able to give a solution to some of the high energy costs and environmental issues.  “Energy Star® provides a trustworthy label on over 60 product categories (and thousands of models) for home and office,” their website states. They also deliver technical information and tools to help make decisions for energy efficiency and play a key role in the latest technological advances. They have also put together a guide titled “Putting Energy into Profit” specifically for restaurants.

The Energy Star® website states their label was created to:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy
  2. Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features and comfort

What Energy Star means:  Energy Star® says “products can earn the Energy Star® label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in Energy Star® product specifications.”  These specifications have been/are established by the EPA, based on key guiding principles on this website.  According to the CSFP guide, if a product is Energy Star® rated, a manufacturer must be able to show they meet the minimum energy efficiency criteria for that particular product category.

**Note: Certain Energy Star® products qualify for Federal tax credits, for more information click here.

Shop Central

We offer more than 400 ENERGY STAR® qualified products designed to help your restaurant cut utility costs. Our product consultants can help guide you to the products that are NSF and UL listed to ensure you are meeting health standards in your foodservice establishment. For more details call 800-215-9293 and be sure to visit our website for our entire line of food service equipment and supplies.

 

*Edits made by Carlisha Carr

flatware

How To Keep Flatware Lasting As Long As Possible

Our “Why Stuff Breaks” series, which has covered glassware and dinnerware, comes to a close with flatware.  Flatware is different from the other two in the sense it doesn’t shatter, but it too has it’s own ways it can be ruined. There are many techniques foodservices unknowingly use that decrease the lifespan of flatware.

Flatware 15 Minute Rule

A foodservice’s biggest flatware mistake is letting is pre-soak for too long.

“You don’t need to pre-soak for more than 15 minutes in a mild pre-soak designed for that purpose,” said Mike Coggins, national accounts manager for Oneida Global Foodservice. “Anything longer and the food lifts off the body, breaks off into more pieces then re-attacks.”

He used the analogy of two tomato chunks on a fork.  When those two tomato chunks sit for an extended period of time, they eventually break into 50 pieces then re-attack.

It’s strongly recommended food doesn’t ever dry on flatware either.  If it does, it must be emulsified to soften it up, but just for 15 minutes.  Always remember 15 minutes.

Cleaning Methodsflatware

When it comes to cleaning flatware, or dinner and glassware for that matter, Coggins advised to never use bleach.

“It fries the surface,” he said. “And don’t bleach china to make it whiter.”

In terms of the ideal dishwashing machine to clean flatware with, Coggins said Oneida recommends going with a high temperature unit.

High temperature dishwashers clean with the heat of the water and require a lower concentration of chemicals. Low temperature machines do save some money because they don’t require a water booster, but there is money that will need to be spent on the chemicals.

“With the three (glassware, dinnerware and flatware), the mix of the hot water and minimal chemical use makes for better looking china for longer,” he said.  “Over time, chemicals bomb all three and will dull them down and fog them up.”

Direction Matters

Flatware should always dry standing up. When flatware is left on it’s side to dry, lipids, acids and chemicals are laying on each other which doesn’t make for a very good situation.

Always Have Enough

flatware-amountIn the dinnerware portion of this series, we learned having enough of a serving item is extremely important.

When estimating the amount of flatware needed, remember to take into account the number of seats, turnover rate, specialty menu items, warewashing capacity, operation type (fine dining, family, cafeteria, etc.) and backup inventory requirements.

Based off these factors, these two steps help determine how much flatware to buy:

  1. Multiply the number of seats with the flatware number listed at the right
  2. Divide by 12

For more information on choosing the right flatware, visit Central’s flatware buying guide.