During the AKFCF Annual Convention (USA) show in Austin, Texas, Winston Foodservice received two amazing awards. The Great Lakes KFC Franchisee Association and the Upper Midwest KFC Franchisee Association both awarded Vendor of the Year to Winston. Wow, what a treat! Two Vendor of the Year awards in a single year. I’m tooting our own company’s horn, that is pretty AWESOME! Thank you Great Lakes and Upper Midwest KFC for the partnership! The Winston team is thankful for the partnership and commitment to your business.
The Great Lakes KFC Franchisee Association consists of KFC franchise owners in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, portions of Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The Upper Midwest KFC Franchisee Association was formed in 1974 and is comprised of owners in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and portions of Illinois.
Like a lot of people in the foodservice industry, I didn’t intend on ending up here. Also, like a lot of people in the foodservice industry, I didn’t intend on still being here over a decade later. One of the many reasons I still am, however, is the fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Child Nutrition the entire time. There’s truly not a better collection of warm and caring individuals in this world and I am proud to be a part of their family. And what I am most proud of is when my other family, Winston Industries, provides the Equipment Grant Award. Well, that and keeping me employed…
Every year through a competitive grant process at SNF, our company gives away 10 pieces of equipment (of the winner’s choosing) in our holding cabinet or oven line. That amount of free equipment could represent a monumental change for anybody, much less a district in extreme need! Covering the Southeast, I’ve been lucky enough to work directly with three of these grant winners, as well as a district in my home state of Mississippi who we helped post-Katrina. This year lightning struck again and I got my fourth winner, Hernando County Public Schools in Brooksville, Fla.
Hernando County has about 25 schools and Food & Nutrition Services Director, Lori Drenth, designated nine sites to receive the seven Holding Cabinets and three Thermalizer Ovens she chose after winning. Along with helping to feed an increasing number of students in older kitchens, this equipment will allow her staff to be able to truly do batch cooking and serve food at its highest quality. And as she said, “it’s like Christmas when a kitchen gets new equipment and it instills a sense of pride in the employees knowing their school is getting that investment.” It gives me that same sense of pride to work with these people and a company that makes money selling equipment, but also gives some away for a good cause!
You can apply for next year’s grant starting on January 10, 2017. Learn more here!
I was recently scheduled to do a demo on one of our CVap Thermalizer Ovens at the Tift County School District in Georgia. I was looking at their menus for that day to see what we would be cooking when I saw the words: NO SCHOOL/PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE. A frightening thought entered my mind – that no staff would be there and we would need to reschedule. Actually, my first thought was, YES! No School!, a juvenile reflex, I guess. So I sent a note to Kogi, one of the Assistants to the Director, and asked if they would be in that day. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a student holiday, but still a work day.” Awesome, not only will they be in, but I’ll have their complete attention while doing my demo. But will they be in a bad mood? Not these lunch ladies!
When I walked in the kitchen, it was humming. Every staff member was busy cleaning and organizing. I announced my arrival to the manager, and she gathered her flock around the CVap Thermalizer Oven for my demo. And just as I had thought, I held their complete attention. They were engaged, asking questions, even had smiles on their faces. We cooked our frozen pizzas on Channel 3 for about 12 minutes and they came out great. The ladies ate and we talked some more, but then they went right back to the deep clean, smiles still on their faces. I was borderline astonished. Not only are these ladies doing the job most people hate (imagine deep cleaning your kitchen and multiply it by 10), but they also have to listen to me, the company gasbag, trying to tell them how to cook in our oven. But, not these lunch ladies!
A little background on what lunchroom staffs do each day. Nationwide, these workers prepare and serve over 30 million lunches and 14 million breakfasts daily. Some even provide meals at night and through the summer for their communities. They greet rambunctious kids with a smile and perhaps the only nourishment they will receive that day. Then they clean and scrub and, for a lot of them, it’s off to the next job. Let’s face it, it’s not the most glamorous in the world and it’s certainly not the highest paying. Many of them have a second occupation and they are most likely the ones cooking and cleaning at home. It’s a thankless job and it would’ve been so easy for the staff at 8th Street Middle School to mail it in and be crabby, thinking about what they could’ve been doing had they not been at work. But, not today. Not these lunch ladies!
Remember to tell your lunch staff thanks for the delicious food they prepare and all the hard work they do for you each day. Trust me, they will appreciate it more than you know!
In this post I want to bring to light one of the current dilemmas many of us are facing in our kitchens today. Although the list of equipment offerings and technologies continues to grow, we see more and more specialized equipment designed for a specific job. Whether we are baking, steaming, braising, boiling, poaching, roasting, grilling, staging, frying or searing, there is a piece of equipment on the market specifically designed for that specific job.
Most of our kitchens are littered with several pieces of single-purpose equipment. They are all pieces of a puzzle that fit together and (hopefully) lend themselves well to each other. Whether we are talking about convection ovens, steamers, grills, flat top griddles, immersion circulators, holding cabinets, combi ovens, low temp roasting ovens, etc… they all have their place and purpose. On the other hand, most of the real estate in our kitchens is at a premium, preventing us from utilizing them all properly. We are left with two answers to this challenge, either build massive kitchens capable of holding all this equipment or find versatility in the equipment we use.
When discussing versatility, most equipment can be placed into one of two categories, versatile equipment or single-purpose equipment. Let’s dissect these two categories a bit further and analyze some of the equipment mentioned above.
Convection ovens are the go-to standard for versatility and have been widely used in kitchens around the world for years. These ovens have their place in most kitchens as they are one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on the market today. From prep to finish the convection oven can be used throughout the entire cooking process and is effective at both high and low temperatures, all within a small footprint. Other equipment that fit into this same category are grills, griddles, and combi ovens.
Steamers are one of the main culprits in the single-purpose category. They are less versatile and capable of only one temp and one process – steaming. Not only is the equipment limited by its versatility, but often, finding a place in the kitchen for single-purpose equipment can be a hassle. While highly effective at performing the specific job the unit is designed for, single-purpose equipment can be a waste of space if it is not utilized around the clock. Other examples of single-use equipment include immersion circulators and low-temp roasting ovens.
What’s This Mean for You?
A lot goes into making any kind of equipment decision. Quality, reliability, capital cost, maintenance cost, operating cost, equipment life span, etc. Buyers have to weigh all these variables and find the best balance for their personal needs. However, one of the most impactful elements we are all looking for is versatility. We don’t all have the luxury of a large kitchen. Normally, the larger the kitchen footprint the smaller the customer seating footprint, which means less potential money to be made each day.
What if I told you there was a piece of equipment that addresses these pain points? One that is versatile to the point of being able to poach, steam, braise,roast, bake, stage, sous vide, confit, high yield roast, hold and perform many other processes all within a small footprint? One that is affordable, reliable, requires no hood and is easy to use at all skill levels? A unit that can reduce ticket times, food costs, labor costs and maintenance costs. A piece that can be used for morning prep, the lunch rush, and staging for a busy dinner service, then continue to make you money overnight while you sleep? If this is the type of equipment you are looking for, then the Winston CVap is a game changer for your business. CVap equipment is hands down some of the most versatile items you can place in your kitchen. It is equipment that can save and make money at the same time, all inside a small footprint. Chances are the restaurant down the street turning 100 tables on a Tuesday night has already discovered it.
According to some in the restaurant business, the traditional method for cooking the perfect fried rice is to cook the rice, chill it in a walk-in cooler overnight, and then stir fry cold rice the next day. This method, creates an opportunity for bacteria growth. The USDA has established that bacteria which can cause illness grows much faster in the temperature danger zone between 40°F and 140°F. USDA guidelines.
When the rice is quickly chilled below 40°F, it reduces the opportunity for bacteria growth. Easier said than done! The reason being that rice is often stored in 4″ or 6″ deep hotel pans. The deeper the hotel pan, the greater the mass of rice, and the longer it takes that rice to cool down, potentially placing it within the temperature danger zone. Plus, rice is often placed in a walk-in cooler to chill, and this forces the cooler to work harder to remain cold. If hot rice is placed at room temperature to begin cooling, it could take hours, and is even more likely to put the rice in the temperature danger zone.
The inverse can be true when rice is reheated, as well. If rice taken from a cooler is not heated quickly to at least 165°F, the potential for bacteria growth occurs again.
So what’s a HACCP Safe solution for maintaining the perfect rice? CVap® hot holding. Holding rice in CVap overnight keeps it hot and maintains a safe food temperature continuously. We have held rice for more than 14 hours and the quality remained outstanding!
So our revised process for cooking the perfect fried rice is to hold the rice overnight in CVap and then stir fry the hot rice the next day for serving. We recommend CVap holding settings of 150°F Food Temperature and Food Texture set at 0.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about what’s being served in school cafeterias around the country. Take it from me, the best way to find out what’s being plated in K-12 is to actually go to the schools and have lunch yourself. I work with schools around the U.S., and let me tell you there is some wonderful food around the country with creative ways of serving happening every day!
I suppose you could give an example based on new regulations that are taking place. But really those healthier options, even before the new regulations, have been putting school foodservice at the forefront of tasty recipes from one of the most demanding groups of customers there is – your kids.
The K-12 market segment food manufacturers have done a marvelous job with reformulating and reinventing a lot of the tasty treats your kid’s love to eat. Add in scratch cooking that’s being done in many of the nation’s schools and well, you’ve got some great recipes for healthy well fed students that get kids ready to learn.
So here’s my challenge to you. Would you try a dynamic and delicious made from scratch school food recipe at your next outdoor cookout?
Believe me when the side dish is Tantalizing and Tasty Ranchero Beans from a district like Brantley County Schools in Georgia, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s what I did and I’ll show you how. I took the original bulk recipe from School Nutrition Director Laura Lynn’s Brantley County School District and honed it down for a home gathering with family. I’m sharing the original with you along with my version.
Number of Portions: 43
Size of Portions: ½ cup
CAT509 – CVap Thermalizer
HA4522 – CVap Holding Cabinet
1 cup, 8 fl oz water
2 tsp low sodium ham base
1 #10 can/18.5 ct/.5 cup beans, canned, drained, rinsed
1 can #10 tomatoes, diced, canned
1 cup frozen diced onions
2 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp salt, table
1 tsp pepper, black
¼ cup mild banana pepper rings
Pre-heat your CVap Thermalizer by pressing Channel 6.
Place can of tomatoes, drained beans and onions in a 2” deep hotel pan. Add 1 cup of warm water mixed with the ham base. Add Italian seasoning, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix well and place pepper rings on top. Once it’s pre-heated, place in the CAT509 and cook for 30 minutes. Then place in HA4522 Holding Cabinet with a food temperature of 155 degrees and a food texture of +10 degrees until ready to serve. Serve students with #8 scoop or ½ spoodle.
Home Style Version
½ cup of water
¼ tsp of low sodium ham base (I used Better Than Bouillon brand)
2 cans 15.5 oz unseasoned pinto beans drained, rinsed
2 cans 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
¼ cup frozen diced onions (I used Kroger brand)
¼ tsp Italian seasoning (I used McCormick brand)
¼ tsp of cumin
1/8 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
6 or 8 mild banana pepper rings
Mix all of the ingredients together in a half size aluminum hotel pan and then use a CVap CAC503 Cook and Hold set to 90+9 for 30 minutes on high yield so it will drop into an automatic hold of 150 following the heat cycle to warm.
If you don’t have one at home…
Combine the ingredients in a gallon or so pot, reserve the mild banana rings for topping. Heat on medium on top of the stove, covered until warm, then put the banana pepper rings on top for serving.
The adults loved it and Penelope asked for more. Then the big reveal… I told them it was school food!
This made Penelope ready for kindergarten immediately!
Check out this wonderful dish and try it at home. Take heart in knowing that schools all over America are serving great dishes like this to your children which have been cooked fresh in Winston Thermalizers and held at just cooked quality in Winston Holding Cabinets with the one and only CVap technology.
CVap® is a warm welcome addition to any commercially sized foodservice kitchen. Many say CVap will typically become one of the favored pieces of equipment in the kitchen while others swear they would not open a kitchen without CVap. That is quite a compliment to Winston Industries, a family-owned manufacturing company made up of hard working and dedicated people in Louisville, Kentucky. Winston is a global manufacturer exporting products all over the world.
CVap may be found in various areas of the kitchen. This month let’s focus on the HBB5D1 CVap® Holding Drawer and a unique area of placement. Kitchens of today are getting more compact, every square foot needs to be utilized to create an efficient work space for fantastic results. Consider CVap drawers in your cook line, so many choices in equipment options; free standing, counter top, standard oven base, convection oven base, cabinet base, refrigerated base, and CVap drawers placed within a customized equipment stand! Let your culinary mind wander to the possibilities of what items could be holding warm in a perfect CVap environment to assist with extended holding times without diminishing food quality. See drawing below to modular sized equipment stands in 1, 2, and 3 CVap drawer configurations. Each drawer requires 120 volt 13.1 full load amp operation.
I worked with an owner/end user recently with an extremely small kitchen who was frustrated with long ticket times of 40 – 45 minutes during peak service times. He had experienced CVap with his prior partnership and was not part of procedures with this new concept; he called us in for suggestions. Upon arrival I noticed his cook line was using counter top equipment with refrigerated drawer base. We reviewed everything he was staging cold would be perfect for staging warm instead which would greatly reduce heat up time from 40° F to 165° F on a griddle or broiler surface, assemble the dish and out for service it would go. He loved the idea and implemented a two drawer equipment stand and an additional CVap holding cabinet in an adjacent room for additional hot holding back-up when his patio opened in the summer and doubled his seating capacity. He is one ticket time reduced CVap customer!
We love experimenting with trends, often blending techniques and flavors to come up with new creations. The one we are sharing here combines two enormously popular ingredients – eggs and wraps – and we gave the dish a Latino twist. And although these ingredients probably bring breakfast immediately to mind, the dish is hearty enough to serve during any daypart.
We prepared our eggs in the style of an Italian frittata. According to Wikipedia, the Italian word frittata derives from fritta and roughly translates to egg-cake. This was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere on the spectrum from fried egg, through conventional omelette, to an Italian version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas, made with fried potato. Outside Italy, frittata was seen as equivalent to “omelette” until at least the mid-1950s.
Our preparation of the eggs is also a form of CVap Staging. In this case, an operator could prepare the frittata component in hotel pans well ahead of service and then hold the eggs beautifully until assembly, saving time during the rush. The cooked eggs will maintain their texture and exactly the right amount of moisture, as if they were cooked to order.
1 dozen small tortillas
2 dozen of your favorite fresh eggs
2 cups of half & half
Chopped green bell peppers, red bell peppers, and onions
Place tortillas in preheated CVap Holding Cabinet (with a Food Temperature setting of 140° and a + 0 Food Texture setting). Prepare 1 full size 2 ¼ inch hotel pan with melted butter. Mix and add eggs and the half & half to the pan, and sprinkle chopped veggies over the entire pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook in a preheated CVap Cook and Hold Oven set with Constant Cook ON, a Food Temperature setting of 200°F (Doneness), and a Food Texture setting of 0 (Browning), for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and place with the tortillas in the CVap Holding Cabinet (set at 140° + 0).
To assemble, we cut the cooked eggs into 2 x 3 inch strips and placed one piece in a warm tortilla. We then topped with black beans, shredded colby-jack cheese, fresh pico de gallo, and cilantro, giving the dish a Latino flavor.
You could put a dozen different spins on this preparation by changing up the vegetables or stir-ins that you add to the egg mixture prior to cooking, varying the type of tortilla or bread product you might serve it on, and finishing with different toppings and garnishes. Couple that with the CVap Staging process, and there’s no limit to the variety of dishes you can quickly crank out!
Struck by the mood to make something comforting yet elegant, we turned to al dente linguine tossed in a velvety blush sauce. Then we were inspired by our recent obsession with lobster, so we cooked lobster tails and shrimp in CVap, and the flavor and texture of the shellfish added a level of decadence to the dish that made it truly special. Let’s deconstruct it!
First, the shellfish. The lobster tails were steamed in a CVap Cook & Hold Oven at 200 + 0 for about 7 minutes, bringing them to the perfect temperature and texture for this dish. We then staged the shrimp at 135 + 2 for about 10 minutes, until it was nearly – but not quite – opaque, and held it there.
While the shellfish was working, we cooked traditional linguine to al dente, tossed it with a bit of olive oil, and held it in a CVap at 140 + 0 until we were ready to plate.
On to the sauce! We started with a classic marinara, combining olive oil, garlic, onion, San Marzano tomatoes, S&P, and fresh basil.
To that we added heavy cream to create a gorgeous blush sauce.
We then removed the lobster tail meat and reserved the shells, along with the shrimp shells, to make stock later.
Some of the meat was cubed and stirred into the blush sauce, while the rest was set aside to be added whole.
We coated a portion of pasta we’d been holding with the seafood/sauce mixture…
Plated a respectably appetizing (pile)…
And gilded the lily by crowning it with the whole piece of shellfish, a bit more sauce, and a garnish of fresh basil.
The natural sweet flavor of the shellfish really came through and was complimented nicely by the simple blush sauce, while the fresh basil added just the right amount of bright yet peppery foil to the richness of the overall dish.