Ask Foodservice

January Newsletter

January Newsletter

Posted February 8, 2016

Happy New Year! Before you get too far into 2016, I suggest trying out these ideas for optimizing your kitchen. They can save time, money, and strengthen your entire cooking and serving operation.

1. Organize Your Kitchen

You don’t want to look like a chicken with its head cut off in the kitchen, do you? A disorganized cooking space can cause you to do just that, running madly from one end of the kitchen to another searching for a spatula or a mixing bowl. Instead, streamline your kitchen to work more efficiently and quickly with these tips:

  • Divide the kitchen into stations. Think areas for storage, prepping, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Group similar supplies. Put all baking supplies with one another, for example. And keep everything you need at the stove within arm’s reach: large spoons, oven mitts, and so on.
  • Trim the number of tools. You probably don’t need 12 types of knives. You can get by with four knives: serrated, slicing, chef’s, and paring. Get rid of duplicates you don’t use, and only keep tools that you can use in multiple ways. For example, use a box grater to shred both cheese and vegetables.

2. Avocados In Bulk

Yes, you can order your avocados according to ripening stage, but if you didn’t, you might find your big box contains avocados as green as pine trees and others ready for slicing. Separate them out and use these tips to speed up or slow down ripening.

Speed Up

  • Place avocados in a bag with a banana or apple for one to four days.
  • Set the avocados in a sunny window for two to three days and check them daily.
  • Bury the avocados in a paper bag filled with flour or a container of uncooked rice for two to four days. The flour and rice are still usable — just sift the flour or rinse the rice through a sieve.

Slow Down

  • Refrigerate whole, ripe avocados for up to three days. They’re ready when the fruits yield to gentle pressure in the palm of your hand.
  • Don’t place unripe avocados in the refrigerator because the cold may prevent them from fully ripening.

3. Preparing and Serving Food to Allergy-Prone Diners

Does the thought of customers with food allergies send you into a panic? Severe allergies to nuts, gluten, and other foods can create confusion in the kitchen. Don’t let it. You can easily work around these restrictions if you follow a few tips:

  • Clearly label containers of high-risk foods like peanuts, almonds, gluten, and dairy.
  • Store high-risk foods in a separate area of the kitchen. Create a space in the refrigerator and pantry for those foods, and use color-coded labels to make it clear.
  • Think ahead about alternate preparations for dishes that contain high-risk foods.
  • Prepare meals separately. Use one space in the kitchen for “safe” meals and another for high-risk meals.
  • Keep the kitchen clean. Wash hands often and place all cutting boards, knives, and utensils into the dishwasher immediately after use.
  • Educate servers and staff about food allergies and regularly remind them of proper procedures and kitchen precautions.