Friday, April 17, 2015

Innovation in the Kitchen

What do the 2015 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients offer your back of house?
By Megan O'Neill

Implementing efficiency in time, space, and energy in the kitchen is arguably one of the most important objectives, right? The 2015 Kitchen Innovations Awards celebrate this while acknowledging the companies you need to know to truly benefit in areas of energy efficiency, waste reduction and improved productivity.
Visit show.restaurant.org for more info.

Advancing the future of the kitchen, the 23 selected innovations were chosen from an esteemed panel of judges looking for products that address cross-functionality, faster cook-up times, space constraints, water waste reduction, enhanced energy efficiency, increased safety, and, of course, sanitation. Ergonomics and smart technology was even implemented to help these products learn and adapt to various conditions.

“As a chef, it is great to see [these products] all offer significant advancement in back-of-house operations and demonstrate the extent to which the manufacturing companies are in touch with culinary and key operator challenges,” says John C. Metz, convention chair for NRA Show.
The trends and topics that these products focus on are all important to foodservice operators today and, according to the judges, are the most productive items on the market for back-of-house efficiency.

With less than a month left until the 2015 NRA Show, it’s time to start taking a closer look at the award recipients. Which company can address your needs best? Which back-of-house product offers the most innovation for your restaurant? Is it time to integrate smart technology? Is food waste or sanitation a top priority? With plenty of questions needing to be asked, we’ve made it a bit easier for you. Below find the 2015 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients and what they offer your kitchen. And remember, stay innovative—there’s not time in the restaurant biz to become stale. 

Cooking, Brewing and Holding
·         Dagda Technologies, Inc.: FryerGate—the safety cover protects employees from severe deep-fryer burns.
·         Duke Manufacturing Co.: FlexTech Advanced Food Holding Platform—extends fried product holding times, reduces food waste and increases product availability by 10-15 percent.
·         Varimixer: KODIAK Planetary Mixer—one of the most hygienic mixers available.
·         Schaerer Ltd.: Schaerer Coffee Art C HC—offers speedy bean-to-cup hot and iced coffee.
·         Manitowoc Foodservice: Merrychef eikon e4s with Panini Grill— up to 15 times faster than conventional methods, the non-stick Panini press attachment flattens and/or generates grill marks on a range of products.
·         Frymaster: FilterQuick with Oil Quality Sensor— these gas and electric fryers reduce the cost of frying and improve food quality by taking the guesswork of out oil replacement.

Sanitation and Safety
·         ThermalRite: Sanisteel Anti-Bacterial Slip-Resistant Flooring—slip resistant and kills and prevents 99.9-percent of all bacteria, mold, algae and fungi.
·         Ecolab: Syncra Total Hand Hygiene System— automated, touch-free, water-and-soap delivery system follows a strict, yet adjustable, 3-step process.
·         Franke: Franke Air Purification System (APS300)— self-contained and affordable purification system mounts inside walk-in coolers, scrubbing the existing air of microbes, ethylene, hydrocarbons and other contaminants.

Equipment Solutions
·         RATIONAL USA: SelfCookingCenter 5 Senses— communicates with its operator from preheat to unloading.
·         Ovention,Inc.: Ovention M360 Oven— compact oven is UL-certified for ventless operation and allows operators to prepare 1,000 menu items, each with different cook times and heat profiles.
·         The Montague Company : R290 Glycol Ice and Heat Sauté Station—more energy efficient than standard air-only refrigeration systems.
·         True Food Service Equipment, Inc.: Hydrocarbon (R290) Natural Refrigerant Reach-In Refrigerators/Freezers—reduce an operator’s energy consumption substantially resulting in a lesser environmental impact and improved profit margins.
·         Hobart: Hobart FT1000 Flight-Type Dish Machine—the first and only ventless flight-type dish machine in the marketplace.
·         Hestan Commercial Corporation: Tri-Ferrous French Top with Maximum Center Temperature & Gradient—from 1000-plus degrees at the center to as low as 320 degrees at the edges, it’s the highest temperature delta of any French Top.
·         HestanCommercial Corporation: Longitudinal Modular Salamander/Cheesemelter/Shelving System—modular shelving and broiling system is supported longitudinally on a riser to allow complete horizontal movement.
·         Evo, Inc: EVent Ductless Downdraft Ventilation Cooking Station— an internally ducted, self-contained downdraft re-circulating ventilation system.
·         Edlund Company LLC: Titan Max-Cut— saves operators space and food prep time by incorporating four prep options—cutting, coring, wedging and dicing—into a single manual machine.

Water and Food Waste
·         ChampionIndustries, Inc.: Foodwaste Reduction System— uses repurposed gray water as its primary water supply, reducing water consumption by 20-30 percent daily.
·         Wilpack Packaging: Seal-A-Cup Cup Sealing System— lightweight, portable cup sealer prevents spillage, seals in freshness and extends product life.
·         Ice Link, Inc.: Ice Link— automatically transports cubed and nugget ice at 30-feet per second from a central ice production area to a variety of remote locations within the same building.
·         HydroFLOW U.S.A.: HydroFLOW Water Conditioners—dissolve and remove lime scale in appliances and piping systems, prevent new lime scale accumulation, kill bacteria and algae in water systems, and boost filtration efficiency.
      EnviroPure Systems, Inc.: EnviroPure Ozone Recirculation System— eliminates the need for fresh water to be added to the aerobic organic digester for a saving of up to 400 gallons of water per day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The show within a show


If you’re looking to attend the same successful International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event that was at last year’s National Restaurant Association show, you won’t be able to find it. However, what you will find is the rebranded BAR (Beverage Alcohol for Restaurants) at NRA Show event. The beverage alcohol show that’s committed to helping industry professionals develop and maintain a successful bar program will be a more integrated show than seen in previous years, but will still coincide with the NRA Show, which will take place May 16-19.

In addition to a myriad of booths geared toward the bar industry, BAR will offer educational seminars, interactive demos and specialty pavilions. The Craftique Pavilion will focus on products that can’t be easily found; small distilleries, breweries and wineries that customers want to discover.  Bar Necessities offers exclusive drink complements such as garnishes to help you craft your own specialty drink menu.

The educational session lineup is as follows:

Sunday, May 17 
11:00 AM     BAR Keynote: Sally Smith, President & CEO, Buffalo Wild Wings
Smith brings her insight in this informational keynote presentation discussing the evolution of Buffalo Wild Wings’ successful beverage program and how the investment has dramatically elevated the brand.

12:30 PM     Building a Successful Wine Program
Master Sommelier David Glancy discusses the importance of customer loyalty and brand elevation as an important measure of success. The session covers beverage law, wine list development, beverage cost control, vendor relations, and cellar management.

2:00 PM     Sipping Social with Kathy Casey, Liquid Kitchen
Join Liquid Kitchen’s Kathy Casey as she shares popular trends in the beverage world gathered organically via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

3:30 PM     35 Years Behind Bars with Tony Abou-Ganim, the Modern Mixologist
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, hosts an informative session on trending cocktails, spirits, ingredients and techniques.


Sunday, May 18
1:00 PM     Increase Your Sales with the Hottest Trends in the Craft Beverage Market
Ginger Johnson, founder and CEO of Women Enjoying Beer discusses some of the hottest trends in the craft beverages. Offer the latest in meads, ciders and wilds to keep your customers coming back. Johnson will present insight on these latest trends and how you can increase customer traffic.   

2:15 PM     Menu Economics: Building and Maintaining a Profitable Beer Program

Led by Jason Stone, vice president of operations for Marke Team Inc and Certified Cicerone, this panel-based session will examine effective strategies to help build and maintain a profitable beer program. 


Attendees will also be invited to off-site events after show hours. Restaurants Rock is the official after party of the NRA Show and BAR where hospitality professionals gather for a night of drinking, dancing, live music and the Star of the Bar finals. Restaurants Rock will be held Sunday, May 17 at 9 pm at House of Blues. Some of Chicago’s favorite hotspots open their doors to the Hop Around the Scene Block Party crowd. The block party will be held Monday, May 18, and the lineup includes Bub City, Howl at the Moon, Rockit Bar & Grill, Underground and Untitled.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Should you be attending the Restaurant Finance Summit?


Are you looking for intel on financial best practices? Are you hoping to execute growth strategies in the coming year? What about learning tax and accounting advice from professionals specializing in the restaurant industry? There’s always room for growth in business, especially in the restaurant sector, right?

If you find yourself answering yes to any of the above, take a look at the 2015 Restaurant Finance Summit. Taking place Monday, May 18, during this year’s NRA Show in Chicago, attendees will find plenty of opportunities to learn, ask questions and connect with like-minded executives and restaurant professionals.

The day-long conference connects top foodservice financial executives with Wall Street analysts, investment groups and lenders, and expert tax and accounting professionals to the financial health of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry. The Summit will kick off with a luncheon and Keynote address by Russ Bendel, CEO of The Habit Burger Grill. Since 2008, Bendel has led The Habit Burger Grill to financial success as CEO. This past year, he led his company through a closely-watched and much-admired IPO. 

Below are the educational sessions you can look forward to.
·         Briefing: Consumer Insights, the Economy, and Capital Markets
 
·         Panel 1: Putting It All On the Line: Maximizing Value
What steps can a company take and how should it think about selecting an investment advisor? What resources can be leveraged to affect a successful sale, merger, or capital raise?
 
·         Panel 2: The Evolving World of Private Equity
Private equity plays an increasingly important role in restaurant M&A. Hear from leading private equity firms about how they assess possible acquisitions and their take on the future of investment in the industry.
 


·         Panel 3: Success Stories From the Real World 
Learn from operators who have achieved successful transactions about what worked, what the expected challenges were, and what they wish they could do over again. For more 
information on registration, check out the NRA Show website.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Is America's sustainable seafood at risk?

By Megan O'Neill 

The global fishing industry is a cloudy animal of the high seas.

The traceability of seafood from international waters to an American plate is a difficult web of confusion, and black market fishing—or what we should correctly refer to as illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing—blurs the waters. But there’s hope for the American fisheries unfairly competing with IUU and fraudulent practices. And there’s hope for those consumers, chefs and buyers simply looking for transparency in seafood.

Earlier this month at the Seafood Expo North America, the Department of State and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced an action plan for the implementation of recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud. The recommendations were given by a 19-agency Presidential Task Force that was established by President Obama to create a comprehensive framework to oust the IUU fishing that thoroughly impacts the economic and environmental sustainability of U.S. and global fisheries.

The action plan spells out each forceful step, 15 in total, that federal agencies will take in both domestic and international settings as the Obama administration works to support sustainable fisheries and keep the American fishing industry strong.

In short, IUU fishing consists of fishing activities that are illegal (conducted in breach of applicable laws), unreported (not reported or misreported to relevant authorities in breach of reporting procedures), or unregulated (occurring in areas in which there are no applicable conservation measures). According to the report, which you can read in full here, the task force was established for two reasons: 1. to address this IUU fishing and 2. to address seafood fraud, both of which refer to all seafood species, not just fish. The Task Force includes a diverse group of members—Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense and more.

So why, might you ask, would one require a 19-agency Presidential Task Force for recommendations on illegal fishing practices? It’s a fair question, but one that can be readily answered. By circumventing conservation and management measures and engaging in these fraudulent practices, the health of the general ecosystem is greatly impacted, and the sustainability of U.S. and global fish stocks is seriously undermined.

In its 2015 biennial report to congress, NOAA highlighted their findings and analyses of foreign IUU fishing activities on the high seas where nations do not have a regulatory program comparable to the United States. What’s astounding in their research is IUU’s incredible impact on the economic stability of the industry.

According to NOAA, global losses from illegal fishing practices are estimated between $10 and $23 billion annually.

But beyond the loss of money, and simply because of the massive oceanic nature, IUU fishing is difficult to place. “It can occur in capture fisheries both within areas of national jurisdiction and on the high seas,” stated the Presidential Task Force Report.

As the conclusion of a yearlong investigation by the Associated Press surfaces, American interest in the international seafood supply chain strengthens. The AP’s article, which was posted last week, brought to light modern day slave labor conditions in Indonesian fisheries. “Are slaves catching the fish you buy?” headlined the piece. It’s a clouded seafood supply chain, and according to the AP, tainted seafood mixes in with other fish at a number of sites in Thailand, including processing plants. It’s a jarring thought, and although extreme, it proves the need for higher regulation and transparency in the fishing supply chain in international waters.

“Because more than 2.5 billion people depend upon fish for food and nutrition, IUU fishing practices threaten food security and sustainability and undermine efforts to reduce global hunger and malnutrition,” stated the report.

According to NOAA, nearly 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. Beyond that, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ecuador are where we’re importing from. A greater understanding of where our fish come from (increasing required information available on seafood products) is one of the four general themes of the Task Force’s plan.  

Port sale measures, free trade agreements, fishery subsidies, and best practices for data tracking are among the 15 recommendations, broad in scope, provided to the administration by the Task Force.  Others include expanded federal, state and local enforcement provisions and information sharing and traceability programs.

The traceability system attempts to give chefs and consumers purchasing seafood in the American market an increasing confidence in the sustainability of the market. Though ambitious, it aims to track every piece of seafood that enters U.S. commerce from where it is caught to where it lands in the United States. According to the report, implementation by September 2016 should trace all at-risk seafood (or products of  particular concern) through data tracking.


The actions of the task force announced at the Seafood Expo might certainly give American buyers a peace of mind and hope for a future that truly combats questionable imports. Timelines are available for each of the 15 recommendations, and reassure the government’s commitment to not only leveling the playing field for U.S. fishers who are unfairly competing with illegal catch and seafood products, but also providing buyers with the ability to trace, the ability to trust and the ability to eat a piece of seafood that is correctly and ethically represented. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chef's Stirrings eNewsletter, March 16, 2015

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In this issue of Chef's Stirrings:

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Got a news item? Send it to us for consideration.
Sincerely,
The Editors, Chef Magazine


The Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) has moved its dates due to popular demand - new dates and local to be announced soon!


50+ Inspired Styles in Happy Chef's 2015 Catalog
Whether you need an executive look or complementing head-to-toe uniforms for the whole team, you'll find your style among the coats, pants, and aprons in the 2015 Happy Chef Catalog.
Get one of the newest colors and styles for yourself – request your free catalog at happychefuniforms.com.



Sold-out Crowd Gathers to Celebrate Work of The Organic Center 
It was a celebration of organic: of the benefits to the environment and to our health that organic provides, of the scientists and researchers whose dedicated work advances the organic sector, and of the generous sponsors who make that work possible in the labs, in the fields and in the orchards.

More than 500 supporters gathered for The Organic Center's Annual Benefit Dinner March 5 in Anaheim, California. The sold-out fundraiser, held in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West, this year raised nearly $450,000 for the work of the non-profit research and education organization.

Additionally, almost a million people outside the gala ballroom had the chance to share in the event through social media.

Dinner speakers stressed the importance of the work of The Organic Center in educating the public about organic and the broad and real impact of organic on the environment, on ecosystems, and on human health. The Center now has several critical research projects underway: comparing soil health on organic and conventional farms, outlining antibiotic-free alternatives for controlling fire blight in organic apple and pear orchards, exploring decreasing arsenic uptake in organic rice systems, seeking organic solutions to citrus greening, and discerning the benefits of organic to pollinator populations.

"When we fight for organic food, it connects us to every living creature on the planet, from birds to frogs and pollinators--all those harmed by toxic pesticides," keynote speaker Anna Lappé, widely respected author and educator, food systems expert and sustainable foods activist, told dinner attendees.

Lappé added, "You make history: with every company you build, every farmer you help, every study you commission to prove the power of organic farming."
Chef Susan Feniger, a 30-year restaurant industry veteran, celebrity chef, and cookbook author who designed the all-organic menu for what was the largest dinner event of the 5-day Expo, said she chose specific dishes related to The Center's research--including exotic citrus-inspired dishes in honor of citrus greening research and organic rice-based offerings in recognition of efforts to reduce arsenic uptake in organic rice.

Feniger has long sought out locally grown and sustainably raised food for her menus and has shared the origin of the food with her customers. "I truly believe that the best way to begin to change how people think is to start by giving them information. It isn't just about making sure people have the option to buy organic, but also about educating people so that they understand just how important it really is," she told the dinner attendees.

In addition to the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters of The Center gathered for the event, this year's gala connected with individuals outside the ballroom. Attendees were encouraged to use their cell phones and spread the word about The Center using the hashtag #OrganicScience, sharing their favorite moments with their own social networks and significantly expanding the reach of the evening's most important messages.

Among the most impressive statistics: about 450 social media posts using the event hashtag from 160 unique users reached just under 1 million people.
Event sponsors included Stonyfield Farm and New Hope Natural Media, Nature's Path Foods, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, Clif Bar, Whole Foods Market, and Horizon Organic, Foxy Organic, UNFI, KeHE, Cal-Organic Farms, Earthbound Farm, National Co+op Grocers, Frontier Co-op, Mamma Chia, and Wholesome!
"This was a very fun and successful evening," said Todd Linsky, chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Center. "We all learned a lot about the exciting and crucial work that The Center is undertaking, while raising needed funding to make this work possible."

For more information on The Organic Center and the science behind organic food and farming, visit organic-center.org.


2015 Seafood Excellence Awards Finalists Announced 
The 12 finalists for the 2015 Seafood Excellence Awards, the prestigious best new products competition held in conjunction with Seafood Expo North America, have been announced. Winners of the competition will be presented during the Seafood Excellence Awards ceremony, which will take place on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 3:30pm during the Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America in Boston.

The Seafood Excellence Awards annually recognize the product leaders in the North American seafood market. Each year, exhibitors at the event have the opportunity to submit their new products for consideration. Products are evaluated by three seafood industry experts based on their uniqueness and appropriateness to the market, taste profile, packaging, market potential, convenience, nutritional value and originality.

The 2015 twelve finalists were selected from more than 70 entries in the exposition's New Product Showcase and compete for two awards: Best New Foodservice Product and Best New Retail Product.

Each finalist's product will be showcased during the three-day event in Boston.
The Seafood Excellence Awards serves as the North American extension of the Seafood Prix d'Elite new product competition, held at Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium. Both, Seafood Excellence Awards and Seafood Prix d'Elite, are organized by Diversified Communications, producers of the Seafood Expo North America/Seafood Processing North America, Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global and Seafood Expo Asia.

View all of the entries into the Seafood Excellence AwardsHERE.


The James Beard Foundation announces 2015 Who's Who Inductees
The James Beard Foundation has announced the five 2015 inductees to the Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. The prestigious award is given to renowned culinary professionals who have made a significant and unique contribution to the American food and beverage industry. This year's honorees will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Foundation Awards presented by Lexus on Monday, May 4, 2015, at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

"This year's Who's Who honorees join an impressive group of over 250 of our country's most respected food industry leaders," says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. "Their impact on cultural cuisine, food production and mixology is both substantial and exciting."

The James Beard Foundation's Who's Who is a cadre of the most accomplished food and beverage professionals in the country. Though they represent a diverse cross-section of the food and beverage industry—from chefs to journalists to farmers to business executives to scholars—each has been identified by his or her peers as having displayed remarkable talent and achievement. Begun in 1984 by Cook's Magazine, the Who's Who has been administered by the James Beard Foundation since 1990.

The 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America Inductees are: 

Allan Benton, Pork Producer and Purveyor/Madisonville, Tennessee
Dale DeGroff, Mixologist/NYC
Wylie Dufresne, Chef and Restaurateur/NYC
Nathalie Dupree, Cookbook Author and Television Personality/Charleston
Maricel Presilla, Chef, Restaurateur, and Cookbook Author/Hoboken, New Jersey


During the Awards Ceremony, which is open to the public, special achievement awards will also be announced, including Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America. A gala reception will immediately follow featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.


All Trends & News from the Culinary World in Chef Magazine's March/April Digital Issue - Read Now

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 James Beard Foundation Awards Nominees Announced

An exciting morning for the industry as The James Beard Foundation has announced the final nominees for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards presented by Lexus. The nominees were announced today during a breakfast at the James Beard House in New York City, hosted by Susan Ungaro, James Beard Foundation president; executive vice-president, Mitchell Davis; Emily Luchetti, chair of the Foundation’s board of trustees; and John Washko, trustee and chair of the Awards committee.

“In celebration of the 25th James Beard Foundation Awards we are delighted to announce this year’s nominees live from the Beard House,” says Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation. “We couldn’t imagine a more fitting place to celebrate the nominees during this exciting banner year than at Beard’s former Greenwich Village house.”

Nominees in 59 categories were announced in the Foundation’s various awards programs, including Restaurant and Chef, Restaurant Design, and Book, Broadcast and Journalism. In addition, previously announced special achievement award honorees were highlighted, including Lifetime Achievement, Humanitarian of the Year, Who’s Who, and the America’s Classics. A complete list of nominees can be found jamesbeard.org/awards.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

We Remember Dick Brennan Sr., Legendary New Orleans Restaurateur

Photo by Ted Jackson, NOLA.com; The Times-Picayune
This past Saturday, the New Orleans and national culinary community lost one of their own. Richard “Dick” Brennan Sr., a prominent member of the famed Brennan’s family of restaurateurs, died at the age of 83. Helping turn the city into a fine dining Creole destination, Richard recognized the bounty of the region and the true potential of a city steeped in such tradition. He ushered in a new era of New Orleans entertaining and cuisine, instrumental in the transformation of Commander’s Palace, and he will most certainly be missed in this industry and beyond.

“Our Dad was kind, gentle and giving. A mentor, visionary, leader and statesman,” said his children, Dickie and Lauren in a statement this week. “His motto was 'leave it better than you found it.' He was the ultimate New Orleanian and a true Irishman.

According to a biography put together by the family, Richard’s life reads quite like a storybook—one in which good fortune, hard work and integrity led to many successes. Richard married shortly after graduating from Tulane University in New Orleans—to his wife, Lynne, of 64 years, nonetheless—completing 2 years of law school and eventually enlisting in the Army. Following the loss of his brother, Owen Brennan, founder of Brennan's Restaurant in the French Quarter, Richard and his family continued operating the restaurant while expanding to other concepts and locations. In 1973, when the Brennan’s split their restaurants, Richard joined his siblings, Ella, John, Adelaide and Dottie as they developed Commander’s Palace into the premier concept it became known for.

Among Chefs who not only gained fame there, but became the well-respected acolyte of Richard, Ella and the family, are Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

Richard was passionate about New Orleans and American cuisine, and he acknowledged its potential from the start.  

“He’ll be deeply missed, but he leaves behind a legacy so profound that his spirit will live on through the beautiful city he called home,” said Dickie and Lauren. “It’s only natural to raise a glass and toast in his honor to a life well lived.

Read in its entirety the beautiful tribute written by Dickie and Lauren for their father here.