A laboratory distillation technique has now been adapted for culinary use by PolyScience, a leading manufacturer and supplier of scientific equipment. Designed to perform distillations at reduced pressure and temperature, the Laborota 4000 Rotary Evaporator enables chefs to easily purify liquids, concentrate flavors, and obtain essential oils that can be used to infuse or intensify flavor without affecting the texture or composition of the final dish. For example, Grant Achatz of Alinea is using a rotary evaporator to pull the flavor, but not the heat, out of chilies and then using that pure chili essence to add an unexpected element to his creations.

The Laborota 4000 is a modularly designed rotary evaporator that provides high distillation efficiency while requiring a minimum of kitchen space. A liquid-cooled condenser allows condensation to occur at -20°C, using the included LM6 Mini-Chiller, ensuring maximum product yield. For more information on PolyScience culinary technology, visit www.cuisinetechnology.com.
The new slate of Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) leaders took office for 2009-2010 at the annual meeting held during the Southwest Foodservice Expo, June 28 to 30 in Dallas.

The new president is Mark Maguire, Maguire's Restaurant Concepts, Dallas. The president elect is Bob Westbrook, WR Ventures Inc./CiCi's Pizza, Tyler. Lisa Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, Buffalo Gap, and Russell Ybarra, Gringos Mexican Kitchen, Pearland, will serve as vice presidents. Scott Plowman, Parkway Grill & Sports Bar, Wichita Falls, is the newly elected secretary-treasurer.
Contributed by Ron Harrison, PhD, director of technical services, Orkin Inc.

Like following the recipe for your signature dish, successful pest management is a matter of gathering the right ingredients and combining them with precision and care.

The first key ingredient is an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, a sanitation effort that targets and eliminates the elements in kitchens that attract pests. Pests enter buildings looking for their essential survival needs--food, water and shelter--all of which are readily available in a commercial kitchen. By focusing on "hot spots," or areas that are particularly conducive to an infestation, you can prevent your kitchen from serving up everything pests need. Hot spots include kitchen surfaces, floors, storage areas and waste-disposal zones.

By combining the following ingredients with your IPM program, your facility will be prepped for rave reviews from customers--not pests.

Start with a dash of stringent cleaning. Pests have a much less-refined palate than most of your patrons. They can easily survive on limited moisture and can make a meal out of minimal food debris and leftovers. Establish a cleaning regimen that eliminates pest meals from the menu.
  • Make every effort to stay on top of cleaning, even during busy hours. Thoroughly clean your kitchen with a product that does not contain bleach. Be sure to sweep or vacuum under appliances and counters. Clean spills quickly, as pests only need a small amount of water to survive.
  • Remove floor drain covers and scrub drains and covers with a biological cleaner and brush to remove food debris that can act as breeding grounds for some small flies.
  • After each customer leaves, clean their table and the floor underneath. Be sure to wipe down the legs of tables and chairs; it doesn’t take long to build up enough small debris to give cockroaches and other insects a four-course meal.
  • Line all trashcans, and make sure they are tightly sealed (photo, below). Implement a regular trash-removal schedule and make certain trash is disposed of daily.

Stir in a storage strategy. Stored-product pests may arrive on incoming food shipments and usually contaminate more product than they eat, sometimes requiring disposal of a large amount of damaged goods. Some species also secrete chemicals that alter the flavor of food products, while others can cause allergic reactions and irritate the human digestive tract if ingested.
  • Store all food in tightly sealed containers and on shelves so it does not touch the ground or the back wall. Rotate all products on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis. Check inventory regularly for pests, pest droppings, and damaged or destroyed product.
  • Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to clean debris from cracks and crevices in walls. Vacuuming also can remove any pests hiding in these areas.
  • Don't leave boxes stacked up outside (photo below). Break down and remove empty boxes. Pests, including rodents and cockroaches, can use cardboard boxes for harborage. Cockroaches even eat the glue that holds boxes together.

Garnish with exterior maintenance. Even though you may be finished with it, refuse can be the starting point for pests. Outdoor dining areas attract pests, along with trash and debris that build up around the building or parking lot.
  • Don't allow trash to sit unattended next to the building or around the dumpster. All waste should be secured inside a dumpster or similar disposal device.
  • Move dumpsters as far from the building as possible, and work with your waste-management company to regularly clean and rotate your dumpster. Keep the dumpster lid closed at all times.
  • Keep your building exterior and parking lot free of trash and debris. Clean the building, sidewalks and parking area regularly (photo, below). Eliminate any standing water outside your building.

Work with your pest management professional to establish an IPM program and educate your staff about their role in preventing pests. Follow this recipe, and you'll be cooking up your signature dish in a pest-free facility. And all your customers will be talking about is the secret ingredient--in your food.

Ron Harrison, entomologist, PhD, is director of technical services for Orkin Inc. and an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management.