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3 Equipment Needs All K-12 Cafeterias Should Consider Post-COVID

School COVID Solutions- Lakeside

As a result of the planning that’s happening across the country, many school nutrition programs are considering solutions that might help provide some versatility and safety for serving students in the COVID era.

Parents across the country are terrified. While there’s a lot of uncertainty out there today in a hyper-charged world, the thing that most impacts parents are the closures of schools. And even today, months after our initial stay-at-home orders went into effect, many school districts still don’t know what things will look like in 2020-21.

Guess what? Neither do school nutrition directors who are in charge of feeding our kids.

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What You Need to Know About Supper in Schools

Offering students a meal before they head home at the end of the day can mean the difference between nourishment and hunger.

Whether you call it supper, dinner, or something completely different, an end-of-day meal is an important step to make sure students aren't going to be hungry, and more and more school districts across the nation are embracing this idea.

From California to Connecticut, more and more districts are working to help free or reduced lunch students enjoy the benefits of three square meals a day, and programs are having an impact.

"There is a need," said Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Elk Grove, CA, Michelle Drake, in a 2012 article. "There are hungry families and hungry children. Just because they get breakfast and lunch doesn't mean they get dinner [at home]. This program helps the child get a nutritious meal rather than Top Ramen or something."

Afterschool supper programs came into existence mainly after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which led to a myriad of supper programs just a few short years later. In October of 2016, nearly 1.1 million children received an afterschool supper, and average daily participation grew from about 200,000 just five years earlier.

According to the "2018 Afterschool Nutrition Report" from the Food Research & Action Center, many schools and districts are missing out on opportunities, though. Thousands of afterschool programs located in low-income communities provide food during after school hours, yet many that are eligible to serve supper are only serving snack.

What can be done to involve more districts?

For starters, districts in areas with more than 50 percent of students who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals should absolutely consider serving school suppers, as well. Providing meals and snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) are available in these areas.

Citing the report, state agencies and advocates should conduct outreach to eligible schools, identify barriers to participation, and assist schools in overcoming them. The free and reduced lunch ratio is certainly one of the obstacles, but even schools not meeting the 50 percent requirement can still find funding.

There are other barriers to serving school suppers, and some of them include issues with foodservice equipment and supplies.

Lakeside is happy to offer a free school nutrition assessment to districts looking to provide school supper programs for students. We have some ideas that have worked in the past and may be able to help your district in the future.

Contact Us Today

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Why You Should Consider the Multiteria Retail XTension

When it comes to foodservice on campus, one of the biggest assets is versatile equipment.

What does that mean, specifically? Units that can be moved around, from inside service to events held outside on the quad. Units that can get larger or smaller depending on the crowd size or the available space. Units that can stand up to the wear and tear of campus life while still looking upscale.

The Retail X-Tension from Multiteria is a foodservice counter that can achieve these objectives and more, whether it's on a college campus or outside a high school gymnasium. Let's take a look.

The Multiteria Retail X-Tension allows operators to serve a variety of menu items in a variety of locations. With chalkboard signage, those displays are obvious and enticing and can change from one service to the next. Along with easy setup, which takes 15 minutes or less, operators can move from grab-n-go breakfast in the morning to lunch service in the afternoon to a concession stand outside the basketball game at night.

Snacks, beverages, fruit, and even food warming are all possible with the Retail X-Tension. This menu diversity, when coupled with locational diversity the unit provides, means underused spaces can be turned into profit centers quickly and efficiently. Courtyards, corridors, hallways, outdoor sporting venues, verandas -- they can all become profitable locations.

In terms of design, the Retail X-Tension will fit through any standard-sized doorway, and the extension counter slides out with ease to create an easy setup. As with any foodservice display, lighting is important, and the Retail X-Tension comes with LED overstructure lighting that helps illuminate your food and beverage items. An optional bracket will hold a digital menu monitor for an even more enhanced display.

Ready to speak with an expert about the Multiteria Retail X-Tension? Schedule a free assessment with one of our reps today, and discover all the final benefits to see if they're right for your service.

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Enabling Kitchen Efficiency: Lakeside’s Mise en Place Stations

As you look at the organization of your commercial kitchen, you likely have mise en place front of mind.

This French term for "to put things in place" is a method that helps chefs prepare ingredients and organize equipment in anticipation of a busy service.

In order to execute an effective mise en place strategy, it is important to have the right equipment. With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside offers a diverse product line. This product line, along with collaboration with end-users and foodservice consultants, allows Lakeside to provide its customers with the equipment they need. Lakeside offers three mise en place solutions to help set your kitchen up for success.

Read on to learn more about how our mise en place stations can help optimize your kitchen's efficiencies.

Lakeside Mise En Place Carts

Lakeside's three mise en place stations offer a number of great features. Each model includes a stainless steel top frame built to hold a full-size pan. It can also accommodate smaller pans with standard inserts or a cutting board.

The cart has integrated handles on both sides, allowing it to hold a 1/3 pan or two 1/6 pans. A detachable speed rail with an integrated towel bar allows you to use the carts to arrange and hold the ingredients for your mise en place, including spices, seasonings, bottles, and sauces.

All models are ADA compliant so can be used by any member of your staff.

Model 140

This model can be moved and adjusted as needed for your space. It includes a cantilevered H-base with four small casters that are all-swivel with brakes. This enables the cart to roll under ranges for optimal use and storage options. Adding to its versatility, Model 140 is 21x38 inches but has an adjustable-height top, so it to be modified to suit your needs.

Model 146

This mise en place cart is Lakeside's classic model. It has an overall size of 17.5 x 38 x 35 inches and includes four 3.5 inch casters that swivel.

Model 145

If you are concerned about shipping costs and are confident in your assembly abilities, you can consider opting for Model 145. This offers the same, classic set-up as Model 146 but comes unassembled, reducing costs associated with shipping and storage. We know some people just like building things, so with our easy-to-follow instructions, it should be a sinch!

Benefits of Lakeside Carts

Each of the Lakeside mise en place carts assists you in providing menu innovation without compromising the existing kitchen layout. Efficient layout will allow the chefs in your commercial kitchen to organize ingredients and equipment in a way that makes the most sense for their process. The carts are also versatile, perfect for tableside meal prep and customization.

Lakeside mise en place carts will enable chef and staff in commercial kitchens to:

  • Organize cooking equipment and utensils;
  • Peel, wash, chop, or dice vegetables;
  • Trim and portion meat;
  • Prepare fish fillets; and
  • Keep spices close at hand

The above are just suggestions. The beauty of Lakeside mise en place carts is that how they are used can be unique to each member of the kitchen staff. In addition to organization, mise en place carts also promote menu planning, inventory management, and kitchen cleanliness.

Contact Lakeside Today

Whether you know exactly which mise en place carts are right for your kitchen or you need help strategizing the best fit, Lakeside is here to help. If you don't see exactly what you need, we are happy to work with you to develop exactly what you need by modifying a standard product or specially designing a product for your unique application

Contact Lakeside today to begin your journey to a more organized kitchen.

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The Ergonomics Behind Food Prep

Uniformity is important when it applies to the food coming out of your commercial kitchen. You want everyone to experience the same beautifully plated food and your diners expect food that tastes the same as it did the last time they tried it.

Unfortunately, the people preparing that food are not uniform in size and stature. The same countertop that is comfortable for a 5' 6" prep cook can cause a 6' 2" cook to hunch over in pain. The one-height-fits-all set up typically found in commercial kitchens isn't ergonomically sound. In fact, it's frequently the cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain. 

The High Cost of Poor Ergonomics

Muscle strain resulting from a hunched position may result in employee absences or even Workman's Compensation claims. According to a study done by the University of California's Ergonomics Project Team, food preparation was one of the five areas chosen as being at most risk of ergonomic-related injuries. Those injuries were very common and often severe due to the nature of working in a kitchen. It's frequently quite physical, involving awkward positions, physical exertion, and repetitive motions. All of these factors increase the chances of employee injuries.

The Ergonomics Project Team based their choice of the five areas on:

  • Analysis of the various tasks being performed
  • Direct observation coupled with front line experiences at different locations
  • Analysis of Workers' Compensation claims
  • Literature review

One of their suggestions for reducing the risk of ergonomic-related injuries was to: "Adjust the height of work surfaces to better fit individual employees." Wow, we could have told them that! So could any kitchen worker whose height doesn't match that of standard countertops.

Uncomfortable Workstations Impact Productivity

It's hard for employees to focus on the task at hand if they're in pain. Just being uncomfortable can negatively impact their efficiency and productivity. It can also increase their chances of injuring themselves. A user-friendly kitchen keeps employees' comfort and efficiency at the forefront of its design.

Designing workstations that make your employees' comfort and safety a priority improves workplace morale while increasing efficiency and productivity. Providing workstations that are as varied in height as your employees will make many jobs easier to accomplish and more comfortable. That, in turn, can reduce employee stress.

It will also improve productivity since ergonomic design is all about helping employees complete the most tasks in the shortest time with the least amount of effort. An ergonomically-designed kitchen is better for your employees and better for your bottom line!

Finding the Right Solution

 

 

At home, you can simply stack cutting boards or stand on a step stool as a temporary solution to an uncomfortable counter height. However, neither of those home kitchen hacks are feasible for a busy commercial kitchen. In fact, they could be downright dangerous!

Solutions for commercial kitchens involve creating workstations of varying heights. These can include the standard countertops, perhaps installed at varying heights. Mise en place carts, work tables with adjustable legs, and utility carts of different heights are other options for flexible workstations that will fit a range of employee heights and statures. 

Any height differential solution should also include Lakeside's cutting board riser. This stainless steel riser elevates a prep station to a comfortable working height. Slide a waste pan into the open end for easy cleanup or use it for storage. The cutting board riser even features a handy recessed lift handle to make it easier to move between stations. Its sleek, stylish design allows it to double as a culinary display riser when it isn't needed in the kitchen. Having several of these versatile risers on hand will allow you to make full use of all of their great features.

Cutting Board Riser

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Mise En Place: Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Mise En Place - Streamlining and Efficiency for Commercial Foodservice

Life in a commercial kitchen can be fast, hectic, and stressful.

Having a well-stocked and organized kitchen can go a long way to ensure the kitchen's smooth operation, which will ultimately lead to happier guests and greater profitability. One way that commercial foodservice operations can optimize for efficiency is by preparing stations with mise en place best practices.

What is Mise En Place?

Most lovers of food will agree that cooking is an art, and it requires the same amount of intentionality that a painter would bring to a creation. Mise en place is a French term that translates to "to set up" or "to put things into place." In practice, mise en place is the preparation of food and organization of equipment before a chef begins to cook. Mise en place serves a crucial role in the cooking process, similar to an artist who sets up his palette with different hues of paint before beginning to work on a canvas.

It is unclear how long mise en place has been around in the culinary world, but it likely dates back to the late 1800s. Regardless of when it originated, it is a strategy that chefs take incredibly seriously. Some go so far as to call it a religion, while others have it tattooed on their bodies.

An effective mise en place strategy allows culinary professionals to coordinate labor and materials while promoting focus and self-discipline. To get the maximum benefit out of mise en place, a chef should be able to navigate his or her workstation blindfolded.

Preparing Mise En Place

Every chef in a commercial kitchen will have their own strategy for executing mise en place. At its core, however, this plan will center on ensuring that kitchen tools and ingredients are prepared and organized in the most efficient way to prepare food.

The first step in creating a mise en place plan is to prepare a list. The list should include all the steps, ingredients, and tools necessary to execute the kitchen's tasks. It should detail prep tasks necessary for execution of the dishes.

Next comes organization and preparation. While the exact preparation will depend on the menu, it could include:

  • Gathering and organizing all cooking implements, such as mixing pools, knives, and pans;
  • Washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables;
  • Trimming and portioning meat;
  • Deboning and filleting fish;
  • Measuring spices;
  • Portioning liquids such as broth

Finally, mise en place should include a focus on cleanliness. An organized station will allow chefs to clean as they go.  This ensures that all tools and implements are clean and accessible when they are needed.

Benefits of Mise En Place

The most critical benefit of mise en place is its ability to bring efficiencies to commercial kitchens. Some of the ways mise en place maximizes efficiency include:

  • Planning work in advance: Preparing ingredients and work spaces allow chefs to spot any items that are missing or low in inventory and can plan necessary modifications ahead of time;
  • Streamline the work process: Having all items for a dish prepared and in one location reduces the amount of time a chef must spend moving about the kitchen;
  • Promoting ownership: In a kitchen with multiple stations, each chef can feel in control of and take ownership over the preparation of their station; and
  • Keeping things clean: The theory of "clean as you go" is important in many professional kitchens. Having an organized station allows chefs to more effectively plan for cleaning throughout the cooking process.

Institute Mise En Place in Your Operation

If you are looking to institute or improve the mise en place method in your foodservice operation, Lakeside has the equipment that will allow you to create the most effective and efficient workspaces. Our products including action stationsutility carts, and stationary and mobile kitchen support equipment – all which can be configured to optimize the flow of a commercial kitchen. Contact us today to find out how we can help or check out more on our mise en place cart below.

 

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The Importance of Flexibility in Foodservice

Flexibility is a great way to create happy customers, and it's an even better way to increase profits.

All across the landscape of food and beverage, we're seeing certain types of operations go beyond their traditional services as they look for greater potential. C-stores are becoming more like coffee shops. Coffee shops are gaining fast casual characteristics. Fast casual restaurants are taking on more fine-dining type elements. And all across our industry, cross over is becoming commonplace.

Essentially, it's up to operators to think outside the box. How are they doing this? For starters, they're rethinking common conceptions about food and beverage service times and are coming up with some creative alternatives.

Just because an operation thrives as a high-end coffee shop during the day doesn't mean it has to close its doors at night. A serving cart that provides pastries and cereals for breakfast can also double as a dessert bar at night. Omelet stations for brunch can shift out their service to a pasta station at night. That coffee shop we mentioned? What if it doubled as a cocktail bar at night?

The key here is flexibility -- flexibility in thought, flexibility in concept, flexibility in execution, and the flexibility in the equipment it takes to pull it all off.

MENU VERSATILITY

When it comes to flexible serving options, the first thing to consider is the ability to serve multiple types of menu items from the same location. This means a given piece of real estate can be attractive to customers and guests for greater periods of time. This is the ultimate in flexibility and profitability.

MOBILITY

The next step in flexibility is having the ability to take foods and beverages to the guest instead of the guest needing to come to the operator. Mobile serving stations are an easy way to transform the point-of-sale from point-to-point.

USABILITY

The final aspect of flexibility is to find equipment that is known for its usability. How easy is it to transform a serving cart from breakfast service to lunch? Are carts easy to move? How long does it take to clean? What about service and maintenance? The bottom line is flexibility is only implemented by staff members, so equipment needs to be easy to use.

MISE EN PLACE

For the ultimate in flexibility, consider the Lakeside Mise En Place cart.  It easily transitions from a back-of-house helper to a front-of-house money maker.  Explore ideas and get inspired with more information here.

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A Quick Look at 2019’s Flavor Trends

A Quick Look at 2019's Flavor Trends

What flavors are people looking for in 2019? And who are the people looking for them? Let's take a closer look.

Thanks to the great research done by our friends at Foodable Labs, we have data compiled from nearly one million social media conversations between chefs, operators, brands, and influencers.

Based on these conversations, Foodable Labs was able to determine the top flavor profiles and cuisines of 2019, and because we love trends so much here at Lakeside, we wanted to break down those flavor trends for you here.

ASIAN FOODS ARE STILL POPULAR.

Over the last few years, we've seen a rise in popularity of Asian foods, especially the foods of Korea and the Philippines. In terms of flavors, options like hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, and chili sauce are leading the way. And when they looked at menus, Foodable Labs found an increase in these flavors at a rate of 31.3 percent for independent restaurants and 29.5 percent in fast-casual operations.

SPEAKING OF HOT, IT'S HOT.

According to Foodable Labs, the jalapeño has been replaced by the habanero as the most popular pepper, with an increase on menus of more than 20 percent. "Hot" isn't just limited to the Scoville scale. It can also include different types of "heat" such as the type of sinus-clearing burn associated with horseradish, which is also gaining in popularity.

WHAT ABOUT A SWEET TOOTH?

Looking for something sweet? According to the report, we're craving sweets more now than ever. When it comes to true natural flavors, trends lean towards fruits such as mango, passion fruit and avocado (and yes, avocado is a fruit). As far as desserts go, salted caramel led the way, with other popular dishes including chocolate-topped items and anything with hot fudge.

PEOPLE LOVE PLANTS.

Consumers are looking for more plant-based menu options. There was a 23.5 percent increase in plant-based menu consumption in Millennials and a 21.9 percent increase in consumers between the ages of 45 and 55. These are the highest growing menu considerations amongst the main menu sectors.

Foodable Labs' plant-based menu statistics confirm our research as well. As part of our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report, we detailed a consumer shift to plant-based foods out of a desire to reduce traditional meat consumption. Flavor innovations are feeding a rising flexitarian population, and consumers are now more responsible in their eating habits (from both a personal health and environmentally sustainability standpoint) by choosing plant-based proteins.

 

In our 2019 College and University Foodservice Trends Report, Lakeside dug deep and uncovered the 7 most popular trends we expect to see this year, most of which go beyond the flavor trends mentioned above. Check out these 2019 foodservice trends by downloading our free report.

Lakeside and Multiteria have researched seven top trends that will be important to colleges and universities in the 2019-2020 school year.  Download your free copy today to stay on top of the latest ideas and innovations that will help you maintain a first-class foodservice operation!


Attend a brief 30 min. mini-webinar on the "7 Top Trends in C&U Foodservice!"

Join Nancy Lane on Sept. 19th for this quick, jam-packed webinar - 20 mins. content with 10 mins. Q&A.  The seven trends include:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Plant-Forward
  3. Labor Efficiencies
  4. Transparency
  5. New Normal
  6. Food Insecurity
  7. Infusing Digital

Click below and sign up today!