For many years foodservice operators were guided mainly by customers – how they liked the food. Was it fresh enough? Was there enough variety?
Today that’s no longer the story. Restaurants in the tristate area now must make the grade.
The Health Department in Manhattan conducts unannounced inspections of restaurants at least once a year. Inspectors check for compliance in food handling, food temperature, personal hygiene and vermin control. Each violation of a regulation gets a certain number of points. At the end of the inspection, the inspector totals the points, and this number is the restaurant’s inspection score—the lower the score, the better the grade.
“Refrigeration equipment that stacks up, that meets the tough standards set by local health departments, is Pecinka-Ferri’s strength,” according to Joe Ferri, COO. Equipment suppliers and specifiers, the company provides appliances that meet the latest mandates.
Operators, consultants, dealers and reps work cooperatively to follow Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point protocols. “This means identifying all of the handling points of the food in a prospective commercial kitchen layout,” says Ferri. “And, we’ve now identified new areas of concern. This in turn has spawned a new equipment category: production holding. It is simply not enough to control temperatures in receiving, storage and serving. We’ve had to grapple with moving from and keeping food products out of the danger zones during meal assembly times as well.
Some of the equipment Pecinka-Ferri supplies that meets the strict health department requirements include Continental Refrigerator, which tested at 100 degree ambient for rugged duty; Carter Hoffman, for its warming drawers for both moist and crispy products; Irinox, which needs refrigerators for the preservation of fresh food with a longer shelf life, higher nutrient value, and better taste; Blodgett , for its programmable Combi ovens; Server Products, which use solid- state refrigerated-portion control pumps, and Hatco, which manufactures air screen production warmers that do not dry out foods.
“We’ve worked with both our refrigeration and our warming equipment factories for compelling solutions and have field-tested many iterations,” Ferri says.
Rapid chilling and freezing is being recognized as an essential element of any plan to maintain freshness, he notes. “NSF-7 approved standard refrigeration products that perform under the stresses of the high-volume, tightly packed kitchens in our area are an irreplaceable component of today’s kitchen designs,” he adds.
And there have been notable successes. “We were fortunate to work with M. Tucker as dealer and Next Step Design as consultants in the Melt Shop projects,” Ferri points out. “This progressive grilled cheese concept was challenged by needing to quickly heat a wide selection of additions to their signature sandwiches and assembling them in an uber-volume mid-town location. We proudly worked alongside all of the parties to create an equipment- based solution. ”
But the challenges keep coming.
Active equipment (designed to move food temperatures, rather than maintain them), such as the latest combi ovens and blast chillers, now have controls that mimic mobile communication devices. “Microprocessors imbedded aboard our cooking and chilling units lead the charge to the online monitoring of things. We will soon be able to remotely communicate directly with these products ‘out of the box,’” says Ferri. “Currently, firmware updates and recipes can easily be uploaded through thumb drives.
Dispensing equipment has progressed as well, using Peltier effect thermoelectric cooling systems (with minimal moving parts) to hold condiments, dairy products, sauces and other products at safe temperatures, according to Ferri. “Innovative products with features crossing over from retail and especially from consumer electronics will forever change the way we think about food safety,” he says.
“We are fortunate to have hosted many of the leading operators at our ‘Gastro Lab’ test kitchen facility in Little Falls, N.J., and extend the invitation to all who need to validate their products and methods,” Ferri says.
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