August 02, 2018

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Table Etiquette - A Guide to Being the Best Mannered Person at Dinner

From young ages without even realising, we are taught the most appropriate ways to behave at the dinner table. Things like "Elbows in", "Don't chew with your mouth full" and "Don't slouch" are common phrases kids hear during dinner. At the time it seems like a nuisance, but our parents were just preparing us for the etiquette of real world dining. Some examples of table etiquette are obvious, but others aren't as commonly enforced. Are there any table manners that you do incorrectly? 

Did you know.... 

Napkin Etiquette:

At informal dinners, i.e. just a regular dinner out with family, you should immediately place your napkin on your lap when you sit down. If this was a formal dinner however, e.g. a wedding, you should wait for the host to first put the napkin on their lap before you do so. 

If ducking out to the bathroom, your napkin should be left on your chair awaiting your return. Upon completion of your meal, your napkin should be placed to the left of your place setting. 

Table Setting- What Do I Use?

If you're not used to formal place settings, going into an event with sophisticated crockery can be quite a shock. Why are there three spoons? Which glass do I use? As a general rule, you should always start from the outside and work your way in. The outside utensils are used for the first part of the meal, typically the entree. 

To determine which glass is yours and which is your neighbours remember this quick trick. Hold both hands out and touch your thumb to your pointer finger. Your left hand will look like a b, and your right hand will look like a d. Your bread will be on your left, and your drink on your right! 

Do I Start Eating? 

You should wait until everyone at the table has been given their food to start eating. If you are at say a wedding with many tables, you do not need to wait for all 20 tables to be served. Once everyone on your table has been served, then it is appropriate to eat. Alternatively, if the host of an even asks you to start eating you may commence your meal then. 

Resting Utensils

When having a break from your food, you must indicate so with your cutlery. It is super simple. Angle your fork and knife so the prongs and blade are in the middle of the plate touching. They should form an inverted v shape. To indicate that you haven finished your meal, put your knife and fork parallel on the plate. 

So how many of these things do you or don't you do? Impress your friends and family at your next dinner with some etiquette facts! 

July 24, 2018

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Hospitality vs. Service | Defining Hospitality

Service and Hospitality are words often used to describe the elements contributing to a customers experience. Although often mistaken to be the same, Service and Hospitality are very different in terms of what they offer the consumer.

Service

Service is a transaction based approach to customer service, meaning there is very little personal involvement, and it's main goal is to purely provide the customer with the service on offer. Hospitality however goes above and beyond.

Consider this. You work at a busy restaurant located in a popular tourist destination. Some new customers come in and wait to be seated. Your conversation goes something like: 

You: Hello, can I help you
Customer: Hi I Have a booking for Smith for three people
You: Sure follow me

And you proceed to seat them and take their orders. This is a very transactional approach to serving a customer. Yes you have done your job and all required of you, but you have not made an effort to engage the customer, and make them feel welcome. 

Hospitality

Hospitality is all about how you make your customers feel. It looks at ways to make the customers experience easier and more enjoyable. It takes into account the personality of the brand and also of the person involved in the interaction.

Now take the same scenario as earlier, but with a hospitality approach. 

You: Good evening Sir, welcome to [Restaurant Name]
Customer: Yes Under Smith
You: No worries Mr Smith, a table for three people, have you dined with us before? 
Customer: No we haven't we're here on holidays. 
You: It's a pleasure to have you here Smith family, where is home for you? 

and so on. Obviously the conversation will not always follow the script, but finding some key things to chat with your customer about to make them feel at home is important. 

You can of course do one without the other, but to achieve best results, a strategy providing good customer service with great hospitality is most effective. Hospitality is how the customer will remember your business. Embrace that and be sure to wow them into coming back again.

 

July 12, 2018

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Moving Out of Home - A Kitchen Essentials Guide

Moving out of home is a big step in every persons life. Not only are you moving away from the comforts of Mum and Dad, you're also moving away from the stocked pantry and fully equipped kitchen. Your first night in your own house will be exciting... until you realise that you have nothing to cook with. Rather than ordering pizza every day for the rest of your life, we've compiled a list of the basic essential things you will need to make the most of your new kitchen!

Lets start simple. You need things to eat with.

  • Plates- You don't need hundreds of plates, but enough to cater for everyone in the house, and perhaps a couple of guests. 
  • Bowls- Same as plates, you'll need enough for everyone in the house plus one or two 
  • Cups- In my experience, one cup per person is not enough. I personally am a serial "drink from a cup once and put it in the sink to be washed" kind of person. Lots of cups are necessary. 
  • Coffee Mugs- Again, one for every person plus a few extra for guests. 
  • Forks / Knives / Spoons / Steak Knives - These typically come in packs of about a dozen. A dozen of each is a good place to start. If you start taking forks to work to have with your lunch, you may need to restock at home because they're probably not going to come back. 

Now to Appliance Essentials! 

  • Slow Cooker - These are a great investment and especially good for anyone who is time poor. Through your dinner in the pot in the morning before work, and come home to a perfectly slow cooked meal. 
  • Toaster - Breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can't go wrong with toast
  • Kettle- Hot chocolates, coffees, two minute noodles or soup, you need a kettle
  • Rice Cooker- Throw the rice in and it'll cook without you having to think! Super helpful
  • Microwave-  For all your leftovers, make old meals new again!
  • Sandwich Press- When you can't be bothered cooking a grommet meal, toasted sandwiches are the best go to. Spaghetti and Cheese or Chicken, Avocado and Cheese. Yummy!

Cookware essentials 

  • Frying Pan- You will need more than one. Perhaps a large, medium and small one!
  • Saucepans- Same deal as frying pans, have one in three different sizes. This is effective for cooking lots of things at once because stove tops usually have large and small hotplates. 
  • Colander- a colander can be used as both a strainer and a tool for steaming veggies. 
  • Chopping Boards- Have a few of these. You do not want to be chopping raw meet and vegetables on the same surface. 
  • Mixing Bowls- Get microwave safe mixing bowls. They become very handy for cooking vegetables quickly, or using to marinade your food. 
  • Grater- It will surprise you how often you need one of these
  • Oven Safe Casserole Dish- For potato bakes or pasta bakes. Ensure it is oven safe or you will have a big mess on your hands
  • Measuring Cup- It's not always easy to guess how much of everything you have, so grab yourself a measuring cup for peace of mind. 

Some little things

  • Potato Peeler 
  • Rolling Pin 
  • Spatula 
  • Egg Flip 
  • Tongs 

Hopefully this guide has given you an idea into what you might need for your new adventure. You will make your kitchen your own and work out the things you do and do not need. Enjoy this next chapter, and happy cooking!

 

 

 

June 13, 2018

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Catering for Food Allergies

In todays day and age, being aware of, and catering for allergies is imperative. The number of people suffering from allergies or food intolerance is rising and therefore the likelihood of one of your guests having an allergy is quite high. Just about every food has the capability to cause an allergic reaction, however some common allergy inducing foods include: nuts, eggs, dairy, shellfish and wheat. Guests attending a catered function should give notice of their allergy prior to the event to give caterers time to prepare an alternate menu. 

Preparing Food: 

  • Use separate utensils to cook the meal for the person with the allergy to what you would for the rest of the meals. 
  • Continually clean preparation areas, wash hands with hot soapy water and change gloves and aprons after handling allergens. 
  • Have a designated 'nut free' or 'shellfish free' station to ensure no cross contamination 
  • Cover the dishes once prepared

Ensure Information is Accurate: 

  • Advising on the menu that some meals contain nuts, or gluten etc, ask getting customers to ask staff for advice ensures the customer is choosing the best meal for their needs. 
  • File and retain packaging so you have the ingredient lists with you if need be
  • A separate menu highlighting key allergens in the menu should be provided to customers with allergies so they can make an informed food decision. 
  • Very clearly describe the foods on your menu, highlighting key allergens e.g. "Double Chocolate Brownie with macadamia nuts" 

In an Emergency

  • Call 000 and inform them the person is suffering from anaphylaxis. 
  • Administer their epi-pen (adrenalin) if they have it with them, and note the time it was given. 
  • Send someone out to direct the ambulance

 

Creating an allergen safe environment is important to having an inclusive hospitality business. It is important to never assume things, and to always seek hard facts, e.g. the ingredients in tomato sauce, or in banana bread, to ensure the information you are supplying to the customers is in fact correct. Allergies can be life threatening, and as a hospitality worker, you have a duty of care to the customer to provide them a safe and enjoyable experience. 

 

 

 

May 16, 2018

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Personal Safety in Hospitality

Over the past three years in Australia alone;

- 18,000 hospitality industry workers were injured

- 250 workers were left permanently disabled

- 8 workers died 

All of these instances could have been avoided, if workplace hazards had been identified and managed efficiently. All employees including executives are responsible for the safety of the workplace. Employers should be diligent in ensuring the workplace is safe and free from hazards, and employees need to ensure they are reporting all potential risks. 

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March 28, 2018

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Food Hygiene

Food hygiene is imperative to businesses in the hospitality industry. Australian food standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, ensures food handlers are constantly doing what it takes to keep food safe. Researchers have identified over 250 food borne illnesses, and have noted that pregnant women, young children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system are most likely to develop a food borne illness. It is especially important for hospitality staff working with these groups  i.e. in pre-schools, to be extra diligent in maintaining Food Safety and Hygiene. 

Cleanliness is Key

- Frequently wash and dry your hands. Use warm running water and lather hands with soap. Ensure to scrub fingers, palms, wrists, and under nails for 15 seconds. Rinse under the warm running water. Turn off taps with elbows or a towel to avoid recontaminating hands. 

For a comprehensive understanding, watch the video below. 



- Long hair should be tied up or put into a hair net. This will stop hair getting in food. 
- All jewellery must be removed. Millions of germs can hide in rings, necklaces, watches etc. 
- Wear an Apron on top of your CLEAN clothing. 
- Do not touch food that is 'ready to eat' with barehands. You must wear gloves or use tongs. 

- Do not cough, sneeze, eat, or blow on food. 


If you are sick...
Tell your supervisor and go home. Do not touch anything that could contaminate the food. You should not return to work until 48 hours after your most recent symptom. 

As a hospitality employee it is your responsibility to ensure you remain hygienic in the workplace. Follow these basic steps to better your workplace. 

November 27, 2017

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Fitting Out Your Cafe - Choosing the Right Equipment

Aside from an evolving business model, reliable staff and a great menu, sweet success for a cafe can be as simple as having the right tools for the job.    

Once you've finished your business plan, your finances and location is sorted, a kitchen layout mapped, the next step is to fit out the kitchen.  


Choosing the right commercial equipment for your cafe or restaurant space can feel overwhelming, especially as it will affect the day to day function of your cafe, which impacts customer experience and your all important potential profit.

 

Some of the key factors when considering hospitality supplies are:  

+ your budget 

+ the concept/style of your cafe 

+ your menu — what type of food you will be selling 

+ the amount of space you have to work with

+ is there any exisiting equipment in good working order  

Starting with a basic setup of equipment suits most startups, it also gives you the option to add gear and extra catering equipment down the track as your business grows. The vital items for every commercial kitchen include:

Storage refrigerator & freezer 
Choosing the right size and shape commercial fridge to store all ingredients and fit your space is important. Choose from upright and under bench fridges and freezers. Under bench options are great space savers in small kitchens. Preparation fridges are designed for quick access to fresh ingredients displayed in refrigerated sections. 

Display cabinet for cold food
An attractive display cabinet is an investment in any cafe kitchen. It showcases pre-prepared sweet and savoury food and is responsible for last minute sales from customers who need something quick to takeaway.  


Coffee Machine
Your kitchen layout plan is paramount here. Selecting a commercial espresso coffee machine is largely determined by bench space (consider proximity to power supply, water supply and waste drainage) budget and estimated capacity (1, 2, 3 0r 4 group machine).

Dishwasher and sinks
When choosing a commercial dishwasher it's important to determine what capacity machine you'll need. You can estimate this by thinking about how much crockery and glassware per person each table will use at maximum capacity, showing roughly how many dishes will come through your kitchen at peak times.

Crockery and glassware
Perhaps the trickiest choice of all,  choosing dishware for your cafe or restaurant has to consider not only functionality but how the design compliments your establishment's style. Whether you're after classic or statement dinner plates, always prioritise durability and stick to your budget.   

Other commercial equipment you can add to your basic setup includes:

+ commercial microwave oven

+ sandwich press
+ griddle and commercial hot plate

+ gas oven with various cooktop burner variations

+ Knife sets
+ chopping boards
+ kitchen utensils 

Upgrading equipment later on can be an inconvenient and costly task. So be sure to plan you kitchen layout well in advance to assess the best configuration of all equipment during service times, know your budget and get advice on tried-and-true brands with warranties.   

July 26, 2017

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Cheap Catering Supplies vs Quality Equipment

The question between quality and quantity has been long debated. Would you rather have a high-quality product or an assortment of cheaper equipment and supplies? If you are running a top-tier restaurant you’re going to want quality equipment and catering supplies that will cope under the demands of a busy customer base. Whether it’s simply cutlery, or as important as an oven the customer will ultimately be judging the restaurant based upon this.

You’re at your favourite restaurant and out comes your dessert. Unfortunately, your spoon breaks halfway through your dessert. Would this deter you from coming here again? For some it might, so why take the risk if you’re running a restaurant?

That’s not to say taking the cheaper option isn’t beneficial. Some smaller businesses such as your local kebab or fish and chip shop might opt for plastic spoons and forks, its merely based upon the situation. For example, a Jamie Oliver restaurant is going to have high quality products to best suit the business, and they can easily cover the expense with their profits. The meals are expensive, you might be looking at $100 a head. Whereas a kebab shop you might be paying $15 max for a kebab and drink. So, it makes sense if you want to run a top tier restaurant you’re going to invest in the appropriate equipment and catering supplies appropriate to your business. This is a very simple example but you get the idea.

Pan Comparison

When talking pans there are many variations such as the level of heat conductivity, and this is dependent on the material of the pan. Pans range from Stainless steel which have the option of an aluminum or copper core, Copper, aluminum, iron, enameled cast iron, or cast steel. These all vary in price, with the copper pans topping the list. Your average copper pan will set you back $250, whereas the cheap options are Iron or Carbon Steel and will set you back roughly $50-60. Once again, these pans all do the same job but the quality will vary, and as they say, ‘You get what you pay for’. These cheaper options have their pros and cons. On the one hand, they’re affordable and have great heat retention but they are susceptible to rust and corrosion, and they may react with acidic and alkaline foods. The more expensive option such as Copper pans, are great at conducting and maintaining heat and do not react with acidic or alkaline foods, but they are expensive.

If you’re looking for a great mid-range pan and don’t want to sacrifice on quality but want to save money a Enameled Cast Iron pan may be the right option for you. They sell for roughly $145 but they are well worth the money. They don’t react to acidic or alkaline foods, they conduct and maintain heat very well, excellent at high heat cooking and are extremely durable. They do have their cons though, quite heavy in weight, can be slow to heat, don’t have a non-stick layer and they’re more expensive than your regular cast iron pans.

Whether you’re a top-tier restaurant looking to purchase a high-quality product or a local fish and chip shop you will constantly be looking to save money where you can and that’s understandable, but this article will hopefully give you some insight into what you’re after and what product is right for you.

March 15, 2017

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Sharp Knives - Quicker, Better Cutting Kitchenwares, Central Coast

As a passionate at home family chef, nothing gripes me more when on holidays or at another’s house than blunt knives. If you have any interest in cooking, or work in hospitality, then a sharp knife is absolutely essential. Not only do you feel somewhat like a Samurai (please don’t go swinging knives around), but a sharp knife also provides the following benefits:

Safety

You may have heard this one before, but let me reiterate – A sharp knife is actually safer than a blunt one. I can speak personally for this one, as countless times have I sliced my finger when using a blunt knife. Why? Well simply it is much easier to slip rather than penetrate the skin of vegetables and such. Not only that, but you are applying more pressure to make the cut with a blunt knife. Ow!

Fatigue

It may sound strange, but if you have ever been in the kitchen preparing food for any amount of time, you will start to feel cramping in your hand. The little muscles in our hand need to compensate more when using a blunt knife, rather than a sharp one that glides effortlessly through the food.


Precision

Whether you are slicing, dicing or something else, a sharp knife will give you a better chance at straight, even cuts. Provide exact and intentional portions with a well-kept knife.

Aesthetic

Not talking about the knives themselves, although good knives look awesome (is that weird?), but the cuts made with sharp knives will appear much more seamless and smooth. If meal presentation is a concern, then so should sharp knives be.

Efficiency

An obvious one, a sharp knife makes quick work of anything you cut. Rather than using it like a hand saw, you can work up a consistent gliding rhythm with a sharp knife (be careful) that can chop through a full cucumber in seconds! If you are trying to push out 100+ meals a night, a sharp knife and an effective knife sharpening system will give you maximum prep time.

With all this in mind, be sure to invest in quality knives to begin with, but also maintain your knives with regular sharpening. Even the best knives need to be maintained, which is made all the better with a good knife sharpening system. Your kitchen wares should be top priority in preparing quality food.

For all your hospitality supplies, catering equipment and kitchen wares on the Central Coast, choose Hospitality Supplies Express.