blog,stockholm-core-1.1,select-theme-ver-5.2.1,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-6.0.5,vc_responsive

Latest News and Tips from ESI

Master-Bilt Refrigerated Storage Options

Master-Bilt Refrigerated Storage OptionsAs the talk of the food service industry, and the rest of the nation, turns to reopening, hopefully your business is ready. But what will you return to and what does the future hold? At this point, it’s hard to say but whatever the trends may be, it’s a good time to re-assess your current kitchen layout as you prepare to get up and running again. And that assessment should include your refrigerated storage needs. Today we are thrilled to be sharing an article from Master-Bilt that highlights some available refrigerated storage options.

You may have to replace some equipment lost during shutdown. Maybe your 10-year-old reach-in was just about shot anyway and now, after being down for a month, it just won’t start up. You may need to downsize (or up-size) equipment due to changes in footprint or business volume. With food shortages, you may have to, at least temporarily, adjust your menu resulting in additional or different equipment needs. In any case, it’s good to know what your storage options are.

Prep Tables

Sandwich/salad and pizza prep tables feature a refrigerated storage area underneath providing convenient access to bulk containers of ingredients used to re-stock pans in the top prep area. Optional refrigerated drawers can take the place of standard doors for quicker access to stored items. Depending on your menu, you may want to use larger sized pans for frequently used ingredients like lettuce. Mega top tables also give you an extra row of pans for added capacity. Flat top prep tables provide even more flexibility, as the top gives you an extra work table and prep area, when it is closed. When it is open, you get the full use of a refrigerated prep table.


Like prep tables, these cabinets supply necessary storage for meats, vegetables and other ingredients. To preserve your workflow and make better use of your space, you can typically integrate undercounter refrigerators and freezers into existing counters to preserve your workflow and make better use of your space. Stacking kits are a useful option for single door undercounters allowing you to place one on top of another. You can stack two refrigerators, two freezers or create a cooler/freezer in one location. Glass door refrigerators are also handy as you can see what’s inside without opening the door.

Chef Bases

Chef bases are cabinets that are designed to complement cooking equipment, which is stacked on top. Beef, chicken and other ingredients are held in the refrigerated base for cooking on the grill or griddle above.


Most food service prep areas have reach-in refrigerators and freezers. They provide additional storage beyond an undercounter or prep table and is available in solid and glass door models. Typically, one-, two and three-section models are available. Determining the correct combination of size, features and options needed for your application can speed up your workflow and even help reduce your energy usage. Like undercounters, glass door models add visibility of stored contents. Half solid door models add efficiency because you can open doors without losing all the cool air inside the reach-in. See our guide to reach-ins for more information.


If you’re buying food items in bulk, you may need more storage than the previous options provide. If so, walk-in coolers and freezers are the answer. There’s a huge amount of flexibility with walk-ins. Depending on your application, you may be able to disassemble and move your walk-in or expand by adding panels to it. You can configure walk-ins virtually any way you want with a vast array of options.  Electronic controllers, light management systems, structural floors and ramps are just a few ideas. For more on options, see this article. 

Taking stock of your business situation is always a good idea but particularly so as you begin the process of reopening. Be sure to make choices that maximize your cold storage and support your business future. If you have any questions, contact us today!

Five Ways Restaurants Can Stretch Food Budgets

Five Ways Restaurants Can Stretch Food BudgetsA few weeks ago, our factory partners Hamilton Beach Commercial shared five ways for restaurants to stretch food budgets further. The post really highlights some great tips, especially in this time, when everything is so unpredictable. We decided to share the information with you as well, so read on for more information!


In the best of times, it’s tough for kitchen staff to drop everything to deal with incoming deliveries. When the restaurant is understaffed and overwhelmed, it’s even tougher. But Sandra D. Ratcliff, CEC, a longtime chef and director of healthcare sales for The Hansen Group, says the best thing to do, is to “take care of your produce. when it first comes in.”

Ratcliff’s recommendation is to designate a team member to immediately deal with deliveries, even if you’re short-staffed, . The cost savings will easily pay for that extra person. When a case of iceberg lettuce arrives, don’t leave it in the dirty cardboard box that’s been sitting in a farm field. Wash it and vacuum-seal it: “You’ve automatically gotten an extra three weeks out of a product.” The same goes for other ingredients: fresh fish, meat, cheese, etc.

Another benefit of vacuum-sealing is visibility. When stored in cardboard or other opaque packaging, it is easy to forget the food, which then can lead to rot! Once vacuum-sealed, it’s easier to see and use. Just remember that it’s essential to follow food safety guidelines for vacuum-packed foods, and train kitchen staff in safe handling practices.


In the face of so much uncertainty, it seems counter intuitive to order larger quantities of food. That’s exactly what Ratcliff recommends, however. Especially because many restaurant supply companies have cut back their deliveries to just one or two per week. Operators can save a significant amount of money on food, if they order large quantities of ingredients, then process and portion them. Get the 10-pound block of cheese, then cut 1-pound portions and vacuum-seal each one for long-lasting freshness. Order 50 pounds of flour and 30 pounds of dried beans, then measure out the increments needed for specific dishes and vacuum-seal.


Get the most out of your food inventory by selecting super-versatile ingredients. Two recommendations from Gordon Food Service Corporate Consulting Chef Gerry Ludwig, CEC: bone-in chicken thighs and tilapia. With chicken, he says, “you could make cassoulet, de-bone them for grilled sandwiches, or roast them and pull the meat for salads and flatbread applications. Restaurant can use tilapia for entrées, sandwiches, fish and chips, tacos, wraps. You can also serve them simply steamed with herbs and spices. ”It is easy to portion proteins precisely, season or marinate them.” Additionally, you can store any protein for optimum quality using a vacuum chamber sealer, such as the PrimaVac.


Calibrating food production is tricky when demand is unpredictable. But now’s the time to be conscious of even the smallest amount of food waste, Ratcliff says, because it adds up. She once oversaw food service for a healthcare system with 65 locations. One of those was notorious for going over its food budget by up to $2,700 every month. Upon investigation, she discovered that the kitchen prepared an extra 11 meals per mealtime, just in case they were needed. With PPPD food costs around $7, the system would have lost nearly $1.8 million per year if every location did the same, Ratcliff calculated.

The solution? The staff was educated on batch cooking and vacuum-sealing extra portions, which can be cooked quickly to meet resident requests. This strategy is also easily applicable to restaurants, where the number of take-out orders can vary greatly! You can perfectly cook meals sous-vide, ensuring food safety and preventing overcooking, and served as needed.


Herbs and baby greens are among the most fragile of ingredients — and unless you grow them on-site, they can be in short supply. Chef Andrew Manning, of acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Longoven in Richmond, Virginia, suggests using a chamber vacuum sealer to hydroshock sensitive greens and bring them back to life.

Place greens in a wide, shallow container. Cover them with paper towels, then add ice and cold water. Run the vacuum cycle twice, which removes air from the greens and forces in cold water. The result: rejuvenated herbs that stay crisp for days.

To read more about ways that restaurants can stretch food budgets further, click here.