Cook Chill – Flexibility in the Food Service Industry

Dave Rogers

Cook-Chill is a simple, controlled system of food preparation designed to provide flexibility in food service. Operators cook food ahead of time, rapidly chill when in a controlled storage temperature (for up to 5 days) and reheat when needed. This is a safe method if following HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) methods.

This is popular with hotels, restaurants and banquet facilities. Why is Cook-Chill such a good idea for food service?

  • This allows you to cook and prepare in slow times.
  • This can help you lower food costs by taking advantage of specials and putting them on the menu for several days.
  • Operators can do their prep work ahead of time and spend more quality time with their guests knowing everything is ready to go.
  • If the guest count goes up or down during the day it is not a 911 issue as the food is already prepared and ready to go.
  • Less food waste as portions can be measured and weighed properly in off peak times.

How does Alto-Shaam help with Cook-Chill menus? Your friends at Alto-Shaam have the majority of equipment you need to put a Cook-Chill system in place.

  • We offer equipment for primary cooking like convection ovens, combi’s, rotisseries and cook and hold cabinets.
  • We offer blast chillers for rapidly chilling cooked foods in either bulk or plated meals.
  • We offer retherm cabinets and combi ovens for bring the food (either plated or bulk) back up to serving temperatures.

Any way you decide to use Cook-Chill in your facility there is an Alto-Shaam solution available. If you have any questions just let us know.

The Walsh & Simmons Difference

Diane Hager

Restaurant furniture can be a source of frustration for a new restaurant owner, especially booths. Ordering booths can be confusing….banquette, single, double, wall bench, waiting settee; what do they all mean? How much seating can I fit into my space? How much time do I need to allow for manufacturing and delivery? What should I look for when comparing a $300 booth versus a $600 booth that are seemingly (aesthetically) the same booth?

Walsh & Simmons has been providing restaurant furniture to the industry for over 30 years. They have a team of professionals who can answer all of these questions for a new restaurant owner, or a dealer sales person who may be overwhelmed with these type of questions.  Additionally, Miller & Associates has an in-house furniture professional who can assist you with questions.

Starting August 1, Walsh & Simmons will adjust their product line in order to streamline price and lead time. Many of the changes are minimal to an end user, but one significant change is that the Pennywiser, a “value” designed booth, will now be only available in standard vinyl; no C.O.M. or custom fabric, as well as only 2 inside back styles; smooth inside back with or without headroll. Best of all, this will offer a 4 week lead time, or less, depending on quantity. What this means for you and/or your customer is that when looking for a quick ship date and/or value engineered booth, this will offer both while still maintaining the high quality construction that Walsh & Simmons is known to provide.

If you are not familiar with the quality of all Walsh & Simmons booths, click here for a link to their sales sheet, which lays out in detail the “Walsh & Simmons difference.” If you have any questions on Walsh & Simmons booths, or furniture in general, please feel free to contact Diane Hager at Miller & Associates at or 314.650.8751.

Montague Steakhouse Broiler, So Easy a Rep Can Do It

Tug Toler

There is a saying in our industry, that I’m pretty certain playfully originated from the manufacturers, “So easy, a rep can screw it up.”  In my almost ten years as a manufacturer’s representative (rep), I’ve seen this line come true again and again.  And while almost all of us have spent a lot of time in kitchens and dish rooms, it’s not to say me and my fellow sales women and men are inept.  We (in the general sense) tend to lack the everyday in and out kitchen knowledge.  Pair that with early in our careers, we get sent out into the field to demonstrate (to kitchen professionals) pieces of equipment that we may never have seen in person before.  This is usually where the rep will screw it up, demo-ing it wrong, making up a fact/answer, or forcing open pieces that were not meant to be opened.  Then the service agent or factory has to come in and fix what the rep broke.

Another time we reps screw things up is when the end user is having an issue and the rep thinks he can save the end user a service call.  This usually happens just after the early phase in our career.  When we have enough knowledge about the product and how it should work to get into trouble.  The rep might try to wiggle this here, or remove that there and presto, the rep has made it worse.

I poke fun at myself and my fellow industry sales reps to help illustrate a point.  While we know kitchens, and we know how the pieces work, we don’t always have the intimate knowledge that comes from using these pieces of equipment day in and day out.

Personally, I’ve worked on the operations side of our business since I was about 16 years.  I was a short order cook at a ski lodge in West Point, NY for 3-4 winters.  Then later in college, I was a waiter at a couple different restaurants.  Once graduated, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to be.  I moved to DFW and started working at a fine dining steakhouse in Plano, called Kirby’s Steakhouse.

I worked there for 2 years and was a headwaiter and bartender by the end.  I learned a lot about quality steaks, team work, leadership, fine dining, and wine.  Watching the chefs and cooks night after night, the number one thing that I was blown away by (and still admire today) was the ability to know different cuts of steaks internal temperature (“doneness”) just by touching it.  They never used a thermometer and the certainly NEVER cut the steak to check doneness.

At Kirby’s Steakhouse they used an underfired charbroiler to grill the steaks, seafood, and chicken.  The really good grill station chefs could tell the difference between a medium rare and a medium with just using their tongs to “squeeze” the meat.  That is the difference of a few degrees , where the steaks’ color turns from a warm red center to a hot pink center.  Imagine how much time and training it took the chefs that worked the charbroiler to know the charbroiler’s hot and cold spots.  To feel the difference between rare and medium rare just by pushing on it, knowing that if they over cooked it, a $40-$50 steak would be thrown out and they’d have to start over.  Most of us can’t do that great with 2-3 steaks on our grills at home; imagine now adding another 20-30 steaks (of different cuts and sizes) onto the grill all with different temperatures and all put on the grill at different times.  Make sure they have even grill marks and aren’t overly charred.  It really is mind boggling and very impressive.  And once all this is figured out and perfected, as a restaurateur, now you have to worry about that employee leaving or being sick or taking something almost unheard of… a vacation.  You can only hope to have that chef/cook for years.

This all leads me to the Montague Legend Overfired Broiler (often referred to as a Steakhouse Broiler).  It is a mean, and not so lean, protein cooking machine.  It uses RADIGLO true infrared radiant heat from the 42,000 BTU/hr cast iron burners with temperatures as high as 1800° F or 982°C .  Yes, I just typed one thousand eight hundred degrees Fahrenheit.  That 1800° is a little misleading because that is the temperature the ceramic radiant tips reach.  But where the grill grates are, it’s as high as 850°.  In comparison, most underfired (traditional) charbroilers commonly reach 600°F on their top end.  This increase in penetrating temperature directly correlates to a decrease in cooking time.  But where the Montague overfired broiler stands out is the ease of use.  You’ll find these in national chains like Ruth’s Chris, fine dining restaurants, countless country clubs, colleges and universities and mom and pop steakhouses.

The hurdles and issues with the traditional underfire broilers are the flare ups and the over charring that can occur.   They almost all have wide ranges of hot and cold zones.  And there is a learning curve that only time, ruined product,  and experience can solve.

The overfired broiler removes all those variables.  The unit is extremely even in temperature because of the radiant heat and even though it is much hotter than the under fired grills, there is no burning/over-charring the proteins.  Seriously, this heat doesn’t burn the outside like the underfire broiler will (unless you want it to by moving the grill closer to the radiant tiles).  So because of all this, that learning curve is significantly reduced to almost none.  When cooking proteins on this Montague Legend overfired broiler it really only comes down to one variable… time.  3 minutes on one side and then 3 minutes on the other side and you have a perfectly cooked medium rare steak to medium steak depending on the cut and its thickness.  I bet you are reading this thinking the same thing I did, when I was told all that at our first Montague training in December… “right, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

That’s when they told us, Chef Craig would not be cooking us lunch today.  But that the 20-25 or so reps in the room would be cooking it ourselves.  I drew the duty as the one that would be cooking the steaks on the overfired broiler for team, while others grilled hamburgers on a Legend underfired charbroiler, grilled vegetables on a Legend heavy duty griddle, baked pizza in a Hearth Bake deck oven and baked oven bakeable french fries and pies in the HX convection ovens.  I was nervous as to not screw up the high dollar food.  We had Chef Craig there for moral support, but he was going to let us leave the nest and fall or fly ourselves.  He coached me when I told him of my anxiety, “I promise, it’s 3 minutes on one side and then pull the drawer out, flip them all over and then put the drawer back in for 3 more minutes.”  He assured me that I actually had the easy job.  And in the end he was right.

The steaks had a picture-perfect bullseye and were perfectly done.  I didn’t have to mess with them, I didn’t do any 90 degree turns, and I didn’t rotate them in and out of the hot zones.  It really was, “so easy, a rep could do it.”

We have one at our office, please come try it for yourself.

Bally – Proven Dependable

Lisa Bradley

Walk-in coolers and freezers are the bank vaults of most major restaurants. They keep your investments fresh and safe, until they turn into profits. Obviously, customers want superior quality when it comes to protecting their assets. This is where Bally Refrigerated Boxes leads the way.

Bally has been the front runner in innovation and design for over 85 years. In the mid 1930s, Bally manufactured wood-clad, cork-insulated Walk-ins, then creating a fiberglass insulated walk-in several years later. They then revolutionized the walk-in industry in 1962 by building the first urethane insulated modular building panel. This combined with their invention of the Speed-Lok diaphragmatic joining system, made assembling walk-ins fast and easy resulting in a much more dependable product for the customer. Speed-Lok also adds the advantage of being able to add panels, remove panels, or even relocate the entire box.

In addition to providing innovative products, Bally offers top-notch quality. Bally was the first company to receive the FM Class 1 and UL listing on panels which are now the national standards. Our insulation is one of the best available. It’s non ozone-depleting and uses low-pressure expanding agent, both of which aid in creating a long lasting and dependable product.
Miller and Associates is proud to represent one of the top walk-in manufactures in the nation. Whether you’re interested in opening a school or a restaurant, be sure to let us here at Miller & Associates make your business a success with Bally walk-in cooler and freezers.

Lunch Lady Brownies – The Only Brownie Recipe You’ll Ever Need

JoAnne Stephenson

The Do’s and Don’ts of Purchasing a Mixer

Have you ever wished you could find recipes for all those yummy things your school lunch ladies used to make? Well, look no further. Below you’ll find a recipe that will make you long for the good old days. “Yay, its brownie day!” It’s a 50 year old school cafeteria recipe.  If you love a dense, chewy, fudgy brownie…this is the one. It’s the only brownie recipe you’ll ever need.

And, the good news is that schools today are moving back to mixing recipes from scratch. So your kids can have your favorite recipes that you remember. But they must choose the right mixer to do the job.

In many kitchens, mixers are considered the workhorses of the prep line. When properly specified, these units can decrease labor while increasing speed of service.

At Miller & Associates, we are proud to represent a mixer that was chosen “Best in Class in Floor Mixers” for 2014. Foodservice operators, dealers and consultants cast their votes for the best of the best among foodservice equipment and supplies manufacturers.

Globe Mixer was chosen for seven performance factors:

  • Product quality
  • Product value
  • Product design and aesthetics
  • Service and support
  • Sales representation
  • Product inventory and availability
  • Product information availability

It’s the “Perfect Mix”!

But don’t forget that you should consider this when purchasing a mixer:

  • DO determine what tasks the mixer will be used for. Different types are suitable for heavy dough versus general use. Decide what size mixer you will need. See a “Capacity Chart Guide”  provided by Globe Equipment (capacities are based on flour at room temperature and 70 F. degree water temperature)
  • DO decide whether a gear-driven or belt-driven type is preferable. Mixers that use nothing but gears in the head of the motor provide the most direct power from the motor to the mixing apparatus. Operators that use dough mixers typically like gears, since belts can slip or burn out when used with heavy loads, although this is not a common occurrence. Gear-driven mixers also tend to have a longer service life, but belts are very reliable and more affordable.
  • DO consider mixers for tasks such as vegetable prep, meat grinding and pasta making. Operators don’t always consider how versatile these units are for many production tasks. This can save both labor and the cost of purchasing other pieces of equipment. For example, a mixer with an attachment to make pasta is much cheaper and more versatile than a pasta maker. These units also can help operators increase the number of fresh, from-scratch items on the menu.
  • DON’T purchase a mixer without a clear understanding of how it will be used and what options are needed to accomplish these tasks.
  • DO consider water proximity if the mixer will be used for dough. Also consider where the dough rolling will take place. It’s best to have the mixer situated as close to the prep table as possible.
  • DON’T neglect the care and maintenance of mixers. The bowl also should be able to be moved up and down freely with the lift. If power is an issue, operators can inspect the mixer for electrical connection problems.

When you Knead it – Globe has the right Mixer!

Lunch Lady Brownies

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Icing Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup canned milk (regular milk is okay)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • dash salt

For Brownies

  1. Beat together sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth and lemon colored
  2. Add butter slowly and blend into egg/sugar mixture
  3. Slowly blend in cocoa and flour. Stir until no lumps of flour remain.
  4. Add nuts, if using
  5. Pour into a greased 9 X 13 metal baking pan, smooth surface and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Note: If your oven runs hot, set for 325 degrees instead of 350.
  7. Remove brownies from oven, cool and ice before cutting into 24 squares

For icing
Beat all ingredients together until smooth and of spreading consistency

Ordering Procedures You Can Trust

Tammy Hutchison

Ah!  Purchase Orders!  You send them in to Miller & Associates and then the equipment appears at the ship to address, right?  That is what we are aiming for with as few issues along the way as possible!

In order to achieve that goal, we really try to take care when processing each order, no matter how large or small.  We know that it means the opening of a restaurant or school children having lunch or a hospital feeding patients, among countless other scenarios, and that does matter to us!

When we first receive your order, it is logged in and appears “open” until it is sent to the factory, so we do have a visual if it hasn’t been processed yet.  We process each PO as timely as we can.  We check to see if there is a quotation to match the order and if so, we check what was ordered against that quotation and the spec.  This helps correct any problems at the beginning and not after equipment has been built.  We check pricing / discount and adjust for you if you didn’t take enough off and contact you if we feel there is a problem that will hold up your order at the factory.  We work to give the factory all needed information, so your order may be processed there without further delay.  When the sales order acknowledgement is sent, we check the PO against the SO and then again at Invoice to make sure all is still as expected.  If there are any issues or changes needed after the order has been placed, we work with you to make sure that is taken care of so the finished product is what you need.

There are things you can do to help expedite the review / processing procedure.  Please put the job name on the purchase order.  That helps us locate a quotation or correspondence from your Sales Rep regarding that particular order.  Note any special background information on any variance from standard so we can pass that information on to the factory.  If you have special pricing, please send that quote or correspondence in with your order to save time.  Send all purchase orders to so they will be logged and processed (even if someone is out of the office – that site is monitored all throughout each day).

We want to be the best “partner” you could have in the foodservice industry.  Our relationship with you is very important to us.  We look forward to your business in 2015 and the years to follow!

Federal Industries – The leader in fresh food merchandising

Greg Morris

For more than 90 years, Federal Industries’ hallmark stands for precision craftsmanship and industry leading innovation for fresh foods merchandising display cases.  Product presentation is the key to profit. Federal’s line of specialty display merchandisers brings the product to the customer in any setting. Combining craftsmanship with visual appeal, Federal works with space and design to enhance a store’s interior while meeting merchandising needs.


One of the largest growing segments in food service is grab-and-go food offerings. As a result of this overall food segment growth trend, we as sales reps see an increasing demand for display cases that are both eye-catching and energy efficient.

As a parent of 3 kids involved in lots of sports and other activities, our family seems to be on the run most of the time, and a perfect example of this need for good food on the go. While we all love a good fast food burger and fries, we find ourselves eating out so often, we are often looking for something different. As parents we are in a constant search for our kids to eat healthier food offerings, and traditionally it has been tough to find good, fresh, healthy food choices on the run.

Nearly every segment across the food service industry has recognized this huge demand, and all are looking for ways to attract customers as a destination place for their next quick meal. Grocery retailers have been leaders in this segment over the years, offering more and more options for quick meals to take home. These retailers not only offer fresh food in their deli display areas, but they also display the same fresh food, hot and cold, in display merchandisers near the front of the store and next to the cash register for quick and easy, impulse buys.

Restaurants have joined this trend, as many quick serve and fast casual restaurants have implemented grab-and-go merchandisers in their stores with prepared fresh sandwiches, salads, fruits, and drink offerings.   This allows many customers to grab a quick but still fresh meal, or entice customers to add to their purchase with an easy impulse buy.

Convenience stores see this trend as a huge opportunity to expand foodservice as a focal point of their operations. Grab-and-go food was a long time afterthought or last resort option for the operator as well as the customer. Now, operators are finding ways to meet the quick and convenient time demand of customers by enticing them with a variety of fresh, healthy, tasty, and visually appealing food items, both hot and cold. The keys to this growing segment are these fresh food items along with the display cases to merchandise and enhance the appeal of these food offerings. This combination attracts the customers to take notice and drive sales, both on impulse and for repeat customers as a destination.

As a target customer to this growing trend, I know grab-and-go has become a go to option for our family running from one game to the next; we can pick up good quality, fresh salads, sandwiches, and pizza that taste good and our “picky eating” kids even request to eat.

Power Soak System: Labor Savings, Happy Employees, Cleaner Pots and Pans!

Dan Nelson

I love to learn from people’s experiences and hearing fun success stories!

At this year’s Texas Association for School Nutrition (TASN) Show, we had a Power Soak unit in our booth. The display Power Soak always generates interest, because the end of our Unit is Plexi-Glass and you can watch the pots and pans tumble.

During the time set apart for Food Service Directors, I was with a customer and had just started to explain how the Power Soak unit works. A Director from another school district walked right up to the unit, looked at the first Director and said… “I have these in every one of my schools. It’s the best thing I’ve done.” I, of course was happy she had walked up. As I started to proceed explaining the function of the unit, the first director I had been talking to stopped me, and asked the second director, “really, WHY?”.

I decide to let the experienced director take over, and she said, “Well, the first thing is my ladies HATED to scrub the pots and pans. They would dread the day it was their turn in the pot room. Now they’re so happy, they walk up just toss the pan in the sink. Then they go back later, rinse and sanitize it and set it out to dry.”

“Plus, I can allocate that labor time to another task, whether it’s prepping for the next day or helping people on the serving line. No one is stuck just standing at the sink scrubbing pans.” She looked at me, smiled and said, “My old sheet pans look like new too!” The first Director again asked why, and she replied that over time, the motion of the water and other pans scrubs away baked-on material and it has made most of them look almost new. Thus, I haven’t had to buy as many new pans.”

Again she looked at me, then the other director. She pointed at me and said “You’re Welcome”. Then she pointed at the other Director and said “replace your 3 compartment sink in one school and you can call and thank me later.”

Now, for more information on how the unit REALLY works, here’s some food for thought from the gentleman who invented the Power Soak!

Continuous motion washing is defined as full submersion ware washing utilizing heated water, detergent and agitation without a fixed cycle time.

Operational Fundamentals

One way of looking at a continuous motion commercial ware washing system would be to consider it an additional staff member that can be given tough washing/scrubbing tasks. Since the soils on pots and pans vary widely, there is typically no set cycle time. Rather, the employees assisting with pot and pan washing just need to come by when their schedule permits and remove, rinse and sanitize clean items. If an item is not 100% clean, the employee can either quickly finish it off with minimal effort or simply drop it back in and get it on the next stop.

This is why one of the training messages is “You just need to get the pots and pans to it and through it. It will do the tough scrubbing and washing work.” This being said, some of the newer systems on the market incorporate “batch washing” processes and alert systems. These are typically used in commercial foodservice operations where pot and pan washing is a “shared function.” The batch washing alert system lets any employee or manager know when the items in the system should all be 100% clean and ready to rinse and sanitize.

System Design and Performance Fundamentals

Revisiting the definition above, heated water and detergents are givens, but the agitation is where the commercial ware washing systems on the market gets set apart. This is where the “Three R’s” of continuous motion ware washing come in – Rotate, Reposition and Represent. Items must be rotated and kept moving freely in the system to get clean. To optimize washing, ware items must naturally and freely reposition as they rotate in the system. Finally, ware items must consistently and repeatedly represent in front of the wash jets to effectively strip away loose soils.

It is critical to remember that in a continuous motion washing application, the loose (un-racked) ware items must be rotated through the stationary wash jets. This is the exact opposite of spray washing where rotating wash jets are moved through stationary (racked) ware items. Many pot washer systems try to rotate mostly square or rectangular ware items in a circle in a rectangular tank. With longer distances for the wash water to travel and gravity working against them, ware items tend to pile up or “log-jam” in the system, and can cover and restrict the pump intake and not get properly washed.

Look for systems that rotate the ware items vertically from an end view of the wash tank, like the Power Soak system. These systems lift the ware items up towards the front of the tank, and then the current carries them towards the rear of the tank where gravity drops them back through the wash jets. Ware items continuously rotate, reposition and represent so washing is even and fast. In addition, these ware washing systems outshine other systems from a standpoint of ergonomics and gentle washing.

On these last two notes, there is much more to discuss and consider. We will continue to cover key facets of continuous motion washing in the next Power Soak blog. Or visit our website < to learn more now!

(Source Credit: John Cantrell Power Soak Product Line Director)

Marketing Insight for the Food Service Industry


“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Anyone can sell insurance, real estate, cars, etc. But why do they? When you define the “why”, you can start infusing that into all that you do.

We are constantly marketing ourselves, both personally and professionally – even if we are unaware, we are still doing so. This is why we need to be mindful and intentional about marketing to avoid others defining who we are and what we’re about. In acknowledging this, we can make the most of every opportunity we have to define who we are.

In an era where information, choices and alternate options are just a few clicks away, we must consistently be sending messages that compel others to stick with us. Those messages are not limited to words or esthetics – a cool logo is a fantastic start, but it doesn’t sell what you offer. Your passion, people, product, reputation and services are more visible and carry more marketing weight than any symbol or any website. Creating opportunities for your customers to succeed has a direct effect on your success.

So what does marketing success look like in the Food Service Industry?

In general, building marketing stature for a commodity type product can be difficult. This requires a greater emphasis on your services and your product. If your product is substandard and you can’t get it there on time, no marketing program can change that. Customers who buy commodity items from you are more than likely going to buy other products you sell – from somebody. Develop programs that create value for your customer to consider your entire product offering. Show the advantages they’ll have in areas such as logistics, purchasing, service and other methods your market may dictate.

But most products we sell are far beyond commodity products. Success demands a strategic plan to assure we are in the specifications, that we use our product knowledge to accurately quote projects, that our prices are competitive, that our relationships with all involved are second-to-none, that our products are on the jobsite when needed and that we have top-notch service after the sale. We constantly partner with our manufactures to develop programs and promotions that create exposure of their products. Some of the exposure is broad, such as website features or regional trade shows, while many are targeted to specific industries or customers – taking advantage of current market conditions and construction opportunities.

Miller & Associates represents many manufacturers in the Texas and Oklahoma region that produce some of the most respected, innovative and reliable products in the food service industry. It’s satisfying to walk into an establishment that has our products, knowing not only has our manufacture succeeded, but every person that works with that product is now setup for success as well. That’s the “why” behind what we do at Miller & Associates.