Vector: Innovation for the Cooking World

Mason Meyers
Mason Meyers

Convection ovens have been used in restaurant kitchens, hospital kitchens and many other locations since the early 50s and traditional static ovens were being used even before that. Combis came about in the 60s to help end users with the convenience of having the capability to use steam heat and dry, convection heat in the same piece of equipment. Other types of ovens exist as well (microwaves, conveyors, etc.), but there hasn’t been a major innovation in the industry in about 50 years. Thanks to the Vector Multi-Cook Oven from Alto-Shaam, that is no longer the case.

The Vector oven, unveiled by Alto-Shaam in 2017, works differently than any other oven that’s been on the market before. First, the Vector can have up to four individually sealed cooking chambers which can all be set to different temps, fan speeds, and cook times, which gives users the ability to cook four different food items simultaneously without any waiting or flavor transfer between products. Users can cook salmon, chicken, biscuits, and cookies all at the same time and not have to worry about their cookies tasting “fishy.” Also, each chamber on the Vector can be set within a 100-degree difference of the adjacent chambers. The bottom chamber could cook at 350 and the next chamber up could cook at 450 with no problem. Second, the Vector uses new Structured Air Technology, which allows for a more efficient heat exchange during the cook resulting in a cleaner, more even cook of any product you put into it. To go into a little more detail, a fan at the back of each chamber splits the air between the top and bottom of the chamber, which is then pushed through a plenum (which is what is used in conveyor ovens to create the impinged air that cooks the food). Where the Vector differs from a conveyor oven is in the design of the plenum. While a conveyor oven’s air is pushed through holes that are randomly scattered across the plenum and it cooks the food while the food slowly moves through the oven, which sometimes results in the food having darker spots on its surfaces, the Vector’s air is pushed through a patterned series of dots and dashes so that the food gets evenly cooked throughout and spotting is avoided altogether.

The fan that is blowing this air through the chamber serves a dual purpose in the sense that it is also pulling the air back as well. This keeps the heat inside the oven and guarantees that not only is the oven’s door safe to touch from the outside, but also that the heat does not escape the oven when the door is opened to pull product out/put product in. If the door is open for a little longer than normal, the Vector will automatically add the time needed to compensate for the lost heat. Another perk of the Vector is that the half size model is ventless, meaning it does not need to be placed underneath a vent hood. If you’ve ever had to purchase a hood, then you’ll know why this is a plus.

One of the biggest advantages of the Vector is that it cuts total cook time down exponentially. Miller & Associates’ Culinary Training Chef Tug Toler sheds some light on this.

“We call [the Vector] a speed oven, but it’s not a speed oven in a sense of microwave-assistance like some others. This is really a throughput speed. If you’re cooking just biscuits and it’s all the same temperature…cooking four pans of biscuits will still be 16 and a half minutes whether it’s one pan or four pans. In a convection oven, you put in one pan for 16 and a half minutes or so, but by that fourth pan it’s not 16 and a half minutes anymore, it’s more like 21 and they’re having to open the oven and rotate and touch the product. They’re having to put way more attention to it. With the Vector, you put it all in and wait until it beeps.”

While other factories make ovens that could be considered competitors to the Vector, such as TurboChef’s Double Batch or Ovention’s MiLO, they are not necessarily comparable to the Vector. Toler explains why the Vector is a preferable alternative to other speed-type ovens.

“There are competitors out there, but they’re kind of their own thing,” Toler said. “There’s fewer moving parts in the Vector [compared to it’s competitors]. There’s a fan and a heat exchanger for each chamber…and really that’s it. There’s also one control panel for the whole oven and it is easy to use. If you have a smartphone you can use this.”

Dealers and end users who purchase the Vector also have the bonus of Alto-Shaam’s large network of training chefs and culinary support specialists. Each territory has at least one Alto-Shaam certified chef that is available to help in training and setting up the Vector (as well as Alto-Shaam’s many other products).

No stranger to culinary innovation, Alto-Shaam started from humble beginnings in the early 50s. Founder Jerry Maahs was running a fried chicken business in Wisconsin that did home delivery. After a mishap with a warmer that led to a car fire during a delivery, Maahs decided that there needed to be a safer way to transport the food. This idea led to the creation of Alto-Shaam’s patented Halo Heat technology which hurled them into the food equipment industry. Over 50 years later Alto-Shaam continues to innovate and be a top contender in the food service world. And with rumors of even more ground-breaking equipment on the way, the Vector will be far from the last new-and-improved product Alto-Shaam has to offer. Until said products grace the market, the Vector will continue to be the latest and greatest in cooking innovation.

Mason Meyers
Miller & Associates

Tug Toler
Tug Toler, Chef & Culinary Trainer

Sally the Salad Robot: A Fresh Salad Bar Alternative

Mason Meyers
Mason Meyers

Imagine never having to worry if the sneeze guard on the salad bar stopped the germs from reaching your ingredients. Imagine never having to wonder how long a salad has been sitting on the shelf in a convenience store. Sally the Salad-Making Robot, Miller & Associates’ newest product line from Chowbotics, takes all those worries away. She’s not just the newest development in food service technology, she’s revolutionizing the way people look at the food service industry.

Soon to start appearing in many airports, office break rooms, convenience stores and more, Sally fixes many of the problems with your average self-serve salad bar station. She dispenses over 100 of the freshest salad ingredients and over 20 of the most popular salad dressings, giving users more options and customization and variety than the alternative. Sally can even do grain-based bowls with ingredients like quinoa and wild rice, so customers looking for something outside of the regular garden-green salad have an option as well. All these options may seem overwhelming, but not to fear, operators can preset recipes so that customers can quickly find the salad they’re looking for and tell Sally to make it with the touch of a button. Sally also has refrigerated chambers for each ingredient and dispenses ingredients by weight, allowing for a more efficient storage system that guarantees fresher ingredients and to cut down on food waste and food cost. Sally doesn’t limit herself to the self-serve market, either. Jeff Griffiths, President and co-owner of Miller & Associates, explains how Sally could also help the restaurant industry by cutting down the interaction between human hands and the food before it reaches the customer.

“[If you] preprogram your menu salads…Sally will make those salads instead of a human. So you can have your server go back into the kitchen to drop an order, and when that server walks by Sally, she or he hits ‘chicken Caesar salad,’ Sally makes the salad, the server delivers it with the food and the kitchen has never touched it.”

Sally also helps businesses cut down on labor costs and helps save on food purchasing. Due to the nature of how Sally works, businesses spend a lot less time and man-hours on keeping up their salad stations. The only labor that goes into Sally is prepping the ingredients and keeping her stocked, which won’t be a problem because Sally can dispense 50 entrée sized salads before needing to be refilled. Food cost will always be the same with Sally since she allows operators to set how much of each ingredient she dispenses at one time.

“Let’s say all of a sudden there’s a huge run on carrots and carrots become three times as expensive as they are now,” Griffiths said giving an example. “You could go in and adjust that to be a third of the amount of carrots. It’s a great tool for managing your food costs with extreme accuracy.”

Sally and the technology that exists within her is all made possible thanks to Chowbotics and their founder/CEO, Deepak Sekar. Sekar, who has a doctorate in electronics and computer engineering, decided to create Chowbotics in September 2014 after realizing that food-service technology could help people save time in their weekday; during a time when things are already busy and rushed, Sekar didn’t want himself or others to have to worry about spending even more time worrying about their food. In the time since Chowbotics’ inception, Sekar and his team have worked on the tech of Sally, making sure she would be ready for market when they decided to put her on sale this year.


Chowbotics isn’t just going to stop at Sally, though. Coming sometime soon Chowbotics also plans to unveil a breakfast making robot that will be able to make custom breakfast bowls with ingredients like quinoa, fruit, yogurt and many more. This is just the beginning of the food-service technology revolution that Chowbotics has kicked into gear. In the meantime, until the unnamed breakfast-bot is revealed, Sally is here to make your salad and make your day.

Preview Sally the Salad Robot with Chef Charlie Ayers.

Mason Meyers
Miller & Associates

Jeff Griffiths
Jeff Griffiths, President

Nemco Announcement

Miller & Associates is proud to announce that we are now representing Nemco Food Equipment.

For the past 26 years, Nemco has been a proven leader and innovator of countertop foodservice equipment.

“We are very excited for the opportunity to represent Nemco. Their culture, their values, and their products match perfectly with Miller & Associates. We look forward to advancing Nemco’s presence in the Texas/Oklahoma market.”

Champion Announcement

Miller & Associates is proud to announce that we are representing Champion Industries in Texas and Oklahoma.

With 100+ years of experience, Champion has set itself apart as the leader in dishwashing machines and systems.
“Today is a very exciting day at Miller & Associates,” says Jeff Griffiths.  “While Champion is the dishwashing segment’s feature and technology leader, Champion’s best attribute is how they care for their customers.  What Champion values is a perfect fit for Miller & Associates, and we look forward to furthering their cause in the Texas/Oklahoma market.”

Where the Foodservice Industry Connects

Jeff Griffiths

Miller & Associates excels as the premier provider of sales, customer service, and support to the food-service equipment industry.  Driven by our core values, we always put people above possessions, tomorrow above today, and we focus on constantly improving vs trying to prove ourselves.  We believe that improvement is easy to see and thus makes an inward focus unnecessary.

These principles have served as a guide for the operation of our 4,000 square foot culinary center.  Though we consistently provide detailed training opportunities specific to our equipment, we also make the culinary center available to industry partners for their purposes.  Foodservice operators use our Culinary Center for charitable events, recipe development, food demonstrations, menu development focus groups, photo shoots, and operations training.

Miller & Associates, strives to be the point “Where the Foodservice Industry Connects”.  This is a pretty loft goal for a 16 employee rep firm.  Still, we believe we have the best products, the right motivation, and the perfect place to help anyone in foodservice enhance their knowledge and relationships.

Please see the list of our “Step Forward” training dates below, and let us know if your organization could utilize the Culinary Center for an upcoming function.

Step Forward Training Dates:

  • May 11, 2017
  • June 1, 2017
  • July 13, 2017
  • August 16, 2017
  • September 7, 2017
  • October 5, 2017

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 diane@millerequip.com 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