Four Tips for Effective Inventory Management

Inventory ManagementEarly in a food company’s life cycle, managing inventory of ingredients and packaging is one of the trickiest elements of the job. The temptation is often to over-purchase.  It seems appealing at first because of the lower price per unit and the lower per-unit shipping cost.  But these savings can be quickly eroded by increased storage costs and spoilage.  On the other hand, not having enough on hand to meet a new customer’s order can lead to the loss of a sale.

So what should one do? Well, a few nuggets that drive our inventory management practices at The Kitchen Coop are summarized below:

  • Understand Supplier Lead Times – Once you have found that perfect supplier (your “A” team), with the best price and best quality, you need to understand their capabilities. How quickly can they respond to your needs?  How do they manage their own inventory?  Do they keep ample supplies of the item(s) you regularly need? Do they make to order?  You need to know the answers to these questions and, most of all, you need to know the supplier is going to be reliable when they tell you what the turn-around time will be.  Once you know what the supplier can provide and how long it takes them, you can plan properly.   And most important, you won’t promise a new customer an order in three weeks, when your supplier can’t get you an ingredient in fewer than four weeks.
  • Have a Local Alternative Supplier – You’ll be much better prepared if you have a backup “B” supplier that is local.  Often there is a local supplier of an ingredient or packaging element that you’ve passed over because they charge more than the one you’ve chosen (your “A”) supplier.  Maybe this “B” supplier can’t deliver in the quantity you need or maybe they’re just too expensive.   But if they can deliver immediately when the “A” team can’t or won’t, make sure you have a relationship with them.  Buy from them from time to time just to build some loyalty.  That way, the day you call desperate for an overnight delivery, they’ll be there for you.
  • Fail to Plan Equals Plan to Fail – A forecast is just an educated guess of where sales are heading in the next two to three months.  But that educated guess gives you something to run your recipe against so that you can estimate how much of each material might be needed. Forecasting is most useful if done and updated regularly, say once a month for the next 3 months.  That way, you’ve gotten to review each forecast at least two or three times and gradually you will get better at doing it. From the forecast, you can work backward using the lead times to know when to place the orders for how much. That is key to reducing the stress of last minute purchasing is proper forecasting.
  • Manage Inventory “Perpetually”  – Traditional accounting practices called for taking a physical inventory periodically and then working back into what was consumed in the prior period. Although in some ways that sounds simple, it is also time consuming and error prone.  Instead, we suggest that you track your inventory constantly by accurately recording each change in inventory that you make.  Whether you are taking raw materials out of storage and creating new finished goods during a production run; or depleting your store of finished goods and packaging with each and every shipment, if you record inventory changes as they occur, you’ll find that in the end it is not only far less cumbersome, but it also delivers you much more accurate information for decisions.   If you follow this practice, then the time-consuming full physical inventory counts can be done monthly or quarterly to reconcile any discrepancies and true up in time for the creation of the next shopping list.

The Kitchen Coop® is a new model for the food manufacturing industry. Combining a state-of-the-art food manufacturing space and equipment with industry professionals, and supplemental shared services The Kitchen Coop support small and mid-sized food companies become profitable and effective organizations.

Our facility is a third party audited 22,000 square foot space consisting of six production and two packaging rooms; dry, refrigerated, and frozen warehousing; with an office and event space. Take a video tour of our space or contact us directly info@the-kitchen-coop.com.

Choose the Right Commercial Kitchen Ventilation System For You

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Extraction Canopy.

A quality ventilation system is undoubtedly one of the most important things to have in any commercial kitchen. A commercial kitchen without a ventilation system in place is not only unsafe, but illegal – and if you choose a ventilation system ill-suited to your commercial kitchen, you may as well have not invested in one at all. If unsure, seek professional guidance from commercial kitchen ventilation experts like Extraction Canopy. Their professional guidance will help you determine which of their many ventilation and extraction systems is right for your kitchen.

Standard Extraction Canopy

A standard commercial kitchen extraction canopy completes the simple task of extracting impure air and returning clean air to a commercial kitchen environment. The greater the depth of a commercial canopy, the more unclean air it can filter – so a commercial kitchen using only electrical equipment would only need a canopy around 1000mm, whilst kitchens using a range of gas, electrical and steaming equipment would need something closer to 1500mm in depth.

Island Canopy

Island canopies tend to be mounted on the ceiling, covering a number of cookers, fryers, ovens and other pieces of kitchen equipment standing in the middle of a room – hence the term ‘island’ canopy. They are usually very large but can be made to measure.

Condense Canopy Hood

These canopies are mainly installed over equipment which produces steam in, such as dishwashers, boilers or sinks. The large stainless steel surface area of box-style canopies allows them to collect steam, which turns back into liquid when coming into contact with the metal and is then emptied through a drainage tap attached to the canopy.

Ductless Kitchen Canopy

Where it is impossible to vent air outdoors, a ductless hood is a worthy substitute for commercial kitchens using light to medium duty electric catering equipment. This commercial ventilation system filters air through four different stages before returning it back into the kitchen environment.

Extraction Canopy with Fan

Extraction systems can be supplied with internal or external fans, the speed of which can be modified to regulate heat levels and save energy.

The many different types of commercial kitchen ventilation systems, coupled with the fact that Extraction Canopy allow customers to customize and design their own canopy systems ensures you’ll find the correct ventilation system for your business.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Extraction Canopy. Cook It Here received compensation from Extraction Canopy in exchange for writing this blog post.

Featured Kitchen: TNI Kitchen

We are excited to introduce you to one of our newest kitchen listings on Cook It Here, the TNI Kitchen.
This amazing cooking space is located in Tarzana, California at 5577 Reseda Blvd.

TNI interior view 2

The TNI Kitchen is a retail restaurant space that is great for:

  • Training – Come in and work on your skills or teach others.
  • Catering – Is your catering company looking for a place to cook? This large kitchen space will meet all of your cooking needs.
  • Product Exploration and Development – Come test out new recipes in a real retail restaurant environment.
  • Product Presentations – This retail restaurant space is perfect for presenting your new ideas to others.
  • Cooking Classes – Looking to teach others about your art? The TNI Kitchen includes all of the space and equipment you’ll need to teach a cooking class.

TNI Kitchen Interior 

At only $35/hour, the possibilities are endless at this state-of-the-art kitchen.

Kitchen equipment includes: TNI Kitchen

  • 4 top burner
  • Oven
  • Grill (broiler)
  • Sandwich prep fridges
  • Thermaliser
  • Fridges
  • Freezers
  • Work Benches
  • Vitamix Blender
  • Meat Slicer
  • Proofer
  • Meat Grinder
  • Tabletop Stand Mixer
  • Immersion Blender

Click below to view the layout of this 1,024 sq. ft. kitchen:
TNI Kitchen Layout

Want to “Cook It Here?”

Whether you’re simply looking for a kitchen to cook in, or looking for a space to try out new products or teach a class, the TNI Kitchen is the perfect place for you.

You can rent the kitchen for $35 per hour (minimum of four hours) or $250 per day.

You can find more information about the TNI Kitchen as well as contact information through the Cook It Here website by clicking here.


About the Company:

The Next Idea, an international hospitality and restaurant consulting group, created the TNI Kitchen. They specialize in food, food service operations, restaurants, cafes, leisure and entertainment services.The Next Idea

The Next Idea works across the world, specializing in concept creation, development and management – everything from research, strategy, brand and product development, franchising, through to design, execution, systems and operations, and communication.

“We differentiate ourselves from our competitors by always beginning with the end user. The customer experience, the employee training experience, and the brand experience are given the upmost priority when we approach a project,” says Robert Ancill, CEO.

Click here to find out more about The Next Idea.

New Addition to Cook It Here!

Over the last year, Cook It Here has grown to become the premier destination for discovering commercial kitchens to rent. We have been helping thousands of chefs every month find the commercial kitchens they need to be successful and take their endeavors to the next level. We feel happy that we have been able to have a small part in helping our members succeed. We are grateful to all our chefs and kitchen owners that have helped contribute to our site and make it helpful to all. To that end, we are excited to announce that we are rolling out a new feature on Cook It Here that we think will be just as helpful: classes.

During this past year, many of you have written in to us not only looking for kitchens but also asking about training and certification courses that are available in your area. Often times, we have not had a great response to those requests because these kinds of classes can be listed all over the internet. But we could only sit on the sidelines for so long before we decided that we should try to do something to solve this problem. That is when we decided to expand our architecture to also support information on classes. We have built in tools that will allow the hosts of these classes to post these classes on our site. This will make it easier than ever for you to find that training or certification that you need to take your abilities to the next level. The new feature will allow the following:

  • Host Classes
  • Search for classes based on criteria
  • Request to Join a Class
  • Approve Class Requests
  • And more!

Click here to learn more about this new addition. We hope this new feature is useful to you! Thanks for your patience as we work to get these classes listed.

We will also be starting a weekly email that will include new classes that have been added in your area as well as new kitchen listings added to the site. Be sure to register with us so we can update you!

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments. Thank you for being a part of Cook It Here. We are looking forward to all the upcoming classes!

Featured Kitchen: The Hood Kitchen Space

We’re beginning a new series in the Cook It Here blog. Each month we’ll be featuring one of our commercial kitchens for rent. As you know, not all kitchens are created equal, and even if they are equal, they’ve still got their own features and nuances. If you’re an independent chef, our Featured Kitchen series will help you get to know what’s available. If you’re a commercial kitchen owner, perhaps you’ll find it helpful to hear what other kitchens are offering.

We’re starting close to home with a great facility in Costa Mesa, California: The Hood Kitchen Space.

The Hood Kitchen Space offers six health department-certified, fully equipped kitchens, with slight differences among them to accommodate different types of client operations: one has a tilt skillet for clients requiring high capacity cooking, and two others are outfitted specifically with baking in mind. They have a kitchen designed for demonstration cooking classes, filming, or similar events, with a private venue attached can accommodate up to 25 people. In addition, they have two prep space areas, one dry and one with a sink. Clients may also rent dry, cold or freezer storage space on a monthly basis.

Each kitchen is available for hourly rental, 24 hours a day. Rates vary according to peak or off hours, on a sliding scale based on how many hours each month you require the kitchen. Clients include caterers, cottage food operators, independent chefs, and restaurants requiring overflow or temporary additional kitchen space.

The Hood is owned and operated by two local personal chefs: Shelby Coffman and Christie Frazier. Coffman is a graduate of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco and has completed coursework at California Culinary Academy. Frazier is a self-taught professional with coursework at Tante Marie’s, Laguna Culinary and New School of Cooking. Both have extensive experience as caterers, personal chefs and cooking instructors.

Coffman and Frazier are working to make The Hood more than just a commercial kitchen for rent. They want to create a community of chefs and foodies, with The Hood as a hub for classes, events and activities.

According to their website, Coffman and Frazier also seek to build strong relationships with the communities surrounding their business. “Giving back and creating a strong community is a priority at The Hood Kitchen Space. In keeping with this practice, The Hood Kitchen Space offers its chefs and cooks the opportunity to use local, sustainable food and practices. They’ve selected Orange County artisans and family owned businesses to supply The Hood Kitchen Space’s larders with fresh, seasonal, and organic ingredients.”

For more information on The Hood Kitchen Space, including floor plans of the kitchens and complete lists of resources available, visit www.thehoodkitchen.com.

Are you free next Saturday?

I’m sure we have all experienced it before. You are searching online, say for, oh I don’t know, a commercial kitchen to rent. You finally find a kitchen in your area after searching on Cook It Here, or heaven forbid, Google. Either way, you find the kitchen, you see some pictures, everything looks great. You find their contact information and you give them a call or send them an email inquiring about your particular date. You then come to find out that they are not available for that date. It’s frustrating. You wasted all that time finding a place, looking up their info, only to call and find out it isn’t going to work. So now you begin that process all over again. Well we couldn’t stand that happening anymore so we are happy to announce that now kitchen owners can publish their kitchen availability directly to our site. What this also allows us to do is let you search for your specific needs right from the start so you no longer have to waste any more time only to come up with nothing at the end. So how does it work?

Kitchen owners can now log into their kitchen accounts and signup to be a part of our premium membership. By doing this they can now not only tell you about their availability but you can also request that open time right from their listing. That will trigger an email to the kitchen owner right away to let them know of your interest in their kitchen. This gets the communication going a lot quicker and gets the process moving right away so you can go back to what you want to do. Also with this new release you can now upload documents to your profile so that if a kitchen requires certain information from you they can download it right from your profile page once you request time in their kitchen. This way there is no more back and forth about what is needed and verification of that information. Also the kitchen owner can now publish to their listing any documents or resources they want filled out so you can get access to them right away. We think this is really going to be a big help to both parties so we can bring everyone together quicker.

Ratings and Reviews

Our biggest goal at Cook It Here has always been to try and improve the experience of finding and renting commercial kitchens. We have been trying to tackle this problem from both ends. Our chefs want to find the best kitchen to rent that is going to have all the equipment they need to prepare their meals. Our kitchen owners want to find chefs they can trust and that aren’t going to ruin their kitchen. That is why today we are excited to announce that we are implementing a new ratings and reviews system.

Our system will allow for both the kitchen owner and the chef to be able to rate and review each other. This will make the decision process a much more informed one because now both parties can have a better idea of who they are working with and what to expect. To ensure that the kitchens are only reviewed by chefs actually renting their kitchen we are going to start with only allowing the kitchen owner to initiate the review. This will change once we integrate our renting functionality, which should be soon, but for now this seemed the best way to ensure accuracy. But since not all of the chefs that may have rented the kitchen are members of the site the kitchen owner can also enter an email address of a chef that has rented and we will send that chef an email letting them know that the kitchen owner has left a review for them and that they too can also review the kitchen. Once they come to the site and sign up, that review will be attached to their profile.

We really hope this will be a big help to all of our chefs and kitchen owners!

Hard at Work

At Cook It Here we are constantly striving to improve our search results. Better results mean our chefs are able to find the perfect kitchen to cook in that much quicker. But we also haven’t forgotten about our kitchen owners. We also realize that they too are just as important to us. So we make sure that we are always looking at ways to improve the tools that we offer to our kitchen owners. Today, we are announcing an update that really is for both of our favorite people, chefs and kitchen owners. We have now added two new features that will make it easier for chefs and kitchen owners to connect.

First, for our chefs, we have now given you the ability to mark a kitchen as one of your favorites, thus making it easier to show your support for that kitchen and also connect yourself to the kitchen owner. We will shortly also be introducing ratings and reviews but that’s a different post. Now when you want to look some information on that kitchen you have used before you can log back into the site and find it very quickly.

Next, for our kitchen owners, with the introduction of favorite kitchens, we have also now made it possible for you to reward those chefs that have a relationship with your kitchen. We have built in a quick communication tool that will allow you to communicate out to all those that have marked your kitchen as their favorite. Whether you want to announce some upcoming availability to announce, or specials you are running for a limited time, you can now send that to those that would be most interested.

We hope you enjoy the new changes and stay tuned for many more changes to come.

Welcome to Cook It Here!!

We’re very excited that you’ve discovered Cook It Here and hope that you find the information useful in growing your business by connecting with the right sources. If you’re familiar with online commercial kitchen rental directories, you’ll quickly notice that we’re unlike all the others. Most of those sites have small amounts of information and what they do have, is never verified. We not only work on validating our listings daily in trying to keep up with all the new additions, but verify participating kitchens regularly to ensure that the information is up to date.  If you ever find that something needs to be brought to our attention, please notify us and we will immediately look into it and make the adjustments necessary.

You’ll also find that those other sites rarely provide photographs, and if they do, they may not be current. At Cook It Here we do invest the time and resources to include photographs of our listings, saving you time and money.  Another unique feature on our site, is the search tool by equipment, which makes it easy to narrow down those kitchens that meet your needs. Again, other sites simply don’t offer this convenience, forcing you to go through listing after listing and even calling to see what’s available, making the process of finding a kitchen very long and painful.  We understand the challenges and frustrations you’ve experienced and are here to help. The way we see it, both parties, chefs and kitchen owners, want to find each other and can benefit from connecting, so why not make it easier and quicker for you to do so. Here’s how we’re planning to improve this process.

First, for our chefs, as we mentioned before, we work daily on verifying our listings. We know how important your time is and you shouldn’t have to waste it trying to work with kitchens that are no longer renting or not even in business. We’re also making sure that we get a detailed listing of every one of our kitchens. This includes, contact information, equipment available, and some photographs of the actual space so that you can see where you’d be working and determine ahead of time if it looks like it could be good fit.  In addition to the rental listing, we’re coming up with creative ideas and new services that will soon be available to help you along the journey into your culinary business. We’ll even help you to get started by providing tools and important information on schools, certifications, county requirements, and many other aspects of running your business.

Secondly, for our kitchen owners, we know that you’ve worked very hard to make your space unique and want to showcase that to your potential renters. Why get lost in a simple listing, when you can have an edge by including it in Cook It Here.  Show it off and tell them all about you, but let us handle the marketing.  You don’t need to spend all your time trying to market your kitchen to potential renters, dealing with difficult to manage websites, costly SEO, and all the other boring stuff that has nothing to do with renting a kitchen. Cook It Here allows you to run your business simply and effectively. So we’ll soon be releasing some tools that’ll make this process a lot less painful and costly for you.

As you can see, we really want to make Cook It Here a valuable resource that can be used by chefs and kitchen owners alike to make their businesses run smoother. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be working diligently to continue validating all the listings that we find, and will continue to add new ones discovered along the way. We have big plans for the future and a lot of exciting things are coming your way, so keep checking back to see what our technical chefs are cooking. To keep up with our latest developments, please subscribe to our blog or follow us on twitter.