Mary Lou's K-12 September Newsletter

Fall is on our doorstep once more! Another beautiful time of year in Tennessee………

Hope all of you had a great start to the school year. I know many changes are underway, but I also know what great troopers you are and you will take on the challenge at hand with a positive attitude and lead your team to success. Best wishes to all for a fun and productive school year.

Speaking of Change…. We at KaTom are definitely seeing change this month as we move into our new location just off exit 407 (Sevierville, Gatlinburg exit). I will be keeping you informed of special events that are coming up, like our Grand Opening. As we grow and expand, we want you to participate in and be a part of the excitement and special events.

In-Service Trainings

I was in Grainger County in August assisting Anna Jean Cabbage with an In-service for some 50 of her cafeteria staff. We talked about Team Building and the importance of dealing with change with a positive attitude. This was a great group and I certainly enjoyed sharing ideas with them.

I also assisted Jewel Sledge with In-service for the Sweetwater City Schools Cafeteria staff. We talked about the importance of preventative maintenance on kitchen equipment, a scheduled time for performing preventative maintenance, and a time and date sheet to be signed by the responsible party. In the afternoon, we showed ideas for simple, easy garnishes and ideas for making the serving line, using fruits and vegetables, fun and inviting for kids.

A Tool For Every Task

We’ve all heard the famous slogan, “There’s an app for that!” The app is designed as a tool to assist with making the task at hand easier to perform. Regardless of what that task might be, having the right tools available usually means the job can be done quicker and better. This also applies to food preparation, presentation and service. It means that staff responsible for getting the job done is more motivated and their morale is higher. Just letting staff know that you care enough to provide tools that will result in better looking, better tasting food that will be easier and faster for them to prepare and serve provides for a new level of appreciation and cohesiveness.

This month, I would like to discuss a few such items that you may find fit your needs and are well worth the monetary investment. The items I have selected are not gadgets that will just take up space in the kitchen; these items have applicable use in the school cafeteria, and I feel certain will be used time and time again.

  • Taco Racks - These hold 15 tacos sitting upright; the shells can be filled with all the fixings in the kitchen and then placed on the line for self-serve or ease in serving directly onto the tray. Trays can be run through the dish machine for cleaning. They are time savers and make for good presentation of tacos. Cost under $50.

  • Oil Sprayer - This is a non-Aerosol Misting Spray Pump. A great eco-friendly solution to using commercial pan spray, and you can use your own oil. Useful also for misting oil and vinegars for salads (using less oil means saving calories without sacrificing flavor). Also, a mist can be added to rolls or breads for more even browning, or vegetables and meat dishes to prevent drying out on the steam table. And it will give a nice sheen that adds eye appeal. Cost approximately $15.

  • Digital Scales - Scales help take the guess work out of weights, and you get an immediate read. Most have a large digital screen for ease of reading. Also, most are electric, but some also operate with a battery pack. These are especially useful with the new weight and measurement requirements. They range in price (according to features) from under $50 to over $500.

  • Egg Slicer -The egg slicer (some also dice) is a must with a salad bar and are also great if you are doing chef salads. They provide consistency in thickness of slice with even, smooth cut edges. This item is inexpensive, generally less than $5 (not more than $10) and a real time saver.

  • Onion Slicer -Slicing an onion by hand can be unpleasant and time-consuming. And you are more likely to cut your hand than when using one of the commercial onion slicers. Your staff will thank you for providing one of these for them. Sandwiches, salad bars, vegetable and meat dishes will all be more easily prepped with an onion slicer. Cost runs in the $200 to $300 range, but is very durable and lasting.

  • Garnishing Tools - Garnishes, shapes, and designs all add interest and eye appeal to the presentation and display of foods. Regardless if you are creating a master piece of a single melon ball or the Mona Lisa of all table arrangements, the job is so much easier and impressive when you have the right tools. Garnishing tools are available both in kits (small and large) or some as individual pieces, such as the zester. Price ranges, for a single tool, from around $10 to large kits around $100.

These are just a few of the many tools available through KaTom that will make food preparation and serving less a chore and more a pleasure. For these and other great items visit our website!

From all of us at KaTom, have a wonderful, safe Labor Day and a beautiful beginning to Autumn.

Thank You,

Mary Lou Henry

School Specialist

Anyone building or renovating schools that involve kitchens, serving areas or dining areas, please contact me at or 865-223-1150 or KaTom direct at 800-541-8683 or 423-586-5839. We would be grateful for the opportunity to provide quotes or respond to bids or RFPs on any and all items needed.