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Steam table holding times

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey All,

New to the forum and truly glad I found it. Hope to learn and to teach. I am here now for your help with a stubborn breakfast cook.

He makes the scrambled eggs for our buffet at about 5:00 am. We use a liquid bag of eggs; he adds no seasoning and no sour cream or mayo which I fully encourage. That is problem number one. Problem number two is when I come by to check the buffet the eggs have a rancid smell ; this is usually around 6:30 am and I have told him repeatedly to pull the eggs and make fresh every hour.

it is a battle daily and I thought tonight I am going to get some professional opinions, because what I am but a lowly Food and Beverage manager.  who spends most of the morning on the dishes!

 

whatever you post, I will copy and show my delightful am line cook. we have received written surveys when they check out of the hotel stating 'no flavor in eggs or hashbrowns' (which I would like him to add Lawry's and sautéed onion too but again, another fight)' 'eggs taste rubbery and dry' 'eggs had a strange odor to them'.

 

Thanks for listening to me rant.

it really is hard to find a sober/straight am cook to show up at 4am in case your wondering why I don't throw him out with the recycling.

he also is very good on banquets which is the gravy for our department.

 

 

Sheila

post #2 of 26

Hello Sheila and welcome to the community.

 

Since most of your post deals with professional issues, I'm going to move it to a better forum where it will get the notice it needs to get the best answer. Good luck with this difficulty.

 

If you'd like to return to the Introductions forum and tell us more about how you got into cooking, who may have inspired you and so forth, we'd love to hear your story! 

 

Warm regards,

Mezzaluna

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post #3 of 26

I feel your pain.

 

The facts are there.

You are the F&B.

Ultimately the buck stops with you.

No Chef?

Who's in charge of the kitchen?

 

If surveys are coming back with negative comments, well then,,,,,,that's a red flag no?

 

As a guest myself in hotels all across the country, I see this all the time.

Those "improved" Continental breakfasts that hotel chains provide.

Eggs are usually one massive chunk sitting in the chaffing dish or steam-table pan.

 

I also had those issues when I worked as a morning Chef for university food-services.

Try to get an a.m. cook to care about the food he/she is putting out is a challenge.

 

Those bagged eggs cook in mere minutes, so for a 6:30 breakfast start, those eggs don't even have to be started until 20 minutes before service starts and should always be the last thing made.

 

I have had this issue before with my cooks. They get all the food in the warmers then go take a cigarette break.

 

If your attempts at trying to get the cook to change have failed, the only option you have left is to reprimand the individual then deal with the consequences.

 

Holding on to an poor employee because you can't find a descent replacement is an age old excuse in any business.

Seriously....yes....it is difficult......., but not impossible. 

The ball is now in your court.

post #4 of 26

Should be made as close to actual service as possible  Maybe ask your cook to eat a dish of them himself. Your in charge and buck stops at your door, you are responsible. If he does not listen , tell him there are 2 million people in your state, therefore you have 1 million and more to choose from for the job.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 26
The less time in the steam table the better! Eggs and pork (ie. bacon!) especially tend to smell (and taste) like death after about 30-40 minutes. Throw him out, you can do much better. What you are asking for is not rocket science, your liquid egg mixture should have at least a healthy dash of salt, potentially white pepper ala Julia Childs, whisked through before cooking.
post #6 of 26

He's stubborn about the eggs? Why? I mean stubborness has a reason... either he thinks they're fine the

way they are, or he doesn't want to make them later for some reason of his own..... he's doing other things,

he's on break then, etc. Might start with finding out what reason is rolling around his head.

Aside from that, it's bad business to let an employee make bad decisions with someone else's product,

clientele, money and reputation. He needs to know there's a right way and a wrong way--and spoiling the

eggs is the wrong way.

 

That said....

 

Quote:

Eggs and pork (ie. bacon!) especially tend to smell (and taste) like death after about 30-40 minutes.

So what I don't get is, in restaurants I've never held eggs in bulk, (always custom order, even one egg) but

I've made and served a hundred batches of eggs while catering and never had a bad smell, or watched 'em

turn into a egg-pave, once I learned to cook them right.

Bear in mind I would typically pack up fresh cooked eggs at 4:00 AM into hotel pans, into a Cambro, transport

to site, setup chaffers, drop and serve about 6:30 am, sometimes 7:00. Which means they held for 2.5 to 3

hours, yet stayed fluffy-not-stuffy with no odors or bad tastes. And a chaffer sterno setup is basically a single

steam table.

 

The difference is, I only used liquid eggs once or twice...all other times  I used whole fresh_cracked eggs.

As to seasoning, I generally didn't add salt or pepper to eggs, as many people don't use it, especially salt.

Yet I can't recall any complaints about bland or manky eggs either.

 

So what is the analysis here? :confused:

 

Chef Ross, any ideers?


Edited by Meezenplaz - 9/28/14 at 4:29pm
post #7 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meezenplaz View Post
 

So what I don't get is, in restaurants I've never held eggs in bulk, (always custom order, even one egg) but

I've made and served a hundred batches of eggs while catering and never had a bad smell, or watched 'em

turn into a egg-pave, once I learned to cook them right.

Bear in mind I would typically pack up fresh cooked eggs at 4:00 AM into hotel pans, into a Cambro, transport

to site, setup chaffers, drop and serve about 6:30 am, sometimes 7:00. Which means they held for 2.5 to 3

hours, yet stayed fluffy-not-stuffy with no odors or bad tastes. And a chaffer sterno setup is basically a single

steam table.

 

The difference is, I only used liquid eggs once or twice...all other times  I used whole fresh_cracked eggs.

As to seasoning, I generally didn't add salt or pepper to eggs, as many people don't use it, especially salt.

Yet I can't recall any complaints about bland or manky eggs either.

 

So what is the analysis here? :confused:

 

Chef Ross, any ideers?

I find this almost impossible to believe. Literally refuse to believe you had eggs cooked and at temp for 3 hours and anyone touched them. Do you taste that product before it goes out after sitting at temp for 3 hours? Did not mean to imply eggs smelled (moreso bacon, which wouldn't have been cooked and transported as you describe without having been completely devoid of moisture by service). Yeah. I dunno man, I have been trained to toss chafing dishes and steam table trays that exceed 1 hour at temp. May not be a bacterial issue but to me there is no way you can claim that is of equivalent quality to a freshly cooked hotel of eggs.

post #8 of 26

Well don't get me wrong, I've had eggs go manky after they're cooked, but not in catering.

And as a general practice, 2 hours was about the limit, (there were exceptions) but constantly held at

least 145°.

Quote:
Do you taste that product before it goes out after sitting at temp for 3 hours?

Of course, and often....I didn't fall out of the oven yesterday lol. I don't serve food I can't be sure tastes good.

Additionally, I'd often sit down with a plate  myself after the serving was done, so that would be at the END of

the holding session. Moreover, so would usually, my helpers.

In another thread recently I outlined how I cook them... basically whole eggs cracked and whipped, cooked on a

flattop with minimal fat, til just "cooked", but still a bit shiny.

This is because as they sit in chaffers they turn into egg-foo-rubber if they're too far cooked initially.

(And I've concluded that any buffets I've eaten at that serve scrambled-egg-sponges had over cooked them)

 

So I fluff em, transport em, fluff em again, and fluff every so often during service. I've served parties of over 150

many times this way.  No complaints that I can recall. And no "greening" either.

 

As to bacon, well that is another matter. lol I've held bacon too but after an hour or so it can get.....just short of

appetizing. Got to where if we couldn't cook it at the event, we just didn't offer it, unless it was very local.

 

Quote:
May not be a bacterial issue but to me there is no way you can claim that is of equivalent quality to a freshly cooked hotel of eggs.

For the record, I'm not claiming that either. How do you beat (so to speak)  fresh cooked eggs, grill to plate?

You can't. I'm simply saying they tasted good enough to serve and eat myself after that time....IF.... they

were cooked properly in the first place. And I watch them like a hawk--cuz if they accidently get overcooked,

they intentionally get dumped. And I have to start over.

post #9 of 26

Aye, didn't mean to come off harshly... I suppose if you're par-cooking them it's better. I still feel like 1.5 hours is a little high but as far as I can see from researching that's in line with USFDA standard!

post #10 of 26

You didn't come off harshly.... I just suddenly found myself wondering why I've never had a

problem, while others apparently are. But again, I've never held them in a restaurant environment.

 

I suppose you could call it par cooking, but they ARE cooked....not runny, just barely formed up,

then straight to holding. .

Only way I've found they can be held for any length of time.

Oh, and I preheat the pan too, so temp doesn't drop when I pan 'em.

post #11 of 26

Aye see the only time I've ever had to hold eggs in a steam tray was because of issues with service, which is a much more uncontrolled (ie. who knows how long cook X left the lid off the hotel pan while I was down the line) environment... Probably my situation was alot more conducive to producing a "manky" egg as you call it (like that term, stealing it)- oxidation methinks. In my case it was liquid egg as well. This was a corporate place I worked at a few years ago-- no say on quality of product. Personally I don't think liquid egg is 100 percent egg yolk/white... Pretty sure there's other junk in there what would make it taste like garbage.

post #12 of 26

Well as I said, I've used egg-pour plenty, but only a couple times in catering.

But I've always been open to it for it's simplicity and ease.... hmm maybe not so much now....:suprise:

 

Expect a bill for using that word....1.29 per use..... no free lunches. :lol:

post #13 of 26
I know some liquid eggs i used to use had citric acid,I'll check the case at work tomorrow and see what it says.
post #14 of 26

Meez....I don't know where you are but the health department forbids the pooling of eggs firstly, so fresh eggs are out of the question.

 

I have to use liquid eggs.

To make them anywhere near tolerable, I have to add ingredients to them, not only for flavor but for stability in the chaffing dish.

I'll use sour cream or a light Béchamel, sometimes, heavy cream, if I have it.

 

I personally will not allow the eggs to stay in the dish for more than an hour if buffet is slow.

I will remake the batches several times throughout the meal so the eggs look fresh, and taste good.

 

Yes to the citric acid......Most liquid eggs have that or some other chemicals.

post #15 of 26

Thank you Chef,

Most of what I did with bulk eggs in catering was back over 5 years ago, just now and then since then, .

but nowadays  health dept's rather sticky about that, they want a pasteurized product,

the biggest concern is salmonella.....but salmonella proliferates best in an airless environment,

within a temperate range-such is why they want you putting it in shallow containers, stirring often etc.

 

I believe that the reason I never had a problem was that I used good eggs from reputable sources, and

never ever let them sit at room temp for more than it took to beat them.

However as I've said in other threads, Im now an advocate of the egg-bag, fast and convenient, and

as far as Im concerned safer, as well as being a selling point to the client.

And should I happen to be conscripted in the future to provide scrambled eggs in bulk, I may not,

as was the case in most events I handled, have the option of making fresh batches throughout the event.

 

So my question stemmed from my having no experience with bagged eggs held in bulk,

its apparently common with bagged to not last in holding longer than 30 to 60 mins or so....

and you having experience with both, held in quantity, I was hoping you could shed some

light on why shell-eggs might last longer than the bags?

You mentioned citric acid and other additives in most products.... could this be helping to

facilitate earlier yuckiness?

post #16 of 26

As far as I know it is legal to pool eggs in California as long as they stay refrigerated unless the establishment is a licensed health care facility or public & private schools in which case pasteurized shell eggs or pasteurized liquid, frozen, or dry eggs or egg products must be used.

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post #17 of 26

Thank you Chef Layne, I really wasn't totally clear on that. I personally think it safer to use something pasteurized,

even though its being cooked above 145°....people are skittish about eggs these days and assuring them of

that is so much the better. Probably better from a liability standpoint as well I'd wager.

post #18 of 26

My personal preference for business is pasteurized eggs in the shell, due to a desire to protect unknowing "at risks" guests such as the elderly, pregnant women, and kids.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #19 of 26
Is pooling just a synonym for holding? I have never heard this term?
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpoiledBroth View Post

Is pooling just a synonym for holding? I have never heard this term?


Pooled means cracking a whole lot of fresh eggs and mixing them together. The thought here is if one of those eggs is contaminated, it spoils the whole batch.

post #21 of 26

I can crack three eggs, after that they are considered pooled.

post #22 of 26
Holy cow that's definitely a level of standard that isn't applied here, not by law anyway. Am I to understand this doesn't apply to pasteurized eggs/liquid egg?
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpoiledBroth View Post

Holy cow that's definitely a level of standard that isn't applied here, not by law anyway. Am I to understand this doesn't apply to pasteurized eggs/liquid egg?

 

Welcome to America.

We wouldn't have to do that if eggs weren't washed first.

Washing the eggs, destroys the eggs' natural defenses.

post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post
 

 

Welcome to America.

We wouldn't have to do that if eggs weren't washed first.

Washing the eggs, destroys the eggs' natural defenses.


Exactly, and that's why we're one of the few countries who refrigerate eggs.

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post #25 of 26

 Due to the way chickens are commercially raised here, stacked in pens on top of each other and such where they defecate on each other, unfortunatley is the reason for washing the eggs.

49633213.jpg 

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post #26 of 26
I'm almost sure we have the same kind of large scale poultry operations here in Canada... Kind of unnerving our health departments don't apply this standard. Thanks guys!!
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