Looking Back and Moving Forward

PSIHeroNext week Pine Street Inn will be hosting its graduation ceremony. This annual event celebrates all the men and women who completed one of Pine Street’s job training programs in the past year. Seventy-seven trainees from the Food Service Training Program (FSTP) will be donning caps and gowns in front of family and friends. In honor of their movement forward, this is a great time to take a reflective look back.

FSTP is rigorous in and of itself. But this year had an extra challenge in store: snowpocalypse. Boston broke its record for most snowfall in a season, causing 2 states of emergency to be declared. Statewide travel bans were put into place, and the T ran limited service when not shut down completely.

Despite the extreme challenges, iCater wasn’t about to let its bulk meal customers go hungry. With every storm, plans were formed to send several days’ worth of meals in one delivery to every customer. These plans were shared with them in advance so they knew what to expect.

To keep the kitchen running some members of the staff stayed at Pine Street Inn overnight, among them Executive Chef Frank Van Overbeeke and Sous Chef Carey Snow. But they weren’t the only ones with that dedication. Trainees still came in as they were able to help meet the demands. Their schedules were adjusted as needed based on the states of emergency. One of them even walked over 4 miles to make it to our kitchen.

Extra hands were needed not only for food preparation, but for delivery as well. During the first storm alone 3,805 meals were served. To celebrate the sacrifices and accomplishments of our dedicated staff and trainees, commemorative Boston Snowpocalypse 2015 mugs were made and distributed.

This is just one story of many that will be celebrated at graduation. If these are any indication, the future is looking bright.

National Cold Cuts Day

Today is National Cold Cuts Day! These meats are a lunch time staple just about everywhere, and iCater is no exception. Despite the humble name, cold cuts come in many exciting varieties. With so much to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Here is a brief Cold Cuts 101:

Essentially, cold cuts are any meat product that is cooked, then sliced and served cold. Turkey, ham, and roast beef are the most popular, but they are far from the only options out there. In fact, it goes far beyond merely what’s in it; the processes behind them are just as plentiful.  There are three major ways cold cuts are prepared:

  1. Whole cuts – Simple and self-explanatory. These start out as intact cuts of meat. The sections are cooked, and sometimes flavored with salt, spices, or sugar.

  2. Sectioned and formed – These meat products consist of sections of meat that have been bonded together. No grinding, chopping, emulsifying, slicing, or flaking is done to the meat during preparation. Proteins extracted from the meat or non-meat proteins can be used for bonding. The meat and bonding agent are tumbled and massaged. This causes the meat to be quite malleable, which allows it be shaped with molds or casings. The meat is then cooked, which binds the chunks together in their new shape. They are processed and structured to resemble intact cuts of meat in both consistency and appearance.

  3. Processed/Sausages – The bulk of what we call cold cuts falls into this category. Over 200 varieties are produced in the U.S., accounting for approximately 15% of the meat produced. Salami, bologna, olive loaf, and head cheese are all examples of this type. These meats are chopped, seasoned, and formed into a symmetrical shape by casings or molds. Preparation of the ingredients uses one of two methods: emulsion and non-emulsion. Emulsion occurs when the meat is finely chopped and the fat in the mixture is suspended and held in place by water. Non-emulsion often requires a casing and is typically used for coarser grinds.

iCater uses a variety of quality cold cuts in our Classic and Signature sandwiches. For example, our smoked ham and turkey are sourced from North Country Smokehouse. Located in New Hampshire, North Country is an award winning family-run smokehouse that prides itself on fresh, natural ingredients and old world craftsmanship. Our roast beef comes from Dan’s Prize, whose reputation was built on beef. They expertly craft Certified Angus Beef so that it’s flavorful, satisfying, and meets all of the USDA’s HAACCP food safety standards.