Commercial Kitchen Design Tips

 

restaurant-kitchenWhatever the style of kitchen, the general rule is that the larger the operation, the more services and facets have to be considered.

The three prime considerations that dictate kitchen design are:

  • Service requirement: Consider the service the kitchen has to provide – for instance, the numbers being served, is it an la carte menu, plated service, self-service, cafeteria-style, etc?
  • Space available: Is the space allocated sufficient to fit in the equipment required?
  • Budget: Always have an accurate idea of spend available.

The design process should never progress without a clear understanding of these considerations, which should then be structured around the need to provide the required service, while satisfying the basic codes of practice of food hygiene and handling and complying with statutory legislation.

Always carry out a risk assessment of any design to identify any shortfalls – for instance, the need to keep the food preparation area separate from the rest of the kitchen to negate the risk of cross-contamination.

Any design should incorporate good workflow patterns and ergonomic solutions to building constraints, so the following criteria should be considered:

Delivery

  • Ensure goods vehicles have adequate access to the premises, providing direct deliveries to the catering area. Provide adequate space to allow a goods check-in area before entering the kitchen.
  • Where possible, bulk storage should be close to the goods-in area so there’s no need for delivery personnel to enter the kitchen and food preparation area. Never underestimate the need to allow adequate space for dry, chilled and frozen goods. Many suppliers have minimum drop requirements.

Preparation

  • Position main preparation between bulk storage and the cooking process, to ensure the correct flow pattern. Where possible, different processes should be segregated – ie, raw meat and fish separate from prepared foods. If necessary, consider chilled preparation areas for high-risk food environments. In smaller establishments where segregation is not possible, stringent regimes must be employed to ensure segregation of processes, so that utensils and tables are suitably sanitised between processes. In addition, consider adequate refrigerated storage for prepared food.
  • Provide adequate prep sinks, separate pot-wash sinks and hand-wash facilities.

Cooking

  • When selecting cooking equipment, consider the requirements of the menu and the ability of the staff using the equipment. Although state-of-the-art equipment such as programmable combi-ovens, pressure bratt pans and computerised deep-fat fryers may be nice to have, they may not always be appropriate for the style and content of some menus. Conversely, never underestimate the benefits that hi-tech equipment can provide, in terms of cost control, and energy and labour savings.
  • Workflows and safety should be the prime drivers in the layout of a professional kitchen. Simple things include ensuring there’s a set-down space next to deep-fat fryers, never siting a fryer at the end of a run, and always allowing a minimum of 900mm corridor to the front of any cooking equipment, although 1,200mm is ideal.
  • Ensure the flow of the cooking suite suits the style of service, with fast-cook equipment such as fryers, salamanders and griddles nearest to the point of service and bulk cooking kit such as bratt pans, convection ovens and boiling pans further away.
  • Consideration should also be given to the mechanical and electrical services available. Sometimes it’s not possible to get gas into a building, or you may be restricted by the size of the incoming electrical supply.KitchenCookingArea

Food Service Area

  • The space requirement for service is often underestimated, particularly by architects. Whether the operation is waited service or tray-line style, you can minimise queuing by the provision of multi pick-up and service points. Consider adequate space for hot and cold holding of prepared food ready for service. If it’s a large site, counters may need to be replenished several times during a service period. In an la carte restaurant, allow sufficient space for plating up and hot pass. Where possible, locate the service point close to the final cooking process to avoid double handling.

Wash-up

  • Nearly always undersized by space planners, the dishwashing operation is key to the success of any catering establishment. If it fails through inefficient planning, the restaurant cannot function. To determine the space required, the capacity of dishwasher and the amount of ancillary sorting space, calculate the number of crockery, cutlery and hollow-ware items (don’t forget trays) to be used during a service period. All reputable dishwasher manufacturers can help you with this calculation and provide you with the correct size system and machine. Remember to allow sufficient space for the storage of clean items and the disposal of rubbish, ensuring the two are segregated to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Location is paramount to the efficient management of the space. Ideally it should be close to both the restaurant and service area to avoid double handling.
  • The amount of steam and moist air produced is often underestimated. If possible, consult a ventilation engineer.

Refuse

  • Always allow for a clearly defined route for dirty dishes that won’t conflict with preparation and service areas. Consider the location of an outside refuse bay, well away from the kitchen entrance.
    Staff facilities
  • Ensure that appropriately located and sized facilities for staff changing and locker areas and staff toilets are available near the kitchen.

Environmental

  • Consider energy efficiency of all equipment, as fuel costs are now higher than ever. Also, consider volumes of water used and research your product; many major manufacturers use energy efficiency as their USPs.
  • Consider any “green” policies, allow for recycling of bottles, aluminium, plastic and paper. If possible, have a recycling area.
  • Ensure correct ventilation and air replacement are available in all areas. Consult an engineer to ensure you comply with the minimum requirements of the local authority’s clean air policy.
  • Ensure lighting provides at least the minimum requirement of 500 lux at worktop height.
  • Invite your local EHO to view your plans and pass comment. It’s always best to get them on your side at the outset.

Building fabric

  • Ensure floors (non-slip), walls and ceilings can be cleaned and maintained easily.
    And remember, almost all designs are a compromise. A good design is one that best suits the constraint of space and budget without detrimental effect on service.

Ask busyCHEF to design your dream kitchen – whether a restaurant or tea room, pub or coffee shop – advice is free! Call Ian Canavan on Freephone 0500 008075.

Healthy Chips?

Busychef would like to thank Paul Hickman Development Chef at Lincat for the his contribution to our blog.

I was recently asked by a journalist whether the widespread desire to offer ‘healthy food’ by cost sector kitchens has rung the death knell for everyone’s favourite – the ultimate comfort food – the chip!

My thoughts on the subject are that whereas a few years ago commercial fryers were starting to be left out of new cost sector kitchens and refits, they’re now beginning to make a comeback.

I think that’s because there’s a greater understanding that what counts, when it comes to healthy eating, is a balanced diet. And fried foods can form part of that healthy eating programme.

It’s true too, especially in healthcare settings, that ‘a bit of what you fancy does you good’. Good nutrition is essential to recovery and, if you can tempt patients to eat with well cooked, familiar food then there are real benefits to be had at every level.

People are also beginning to adopt healthier frying methods. The traditional way to cook chips for example would be to blanch them in the fryer at the relatively low temperature of 160 deg C before chilling them down and storing them until needed. Then the chips would be fried again at a higher temperature prior to service.

Now, many chefs are choosing to steam their chips prior to frying. This allows the chips to be fried just once, in hotter oil. This reduces the quantity of oil which is absorbed by the potato and therefore produces a healthier, less fatty chip.

In order to prepare chips in this way you need to invest in a powerful fryer, which is capable of achieving the high temperature you need (180 deg C) when fully loaded.

This will seal the surface of the potato and allow the interior to be ‘steamed’. Here are one or two other ways to produce ‘healthier’ chips:

  • Serve large, fat chips rather than thin ones. This will reduce fat absorption.
  • Allow chips and other fried products to drain prior to serving – choose a fryer therefore which has sturdy, free-draining frying baskets.
  • Consider using a chip scuttle to hold fried food for a short time prior to serving. This will allow excess fat to drain away.
  • Always use good quality vegetable oil and filter frequently.
  • Make sure that your fryer is powerful enough to meet your needs. Fast heat recovery times are essential. If a fryer is unable achieve the optimum chip cooking temperature quickly, the chances are that the cooking process will be extended with the result that the chips will absorb more fat.
  • Buy a fryer which is big enough for your business. If your fryer is too small, the temptation is to overload the basket, which will result in extended cooking times and greater fat absorption.
  • Buy a well designed and constructed fryer from a reputable manufacturer. Good manufacturers will provide accurate information about optimum batch sizes, capacities, recovery times and overall performance.

In addition to concerns about health and nutrition, cost sector caterers are also worried about the rising cost of food and are aware of the need to reduce waste and minimise their impact on the environment. Extending the life of cooking oil is one of the key ways in which this can be achieved. As a result, fryers such as our Opus 700 models with built-in filtration, which are designed to extend the life of cooking oil by up to 75%, are proving popular at this time.

You can find out more about Lincat fryers by following this link: http://www.lincat.co.uk/products, and you can see the fryers in action at our Leeds test kitchen here.