There are fundamentals synonymous with all well designed commercial kitchens regardless of the type of business. Whether it is a restaurant, hotel, care home or school kitchen, they should all be designed with careful spatial planning to maximise efficiency and create a suitable workflow. They should also be compliant, suitably equipped for the intended purpose of the commercial kitchen, and designed to create a safe working environment for the catering staff.
Regardless of the shape or size of the commercial kitchen, the design should embody the following key areas which are crucial to the operation of the commercial kitchen:
- Delivery entrance
Wherever possible the kitchen should have a delivery entrance located next to the kitchen storage areas. This allows direct access for deliveries without interfering with the operation of the kitchen, impeding service, and means that deliveries need not pass through food preparation, cooking areas or any customer area.
- Delivery Point
If space permits, and particularly with larger catering facilities, it is necessary to have a designated landing area for the deliveries with sufficient work bench space specifically to book the deliveries. This also allows for efficient sorting of deliveries before being transported to the designated storage area. Scales may also be required to check the weight of certain produce, and trolleys to transport good to the storage area. Hand washing facilities are also good practice to prevent any possible cross contamination.
- Adequate Space
The delivery booking in or drop off point must have adequate space to ensure that deliveries do not cause obstructions and pose a risk to health & safety. For example, the delivery access point may also be a fire escape so it is imperative that isn’t blocked when accepting deliveries.
- Frequency of Deliveries
The amount of deliveries and the frequency will depend on the type of establishment the commercial kitchen serves. Restaurants may prefer smaller daily deliveries of fresh produce and others may opt for bulk deliveries including frozen produce and dry goods. More frequent deliveries are more beneficial when storage space is at a premium and a quick turnaround of produce can be advantageous.
The amount of storage required will obviously depend on the size of the operation, and the frequency of deliveries, but generally the following will need to be considered:
- Food Storage
The average commercial kitchen will require sufficient refrigeration to store fresh meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables. These items should be stored separately to avoid any possible cross contamination which could lead to a health risk. Freezers will also be required for frozen food storage.
- Dry Store
Dry goods should be stored in cool, well ventilated areas away from heat sources and moisture. The dry goods should not be stored on the floor and should be on suitable racking or shelving. It is good practice to have a separate dry store room when space permits. Smaller premises without the luxury of space, may use stainless steel cupboards or shelving in a designated area of the kitchen for dry goods.
- COSH Cupboards
COSH cupboards are required to store cleaning chemicals as set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. These cupboards need to be lockable are usually of painted steel construction or stainless steel.
3. FOOD PREPARATION
It is important to have a designated food preparation area within a commercial kitchen. To achieve the optimum flow and prevent contamination, the prep area is best placed between the storage area and the cooking area. This prevents the need to carry unprepared produce through the cooking area and avoid any potential contamination.
Food prep areas should incorporate basic fundamental equipment which would include adequate food prep surfaces, sinks, shelving, storage and refrigeration which should always be manufactured from stainless steel. Depending on the operation and purpose of the prep area, other specialist food preparation machinery may also be required, such as food processors, meat mincers, potato peeling and vegetable preparation machinery. You will also require separate refrigeration such as under-counter refrigerators. These refrigerators can be re-stocked daily with food that requires preparing, to avoid continuously going back and forth between prep and bulk storage areas. In brief you will need to consider:
- Prep Surfaces
- Food prep sinks
- Suitable Utensils & food prep machinery
- Utensil & Equipment Storage
- Hand washing facilities
Consideration should also be made to the type of food that is being prepared. It is very important to prevent cross contamination. This occurs when bacteria is spread, usually between work surfaces and is most likely to come about when raw food touches or drips onto ready to eat food or surfaces. Apart from being kept extremely clean at all times, to prevent contamination food prep areas should be segregated into different zones for the preparation of:
- Pre-cooked and Prepared Food
- Raw Meat
- Dairy Products
Segregation is difficult with smaller commercial kitchens where space is at a premium, and it may not be possible to have separate clearly defined food prep areas. When this is the case, it is imperative that stringent cleaning procedures are in place, and surfaces and utensils are thoroughly cleaned between differing food group preparation.
This segregation should also be considered when storing these different food types in refrigeration, which is another hot spot for possible contamination. Your local Environmental Health Officer may inspect your commercial kitchen without notice, and will check that adequate measures are in place to provide a compliant food preparation area. They can advise and make recommendations to ensure your commercial kitchen is compliant and safe.
4. COOKING AREA
- Location & Size
The cooking area or cook line is the heart of the commercial kitchen and its location within the kitchen needs to be in keeping with the correct flow of the kitchen. The size of cooking area is dictated by the amount and type of cooking equipment required, which in turn is dictated by the menu and amount of covers the kitchen produces.
- Type of cooking equipment
Cooking equipment will vary depending on the type of establishment. Most commercial kitchens and restaurants would require core appliances such six burner gas oven ranges, fryers, salamander grills and combination steam ovens. Larger operations that require bulk cooking may have appliances such as bratt pans and tilting kettles.
- Equipment Positioning
The positioning and layout of the cooking equipment is very important and key to the efficiency of the operation. For example, the chef may want to create two working areas within the cook line, one used predominantly for hot starters and the other for main courses.
- Ambient Benches/tables
It will also be necessary to place ambient infill benches between certain appliances. For example, it is good practice to place infill benches between fryers and oven ranges. This will prevent any spillages from pans boiling over into the fryer which could very dangerous. The infill bench only has to be 300mm wide but if there isn’t enough space it may be necessary to fit a fryer guard instead. It is also good practice to place salamander rills over ambient benches. This acts a landing area and also protects the grill from heat sources below. Other ambient surfaces will be required for preparation and plating up.
Additional refrigeration may also be required in the cook line. These refrigerators would hold prepared food ready for cooking and enable the chef to work efficiently without leaving the cooking area. It might include under-broiler counter refrigerators for holding steaks or fish ready to place on the char grill or plancha. They may also require refrigeration for cold garnishes ready for plating up and adding finishing touches.
All cooking areas will require a suitably sized ventilation system installed in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations. When gas appliances are underneath the canopy it will also require a gas interlock system. The canopy should of stainless steel construction and be fitted with stainless steel baffle filters that can be easily removed and cleaned. Commercial kitchen ventilation systems should also have make up air coming into the kitchen to replace the air being extracted, which is a regulatory requirement where gas appliances are installed.
5. FOOD SERVICE PASS
This area of the kitchen is referred to as ‘The Pass’ and it is where the plated meals are placed when they are ready to be collected by the waiting staff. The pass should be situated between the cook line and the entrance to the dining area, so that waiting staff can efficiently collect serve the meals without entering other parts of the kitchen.
The food service pass would require equipment such as hot cupboards and heated gantries. The hot cupboards can be used to store crockery and keep warm ready for plating up. The work surface on top of the hot cupboard or additional work benches can be used for plating up. The plated meals can them be placed underneath the heat lamps on the heated gantry and kept warm until the waiting staff arrive to collect.
6. WASH UP AREA
The wash up area and dishwasher area should never be underestimated and should be suitably sized for establishment and covers produced by the kitchen. The wash up area should be located somewhere in the kitchen next to the entrance from the dining room, so that staff can efficiently drop off dirty crockery, without walking through other parts of the kitchen and interfering with productivity.
This area of the kitchen should be suitably equipped and have an efficient flow from where the dirty crockery is dropped off to where clean crockery, pots and pans can be collected ready for reusing. It would generally include the following areas within the wash up area:
- Dirties drop off point
- Dishwasher pre-rinse sink
- Pot wash sink
- Commercial dishwasher
- Cleans table/exit table
- Racking for clean crockery
Suitable refuse bins and waste management should also be considered. The local water authorities will also require you to install a grease trap and/or a bio enzyme dosing unit to prevent grease build and blockages in the drainage. Ventilation may also be required depending mainly of the type of dishwasher used.
· Waste Management
· Grease traps & drain maintenance
Call Caterplan now and speak to one our design consultants. Let us design, supply and install your commercial kitchen and help maximise your business potential.