Creating a commercial kitchen is not as simple as buying cooking equipment and arranging them together. A commercial kitchen needs to be designed to increase efficiency, maintain safety and hygiene, and thereby improve profits. There are several aspects that need to be kept in mind while planning the kitchen. Here are some of them:
Equipping the Kitchen
To begin with, the kitchen will need at least one cooking range, stoves, ovens, and microwave ovens. The kitchen will need stainless steel equipment like gastronorm containers, heated plate dispensers, hot cupboards, servery units, trolleys, trays and cupboards. Open stainless steel shelves near the cooking range will help keep the prepared materials at hand; the counters on them can be used for chopping and other preliminary work. Depending on the size of the kitchen, a refrigerator or a walk-in-freezer can be installed.
According to European Union Legislations, commercial kitchen equipment should carry the label ‘CE’. This means that the manufacturer has met the standards of performance and safety, as required by the EU. However, this applies only to equipment manufactured after 1998.
A commercial kitchen needs a lot of equipment as well as people, and things can get rushed during mealtimes. Extra care should be taken to make sure that the kitchen is safe for the workers, minimising the chances of accidents. There should be adequate lighting across the rooms, and designated areas for storage. Materials should not be left lying on the floor as they can lead to slips or falls. The flooring should not be slippery, and non-slip mats should be used in areas where spillage is likely. The kitchen will have many cooking surfaces, so fire extinguishers should be arranged at regular intervals, and workers trained in how to use them. All staff should be given aprons, mitts and other protective equipment.
Maintaining hygiene in a commercial kitchen is difficult unless there are well thought out procedures in place. Dry and wet ingredients should be stored separately. All equipment should be cleaned before the cooking begins, and floors and counters mopped thoroughly. The dishwashers and sinks should be placed away from the cooking area. Stainless steel equipment is the easiest to clean and maintain on a long-term basis. Tablecloths and napkins should be washed after every use. Workers who handle the food should use disposable mitts that prevent the food from getting contaminated. The whole room should be ventilated, and there should be chimney hoods above all stoves. Personal hygiene (among the staff) is as important as the maintenance of hygiene in the equipment itself. All safety and hygiene procedures must meet the standards set by the Health and Safety Executive or the local licensing authority.