Thursday, 11 May 2017

Designing the Perfect Restaurant Kitchen

A commercial restaurant kitchen is a hot, chaotic, high pressure arena. And as with designing any high pressure, fast paced environment, the basics lie in smart spatial planning for maximum efficiency, ergonomic work zones, state-of-the-art appliances and equipment, task lighting, adequate storage, good ventilation and cleanliness to meet stringent health and safety standards.

What makes one commercial kitchen better than the other can be slightly ambiguous to list, however there are certain standards that all great kitchens agree upon. Following fundamental do's and don'ts when designing a commercial kitchen creates an enjoyable and efficient work environment for kitchen staff that in turn is reflected in the food and service quality of the restaurant.

Today we have guest contributor Damien reviewing factors that all great commercial kitchens have in common and discussing the principles of inspiring restaurant kitchen designs.

Organisation 
Organisation is key in a busy work environment. When designing a commercial kitchen think about the configuration of the overall space. Commercial work tables, adequate cabinets for cooking tools storage, commercial refrigerators, prep areas, installation of adequate task lighting and an effective ventilation system to minimise energy costs are all things to think about to maximise utilisation of the kitchen space and its functionality. Storing things where they should be along with organised work flows and designated work stations will mean less running around in busy times, less searching for this utensil or that pot, and less time wasted overall.

Layout
Placing necessities in small café kitchens such as a Norris commercial dishwasher in a central location, but not having it block people, is essential. Nobody wants to walk 3 mins to get a clean dish in the middle of a rush, and every minute saved on things like unnecessary searching for items is a minute sooner the customer can get their meal. Cooking in a restaurant is a stressful job and having a effective and efficient layout helps keep the stress levels under control. Defining clear working zones for food cleaning, cutting, baking, frying, cooking, dish washing and others will eliminate unnecessary collision, tension, and chaos in the kitchen.

Storage
Dishes and other necessary kitchen equipments need to be stored in designated spaces. Store kitchen tools and appliances with similar functions together. Special pots, pans and tools should be kept at the places in the kitchen where that kind of cooking will be done. This ensures that cooking specialist dishes won’t be preceded by ten minutes of frantic searching and as a rule they need to always be returned to the same predetermined place.

Preparation
Prep, prep, prep! Ensuring food ingredients are fresh and stocked in preparation for a busy night can help time management and food and service quality. Nothing compares to having a dish sent back because it’s stale or cold or undercooked, and nothing shatters a reputation quite like that either.

Management
In a commercial kitchen, there are a lot of appliances, pots and pans, utensils, cooking tools, plates, cooking and baking equipment and all this in the one space means a lot of chaos in the workplace unless the following is taken into account.

Foresight
Replace broken/breaking things as soon as it becomes apparent that they will soon become useless. Having an essential item break in the middle of service is disastrous, and even more so if you don’t have a replacement. As a rule commercial kitchens never buy equipment that does not have specialised service for the repair or replacement of parts in the vicinity of the restaurant.

Cleanliness
Clean the fridge, the deep freezer, the floors and keep all countertops, appliances and equipment clean and ready to go. Clean out the oven regularly because as we all know the longer the dirt remains in the oven, the more baked-on it gets and the harder it will be to clean later. On a particularly busy oven shift, make a note to clean it at the end.

Quality over Cost
Buy high-quality equipment. There’s no way around this one. Having good and reliable equipment and good appliances will save you a lot of headaches in the future, and a reliable item will be better than a cheap one.

Plan
Make sure to install enough workstations for the number of kitchen staff you need from day one. Getting busier than you expected is a good thing, but only when you’re prepared for it. If you aren’t, waiting times climb and public interest drops.

Respect
Treat your co-workers well, and treat your employees well. Kitchens are stressful, yet exciting and creative places to work, but not when you’re being treated poorly. Keep your workers happy and the work environment will remain a positive place.

With these tips in mind, your kitchen can be a clean, organised space that can take on any challenge thrown at it. Your appliances will work with you, your rush periods will be right on the edge just enough to make things exciting, and your kitchen will put out high-quality food.

Trends in cooking are definitely changing and ensuring that the kitchen is flexible in design and service makes it easier to respond to market demands in the future.

Till next time... rethink your restaurant kitchen design!

About the Author
Damien Tune is a 22-year-old writer from Melbourne, interested in music, technology, animals and travel. He spends his spare time writing music and playing with various dogs.

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