An experienced restaurateur knows that both the heart and the brain of a successful restaurant rest within its commercial kitchen. Sleight of hand in a busy catering or retail operation may go a long way but engineering the chef’s workstation to not only fit the theme of the food business, but to also consider best food safety practices goes much further. For someone who’s considering entering the realm of hospitality by exploring either catering or retail facilities, it’s best to not assume that a commercial kitchen functions just like a domestic one. When things begin to fall apart in the kitchen, it results in a domino effect that eventually snowballs into outlandish PR. Building a commercial kitchen from scratch or renovating an existing one can be done successfully with a holistic approach.
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Explore this issueDecember/January 2017
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Some of the components that tend to be overlooked whilst designing and/or renovating a commercial kitchen are: approvals, risk assessments, smart space utilization, equipment selection and placement, process management, food waste management, integrated pest management (IPM), and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
Wouldn’t it be a comedown to have sections of a fully purpose built kitchen torn down only because the scope of activity or the flow of work was not approved by the regulatory authorities prior to commencing the operation? It’s best to be mindful of the local regulation and guidelines pertaining to the food business. There are specific food safety requirements when it comes to storage, processing, and serving certain categories of food products such as halal, certified organic, gluten-free, dairy free, etc. The rule of thumb for franchised food establishments is to not only follow the parent or corporate guidelines but also to reflect the regional food safety regulations. Working with a multi-disciplinary team that comprises members who are well versed in food flow, inventory, engineering and maintenance, fire safety, pest control, cleaning and disinfection, and waste management would not only help gain more insight but also facilitate future growth. Altering or modifying the dining area is comparatively easier than remodeling the commercial kitchen.
A good commercial kitchen is designed in parallel with the menu. Based on space availability, the kitchen needs to accommodate a linear workflow to prevent cross-contamination. For instance, modifying the menu at a later stage to incorporate a high risk product such as homemade ice cream presumably would result in the surfacing of various food safety deviations simply because the existing floor plan of the kitchen did not factor in requirements such as storage space, ingredient flow, and processing. Planning remains incomplete without thorough risk assessments and menu analysis.
Smart Space Utilization and Ergonomics
It’s time to uncomplicate. Let’s not see a commercial kitchen as mulligatawny soup.
About Judy Sebastian
Judy Sebastian, Food Quality & Safety's blogger, has a dual specialization in public health and safety and organizational development. Equipped with over 10 years of experience in food safety systems implementation, workplace culture assessments, and talent development strategies, she is passionate about global food culture and how it impacts our daily lives. Judy is a certified trainer and consultant with Dubai-based consultancy Apex Food Consultants and is currently based in Portland, Ore. Reach her at email@example.com.