Commercial kitchens require careful consideration and planning when setting up and running. The layout, construction and design of a commercial kitchen will influence directly the efficiency of the catering operation and the level of business risk. Get it right and the financial benefits will follow.
Health and Safety is the most important consideration that needs to be taken into account, as everything else should be determined by these requirements. Once Health and Safety has been carefully thought through there are other things to consider such as the overall layout of the kitchen, flooring requirements and services.
Health and Safety is the principal focus where any commercial kitchen is concerned; any facility which provides food services to the general public needs to be carefully managed. Failure to comply with the prevailing legislation can not only divert resources from elsewhere in the business, it has the potential to cripple the business overnight.
The Health and Safety aspect can be divided into two main areas; equipment and machinery, and food preparation and storage.
If the kitchen employs five or more people a written policy is imperative. This should detail exactly who does what and when. The policy should also incorporate a risk assessment, where all risks are identified and then measures introduced to control these risks. Health and Safety in the commercial kitchen is fundamentally common sense, however every detail needs to be documented no matter how trivial it may seem. Training is also vital when it comes to teaching employees how to utilise all machinery safely and what basic hygiene skills should be followed. If employees understand how to use and maintain machinery accidents are less likely to occur. Likewise if employees are trained in food preparation and storage then potential illnesses from food contamination are reduced.
The risk assessment should consider the type of flooring required, in a commercial kitchen this should ideally be non –slip and hygienic. Non-slip is a logical choice when considering the frenetic activity which takes place in a busy kitchen. However, the flooring should also lend itself to being easily cleaned in order to limit potentially harmful bacteria - a level of cleanliness that also applies to walls and ceilings.
Working conditions should meet or ideally exceed minimum conditions. The kitchen should be well ventilated, suitably lit and adhere to a reasonable working temperature. Employees should be provided with changing and storage facilities, toilets and hand basins, drinking water and a place to rest. A focus on detail will reap rewards by eliminating factors that can undermine the morale and positive attitude of an efficient and happy workforce.
In terms of layout, the ovens should not be located in the vicinity of fridges and freezers for temperature control purposes. The ovens should be located in an area of low traffic since it would be dangerous to locate them close to where waiters or other staff frequently passing by. Equipment used in the kitchen should be regularly maintained to meet safety requirements and prevent any potential accidents.