How to design your first commercial kitchen
Having a well-designed kitchen is essential for anyone in the food business, a well thought out design can save you time and money. The type of equipment you will need will depend on your menu, so it is important to have your menu items planned and where possible involve your executive chef in the design process.
Commercial Kitchen Design
When designing a kitchen layout, you want to consider the end-to-end process of food handling from when food gets delivered to how dishes are cleaned. To reduce cross contamination, the food flow should be in one direction from receipt to storage to preparation to service. You can break this process down into 5 zones.
Consider the goods and implements you will need to store. This covers everything from dry ingredients to fresh produce which requires strict temperature control. You will also need to store your crockery, cutlery and cooking implements so they are easily accessible to your employees.
The prep zone is where all your food preparation will occur, this includes everything from slicing vegetables to preparing poultry, meats, and seafood. It is important to segregate areas where raw products are handled from where your cooked food is dispatched.
This is where the magic happens, the thoughtful placement of cooking equipment is essential for a smooth operating kitchen.
Food Service Zone
As well as considering how food is prepared you need to ensure your waitstaff can access the pass without disrupting the flow of the kitchen staff.
The cleaning and washing stations are where your glasses, cutlery and crockery will be cleaned and dried ready for re-use.
You will need to consider theses 5 zones when planning your kitchen design. There should be enough space for your kitchen workers to move around and access frequently used areas such as the sink.
Use of space, delivery, and storage
Use of space
You will need to use your space wisely to ensure you have an efficient kitchen which is safe and cost effective. Your employees will need adequate space to move around to prevent cross-contamination and safety store ingredients.
How you use your space will depend on the following factors:
- How big is the space I have available?
- What type of food will be on my menu?
- How many people will be employed in the kitchen?
- How will the food be served i.e., table service, buffet, self-service?
- How many covers are you wanting to achieve?
The main restrictions faced when designing a commercial kitchen are budget and space. You will need to balance these two restrictions when coming up with your floor plan:
- The menu you choose will determine the equipment you need, and the food preparation processes required.
- The number of covers combined with the menu will determine how many staff you need.
- The staffing numbers dictate the space required for movement in the kitchen.
- The resulting size of the kitchen dictates the space left for the front of house area.
Remember, food establishments aren’t just a dining area and a kitchen. You must factor in space for staff changing rooms, management offices, as well as separate areas for toilets, chemical storage, waste storage and any other activities that may contaminate food or food prep areas.
It is important to consider how traffic will flow in and around your kitchen. You will need to look at the full cycle from when fresh produce is delivered to how you wash up and dispose of food scraps. You don’t want your waiters bringing dirty dishes through the cooking area and disrupting the kitchen staff, make sure there are clearly defined paths for each of the 5 zones and as little crossover as possible. Consider each of these processes to determine how they should flow through the kitchen:
· Delivery of goods
· Storage – cold, dry
· Food preparation
· Serving Food
· Returning dishes for cleaning
Delivery of goods
Consider how you will receive goods and how delivery vehicles will access the building. The type of produce you use will determine the frequency of delivery and storage requirements i.e. pantry, refrigeration, freezers. Ideally you want the delivery access to be separate to the areas where your kitchen workers and customers will be. You don’t want there to be trolleys or crates using the same corridors as customers, as this is a potential hazard.
There are many different types of storage you will need to consider the main types include:
· Refrigeration Storage
· Freezer Storage
· Dry storage
· Non-Food Storage
· Crockery Storage
· Hazardous Substances
The amount of space you have available will often dictate the type of storage you can incorporate such as whether you can accommodate a walk-in fridge or need to opt for upright fridges. It’s important to separate any cleaning chemicals from any food items or food equipment. Don’t forget to factor in other storage needs like staff lockers.
Where possible locate your food preparation area between
your storage and cooking area. Ideally you want to segregate your food prep for
each type of food:
· Raw meat and fish
· Prepared or ready cooked
If you don’t have the commercial kitchen space to separate
these processes, you will need to have a strict regime to ensure kitchen
equipment, utensils and surfaces are thoroughly sanitised between each stage of preparation.
You may want to consider using under the counter refrigeration for
prepared food to allow increased efficiency.
It is recommended that you have several sinks in your
commercial kitchen to reduce the risk of cross contamination. This may be
difficult in small commercial kitchens, however you should have sinks in your
preparation areas for meat fish and vegetable prep to avoid crossover of raw
products, a dedicated sink for washing up pots as well as hand wash basins and
It is important to position catering equipment in
streamlined manner, so staff take as few steps as possible with minimum need
for bending, turning, or reaching.
You should also consider energy saving factors such as
cooking equipment being far away from refrigeration to avoid heat transfer.
Ensure adequate placement of rangehoods making sure they are close enough and
powerful enough to extract all the moisture, cooking fumes and steam. You also
want to setup all your equipment in a way that it can be easily moved and
disconnected for deep cleaning and redesign.
There are 3 main layout options for commercial kitchen
· Island – has one main block in the middle, usually used for cooking with the
preparation, storage and service areas on the outer edge.
· Assembly line – used mainly when producing a large amount of the same type of food such
as sandwiches or burgers. The kitchen is setup in a line with prep, cooking and
serving done along the same bench space.
· Zone – this style divides the kitchen into sections for food preparation, cooking, storage,
serving and cleaning.
Understanding your menu will be key to determining best
design to suit your needs. You’re legally required to include adequate and effective
ventilation – and it’s also in your best interests to keep staff happy and your
equipment running smoothly.
Cleaning and waste
Having a kitchen that is easy to clean is essential for both food hygiene, your staff morale and adhering to food hygiene standards. Surfaces which are used for food must not absorb grease, food particles or water. Stainless steel is the optimum material here, as it is durable and can withstand chemicals for easy cleaning.
You want to make sure that you have high quality cleaning supplies which are used to sanitise all your kitchen and dining room surfaces. Consider colour coding your kitchen and cleaning equipment for each food type so you can reduce the risk of any contamination. You will also need to use a water system that can reach high temperatures for sanitising cooking utensils.
In the kitchen area you will need bins in the food preparation area and the washing up area, they should be easy to access and fitted with a secure lid. Waste storage containers must be kept separately away from food locations, with suitable ventilation and be free from pests.
Fire Safety & First Aid
Safety should always be front of mind when operating a commercial kitchen. You must take all possible steps to minimise the risk of a fire or injury and be prepared for any incidents that may occur. Having proper lighting in the kitchen, can help to reduce the risk of injury for your workers. You need to have sufficient natural light or artificial light to ensure your employees can clearly see the food and equipment they are handling and detect any signs of pests.
Installing a good ventilation system is essential, you must have system powerful enough to remove fumes, smoke, steam, and vapours. Your ventilation systems should be placed in a way that it can effectively capture fumes and aren’t obstructed by breezes of wind coming through a door or window.
You will also need to have appropriate fire detection and extinguishing equipment such as fire blankets and smoke alarm which are regularly inspected. Having an evacuation plan, safety signs and, a clearly labelled emergency exit route are all especially important.
In Australia you are required to provide access to a first aid kit for all your workers. There must be at least one kit which is properly equipped, in an accessible area and regularly restocked and maintained. Having a wall mounted first aid kit with clear signage is highly preferable in commercial kitchens. St Johns Ambulance Australia offers a range of services to help businesses comply with guidelines including first aid kits, training and restocking first aid kits.
Fit for purpose!
There is no one size fits all when designing your first commercial kitchen. Each business will have it’s own specific requirements and limitations such as budget, leasing agreements, capacity constraints and council approval. We hope this guide was helpful to get you on your way to designing a kitchen that’s right for your business.
Thank you and i hope this all helps on your journey into Hospitality
Reign In Design Pty Ltd