Designing your commercial kitchen should incorporate both food flow and selecting the correct equipment for the job.
Part 2 - Choosing the Correct Equipment
Just as with any space where efficiency, speed, and accuracy are required, a cooking line must be properly set up to allow for the chefs to perform. There is more to a well-designed cooking line than simply placing equipment under the exhaust hood.
Following are some of the issues to consider when developing the cooking equipment layout.
1. The Menu
This may sound basic, but first consider whether you have the right equipment. The configuration won't matter unless you have selected the equipment required to support the menu and cooking style.
The menu determines the ingredients that are required for each meal, and the method in which they are prepared. The menu mix determines the quantity of each product to be prepared.
Both factors must be considered in order to determine the most effective line layout.
2. Work Flow
A common mistake made in the layout of a cooking line is neglecting to properly create specific stations that efficiently and conveniently support the production tasks required. Congestion and bottlenecks in production areas always create problems when work flow is not considered.
3. Code Issues
Some council code issues take precedence over your desired setup configuration.
A deep fryer, for example, must be separated from an open flame such as a six burner gas range by using a 300 mm infill stainless steel bench or a vertical shield or baffle. This is to prevent the flame from coming in contact with the oil, a flammable substance. It can also prevent water from large stockpots from coming into contact with the hot oil.
4. Employee Safety
The cooking layout should consider the safety of all employees. Placing a piece of unprotected equipment, such as a fryer or char grill, at the end of a cooking line, near a walk way, poses an unnecessary risk for injury. Typically, an enclosed or non-cooking piece of equipment should be located at the end of the line to eliminate potential injuries.
Employee safety can also be maintained through equipment specifications and options. The provision of a fryer filter (whether built-in or mobile) will ensure that employees are handling the oil, a potentially hazardous job, in a safe manner. Equipment should also be installed at usable working heights. In Australia, the standard work height is 900mm.
There are numerous factors to consider when determining the most efficient equipment layout for a particular operation. Consideration of the issues listed above will ensure that your cooking layout will help, not hinder, the efforts of your culinary team.
Take a moment to review your facility and operation.
When a facility is designed based on the flow of food, the quality of service, risk of cross contamination, and employee morale all improve. If your facility utilizes this approach to design, you can attest to the results. If not, consider how you can improve the current configuration or operational procedures to better follow the flow of food?