When designing a commercial kitchen, it’s important to have an attractive environment, but it’s far more important that the space is safe for employees and guests. Don’t choose a gorgeous kitchen design at the expense of safety and efficiency.
Foodservice professionals work long, busy days in the kitchen. It’s a fast-paced, hectic environment, so think through flow of the space — as well as the materials, equipment, et cetera — during the design process.
Consider the following things:
- Materials: Choose materials that are smooth, durable, and easy to clean. Stainless steel is an ideal choice for equipment, backsplashes, and food contact surfaces.
- Work flow: The kitchen should be designed to follow the flow of food. Receive and store food in the back, prepare and serve towards the front. To limit cross-contamination, prepared food should not go through areas with raw product, and employees should not bring dirty, used dishes through the food prep areas.
- Equipment: Coolers should be large enough to provide adequate storage space without limiting air flow. Equipment like slicers and mixers must be easy to take apart so all parts can be properly cleaned. Purchase colour coded equipment and utensils – purple is the widely used colour to designate allergy-friendly equipment.
- Sinks: Install handwashing stations at proper locations to increase the likelihood of food handlers washing their hands when required. Handwashing stations should be close to the preparation areas but may need to have a splash guard installed if there is risk of contaminating food prep tables.
- Space: In smaller areas, the risk of cross-contamination increases. To decrease this risk, design preparation and storage areas to have enough space for food prep. Install a separate area to prepare meals for food-allergic guests.
- Lighting: A well-lit kitchen is imperative for food safety, so that labels can be read, physical hazards can be seen and poor colouring or quality of the food can be spotted.
- Personal storage: Build an employee area with lockers to store personal belongings (e.g., purses, backpacks) so these items are not stored with food or on food contact surfaces.
- Trash cans: Ensure there’s space for multiple trash cans. They are needed at three-compartment sinks, handwashing stations, and in prep areas, at the very least.
Having an attractive kitchen is nice, but having a safe kitchen is imperative. To serve safe food, adopt and implement a food safety culture. This starts from the ground up with kitchen design.