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Four important considerations when planning your commercial kitchen By Hanno Elbraechter, Head Business Unit Technology

Commercial kitchen

Food operators are always striving to impress their customers with a clean premise, good quality service and of course great tasting food. It all starts with the perfect kitchen. 

Asians truly love their food. When I first started working in this region, I quickly learned that in many communities, the first question they ask when they bump into each other is whether they have eaten. This passion for food is a big reason why Asia Pacific is listed by Grand View Research as among the leading contributors to the fast-growing global kitchen appliances market, which is estimated to reach USD 246.3 billion by 2022.

Due to rising income levels and an expanding middle class, the region is experiencing impressive growth in the hospitality industry market. Everywhere I travel to in Asia, I see new hotels, restaurants, cafes, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, shopping malls and supermarkets coming up each day.

Many of these facilities feature commercial kitchens that are modern, glitzy and highly automated. Yes, they are no longer grimy, cluttered, cramped and shamefully hidden at the back of the restaurant as they were before. As consumers become more conscious of the quality of the food they consume, F&B facilities must also be ready to meet their customers' need, starting with the kitchen.

The following are four key considerations I believe should be on top of the list for those planning to set up or upgrade their commercial kitchen.

 

As commercial kitchens are very busy areas, the key to a well-organized kitchen operation is its workflow. The first thing is to consider if your kitchen is primarily to serve mostly an a la carte menu or rather a self-service restaurant, as both would have very different designs in terms of workspace.

From storage, food preparation and cooking to food service area and dishwashing, take the time to design your kitchen workflow as it should be arranged to facilitate a standardized workflow. This could further ensure consistency of processes starting from the back-of-house to the front.

Due attention must also be given to the location of water supplies, electricity and gas outlets and drainage throughout the different production areas including stores, cooking areas and service areas. It is best when coming to this portion of the design project to involve the outlet’s kitchen manager as placement of these facilities will affect the service procedures and cooking operations.

The kitchen is an intensive consumer of gas, water and electricity for any hospitality business. Ensuring the proper management of water consumption or chemical consumption and the sustainability of the materials used in the equipment are very important aspects to pay attention to.

Typically for a food-related business. food preparation, heating and refrigeration alone make up nearly 60% of total energy use. Compared to traditional appliances, today’s commercial kitchen appliances including refrigerators, freezers, heaters, air-condition and ventilation systems consume significantly less energy, water and produce less bad chemicals than their predecessors.

The use of an energy monitoring system can help to automatically control lighting, fans, pumps and other equipment to operate only when needed and reduce energy consumption. Energy savings can also be achieved through improvement in behavioral and usage factors as well as better equipment selection and maintenance and stringent cleaning practices.

If there is anything more important for restaurateurs than the taste of their food, it is in ensuring their food is safe and free of contaminants. As patrons become more astute to the hygiene and safety aspects of what they are consuming and with their social media-enabled camera phones always ready to shoot-and-tell, your business reputation is constantly at risk.

Modern equipment and commercial kitchen appliances are attuned to this requirement as they can deliver rapid accurate results and data needed to comply with any health and safety requirements from the authorities.

An example is the use of a humidity and temperature self-monitoring system installed in stoves, freezers and refrigerators. Through frequent monitoring, the system can automatically adjust itself to synchronize with the changing conditions to help keep your inventory fresh.

The emergence of technology in kitchen appliances is quickly transforming the way food is prepared. Chefs can spend less time and resources on tasks that can be undertaken at the mere press of a button. Smart appliances offer preset standard workflows. This makes it easier for staff to operate the equipment in accordance to the standards set and to guarantee consistency in the preparation of food and beverages.

An example is the latest range of commercial combi-ovens which allows you to grill, bake, roast, braise, steam, stew and poach using less floor space. These ovens, which are also connected to the internet and allow for “connected-cooking” via specific applications, can also recognize the size, load quantity and product condition as well as calculates the browning.

Then there is the automatic espresso machine that has dissected all the key movements and functions associated with making a cup of coffee and packed them into one intelligent electronic interface. Not every barista prepares coffee the same way or achieve the same consistency throughout the day. With a smart machine, the difficult processes can be automated and standardized, whereas the personal touch in making a perfect foam art can be done without extensive training.

Other good examples of automation are commercial dishwashers and food processors. As commercial dishwashers are capable of washing and drying a basket of plates in under two minutes, while a chopper can cut ten kilograms of vegetables in just one minute, the kitchen in turn can use its labor and time for much more productive tasks.

With many of these appliances connected to the internet, this allow for real-time data collection that can help improve the kitchen’s overall performance such as improve daily production, resolve any service issues and offer after-sales services support to the equipment’s supplier.

By taking the above four considerations into account, your business is well on its way towards delivering better service, cooking more hygienic food and achieving higher accuracy in orders, which will ultimately lead to having many more satisfied customers.

Do share with me other considerations and insights you may have on setting up a commercial kitchen.

Hanno Elbraechter

About the author

Hanno Elbraechter joined DKSH in September 2014 as Head Business Unit Technology across 18 countries. He has been transforming sales and service organizations over the last 15 years across Asia to set new standards when it comes to systematic market development, industry specific market penetration and after-sales services combined with state-of-the-art CRM systems. After living for 13 years in China, he recently moved to Singapore with his wife and three kids.