When it comes to commercial kitchens, it’s not about size, but what you do with it
Deciding upon fitting out a new commercial kitchen is never easy. There are a range of mitigating factors to take into consideration such as space, budget, location, type of food on offer and speed of service. It is quite common for most outfits to get the order wrong, according to kitchen designer Chris Love.
“The first question people should ask when it comes to designing or fitting a commercial kitchen is what kind of food they will be serving,” Love says.
“There is so important for the design of the kitchen. Whether it is a café, fine dining restaurant and/or a short-order restaurant for example they all have different kitchen needs in terms of space and flow through the kitchen.
“They you have to take into consideration aspects such as budgets, seating capacity, how many staff will be working there amongst a range of other factors.”
Love has been designing kitchens for years and always models his kitchens in 3D to give the prospective buyer a better view and feel for how the kitchen will look.
“Each project is very different,” Love says. “Each is very personal. There are a couple of hundred points taken into consideration with each design.
“There has to be a good and logical flow to the kitchen and a lot of that will depend upon the type of food you are serving. Fine dining requires a lot more preparation and time, as well as staff, in comparison to mum and dad running a small café. The key elements are the preparation area, the cooking space, the serving area, and wash and waste space. I don’t think there is any type of industry standard when it comes to commercial kitchens.”
Love has designed kitchens for a variety of organisations and institutions including upmarket restaurants, fish and chip shops, sports stadiums, school tuckshops and bars.
He believes that each job has its own anomalies and you have to take into consideration each will have its own restrictions. “I have fed 300 people out of a domestic kitchen,” he says. “The reality is every place has their restrictions. It is not necessarily the case of the bigger the space the better the kitchen. It is all about workflow. I have been in the back of cafes where I have seen commercial kitchens smaller than my bathroom yet they function perfectly well.
“A small, compact and efficient kitchen that is well laid out will be better than a big kitchen. You can do a lot with an oven and nothing else but of course that is not the ideal scenario.
“When I undertake a job to design a kitchen I never have a specific space in mind when I go to see what is on offer. I think you think of what kind of food will they be serving first to what kind of clientele and then you start to think about designs from there depending upon the space on offer.
“A small, compact and efficient kitchen that is well laid out will be better than a big kitchen. You can do a lot with an oven and nothing else but that is not the ideal scenario.”Chris Love, designer
“I also emphasise to people to be flexible with their layout. They might find that they need to expand the kitchen so if you can allow for that in your design it will benefit you in the long run.”
Goodman Fielder is Australasia’s leading listed food company. Names such as Meadow Lea, Praise, White Wing and Pampas are very common around the country.
Goodman Fielder is also the largest supplier of edible fats and oils to Australian and New Zealand food manufacturers and wholesalers and the largest supplier of flour to New Zealand commercial customers.
So, when it came to fitting a new commercial kitchen in North Ryde, New South Wales, it took a lot of consultation before the task was complete.
“The first issue we had was with the landlord,” Annette Mansfield, Goodman Fielder group property manager, says. “It was important to call it as a culinary centre. There are also so many factors to take into consideration like how the exhaust system goes up seven floors and how you can’t have curtains or blinds in the kitchen because of the potential for bugs and there can be no gaps between the floor and the walls and any windows to again ensure there will be no insects or animals of any sort.
“It was a challenge to keep the sun out but we counteracted that with whiteboards with a little bit of film in the glass. Our old kitchen had no natural light but this one does which is a big advantage.”
It took almost a year to fit out the kitchen with equipment being sourced from all over the world. Goodman Fielder tendered the project out and Jones Lang LaSalle were the winners for the design and construction.
“We had to consult each business unit involved in making products as we have more than 50 brands and ascertain the best work flow,” Mansfield says.
“We had the kitchen built and then the ovens placed followed by the cool room and freezers.
“The research and development team spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it is important that the space and flow accommodated their needs.”
Moffat corporate executive chef Scott Graham is well established in the food industry. After working in a variety of kitchens around Australia, Graham took up the opportunity to work with the Moffat Group who design, develop, manufacture and market a comprehensive range of commercial food and bakery equipment.
“It was something that came about by chance and nine years later I am still here,” Graham says.
Graham, who is an experienced chef, says most companies think backwards when it comes to designing a commercial kitchen.
“The first thing you need to consider when designing and constructing a commercial kitchen is what you want to achieve,” Graham says.
“Most people just talk about space but you need to understand what kind of customers you want and how quickly they want to be served.
“You also need equipment that is versatile. Certain equipment can have multiple functions and most people don’t want to look at new products, they just want to use what they have before.”
Graham says that while it is common for chefs to complain that kitchens are too small, when a kitchen is too big it can cause more problems.
“I have worked in a fifteen square metre kitchen serving a hundred meals at dinner time,” Graham says.
“That just goes to show there is no ‘one space fits all’. It depends upon your menu and how many people you want to seat.
“The basic key is to be smart with your space. If you don’t have much, use it wisely.”