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Commercial Kitchen Design Principles

A well designed commercial kitchen provides smooth work flow to maximise covers together with hygienic and comfortable working conditions for chefs. The following are some tips on commercial kitchen designs

The Team

The team responsible for designing a commercial kitchen include the chef, plumbers, electricians, the builders themselves and a professional who has experience in designing commercial kitchens. The most important person in the initial design process is the executive chef, who understands the kitchen requirements based on menu and intended covers. From this point designers create the first draughts


This means the chefs should be able to prepare meals with as little hindrance about as possible. This also applies to the additional kitchen staff and service staff that need to enter the kitchen. An ergonomic kitchen saves money in both the long and short term and reduces the risk of accidents.

The Right Size

The size of the kitchen should be proportional to the size of the dining area or the number of seats in the dining area. The rule of thumb is that the kitchen should have 0.46 square meters of space for every seat in the front of the house.

Proper Ventilation

The kitchen staff simply can’t work in an area that is full of smoke and steam, so it’s crucial that the kitchen be properly ventilated. The two main types of kitchen ventilation system are kitchen canopies and ceiling ventilation, often used together to ensure maximum airflow across multiple cooking stations. The venting itself is usually low pressure ductwork, and the recommended material for maintaining hygiene is stainless steel.

Proper Kitchen Equipment

Chefs are often exacting when it comes to the type of kitchen equipment they need to run their kitchen properly. Where possible kitchen equipment should meet both the chef’s expectations and the latest health and safety

Typical kitchen equipment would include:

  • Equipment for overall cooking and speciality equipment for frying and baking
  • Freezers, refrigerators and ice machines
  • Dish-washing equipment
  • Storage for dishes and kitchen tools
  • Food prep areas

Different Kitchen Design Layouts

There are four typical kitchen layouts:

The Assembly Line

In this configuration, the preparation of meals flows down a straight line. This is the configuration of choice for small restaurants that serve fast foods or do not have large or complicated menus.

Assembly Line Kitchen Design Layout

The Ergonomically Efficient Kitchen

In this kitchen, the layout is in the service of the shortest preparation and cooking times. This kitchen can be energy inefficient. For example, equipment used to chill food might be found close to equipment used to cook or fry food.

The Island Style Kitchen

A single long island dominates the space in this kitchen and is used for cooking. Prepping is usually done on tables against the walls.

The Zoned Kitchen

This kitchen has preparation areas and work tables that are dedicated to operations such as cutting, mixing or cleaning the food. Equipment in these zones is tailored to what needs to be done.

Zoned Kitchen Design Layout

Other Design Tips

No matter how the kitchen is ultimately configured, it will need to be flexible. Trends in foods come and go and some persist, and the restaurant has to be prepared to meet them. This may mean new equipment or even new cooking techniques. Movable prep tables or storage units come in handy here.

Besides new trends in cuisine, a restaurant can be counted on to have a change of staff fairly regularly. The next chef may do things very differently than the chef who came before them, and the restaurant has to be flexible enough to accommodate the new regime.

Electrical equipment should be energy efficient. The restaurateur may need to pay a bit more for equipment that consumes less energy, but it will be worth it in the long run. The equipment must also be able to be repaired in a timely manner. This means there should be a professional service that specializes in repair and maintenance of the equipment or a place where replacement parts can be delivered to the restaurant quickly.

Hot areas and cold areas should, ideally, be kept away from each other. This not only saves energy but makes sure that food that needs to be maintained at a certain temperature stays at that temperature. Refuse and washing areas should be kept away from the food. Meals that are ready to be served should go out one exit and empty plates should come in through one entrance. The ware-washing machines, drying racks and sinks should be close to this entrance so the dirty plates can be simply dropped off.

Clutter should be resisted. A commercial kitchen inevitably has a lot of tools but this does not equal clutter and chaos. Similar instruments and tools should be stored together, and everyone in the kitchen should know where they are kept.

Storage areas can be separated into places for cleaned dishes and utensils, The kitchen must be kept clean, and so should be easy to clean. Having wall-mounted storage such as wire racks and movable equipment makes it easy to mop the floors. The floors themselves should be easy to clean. With this in mind, the restauranteur should consider floors made out of non-porous ceramic tile. Tables should be made out of stainless steel, which is also easy to maintain.

Hand-washing facilities should be easily accessible, especially near the prep tables. These stations should themselves be cleaned consistently.



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