Commercial kitchens are characterized by their large setup filling a much larger space in order to cater for the high volume that is expected within the kitchen. The setup is generally designed by the head chef as is the equipment used and style of the food that is cooked.
Depending on the cuisine will depend on the number and type of stations that the kitchen holds. Stations can vary between the sauté station, grill or baking for example. Each area needs enough space for the cooks to create their food and also contain all necessary equipment for preparation. Many commercial kitchens will also contain a space of teaching or student prep areas allowing budding cools to learn under older chef’s tutelage.
The equipment is what truly sets a commercial kitchen apart from a residential one. In this type of kitchen the equipment is designed for large-scale production and continuous use. Equipment is long lasting and contains more safety features not usually found in that of home use. Safety shields and finger guards are just some of the many aspects put in place here.
Layout here will also differ from a home-based kitchen. There needs to be a lot of space between stations and throughout the kitchen as a whole to allow the large number of cooks space and freedom to move. Their needs to be helpful and accessible drains, multiple outlets and sinks, cleaning areas and food storage areas in plentiful supply throughout the work area.
Other areas to note are the strict safety requirements needed by this type of kitchen. This can range from non-slop floors to fans and fire extinguishers. Health code requirements must also be fulfilled to avoid any food spoilage and these kitchens are usually spotless as a result.
At a complete base level, commercial kitchens have the same type of equipment as a kitchen in a house. A fridge, an oven etc., but there is a key difference and this lies in the size and ability of the equipment. To put it simply, commercial kitchens require commercial equipment and this is usually larger, able to cope with more use, more durable and often vastly more efficient. With that in mind, here are a few key pieces of equipment that all commercial kitchens should obtain.
Commercial ovens need to be large and quick. Often kitchens will use a combination oven as it combines a convection oven with a steamer and can cook vegetables, for example, in a fraction of the time boiling will do it. Conveyor ovens can be useful too particularly for pizzas, as the food is passed through the oven on a continuous chain. Bear in mind here that the type of oven purchased will also depend on the menu and cuisine of the particular kitchen.
Broilers can be ideal for soups or sandwiches as they cook with short bursts of heat. Grills may be necessary depending on the restaurant, as will a fryer. Again though, this will heavily depend on the type of cuisine.
It is important not to forget that each individual station will also require specific tools of the trade as well. The vegetable station will require specific knives, peelers, chopping boards etc. whilst the meat station will need completely different utensils. Saucepans, frying pans etc. must always be readily available, preferably in a non-stick variety and all equipment needs to be clean and well maintained.
Catering may sound like a straightforward job but you could not be more wrong. Like most jobs, catering requires years of training and a lot of hard work that, let’s be honest, never lessens. As with chefs, caterers face a large number of challenges and additionally they have areas such as accounting, customer relations and marketing to add to their problems as well as trying to concentrate on how good their food is.
Firstly, to be a good caterer you need good food. It doesn’t matter how well decorated the venue or if the service is done with a smile, if the food is bad then the customers will not return. In addition to making good food, a caterer needs to be able to adjust a menu to suit dietary requirements, alter how much food they make depending on the number of people and also be able to prepare, reheat if necessary and transport this quantity of food. All this needs to be done with food safety in mind following all laws for the country.
Customer service is also very important. It is imperative to have a good working relationship with all your clients. The food can be excellent but if the service is bad with servers being unpleasant or discourteous, then you will still lose business. Good communication and people skills are essential and will go a long way in garnering new customers.
Being flexible, motivated and creative are all necessary qualities in a caterer. As mentioned before, sometimes foods need to be adjusted for allergies or religious reasons as well as dietary ones. Being enthusiastic will rub off on workers making the whole team proactive and motivated which will help the work ethic of the team. Catering teams do work long hours so it is important that you can lead the team in this fashion to ensure continued good work and high quality.
Maintaining all these areas will definitely see an improvement in your business as word of mouth will help to spread your work. Don’t forget to have financial plans in place though and a good marketing strategy to continue being able to promote yourself. Attention to all details is essential.