Let’s talk about order. It is best to work in a neat and efficient place, and this is especially true in the kitchen, which is the engine of any activity. Although theoretically all insiders know that a kitchen must be designed to facilitate the work of chefs and staff, it is not always true in practice. Often many things are taken for granted; sometimes even mislocation of a work space by a few meters can be detrimental.
First, in the design phase, it is important to design the spaces and place the different tools so that they are functional, ergonomic and customized, and especially to ensure that worker’s movements are fluid. Depending on the size of the space, you must arrange the operational areas. The professional kitchen is constantly evolving and the organization of work spaces has also undergone a significant transformation and continues to be updated. The introduction of electronics and digitizing with high-technology equipment has helped with smaller sizes that can be used even in places with limited space. This has meant an expansion of supply and greater sophistication because, having a well-equipped kitchen makes more complex preparations possible.
Practicality then is the key word. The furnishings must not be beautiful and expensive, but functional and efficient.
What are the main operating areas in a kitchen?
The first is the storage and warehouse area, where the raw materials are received and long-storage and non-food products are kept. Then there are the cold rooms where easily perishable foods are stored and pantries at room temperature with other foods that should be reachable by all the workers in the kitchen. Close to the pantry are the worktops with sinks and multifunction machines, whose quantity and size depends on how many people will have to work there. Increasingly common are the planetaria and roners for cooking at low temperatures, and the pacojet, which need shelves and electrical outlets. The cooking area with burners, sized according to the number of seats in the restaurant, is usually at the center of the kitchen. A growing trend among chefs is using the combined oven suitable for express preparations and precooking foods that are then subjected to reduction and cold cycle for later use. The Combi ovens require adequate work surfaces for preparing trays or simply supporting them after cooking. Then there is the pass-through with a heated table that should be installed near the exit leading to the dining room to facilitate the waiters’ movements. Finally, there is the washing area for dishes, glasses, pots and other items used during the service; this will communicate with the pass-through but be well away from the preparation area. The washing area consists of sinks and tables at the same height of the machines, which are as diverse as needed and also of large size: dishwashers, glasswashers, silverware washers, hood dishwashers, front loading and conveyor belt washers, etc. Placement of all of these elements must therefore be sufficient to follow the preparation flows of various dishes and so keep the clean/dirty flow separate. One aspect to consider is separation of certain types of preparation. We refer in particular to gluten-free, vegan and kosher foods. If the restaurant offers this type of food alongside the more traditional one, kitchen work areas must be designed to avoid contamination of the preparations. For this type of organization, it is often necessary to consult sector professionals who are able to ensure a clear separation of spaces so that clean/dirty paths don’t cross each other in any way.
The kitchen layout should therefore be definitely studied by an architect but is also crucial to involve the chef who knows well the work in the kitchen, the movements and every aspect that will optimize times and results. The architect instead will help to understand the best and most intelligent way to arrange spaces and zones and where to place the furniture and the different work points, considering vents, windows and structural characteristics of the environment. In a kitchen, the ancillary spaces must also be taken into account; that is, the bathroom and locker room for the staff, the place where the kitchen cleaning products are stored, and an area for waste.