A brief guide to commercial kitchen design with considerations on spaces and functions arrangement, minimum standards, volume, installation systems and equipment requirements, food safety and workplace hygiene together with dwg examples
A commercial kitchen design (or more generally professional kitchen) is typically the result of an intense teamwork, where the people involved will need, first of all, to arrange spaces and functions in an efficient manner.
On the one hand, the chef will indicate the needs required within the premises, the flows, the area of activities and its arrangement. On the other hand, the designer will arrange the spaces, in compliance with safety and environmental regulations, waste disposal, minimum dimension requirements.
In any case, it is of primary importance to define the type of catering activity and the target customers.
This week’s insight will focus on how to design a commercial kitchen starting with consideration on reference standards and dimensions, flows and areas of activity planning.
Reference standards for a typical commercial kitchen design
Reference Standards to consider when drafting a commercial kitchen project are mainly relating to hygiene and food preservation to ensure food safety for customers. Consequently, these regulations also affect the architectural design and spaces arrangement within a kitchen for restaurants. Designers should refer to national and local regulations dealing with this matter.
Regarding HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), the reference standards are:
Reference standards in Europe for restaurants/on the hygiene of foodstuffs
- Regulation EC n. 852 of 29 Aprile 2004 (you can download the regulation in all European languages)
Reference standards in the United States for the restaurant industry
- Food Guidance & Regulation della FDA ( Food and Drug Administration)
- HACCP guidelines and regulations
- Download the FDA’s “Food establishment plan review guideline”
Reference standards in the United Kingdom for the restaurant industry
- The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (as amended) (and equivalent regulations in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland)
- The Building Act 1984
- Food Safety Act 2004
- Download a useful summary guide for commercial kitchen design created by Aluline
Rules for designing a restaurant kitchen
The kitchen is the area intended for meals preparation and, for this reason, it should have certain characteristics to allow the staff to work with efficiency and safety, thus ensuring that the correct flow is achieved, and to safely prepare, store and display food.
First of all, appropriate dimensions and a correct areas arrangement will entail hygienic safety of food processes, from the arrival of raw materials to supplying ready meals, saving resources and time.
The correct workflow should be:
- access to raw materials -> pre-cooking preparation -> cooking -> possible food garnish -> service
Areas intended for washing and preliminary processing of meat and vegetables must always be identified. These sectors, depending on the size of the kitchen complexity, may consist of independent rooms, rooms separated from the rest of the kitchen using washable panels or, areas that are functionally well defined.
You should always prefer a square shape or structured so as not to have narrow areas or bottlenecks that would result difficult to sanitize.
1. Commercial kitchen project dimensions
The minimum size of a kitchen with accommodation up to 50 seats must be, at least, 20 square meters including the washing area. For greater receptivity, 0.5 square meters per seat are calculated.
Furnishings must be positioned to allow cleaning and sanitation of the premises.
2. Lighting and ventilation
Lighting and ventilation should be appropriate and directly communicating with the outside.
Moreover, all openings must have anti-insect and rodent nets.
The kitchen must also have cooker hoods that should vent fumes outside.
The hoods can be of two types:
- wall mounted or with flue outlet air extractors
- with activated carbon filters and wall outlet
The choice is free, what is crucial is that all cooking tops, fryers and rotisserie ovens have a hood.
3. Flooring and walls
The floor must be of smooth, washable and impermeable material, with rounded corners and light color edges that are inclined towards a siphoned gutter with a fine mesh grid.
Walls must be smooth, washable, disinfectable and in light colour with rounded corners. Also, they should be tiled or enamelled with epoxy resins up to 2 m from the ground.
The kitchen can be connected to other rooms such as pantry, washing area, cold storage area etc., having half of their surfaces taken into account and added to the calculation of the parameter 0.5 sqm / area.
4. Pantry and storeroom
The pantry must be located in an independent room or in the basement, as long as it is healthy and with sufficient height.
It must consist in a room that is not accessible to the public, intended solely for food storage in special cold stores and where no food handling is possible. Floor and walls must be smooth and washable.
The deposit must be equipped with suitable and sufficient shelving made of washable material, destined to contain non-perishable foodstuffs.
4 types of equipment can be used in the kitchen for food storage:
- a cell or refrigerator for cooked products, ready meals and semi-finished products
- a cell or refrigerator for meat
- a cell or refrigerator for vegetables
- a cell or refrigerator for other foods such as processed meats, milk and dairy products.
It is sufficient to have a single freezer for frozen food, however, 2 are preferable.
5. Dishwashing area
No food processing is allowed in the room or area intended for washing pots and pans. The minimum area surface must be 5 square meters and, in special cases, it can be included in the same kitchen space.
6. Plants and equipment that need to be installed when designing a kitchen for restaurants
Plants and equipment must be tailored according to the needs and types of food prepared and facilitate cleaning and disinfection (for example, it is preferable to have the cooking island installed in the middle of the room and raised from the ground).
The work surfaces, the storage shelves and all the elements in a commercial kitchen should be made of materials which are smooth, continuous, suitable for contact with food, easily washable and disinfectable.
Tables for food preparation must be made of stainless steel and are standard kitchen appliances, since the food being prepared, especially meat, must be processed on such materials. Stainless steel preparation tables can be free or connected to other equipment, depending on the kitchen configuration.
Professional cooktops in a catering business are standard equipment that should be ideally be arranged at the center of the kitchen.
Generally, the central module is made up of multiple burners, where grids can alternate with plates. Each burner can be controlled by means of its own knob. More ovens should be built in the stove to work efficiently, while a kitchen hood appliance should necessarily be installed on top of the stove.
Sinks must be in stainless steel or ceramic with non-manual taps (pedal or photocell). Meat and vegetable sectors must have their own sink and their own work surface and must be equipped with specific tools that can be used only after careful washing.
The professional dishwasher is paramount as it allows to prevent the spread of diseases and bacteria caused by food.
Fridges are mandatory for any restaurant because many food products must be kept at a minimum temperature, as required by the food safety parameters.
Freezers are essential for food storage, as food cannot always be used immediately.
The blast chiller is the tool that allows you to quickly lower the temperature of freshly cooked food or raw food, allowing an ideal storage in freezer or refrigerator. Although not mandatory, it is recommended.
It’s essential to pre-plan how traffic flows in a kitchen for restaurant: from delivery to cooking to serving to washing, there is a process you must plan for. Mapping out your kitchen with these steps in mind minimises basic errors. Where possible, it is necessary to provide a double access way to separate the routes for clean dishes (out towards the dining room) and dirty dishes (entering towards the washing area).
Finally, waste containers should always be provided. They should be easily accessible, equipped with a foot opening and not involving direct hand contact with the lid for the staff. Waste management is key to hygienic operations.
Floor plans and sections in DWG format and project 3D model in EDF format of a commercial kitchen
Here are project drawings and 3D model of a commercial kitchen ready for download.