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East Africa Chef Magazine Edition 1

What are the Kitchen Design Principles?

You’ve decided what the purpose of your kitchen is, so where do you start? The first step is to familiarize yourself with these commercial kitchen design ideas. Regardless of what type of food-service establishment you have, there are several objectives for designing a kitchen properly. Your kitchen needs to maximize:

  • Flexibility and Modularity
  • Simplicity
  • The flow of Materials and Personnel
  • Ease of Sanitation
  • Ease of Supervision
  • Space Efficiency

Flexibility and Modularity

A commercial kitchen is a dynamic place, so its layout should be able to accommodate the change. Maybe you redesigned the menu and added new dishes, or hired a new executive chef that operates differently than the last. Whatever the case, the ability to mould and shape your kitchen is essential. This might take the shape of multi-use workstations or movable equipment. Remember that an adaptable kitchen is a successful kitchen.


Kitchens are prone to clutter and clutter leads to confusion and poor sanitation that negatively affect a foodservice operation. To maximize space and effectiveness, consider designing a kitchen with simplicity in mind. Locating server stations near the kitchen, for example, limits trips through the dining room, while modular or drop-in equipment eliminates some corners and edges and unnecessary shelving. Further, selecting the proper equipment with only the necessary accessories will save you space and money.

The Flow of Materials and Personnel

A kitchen is a busy place, but it doesn’t have to be a chaotic place. A kitchen designed around the flow of materials and personnel will have a logical layout in which no employees or materials backtrack through space. In other words, the kitchen will operate in some type of circular pattern. The refrigerated and dry storage areas should be near the receiving area, for example, but the waste disposal and ware washing areas should be separate from the food preparation and meal cooking areas. Completed meals will exit the kitchen on one side and soiled dishes will enter the kitchen on the other. Adhering to this principle not only keeps the kitchen clean and food safe but eliminates confusion and ensures a well-organized and orderly system.

Ease of Sanitation

Next to cooking, you spend the most time cleaning the kitchen. You might even spend more time cleaning the kitchen. If that is the case, a commercial kitchen optimized for easy sanitation is a must. A great way to start is by reducing the number of legs on your equipment either by wall-mounting pieces or attaching casters to make equipment movable. Another option is to use finishes that are easy to clean like tile floors, wire shelving units, and stainless steel tables. Most important, however, are food safety and sanitation codes that every food service establishment must uphold. There must be hand-washing stations in every area where food is prepared, for example, but they must be cleaned regularly and not used for storage. The same can be said for waste disposal areas. Be sure to study the codes in your location to make sure your kitchen complies.

Space Efficiency

Operating a kitchen is rough on the wallet. Real estate costs a pretty penny, maintenance is expensive, and cooking equipment isn’t cheap, not to mention there are staff paychecks to handle. Taken together, those factors put a high premium on square footage. Therefore, consider carefully the exact needs of your kitchen and try to limit bulky equipment. Some pieces, like a range, are necessary, but if you’re not baking dough every day, maybe pass on the 40 qt. floor mixer. Be warned, though, it is easy to take space efficiency too far to the extreme. A kitchen that is too small, or lacking necessary equipment due to space concerns will severely hinder production.

Ease of Supervision

The executive chef has a lot to handle when it comes to managing the kitchen. He or she finishes dishes, designs menus, orders supplies, monitors food quality, and ensures that equipment is working properly, in addition to a thousand other duties. Then he or she has to worry about supervising the kitchen staff! To make things easier on your chef, consider designing your kitchen for easy supervision. An open kitchen with few or no walls or partitions allows for increased vision, easier movement, and better communication. This way, your executive chef can spend less time babysitting and focus on other responsibilities to make your establishment operate more efficiently. Ease of supervision is especially important for correctional facilities to ensure safety.

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