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FIRST thing’s FIRST

In Concept & Design, Consultant, Vol. 17

cd_article2_1There are various factors to be taken into account when a client wishes to go with an open kitchen format. Most important is the ergonomics of the design, whereby the flow of food is diligently taken into account. A step by step review of planned operations has to be done; from back-end receiving of goods, storage, mise en place, cooking, service and all the way down to the dishwashing and sanitation processes. A blueprint will then be drawn out whereby areas wished to be highlighted to guests are in direct view and the unsavoury par ts on the other hand are somehow placed out of sight. The design will also incorporate elements to ensure factors that may slow down operations are minimalised. Examples would be the placement of reach-in chillers, shelves, equipment, right down to which direction a door opens to ensure fast paced service is attained.

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VENTILATION
Smelling food from the kitchen plays a big role in customer’s appetite, but what can business owners avoid or improve on? What are the fundamental basics? What kind of air modulation system does one’s kitchen need? While aroma is a huge sensor y factor that entices guests in your premises, there are other elements to take into account before you let-it-all-out of your kitchen. Cooking techniques have to be analysed. Some techniques such as open fire grilling may produce a huge amount of grease and smoke that will have a negative impact towards your business if not attended to correctly. Proper installation of ventilation systems is a crucial part in ensuring this aspect is taken care of.

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A ventilation system consists of four basic elements, predominantly the hood, the exhaust fans, the make-up air system and the fire suppression system. A norm with open kitchens would be the usage of an island hood with exhaust fans treated with a silencer (very much similar to noise reduction systems used in cars) to ensure reduced noise levels. The role of the exhaust fan is to ensure suction is sufficient from the hoods where all plume is effectively sucked away. A good balance of makeup air (feedback system) is necessary to ensure there is no negative pressure in the room as to prevent suction from the exhaust hood creating a sort of windy atmosphere. Also, a fire suppression system in case of an unfortunate incident is necessary as cooking naturally deals with volatile gasses and material.

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THE AESTHETICS
After taking the ergonomics of the kitchen into consideration, aesthetics is the next most important element. Lighting is a key element as it needs to take into consideration the ambiance wished to be created as well the operational requirements. Bright white lighting with diffusers or downlights above workspace should be used to light up the kitchen area whilst central pendants, LED strips and warm lighting can be used throughout the dining area to give the warmth required. Remember to ensure all your lights are separately switched and dimmable to allow different brightness levels for different areas.

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Other elements such as decor and design will depend upon the concept being visualized. The key is to be consistent with your concept throughout the restaurant. Some quirky additions that stand out may potentially make your restaurant the talk of the town! Remember that aesthetics also includes the kitchen staff from the uniforms they don to the flair they show during food preparation. It is a theatrical show where guests will enjoy a little showmanship.

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THE PEOPLE
The ultimate drawback of having an open kitchen is that your guests can literally see it ALL! Thus strict adherence to hygiene and food safety standards is highly necessary. Staffs have to be well trained and monitored to ensure that gloves are used where needed, hands are washed frequently, no eating or drinking is done is view of guests, touching of hair and bodily par ts is refrained from and food products are handled with utmost care. Remember that guests greatly care about what goes into their bodies and are highly concerned with how their food is handled. The slightest error in food handling may put them off entirely and may even lead them to leave without having their meals.

cd_article2_11With twenty years in the industry, RestoVentures have seen small businesses work their way up to becoming stronghold brands in the industry; this of course comes with a bountiful of mistakes. This is where RestoVentures comes knocking – saving you time, energy and cost. From setting up standards of service, menu engineering, cost control, food safety and sanitation, food quality management and standardisation, ser vice attributes and etiquette, human resource, personnel training, strategic sourcing and procurement and product-mix analysis amongst the long list of services of provided.

Eileen ChanFIRST thing’s FIRST