Flooring for Commercial Kitchens

In many food service design projects, the kitchen floor falls into the commodity category and, too often, gets installed in a rush. After all, you can’t install equipment until the floor’s put in, and there’s a schedule to keep. The irony is that if the floor’s installed poorly all that equipment might have to come out in order to fix it. That really gets expensive. It’s easy, too, to default to the same flooring materials every time, when new options might be god choices. Quarry tile, sometimes embedded or glazed with traction-enhancing grit, has been the proven, lower-cost flooring for commercial kitchens for years, with good reason.

Requirements of commercial kitchen floor in food processing plants

The Food Safety Modernization Act requires that the U.S. food processors be subject to stricter guidelines by increasing Federal inspections as it relates to sanitation in their facilities. One of the primary ways food processors can reduce potential risks associated with food borne illness and death is by focusing on their flooring material. Floors and drains consistently generate a high percentage of positive test results for bacteria and lead to cross-contamination throughout the facility.  The following criteria are used for choosing a flooring material for a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or any other food processing factory –

  1. Substrate protection – A floor covering product should protect the integrity of the building’s concrete floor thus avoiding catastrophic expense and downtime required to replace it. Not only does untreated concrete substrate harbor mold bacteria, but it can also be a continuous source of repair and maintenance for facilities.

  1. Hygienic ambience – A seamless, non-porous floor promotes hygienic conditions. Bacteria can easily penetrate and grow in concrete and grout in quarry tiles because both concrete and grout are porous. A floor coating that allows proper sloping, makes drains seamless and provides coving/curbs is ideal for food processing plants.

  1. Highly durable – The floor covering material should be highly durable and provide high ROI. While assessing the ROI, projected maintenance costs and downtime costs should be considered along with the initial cost of installing a high performance flooring material.

  1. Chemical resistance and Thermal-Shock resistance – A commercial kitchen floor is subjected to various organic and inorganic acids. It is also subjected to cold and hot water in quick succession causing a thermal shock on the surface. The high performance flooring material should exhibit excellent chemical and thermal-shock resistance.

  1. Return to Service – The high performance flooring system should not only be easy to install but also completely cure in a short period. A short cure time is particularly critical in existing facilities that have to shut down to install a new floor or repair and existing one.

Polyurethane modified concrete (or Urethane modified concrete) is fast becoming a popular choice for many commercial kitchens or food processing plants because it is highly durable, offers quick return to service, and exhibits excellent chemical and thermal-shock resistance. You can specify the type and level of slip-resistant particles, and the color, if the appearance is an issue. Also, you can adjust the thickness of the coating, and the height of integral coving up the wall. These floors also can be installed in cold environments such as in walk-in coolers and freezers.

Organizing Your Kitchen

If you watch any cooking show you will see that a key factor in producing a successful and timely dish is a very well organized kitchen where everything is stored so as to be easily and quickly accessible.

There is also a food safety aspect to a well-organized kitchen. This concerns primarily minimizing the potential for cross contamination (mixing or contaminating ready-to-eat or cooked food with raw foods) and the possibility of errors or mistakes in the cooking process including using the wrong products, wrong measurements, etc. A well-organized, uncluttered kitchen also allows easy cleaning and access for prevention and harborage of vermin (cockroaches, rodents, and food infesting insects), and decreases the likelihood that you will pass the foods’ ‘Use by’ or ‘Sell by’ dates.

Here are some things you can do to keep the food storage, processing and cooking process running efficiently and safely:

o Rotate dry and canned food products. Put the newest products to the back of the cabinet and push the older or oldest products to the front.

o If the product does not have a “Use by” date, take a black ink marker and note the purchase date somewhere on the label.

o High-acid canned food such as tomatoes, grapefruit, and pineapple can be stored unopened on the shelf for 12 to 18 months. Low-acid canned foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and most vegetables will keep two to five years-if the unopened can remains in good condition and has been stored in a cool, clean and dry place. Discard cans that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted.

o For utensils and equipment, store like items together. In other words, store such things as baking utensils together, and separate from cooking utensils. The same goes for the pots and pans and so on. This allows your mind to only have to remember the grouped storage area when needing a certain item and not a specific spot on a rack or in a drawer.

o If you need to remove a food, spice, condiment or chemical from its original package or container to a new container or zipped-locked bag, take a marking pen and write on the new container in large letters the common name of the product. This is especially important for powders, sugars, salts, spices and other dry products that are not easily identifiable. It may be obvious to you but not to someone else in your household. Restaurants are actually required to label all containers in the storage areas to prevent employees from using the wrong product or ingredient.

o Chemicals, household cleaners and other poisonous substances need to be stored in their own, preferably lower cabinet to minimize the potential of contaminating any food products.

o Control vermin in your own kitchen by sealing or caulking any cracks or small openings especially where plumbing comes out of the wall, and at wall, shelving and cabinet junctures.

UTENSIL AND EQUIPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS

Here are some basic and inexpensive equipment and utensil recommendations that provide excellent tools in the fight against contamination and growth of bacteria in your kitchen and on your food:

o Color-coded plastic cutting boards or cutting plastic surfaces. Red for raw red meats, Yellow for raw poultry, Tan for raw seafoods, Green for fruits and vegetables, Blue for cooked or non-cooked ready-to-eat foods and white for dairy. This will help enormously is preventing cross contamination – again where raw foods contaminate cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

o Get yourself a good instant-read, digital probe thermometer that is sensitive at the tip. You will use it often and on everything you cook.

o An easily readable thermometer for your refrigerator and place it in front for easy reading and in the warmest part. Set you refrigerator temperature so your thermometer stays approximately 40° F.

o An oven-safe probe thermometer with an easily readable dial or digital readout.

o Liquid soap in a dispenser for handwashing at your kitchen sink. Recent studies have shown that antibacterial soaps have no more likelihood of preventing illnesses or removing more microorganisms than regular soap. What’s important is the action of thoroughly scrubbing under running water for at least 20 seconds to loosen oil and grime where the bacteria hide, and washing them down the drain.

o Paper towel dispenser. Minimize or eliminate the use of reusable cloth towels. After one use they become perfect breeding grounds for bacteria to grow to large numbers while they hang on the rack or lie on your kitchen counter. Disposable single use paper towels eliminate this risk

o Shallow pans or containers to store foods in the refrigerator. You want to spread that thick soup, stew, etc., into shallow pans allowing it more surface area for more rapid cooling.

Ways Of Organizing Your Kitchen

I am by no means a kitchen guru, but having grown up in the kitchen and in a family owned restaurant, I feel like I know my fare share. But, before we begin talking about why we should organize our kitchen, lets first brush up on the importance of time and food. Yes, they are very much correlated.

As the years go by, things continue to change more and more. Today’s age brings us the booming fast food restaurant. I know a few people who could absolutely not function without a fast food restaurant, don’t you? But, lets be honest, it’s ridiculously convenient and time friendly, and on the other hand overly greasy and unhealthy. We have to eat though, it’s a law of life that cannot be avoided.

Our society has really become extremely fast paced, and a lot of people just don’t have the time to cook a healthy meal, but why is this? Granted it does take time to cook a meal, but lets see what we can do to organize your kitchen to cut your cook time and increase time for other things.

1. Keep things clean and neat.
a. This will help you know what you have and don’t have. This alone save tons of time in the kitchen and at the grocery store.
b. This will help you be able to perform and function better in your kitchen. Everyone wants to work in a clean environment.

2. Plan your meals for the week.
a. This may sound time consuming, but it doesn’t take long to pick a few dinners that you’ll eat for the week and will save you time in the future.
b. Preparing food ahead of time will also provide more time in the future. This can also add more flavor to your food if you’re seasoning or marinating.:-)

3. Do your shopping for the week, and get it over with.
a. Be prepared! Make your list, check it twice and take care of business. Doing this ahead of time and not playing the guessing games will save you a lot of time.

4. Keep it simple.
a. Don’t try and be a gourmet chef. Creating a simple quick meal is much healthier than giving up and resorting to fast food. Less can always be more.
b. There is nothing wrong with putting together complex meals, but just make sure you plan accordingly.

5. Be one step ahead of your kitchen!
a. Yeah I said it! Does it make sense? Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead. Don’t step foot into your kitchen without a plan of action. Know what you want to accomplish, know what’s in there, execute and eat.

Control your kitchen, don’t let it control you. Keep in mind that organizing your kitchen requires that you organize yourself as well. Eating healthier, saving time and building a stronger body, three things that you just can’t beat. So start your life changing process now. Begin building the better you. Implement these 5 ways to get organized and see yourself gain time and a healthy body.

Commercial Kitchen Design

The kitchen stands at the heart of many businesses. If it is a successful kitchen, producing good food efficiently and safely, then the business, be it a restaurant, cafe or hotel, will flourish. If the kitchen fails, then the business will go down with it. Good service and a pleasant dining room experience will not make up for bad food or food that is delivered only after an excessive wait. A great deal of the success, or indeed failure, of any particular kitchen is due to its design, and design is a complicated affair.

Many factors have to be balanced to produce a satisfactory whole. Has the correct equipment been installed at the right location, to ensure a smooth and efficient flow of products? Have potential traffic jam spots been identified and modified in advance? Does the whole operation comply with Health and Safety legislation and will it satisfy the Environmental Health Officer? If it is a restaurant kitchen open to the view of the clientele then does it appeal to the eye? Above all has the kitchen been achieved at a cost that has not upset the financial stability of the business?

It is no surprise then that many businesses faced with the task of creating a new commercial kitchen space turn to the services of a professional commercial kitchen designer as these specialist companies have both the experience and the equipment necessary to balance all the factors outlined above.

Take, for an example, the actual basic design of a commercial kitchen and the making of the plan and blueprints. The do-it-yourself amateur designer will probably have to use a ruler and graph paper and do his or her own scale conversions with the aid of a calculator and pencil. With care an accurate ground plan can be achieved, but a two dimensional representation can only offer so much information.

Hiring a team of professional commercial kitchen designers, is by far the more constructive option. They will have access to the latest software and will be able to construct a ‘virtual’ kitchen, with all the chosen equipment installed, that the customer can ‘walk through’. This experience can be invaluable for spotting those ‘choke points’ which were mentioned earlier, and problems with compliance can be spotted and remedied before they actually take place.

Professionals are aware that the two imperatives of functionality and compliance are constantly at work in any kitchen design, sometimes pulling in opposite directions. It may be convenient to have the washing facilities in one place, for instance, yet lawful to have them in another. Food storage and preparation areas have to be kept separate but must also give easy access one to the other to facilitate the smooth production of the end product. The owner of the business must be concerned with ventilation, lighting, the provision of first aid equipment and literally dozens of other things before he or she lets the chefs go into action. Here the expertise of the professional will be of great use, as they will be able to advise the kitchen owner on the regulations and plans accordingly, achieving the best balance between the two contrasting needs.

The professional design team will also be able to advise a kitchen owner over the matter of equipment purchase. Not only will they know what a commercial kitchen needs, they will know where it can be bought for the best price. This is an important matter in a field where there is much choice and where many expensive mistakes can be made.