How to ensure your commercial kitchen runs smoothly

By: Grant King, HospitalityHub writer
16 September, 2016

“Sorry for the delay. The kitchen’s very busy tonight.” “I’m awfully sorry; we’re right out of prawns.” “No problem, Sir, we’ll get you a bucket.”

Not the sort of comments you want associated with your commercial kitchen. Whether you're a restaurant, cafe, caterer, or business cafeteria, your kitchen is the engine that drives success. So here are a few ways to ensure it fires on all cylinders, stove tops and frypans.

Multi-task your materials

It might look impressive to have a mountain of pots, pans, woks and utensils stacked and hung around your kitchen walls. But if your chefs have to go through a slapstick comedy routine every time they want 'that pot,' it's substance over sustainability. What are you actually using? What are you using that could also be used for something else? Put as much of your kitchen equipment out to pasture as you can to create a lean, mean materials inventory that drives efficiency.

Be industrious with inventory

Do you know your meat, vegetables and spice numbers down to the last gram? If you don't you risk running out of stock at critical peak times, losing orders and maybe even customers if they can't get what they want. An organised and accurate inventory system not only shows you all current stocks at a glance, it also shows how fast inventory items are moving. Your fast movers are your fast sellers. So make sure they're always on hand.

Colour code your chopping boards

We all know that a salad sliced on a chopping board dripping with raw chicken juice is going to come back in more ways than one. But it happens. Colour code your boards according to use – red meat, chicken, vegetables, herbs, dairy – to eliminate cross-contamination and ensure flavours stay where they're supposed to be. 

Employ horses for courses

Your menu isn't just a list of dishes; it also contains the ingredients for your kitchen staff makeup. Hire chefs and kitchen staff according to skills matching your menu needs and then mix and match their pool of resources to specific dishes. Above all make sure everyone is doing what they do best.

Take staff welfare seriously

And that doesn't just mean minimising the risk of accidents with clear safety policies and a well designed, low risk environment. It means providing adequate ventilation and air conditioning to ensure your staff work in bearable conditions. A happy kitchen is a cooking kitchen.

Rotate staff for well-rounded efficiency

Overwork your staff and toasters won't be the only things that burn out. While it's impossible to keep everyone fresh all the time, a well managed staff roster helps to keep people working when they're at their best and resting when they're not.