Think all professional kitchens looks like the spaces on Iron Chef? Think again. In reality, the fact is that professional kitchens are often small and cramped; hardly the conditions you see on TV. What’s more, there are two types of restaurant kitchens: those that run like well-oiled machines, and those that are chaotic and messy. Fortunately, by using space logically, following the rules of ergonomics, and leveraging some equipment that can perform several functions, you can create an efficient kitchen no matter how much restaurant equipment you have filling your space.
Less Is More
Finding items that can do more than they appear is the key to saving kitchen space. Don’t have room for a food processor, blender, coffee grinder, bread maker, and mortar and pestle? One good tool (be it a food processor or a Hamilton Beach blender) can do all of those things and more. And as much as chefs love knives, a kitchen only needs a serrated knife, a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a slicing knife. And the right box grater can take the place of a mandolin, a spice grinder, and multiple different kinds of shredders at the same time.
Unless they’re handing off a dish to another cook, a focused kitchen staff doesn’t check their surroundings too often. For this reason, if you have available space above the heads of the crew, install shelves and use that space to your advantage. Cabinet fronts or walls that are empty can hold magnetic strips for metallic tools, pegboards for hanging just about anything, and lots more.
The Land Down Under
Every kitchen needs sturdy flat spaces to do the majority of food prep. However, sturdy flat spaces almost always have an underside. Installing multiple layers of shelving below the workspace will give you room for things like flatware and linens. In addition, putting in one heavy-duty shelf will give you the space you need to put in a few heavy-duty items such as stand mixers or deli slicers.
Work Zone Ahead
Kitchens tend to naturally divide themselves into several workstations: the stove, the prep area, the desserts, the plating area, and so on. Take advantage of this natural division and make certain that the tools for an area’s tasks are within arm’s reach.
As chaotic and hectic as it can be in a professional kitchen, if you spend the time to organize it with forethought and according to the dimensions of the space and the needs of the chefs, you will find that it can very quickly become a lot more efficient.