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If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!

if-you-can-t-stand-the-heat-stay-out-of-the-kitchen-2This well known quote originated from American President Harry Truman.   The context was the responsibility of leadership and the enormous impact that decisions made by the President will have.  Truman’s response to this was:

“Some men can make decisions and some cannot. Some men fret and delay under criticism. I used to have a saying that applies here, and I note that some people have picked it up:  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

 

 

Heat in the kitchen is a very topical subject at the moment, as the UK continues to bask in its mini heatwave.  Kitchens are hot places anyway, with ovens and hobs all emitting heat, the warm environment is tolerable to some, but insufferable to others.  Even more so when the outside temperature is also considerably above the norm!  

High temperatures in the workplace can lead to all kinds of unfortunate results, such as fainting, dizziness, cramps, asthma, throat infections, and rhinitis.  Those employees with lung or heart conditions may find that their symptoms are considerably worsened by overheated workplaces.  High temperatures also contribute to the overall ‘thermal comfort’ of employees ie their state of mind in terms of whether they feel too hot or too cold.

However, despite these factors, there is no legal maximum working temperature.  The only legal requirement for indoor workplaces - including kitchens - is the Workplace Regulations 1992 which place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in the workplace.  Different employers are likely to have different definitions of the word “reasonable” but the TUC recommendations for maximum safe working temperatures are 27ºC for manual workers, and 30ºC for sedentary workers.

Thermal Comfort

Employers should always aim for an environment that satisfies the majority of people in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive have some general recommendations for ensuring the thermal comfort of employees in warm conditions:

  • providing fans, eg desk, pedestal or ceiling-mounted fans

  • ensuring that windows can be opened

  • shading employees from direct sunlight eg with blinds

  • siting workstations away from direct sunlight or other situations or objects that that radiate heat

  • relaxing formal dress code where possible – but you must ensure that personal protective equipment is provided and used if required

  • allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks or cool down

  • providing additional facilities, eg cold water dispensers (water is preferable to caffeine or carbonated drinks)

  • introducing formal systems of work to limit exposure, eg flexible working patterns, job rotation, workstation rotation etc

  • placing insulating materials around hot plant and pipes

  • providing air-cooling or air-conditioning plant

 

 

Ventilation

But how does this impact a commercial kitchen?  Given that it isn’t practical to follow Truman’s advice and get out of the kitchen, yet the kitchen is one of the most susceptible environments to overheating, what more can be done other than the general tips above?  The essential element for a thriving commercial kitchen is an excellent ventilation system, and indeed it is a legal requirement for a commercial kitchen to have a proper ventilation system in place.

Contemporary ventilation systems can be stylish as well as functional.  Ensure you get the best advice as to positioning in your commercial kitchen and then proper installation.  A well installed extractor fan will help to remove the heat,  moisture, and other substances emitted during cooking and make the working environment safe and tolerable for your staff.  

 

 Commercial Kitchen Ventilation SystemAt Commercial Kitchens Design we are experts in extraction and ventilation systems for commercial kitchens.  We can provide you with a high quality bespoke system customised to meet the needs of your individual catering environment and that will work for you. We can supply a range of high quality fans, lights and filters to install within each system to ensure that your catering environment remains free from damp and bad odours. Each installation will be in keeping with the kitchen design itself and will fit in with the aesthetics of the kitchen environment. Extraction and ventilation systems are an integral part of any commercial kitchen design and are subject to the same exemplary standards that are expected of all other aspects of the installation. The supply and installation of these canopies are best achieved by our professional team of engineers to ensure that they perform efficiently and meet all EU guidelines for food hygiene.

 

 


So, you may not be able to get out of the kitchen during the heat, but with the right measures in place it should be a more bearable experience!  For more details about how to take the heat out of your kitchen why not get in touch with us today!

Al Fresco Dining

Today is the longest day of the year. Yes, already! Summer is upon us and if we don’t make the most of it, it will soon be gone. It’s summertime, the living is easy and peoples’ thoughts often turn to al fresco dining. Idealised images of sitting in the glorious evening sunshine with a crisp chilled drink and something delicious to eat come to mind. In reality it can often be more a case of sitting shivering in the chilly evening breeze with a flat lukewarm drink waiting ages for the BBQ to heat up!

In this blog we will consider how to effectively use a commercial kitchen for al fresco dining - from intimate diner à deux to larger corporate or party events.

Outdoor Dining Area

If your restaurant is predominantly indoor-based but with an outdoor dining area that is only open when weather permits then there doesn’t need to be any particular difference from normal. Just be aware that if the restaurant is, in effect, adding in more covers then there needs to be the necessary scaling up of the quantities of food / ingredients / preparation team in parallel.

Local Outdoor Event

Some restaurants like to put on more ambitious outdoor events during the summer, either on their own premises or as contractors for a music festival or other pop up event. Events on your own premises are easier! You can use all the resources of your existing commercial kitchen supplemented by either barbecues or hog roast or perhaps both. You also supplement the food prepared outside by large tables heaving with additional hot food and cold buffet food which can all be produced in, and served from your own commercial kitchen. This really is the best of both worlds - giving all the appearances of a totally al fresco food event but with most of the logistics able to be handled inside!

Remote Outdoor Event

If you are straying into the festival/pop up market you need to be very sure that you are geared up to what is required. Such catering can often go horribly wrong! If the venue is within easy reach of your normal commercial kitchen then you do have the option of doing most of the preparation back at base and running it to the outdoor venue. You would then only need to have a basic catering facility onsite - some combination of a barbecue or trailer.

If the venue is not geographically near where your commercial kitchen is located then you need to examine very carefully whether you are indeed able to take this on: don’t feel pressurised to do so! Unless you either have or are able to hire really good quality mobile catering facilities you are unlikely to be able to do a really good job. In which case you need to consider only offering a basic cut down menu, or turning the job down.

A key rule for a successful commercial kitchen - only take on what you know you can deliver to the standard with which you would be satisfied!

Of course, if your commercial kitchen were in a warmer climate then you might be required to be permanently geared up for outdoor dining. We love this example in China where the kitchen is permanently outdoors and always on show. There is a sense of openness between the catering staff and the diners and - in this environment - you can see that it works!  Ch2-1121

Next time we will explore in more depth the concept of open commercial kitchens to see examples of open kitchens working in various locations in the UK!

Meanwhile for any commercial kitchen design needs why not get in touch with us to start moving in the right direction?

TV Cookery Shows - Part II

In our last blog we looked at some of the early TV cookery shows, including Fanny Cradock’s Kitchen Magic, The Galloping Gourmet Graham Kerr,  Keith Floyd’s Floyd on Fish, and the infamous Two Fat Ladies -  Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson.  In this blog we explore a range of more contemporary cookery shows and the implications for commercial kitchen design.

 

Fast forwarding to the 21st century there is one very noticeable difference about the majority of TV cookery shows, and that is they include an element of competition. We now live in the age of reality TV, and almost every genre of TV programme offers the opportunity for people to get involved and perhaps even have their 15 minutes of fame.   Let’s think briefly of five of the most popular TV cookery shows of recent times:

 

Ready Steady CookReady Steady Cook

This show involved two chefs and two members of the public, who had to produce a dinner within 20 minutes based only on the limited ingredients provided.  The show produced some notable winners, including James Martin and Ainsley Harriott, who then took over the hosting of the show from Fern Britton.

 

 

FifteenJamie Oliver

There were numerous Jamie Oliver cookery shows starting with The Naked Chef, in which he would concoct a quick meal based on simple fresh ingredients.  His laid back style of preparation encouraged people to be more relaxed and open about cooking and was a big influence on the open plan kitchens that are so popular today.  The competitive element was introduced with his 2002 launch of the Fifteen Apprentice Programme, in which  he recruited and trained disadvantaged youngsters work at his new London restaurant, Fifteen. Fifteen has subsequently become a charitable foundation and now has four restaurants.

 

 

Hell’s KitchenHells Kitchen

This popular series was a competition starring world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay.   Aspiring young chefs were split into two teams and put through their paces by the demanding Chef Ramsay across a range of culinary and leadership skills. There was also a follow up series called Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares in which Ramsay would apply his skills and experience to transform a failing restaurant.

 

 

  

 

GBBOThe Great British Bake Off

This series took off unexpectedly and has never looked back!  Hosted in a marquee by Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, it features twelve contestants making cakes that are then judged by Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.  The very British show has been a surprise hit and has brought home baking firmly back into popularity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MasterChefMasterchef

This is currently one of the most-watched cookery shows.  It was originally hosted by Loyd Grossman and featured three amateur chefs preparing gourmet food on a limited budget.  It then had a revamp in 2005 and became a bigger competition with greater rewards.  The presenters/judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace pile on the pressure as they comment on the preparation, presentation, and quality of the food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The common factor in all the above is that the chefs are under constant scrutiny, which means that so are the kitchens.  How would your commercial kitchen stand up to such scrutiny?  If you are operating any kind of open kitchen, where diners can see in, then the kitchen needs to look at its best at all times and include elements that are specifically visually exciting.  Careful thought needs to be given to the positioning of equipment to display it at its best, and the configuration of the food preparation and cooking areas to showcase these as well as possible.  

 

This is where Cucina Projects can help!  Our in-house kitchen designers use state-of-the-art Computer Aided Design (CAD) technologies to produce detailed plans for your potential commercial kitchen design.  These plans give you the opportunity to take a 3D virtual tour of your new kitchen before work has actually started, enabling you to envisage exactly how the final kitchen will look.   Why not get in touch with us today? You can:

 

  • use the contact form on this website

  • email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • phone us on 01256 397 662

  •  

We look forward to helping you create an award-winning commercial kitchen!

 

We Want Plates!


Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 07.23.00When running a commercial kitchen there is often the desire to be on trend with the latest ideas in the industry or perhaps even to become one of those trend-setters yourself.  At Commercial Kitchens we’ve noticed a growing trend for serving food to customers on unusual items.  But we’d sound a note of caution before you get tempted to jump on this particular bandwagon!  A Twitter campaign called WeWantPlates is rapidly gathering momentum!  

The Twitter campaign describes its mission as “crusading against serving food on bits of wood and roof tiles, jam-jar drinks and chips in mugs”.   Its 48000+ followers share information and images about the increasingly bizarre serving dishes on which they have been served food.  

 

 

More than Baskets and Newspaper

Serving food in containers other than plates is not particularly new.  Some of us will be old enough to remember pubs in the 1960’s and1970’s offering food such as chicken or scampi in a 22d85fb47eb051420e782703b9c85059basket.  Those were simpler days in terms of eating out, with more limited choice and seemingly no aims to be pretentious.  Also in that time frame who can forget the delicious taste of fish and chips straight from the newspaper in which the shop wrapped them!

 

 

Slated by the Critics!

rump-steak-on-a-slateThe current trend for serving food on items other than plates seems to have started around 10 years ago when some restaurants began to serve steak on a slate. The trend spread like wildfire, particularly  in gastropubs, and has become quite commonplace.   However, it has recently been slated (!) by critics both because the novelty value has now worn off and also the unpleasant scraping noises that the cutlery can make on it, not dissimilar to fingers down a blackboard!

 

 

 

Shovelling In Breakfast?

One of the examples featured on the WeWantPlates site is breakfast served on a shovel!  Apparently this was by a restaurant on the Isle of Man.  No matter how appetising the food, Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 07.41.56perhaps the shovel might be a little off-putting?  Trying not to think of coal or gravel as you munch may take a bit of effort!  

 

Starters and Desserts?

Nor is the trend for serving food in unusual items limited to main courses.  The images below - submitted by followers of WeWantPlates - show a prawn cocktail starter in a mini skip, vegetables and dips in tin buckets, one dessert on a combination of slate plate and suspended rail, and one just on the table itself!

 

starters and desserts

 

Where do we go from here?

If you are thinking of introducing unusual serving items into your repertoire, perhaps the above backlash will make you think twice?  If you already have some such items this does not mean stop using them altogether, but perhaps introduce an element of moderation so that not every dish is served in an unusual way.   Also when using these individual items, ensure that they are practical for the customer.  One of the recurring issues raised by supporters of WeWantPlates is the difficulty of eating food from an item that has not been designed to hold it.  There are also questions raised about hygiene, so if you are using an item that may have connotations of poor hygiene then find a way of countering this.  Perhaps even use a plate on top of the quirky item - and keep everyone happy?!

 

For help and advice in supplying any kind of items for your commercial kitchen, why not get in touch with us today?   We have strong relationships with many leading suppliers and can help you select the items that will fit with your brand then find you the best price.

 

You can:

  • use the contact form on this website
  • email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • phone us on 01256 397 662

 

We look forward to helping you make your commercial kitchen stand out from the crowd in the best possible way!

 

 

TV Cookery Shows - Part 1

Have you noticed the popularity of TV cookery shows these days?  Why is that we wonder?   What is it that makes people want to sit and watch programmes about food?   In the next two blogs we’ll take a look at the history of the weird but wonderful world of television cookery shows, from their early days to the present!

 

 

1955 Kitchen Magic

 

 Fanny Cradock

Fanny Cradock started her journey to fame in post-war years as an anonymous food critic, working with her husband Major Johnny Cradock under the name of ‘Bon Viveur’.  Through this role, Fanny introduced the British public to dishes from France and Italy, including pizza!  She is also believed to be the creator of the first Prawn Cocktail.   She then worked with Johnny on a touring cookery show and as this became more popular it transferred to television under the name of Kitchen Magic.  Fanny then  enjoyed 20 years of success as the foremost celebrity chef of her day, with her recipes and dinner party menus in a series of booklets also published by the BBC. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graham Kerr

1969 The Galloping Gourmet

The Galloping Gourmet featured celebrity chef Graham Kerr who was one of the most entertaining cooks ever to appear on TV.  The programme focussed on Graham travelling the globe - accompanied by a wine writer - to visit some of the world's best restaurants.  His career then took a dramatic turn.  A serious road accident whilst on tour left him partially paralysed and his wife Treena needing major surgery.  This led Graham to focus more on healthy eating. His emphasis on low-fat cuisine has made him a long-standing favorite among health-conscious cooks, and on his lectures and speaking tours he now promotes the Double Benefit, where people look at what and how much they eat, weigh up the alternatives and give half the money they save to charity.

 

 

 

 

Keith Floyd

 

1984 Floyd on Fish

Keith Floyd  was one of the earliest British celebrity cooks.  He never described himself as a chef because he wasn’t trained as one, but he was nevertheless a successful restauranteur who, as well as hosting cooking shows for the BBC,  published many books combining cookery and travel.   He became known for his eccentric style of presentation - often with a glass of wine in hand.  His show was often broadcast from different locations and he became adept at preparing delicious fish dishes in a wide range of kitchens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Fat Ladies

1996 Two Fat Ladies

Two Fat Ladies featured Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, who travelled around the country on a Triumph Thunderbird motorbike with the registration N88 TFL (in bingo number 88 is often referred to as"Two Fat Ladies"). The bike was driven by Jennifer, whilst Clarissa rode in its sidecar. The show travelled to various destinations, including an army garrison and a girls school, where the Two Fat Ladies prepared large meals, often with unusual ingredients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All these shows have been iconic in shaping the culture of food preparation and enjoyment in the United Kingdom.  They have all contributed to the  desires and expectations of the dining public today, and in turn the necessary demands on and equipment for a successful commercial kitchen.   Next time we will explore a range of more contemporary cookery shows and look at some of the very latest desirable kitchen gadgets!

 

 

 

 

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