OPINION: Behind every good open kitchen is an organised wash-up area

Bob Wood, director

Open kitchens are in vogue but behind all the theatre and lies a need to ensure the washing area is functional and practical, writes Bob Wood, director of DC Warewashing & Icemaking Systems. 

A smooth-running, efficient kitchen operation is vital for a successful, trouble free and safe foodservice operation. This is never more important than in an open kitchen where you invite your customers to have a unique insight into your catering operation and from which they will form their opinions and impressions about your business as a whole – both good and bad.

A well-planned, well-laid out, clean, tidy, organised kitchen speaks volumes about the way you run your business and the quality of the food and drink that your customers can expect.

Attention should be paid to the ergonomics of the open kitchen focusing on ways in which staff interact with all the other elements of the catering system or service. The design’s aim should be to optimise system performance, enhance staff well-being whilst realising cost savings.

In both large and small establishments, space is at a premium. The ‘shrinking kitchen’ phenomenon has seen manufacturers develop slim-line versions of their standard models, to help operators get the most from small spaces.

The latest undercounter glasswashers and dishwashers are compact, powerful machines which really ‘punch above their weight’ in terms of robustness, reliability, performance and value for money; undercounter dishwashers are capable of washing an outstanding 18 full-size plates in just two minutes.

For an open kitchen, in particular look for warewashers that have features to reduce both acoustic and thermal pollution such as insulated boilers; double-skinned hoods, insulated cabinets and doors and selectable cycle times that will give you flexibility in the kitchen, saving time and energy whilst helping to improve productivity.

In busy open kitchens with a higher throughput, where space is at a premium, pass-through (hood-type) dishwashers are a popular choice. The new double-hood machines, with their two independent washing zones, are ideal in kitchens with fluctuating levels in demand.

If the maximum capacity of 1,000 plates an hour is not required then the second wash-zone  remains in an energy and cost-saving stand-by mode.

In an open kitchen the benefits of fitting a steam heat recovery system to your warewasher cannot be overemphasised.

  • Energy use is reduced by up to 25% when the steam created during the wash cycle is captured and transformed into the energy required to heat the incoming cold water supply.
  • No need to install a separate extraction canopy – further reducing noise pollution, taking up less space in the kitchen and improving kitchen aesthetics.
  • No heat and steam escaping into the working environment.

Top 10 tips when installing a glasswasher or dishwasher in an open kitchen

1. Avoiding installing machine near a door or narrow walk way

2. Ensure there is room for chemicals and external softener (if required).

3. Consider where the dirties are going to be ‘dumped’ ready for washing and make sure these won’t get in the way of service and don’t come into contact or cross paths with cleans coming out of the machine.

4. Ensure the machine is away from the busiest or key areas such as the serving zone or tills.

5. Install a sink next-to or close-by the machine and dump area if possible.

6. Ensure there is a bin available to empty debris from glasses and cups.

7. Make provision for cleans storage and drying (away from dirties dump area), as well as a plan for storing empty baskets.

8. Consider the depth of the machine with the door open when deciding on the depth of the back-bar area where the machine is to be situated.

9. Raise the machine so that the height of the open door is at the most ergonomically friendly height for operators.

10. Provide adequate lighting to ensure operators can clearly see what they are doing particularly when changing over chemicals bottles and ensure there is a relevant PPE nearby and available.

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