Commercial Kitchen Organizational Tools
In a busy commercial kitchen, how well your supplies are organized impacts how productive your employees can be. When a chef spends less time looking for the right knife or ingredient, she can spend more time cooking, resulting in a quicker response time to orders and faster table turns. The first step in organizing a kitchen is having the right tools available to properly organize your ingredients, utensils, cookware, and serveware so you can make the most of the space you have to work with.
Shelves and Racks
Commercial kitchen shelving is designed to be sturdy and long-lasting while providing high-volume storage. Wire and polymer shelving racks are available, with most units offering adjustable shelves to allow you to customize your storage areas as needed. Wire shelves are often preferred for perishable items, as the open wire design allows air to flow, keeping items fresher longer. Polymer shelves have the benefit of not rusting or corroding, and the solid shelves are ideal for dry storage.
In addition to traditional racks, restaurants can also take advantage of wall-mounted commercial kitchen shelves or security cages. Dunnage racks are sturdy, low-to-the-ground racks that provide storage for large containers while keeping them raised far enough off the floor to meet health code requirements. Can racks help keep varying sizes of cans organized while constantly moving cans to the front to be easy to reach, while pan racks are available for storing and organizing bun pans. Many of these pan racks, shelf racks, and can racks come on casters to make them easy to move around as needed.
A lot of commercial kitchen storage is cold storage, whether that's in a reach-in refrigerator or freezer, prep table, or a walk-in unit. Using the right organizational tools with these units can help ensure that you're able to store as much as you need while maintaining the air circulation necessary to maintain food-safe temperatures. Many walk-in units can use the wire racks, dunnage racks, and pan racks mentioned in the previous section, but keep in mind as you purchase these storage units that you will need to reserve space for employees to move freely, and in some cases for carts to maneuver inside the cooler.
Reach-in refrigerators have several parts and accessories available that can help you organize different products. Bottle organizers keep rows of bottles in line and can work with gravity shelf kits to always keep the next bottle at the front of the shelf within easy reach. Baskets are ideal for loose items, such as produce, and many baskets include dividers so you can keep different product types separated. Wine rack shelves are ideal for coolers that will be used for chilling bottles of wine. If you will store large pans of food in your refrigerator or freezer, you may benefit from installing slide kits, which replace some or all of the unit's shelves with racks that allow you to slide standard-sized pans into the unit.
Prep tables often have reach-in refrigerated bases that can make use of some of the same organizational tools as reach-in refrigerators. Additionally, you can take advantage of the space over the table by installing utility shelves to hold plates, utensils, or dry food items like bread for sandwiches.
Having an organized bar can have a direct effect on how many drinks your bartenders can produce. Liquor displays and speed rails allow bottles to be kept within easy reach, and some ice bins and bar sinks also have bottle storage built in. Keg racks are constructed to hold large beer kegs, and wine racks are available in floor models or wall-mounted versions to hold large amounts of wine bottles.
Aside from keeping drink ingredients nearby, having glasses organized and easy to reach is important to efficient bar operation. Underbar stations and glass hangers help keep bar drinkware organized, and for bars that use garnishes, bar-top dispensers keep them cool and organized. Some of these dispensers also have sections for storing picks, napkins, rimmers, and straws.
Food Prep and Cooking
Food prep involves many elements, including food and tools, so keeping them properly organized and easy to find is essential. Consider investing in some of the following organizational items to keep your kitchen running smoothly.
- Knife blocks or magnetic knife holders help keep knives safely stored and easy to find. Often preferred because they keep prevent the blade-dulling effect that the wooden knife blocks can have, magnetic knife strips can be mounted on the wall near the prep station.
- Cutting board stands allow you to keep several cutting boards close to the food prep station and organized. Having a place to store multiple cutting boards can help you prevent cross-contamination by providing staff with a different cutting board for each food group.
- Flue risers and wall shelves provide storage over ranges. These shelves can be used for storing items that are not affected by the rising heat or for storing pots and pans to be used on the range below.
- A chef base is a refrigerator made to go under a piece of cooking equipment. Built with two to eight pan drawers of varying sizes, chef bases are handy for keeping ingredients organized and nearby for use on the range.
- Work tables are used in almost every kitchen and provide several opportunities for organization. Some tables have undershelves built in or available to be added, while overshelf assemblies are available with just shelves or with hooks for hanging utensils or pots and pans. Drawers can also be installed under the work surface to provide storage for smaller items.