Massive events are often a sight to behold, especially when the food is being served. We often see well-tailored, properly ushered, and excellently presentable dishes. However, only those in the catering business know what happens behind the scenes.
Rigorous planning, lots of spaces, elaborate setups, multiple production lines, and intense kitchen dynamics are just some of what is happening in a caterer kitchen. For a curious mind or someone interested in knowing more about the catering business, let’s discuss everything there is to know about the caterer kitchen.
What is a Caterer Kitchen?
Unlike the typical home kitchen or restaurant kitchen, the caterer kitchen is also known as a commercial kitchen. This is a space designed for food production and safety. These are usually an off-site space that functions as a normal kitchen would do.
This makes it easier for the food crew to cook and serve food, especially during outdoor events. However, even if it is a caterer kitchen, you need to carefully consider what goes into its design, layout, and the essentials tools you might need.
Requirements for Setting up a Caterer Kitchen
Before creating your caterer kitchen, you need to familiarize yourself with the requirements that need to be accomplished.
Licenses and Inspections
Like any other kitchen where food is prepared and cooked, the caterer kitchen is required to undergo some inspections before it can operate. Additionally, required licenses need to be obtained.
Since kitchens need to be pass health standards and safety protocols, you will be working closely with the local health department in your area. As early as the design stage of the caterer kitchen, inspectors will assess the kitchen’s design and layout.
Design plans for the dishwashing, refrigeration equipment and other kitchen aspects need to meet the standard requirements. Additionally, your caterer kitchen needs to have a license that should be renewed yearly.
Layout and Workflow
A lot of careful thought should go into the layout and workflow of your caterer kitchen. One concern that is addressed by an excellent layout is food handling and its safety. This is closely reviewed by the local health department.
Meanwhile, one more vital consideration that needs to be incorporated into the layout of a caterer kitchen is its purpose to facilitate efficient and easy workflow. It is important to have enough space between kitchen equipment so the staff can freely move around.
In addition, a lot of consideration should also be given to kitchen counters for an efficient food production and preparation process. Putting all these into consideration during planning the layout will be complicated but it is a worthwhile step that needs to be taken.
Food Service Equipment
Another essential aspect of a caterer kitchen is the foodservice equipment. Most caterer kitchens use professional-grade equipment which is made of stainless steel. This is important for easy cleanup and sanitation.
There is also professional-grade refrigeration equipment that operates on cooling food quickly from temperatures that range where food-borne illnesses cannot grow. Your caterer kitchen also needs industrial stoves that can cook multiple dishes.
Additionally, there must be dishwashing equipment and multiple sink compartments to wash. In some cases, other caterer kitchens can opt for equipment designed for home cooking, but the setup should still meet the requirements for sanitation and food safety.
Aside from the requirements that go into setting up your caterer kitchen, here are several catering tips that you should also look into.
1. Prepare in advance.
In any type of big event, preparation in advance is always key. Prep everything you can days before the event. An excellent preparation prevents workflow disruption and rushing. It will also let you focus on preparing and serving good food for your customers.
2. Organize your menu.
A big part of your preparation needs to include your menu. Fresh and excellent quality ingredients should always be the way to go. Keep your customers in mind when preparing your menu for an event.
3. Pay close attention to food hygiene.
Since you will be handling food, it is a must to pay close attention to hygiene. This is in compliance with health and safety protocols for your caterer kitchen and also to prevent any food-related illnesses that may arise.
Using color-coded chopping boards is one practice that can help prevent cross-contamination during food preparation. You also need to keep raw meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge and keep the temperature at 1 and 4°C. Always label everything which will show the best-before and use-by dates.
You also need to keep your workstations clean at all times. Working with a messy workstation can cause stress and is a big sanitation risk. In addition, personal hygiene is as important. Keep your hands clean and free from any jewelry. Always wear hairnets and mouth guards as additional protection.
4. Listen to your guests.
Comments and feedback are an opportunity to improve recipes and service. You can display comment cards or feedback forms at the front desk or include a comments and complaints section on your website if you have one.