At the inaugural Commercial Kitchen trade show in the NEC, Birmingham, Catering Insight editor, Clare Nicholls, chaired a discussion on the key subject of ‘Theatre Kitchens: Making Chefs the Main Act’. Expert panel members Philip Howard, MD, Catering Design Group and renowned consultant, Radford Chancellor, discussed what solutions are available to build a striking open kitchen and wow guests, detailing what kitchen designers and outfitters have to take into account when producing these on-display masterpieces.

CN: What do you think are the most important design considerations when planning an open kitchen?

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PH: Operators should work out what they are trying to achieve from having an open kitchen. I think a lot of it comes down to the menus and the purpose for it. If it’s a fine dining restaurant then an open kitchen isn’t always the right thing. We work in all sorts of different market sectors, so we have seen that in high street casual dining and educational areas, open kitchens are becoming a lot more prevalent.

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RC: The primary thing with any kitchen, and particularly an open kitchen, is it should be functional and it should still comply with health and safety regulations. When planning an open kitchen, I would tend to put all the live cooking on show for the customer to see, and anything like dishwashing or storage out of the way of the customer. Also the kitchen itself should aesthetically match the theme of the restaurant.

PH: Yes, if you are opening your kitchen up, it’s really got to be worth seeing. From a kit point of view, equipment that’s got action about it, such as chargrill flames or wood burning pizza ovens, are going to be needed to appeal to customers.