Are open plan kitchens a recipe for disaster?


John Ellingham, director of Canopy UK, discusses how the trend for showcase kitchens could impact extraction and ventilation requirements. 

As the trend for open plan kitchens continues to grow across the high street in mainstream restaurants, it is becoming an increasingly difficult task for kitchen designers and manufacturers alike to create a balance between an aesthetically pleasing kitchen and one that will keep health and safety standards high.

Where once diners were used to seeing their food magically appear from behind closed doors, with the introduction of TV chefs and more press surrounding fast food horror stories, consumers now expect complete transparency from the restaurants they eat in.

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For those who now work within the food industry, it means that steps have to be taken in ensuring the consumers are kept safe, and that the kitchen impresses the customers enough to come back again.

Canopy UK recently fitted a bespoke extraction fan for the Pizza Hut Franchises, as takeaways are becoming insistent on showing their customers exactly the process that the food has gone through – highlighting the fact that there is simply nothing to hide.

Following health and safety regulations is a basic rule for any business, but restaurant owners now want to showcase this process and make it part of the experience.

Seeing the food prepared, smelling it being cooked right in front of them and being able to view the quality of the kitchen, all adds to the satisfaction factor for the consumer.

However many restaurants are attempting this trend without further consideration for the costly elements that can maintain this show of consumer cuisine.

As the kitchen and staff have nowhere to hide, everything is judged by the diners – from the attitude of the staff to the state of the kitchen. If it’s not implemented with correct ventilation systems, and an awareness of the diners, it can be a recipe for disaster. Overhearing bad mouthing and viewing a kitchen that simply isn’t equipped appropriately can lead to a restaurant getting more than a few bad reviews.

Although it may not look easy on the eye, stainless steel is the standard commercial coating that can provide the cleanest environment in the kitchen. Yet many of the upcoming restaurants on the high street are attempting to move away from this traditional environment to fit in with the rest of the restaurant’s aesthetics.

Deciding to continue on a theme into the kitchen can be a risky business, and it’s something that many commercial kitchen manufacturers would advise against.

Putting a reputation at risk for looking good in the kitchen is not worth it, and only by investing in the tried and tested methods will restaurants prevail in their attempt to open up their world to the consumer.

The same effort and standards should be shown for the environment as for choosing the equipment for the kitchen.
Functionality, safety, and above all cleanliness, should be the factors that really scream out from beyond the kitchen. When consumers are sat eagerly awaiting for their food, it’s up to the restaurant to put them at ease.

With big names in the industry like KFC now opting for open plan kitchens across the UK, it could soon be seen as the only way a restaurant is going to be taken seriously.


Tags : air managementcanopy ukextractionopen plan kitchenventilation
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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