Commercial Kitchen Workflow, Illustrated Guide

Most kitchens must be adapted to the type of building, which makes process flow analysis even more necessary due to the number of possible layouts, is designed on an individual basis that allows for the different physical and functional requirements to be taken into account.

When it comes to planning the workflow in a professional kitchen, a thorough knowledge of kitchen equipment and the processes concerning both people and resources is required.

If the equipment has been specifically designed to interact smoothly with humans and with each other, the workflow will be efficient. This is the reason why designers have to be very familiar with equipment and their processes, so that they can bring together patterns, activities and purposes to produce an optimal workflow.

The workflow in a commercial kitchen may vary slightly depending on the configuration of the space and the type of kitchen it is, but as a general pattern observed in most commercial kitchens we could consider the following workflow:

commercial kitchen workflow


Merchandise reception area

merchandise reception area

The reception of merchandise is the process in which the products acquired from a supplier arrive at the facility to be classified, controlled and subsequently located in the storage area.

This stage is one of the most important in the different gastronomic establishments since it is where the state of the merchandise, the price and the size is verified because in case these three qualities are contrary (overprice, bad state and unsuitable size), the cost of the recipe and the production will be affected.

To improve such situations, sometimes large companies integrate trained personnel in the area for the reception of goods, however in establishments with a reduced operation, one person performs all the functions mentioned in this example.

The warehouse manager verifies the quantity, the kitchen manager validates the quality and the cost manager checks the price.

Usually, in this area, you will find equipment to weigh the merchandise, platforms to place bags of products and a sink to wash the products when necessary.

Dry storage

dry storage area

Ideally, the dry storage area should be located so that it is practical for the kitchen, as well as the receiving area. Sufficient space and equipment should be provided for the orderly storage and protection of all food stored in this area.

Good ventilation in the dry storage area is essential for proper storage. Optimal ventilation of the dry storage area contributes to:

Retarding the growth of different types of bacteria and mould.
Prevents mold and mildew
Avoid rusting metal containers;
Helps minimize the hardening of powdered products.

The recommended temperature for dry storage is between (10°C and 21°C). However, during some months of the year, it is possible to maintain temperatures between 40°F and 45°F (4°C and 7°C).

This range is highly desirable in the dry storage area. Ensuring good ventilation in the dry storage area is a long way to create and maintain an adequate environment for the storage of dry goods.

In optimal constructions, natural ventilation will allow cold and fresh air to enter through the floor level shutters and hot air to escape through the ceiling level shutters.

In hot and humid climates, where the recommended temperatures of 10 to 21 degrees C cannot be maintained naturally or mechanically, and humidity levels are high (80%+) it may be necessary to incorporate an air conditioning system in the dry storage area.

In this area special high-density plastic shelves are used which can support a large amount of weight and which are designed both to support weight and to allow air circulation through the panels.

Cold Storage

A cold storage room is an area where the temperature is kept at an artificially low level. It is usually designed for the storage of products in an environment that is below its outside temperature.

Products that need refrigeration include fruits, vegetables, seafood, meat, flowers.

The internal temperature in a cold room depends on the material or product to be stored, the frozen foods, which are stored at negative temperatures. Local vegetables and fruits are stored at 0°C and tropical and subtropical fruits at 5-13°C.

In general terms, the cold room of a kitchen is classified according to the type of food to be stored and the temperature required, can be classified into refrigeration area and freezing area.

Refrigeration is the preservation of products at low temperatures but above their freezing temperature. In general, refrigeration is between –1ºC and 8ºC.

The freezing area allows preserving our food for long periods of time. Thanks to the low temperatures (less than 24°C below zero) the bacteriological and enzymatic activity that breaks down food is stopped.

The cold room is an indispensable element for any hotel business that has the pretension of offering food or food that customers will eat later.

Not only is it indispensable for conservation and reception reasons, but it is also a room whose absence would cause restaurant kitchens to skip such important preparation phases as the cutting of pieces or the completion of certain dishes.

The refrigeration chambers allow better air circulation in the interior than the cabinets and more comfortable access.

But for small kitchens, you can choose to have different cooling cabinets with different temperatures (for meat, fish, vegetables, dairy products). A small camera or cupboard should also be provided separately for frozen products.

Depending on the frequency with which food purchases are made, especially the most perishable ones (fish, meat), is always interesting to store some of these foods in form of frozen products.

As they allow for the preservation for longer periods of time and make your purchase in more spaced out times.

Preparation Area

prep area

In large kitchens, separate areas are usually designed for the preparation and cutting of meat and fish, as well as for the potato peeling or vegetable washing areas.

Because of the small volume of product in comparison with those being manipulated in our case, these areas are reduced to the working areas near the cooking, where the preparations and the pieces will be of the ingredients to be cooked.

Basically, this area will be equipped with work tables open or closed, wall shelves and sinks, with complementary elements for the preparation, such as tables, cutting equipment, support equipment with knives and small cutters.

In some kitchens, there is also a cold dish preparation area. In this area, the dishes that will be served are prepared directly to the diner without going through the cooking area or using previously worked ingredients that will be part of the cold dishes. It’s all about salads, cold cuts… and in small kitchens, it is also used for some
homemade desserts.

It is always advisable that this area is separated and differentiated from the central working area, to maintain a temperature (around 18°C) and do not mix these decontaminated” foods with other “contaminated” foods that require a preparation treatment in the cooking area.

A “U” or aisle arrangement, with a distance between 1.2 m tables allow two people to work comfortably people in opposite areas, making better use of space and allowing for different tasks and dishes.

This area should be equipped with cold tables, wall shelves, and elements for cutting and slicing.

It may be interesting that the different salad ingredients, once sliced, are stored in small trays in a refrigerated cabinet, to facilitate the preparation of the dishes. It shall also to contemplate a sink or a small sink.

Production Area

hot cooking area

This area is the heart of the kitchen and requires special care in its design; in some cases, it is located near the final presentation area and in others not, the food can be transported in special carts.

Both vegetables and meats are cooked in this area, preferably, the plant area will be located near the final presentation area, as This one requires little cooking and fast service. Unlike these, the meat requires a long cooking process and a lot of older ones.

The design trend in cooking centers is based on the placement of equipment in a certain layout, which must be taken into account;

(a) locate roasting ovens separately from stoves.

(b) the rotisserie must be far from the traffic created in the cooking. It is essential to have a work table and a refrigerator

(c) the fryers must be next to the grill; the table is also necessary a working area, a fry draining area and additionally a refrigerator and freezer.

(d) the bain-marie table and/or final presentation, if in the cooking, it should be placed close to the rotisserie and the fryers.

(e) the space required between the work surface and the kitchen equipment should be minimal but sufficient to open the ovens of the stoves, steamer drawers, etc.

If you anticipate traffic If the space is too heavy and/or the trolley is too small, a space of 1.05 mt to 1.20 mt.

(f) all equipment producing vapors, smoke and heat must be ventilated by an exhaust hood.

(g) any equipment that is placed against a wall must have sufficient separation space for cleaning; 0.30 mt to 0.60 mt is recommended.

(h) the plate warmer is usually located in front of the center of cooking; however, it has been directly related to the area of final presentation and dispatch.

Final Preparation Area

work table with shelf

This area is part of the hot kitchen area, its main equipment is the support tables where the cooks who are in the production area are supported by placing the dishes they prepare, on the other side in the preparation area there is another team that is responsible for “assembling the dishes”.

The food is then cooked, decorated, and integrated with the other foods coming out of the production area.

The tables in the preparation area are wide enough to have people working on each side, also to these tables can be added a small sink that serves to wash small preparation tools.

The tables in the preparation area can have shelves as well, these shelves can be double and plate warmers are placed on them to maintain the temperature of the dishes while they are being served.

Dining Area

The dining room of a restaurant is the space where diners settle down to taste the menu or food offered on the menu.

It is the place where they will spend the most time and therefore the one they will remember most from their stay in our restaurant.

It must be previously designed to create a good image and to transmit comfort and well-being, and thus to achieve that the users enjoy their stay there in a relaxed way.

The dining room is also the place where employees interact with customers, so do not forget that it is a suitable area for both. must ensure that the relationship between the service and diners is smooth and comfortable, providing an optimal space and structured.

Washing area

washing area

I forgot to include the washing area in the first flow chart, this is one of the fundamental areas of the kitchen and it is the “dirtiest” area of the kitchen because it is where waste is managed, therefore this area must maintain a balance in being away from the food production to avoid cross-contamination.

But at the same time, it must have an indirect communication because from this area the clean dishes and pots are taken out to be used.

The dishwashing and battery layouts will affect the sequence of the whole operation. Dishwashing is high cost in terms of space, equipment, labor and electrical power.

This area should be adjacent to the final presentation and pre-dinner area. Dishwashing can be manual or machine.

Waste deposit

The correct management of restaurant waste is important since, due to its high organic content, this type of waste can harbor a multitude of microorganisms and even pests. In this sense, the accumulation of restaurant waste can be a major health problem.

One of the keys to treating restaurant waste efficiently is to establish an isolation system from the time it is produced until it is eliminated. A good idea is to install hermetically sealed, non-manual-operated containers in areas of the kitchen where food waste is handled.

It is also very important to determine where the garbage cans, made of strong material and with sufficient capacity, will be installed.

They should be located in specific areas that are easy to clean and disinfect, and completely isolated from food circulation and storage areas.

It is advisable that these areas have a water intake, a drainage grid, few joints in the floor, half rods on the wall and a hermetic seal to prevent the passage of insects and rodents.

Finally, the disposal of restaurant waste must be continuous to avoid accumulation. The waste will be transported outside by a route that does not pose a risk of contamination to people, materials, equipment or food.