How to make the most of a small kitchen space
Every chef has their own idea of their dream kitchen. Unfortunately for most, in reality, the kitchens they often work in can be small, cramped and restrictive spaces. For restaurants, extra room is a valuable commodity, especially for those venues operating in small spaces, and any extra meterage is commonly given to diners rather than back of house.
But chefs confined to the four walls of a small kitchen should not despair, there is something special about working in a small restaurant or bar (other than the lines out the door creating instant appeal), and there are a number of quick and easy ways to maximise your space.
Storage is by far the biggest obstacle in small venue design; something often overlooked by those not familiar with limited space. Where in the past you may have had room to stock large cases and pallets of extra food and drink, dishes and equipment, a small kitchen leaves you with far less options. Yes, you will have to be okay with running out of things, but you should also be strategic with ordering and deliveries. Look for products that can be delivered frozen so they can stay off your benches and be put straight in the freezer, and ones that come in small cartons so you don’t fill up your small freezer with one product!
If you are going to buy food to freeze, you may as well be able to use it over a number of dishes. That loaf of sourdough? Use it as a base for bruschetta, alongside soup, as a complimentary offering, for gourmet sandwiches and then make croutons when it comes to the end of its life. Versatile products will also save you the hassle of working on too much mise en place before service, as you know you have it on hand for whatever dish you create.
If you don’t want to be running all over your small kitchen making a million dishes at once, specialise so your work flow is smooth and consistent. Perhaps you can be the pizza guy, burger queen or best known for gourmet toasted sandwiches. If you specialise in one type of food but with a myriad of flavours you won’t need to stock up on as many staples and your equipment needs will be much lower.
Speaking of equipment, analyse each and every item you have in your kitchen and get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past month. Only keep on hand equipment you use daily and store anything additional elsewhere to free up space. This is especially relevant if you have chosen to specialise – if you aren’t making fries, don’t have a fryer!
DITCH THE PLATES
Dishes take up a lot more space than you would imagine in a small kitchen. So if your venue uses a different style or size plate for every item on your menu you may want to consider lessening your plating options and using the same plates for a number of offerings. While you’re at it, check that your dishes stack easily and fit well in your dishwasher so you aren’t taking up more space than necessary.
There are so many venues around Australia making the most of very small kitchen spaces. With these five tips you will be well on your way to small kitchen success. But if you have any others please share them with us on our Facebook page - we’d love to hear what you’re doing to maximise your space (and profits)!