Requirements for Different Kitchens

It is essential to know how much equipment, particularly heavy equipment and machines, is needed in kitchens of various types and sizes. Conditions vary too much for this problem to be solved by the application of a simple formula, but there are certain fundamentals on which sound decisions of choice about quantity and type of equipment can be based. It is of course important that the equipment provided should be on a scale adequate to produce the requisite amount of well-cooked food at a specific time without placing undue restrictions on variety. Shortage of equipment will obviously be a serious handicap, but it is not always appreciated that to have too many items may also be a disadvantage. This rarely happens owing to the restraint imposed by cost; where it does occur, not only is extra labor needed to clean and maintain redundant equipment, but floor space is taken up unnecessarily, leading often to congestion in the kitchen, or if the building is a new one, to an increase in the total area and a consequent lengthening of production routes. Thus it is important to arrive as closely as possible at an exact figure for the requirements of the various types of equipment.


1. Output of Kitchen

The first factor to consider is obviously the basic one, the number of meals the kitchen is intended to produce; as has already been pointed out, this must relate to the production of a specific meal, usually the midday meal, and not to the total number for the day. Equipment requirements can then be worked out to provide adequately for the preparation, cooking and serving of this meal, due account being taken, of course, of the other factors which have some effect on requirements. The first of these is the type of meal served. If it is a plain simple meal consisting of two courses only such as is provided in school canteens, the requirements will be very different from those needed in a high-class restaurant providing a number of courses, where the dishes are more complicated and demand more equipment for preparation and cooking. In the first case, for example, boilers of from ten to forty gallons are usually satisfactory for all the boiling work, whereas in the second case a series of small pans used on a boil. ing table or the top of a solid-top range are more convenient. Again, if the meal to be provided allows for a choice of dish in one or more of the courses, equipment requirements will be different from those where no choice is to be given. Usually choice of dish means more equipment, but this is not always the case since sometimes it may be accompanied by a more efficient use of the equipment provided. Thus it is possible that on one particular menu the steaming equipment could not be used, whereas if a choice of dish were provided one of the items could be cooked in the steamers. The third consideration which affects the relation of the equipment provided to the total numbers is the amount of pressure on the equipment during peak periods. If all meals must be cooked and served within say hour, it is obvious that the demands are more acute than if the period extends over two hours. In the latter case it is quite possible for certain items of equipment to be loaded more than once for the same meal thus reducing the total number of items required. When it has been decided what equipment is needed for the main meal, any other meals provided such as breakfast and tea must be considered. The additional equipment needed for these meals will be for tea and coffee making, toast making and possibly for baking if a considerable number of cakes and buns are made on the premises for the tea meal.

2. Output of each item of equipment

Two methods are used to assess the output of equipment in a kitchen. Either the capacity of each item can be judged separately by simple methods described below, or the total capacity of each group of equipment, such as steamers, ovens or boilers, can be ascertained and then compared with a general average figure which experience has shown to be adequate. In baking and steaming ovens this figure is usually expressed as 1 cu. ft. for X meals and for boiling pans as I gal, for X meals. In actual practice it is usually most effective to use both methods since in any case the figures produced are only approximations to serve as a guide.

(a) Boiling Equipment
The output of a boiler varies with the type of material cooked. With liquid foods, a calculation based on the amounts per head considered adequate gives the answer. Thus if the allocation for custard is 1 pint to every 6 persons served, it is obvious that a 10-gallon boiler will supply sufficient for about 500 persons. For porridge with an allocation of 3 persons to 1 pint a 20-gallon boiler would be necessary for 500 persons. When boilers are used for the cooking of solids, such a direct relationship between the amount of food and the capacity of the boiler is not possible because the former is expressed in lb. and the latter in gallons. However, the capacity of a boiler can be checked in use and this figure remembered for future reference. A useful guide in this connection is the capacity of a 40-gallon boiler when filled with potatoes. Such a boiler holds about 21 sacks and this amount is sufficient for 500 persons on a ½lb. per head basis. Putting this in smaller figures, a 10-gallon pan will hold 60 lb., enough for about 120 persons. These figures can be applied to all root vegetables but not to green vegetables, which are more bulky and may require up to four times the capacity. With these vegetables as has already been mentioned, it is preferable to use boilers of small capacity thus ensuring that only such quantities are cooked as can be brought to boiling point quickly after immersion in boiling water.

With the second method of assessing capacity by comparison with an average figure, the requirements of total boiler capacity vary according to the type of work done in the kitchen. For example, in small canteens and in many restaurants, where a great deal of the boiling is done in small pans on a boiling table, fewer fixed boiling pans will be needed. In large canteens where over 500 meals are produced daily, 1 gallon for every 6 meals has been found to be a satisfactory basis on which to assess requirements. In smaller canteens serving 500 meals or less 1 gallon to every 3 meals is a useful guide.

(b) Baking and Roasting Ovens
Oven output also of course varies according to the type of food cooked. This variation is due partly to the difference in size of portion served per person, and partly to the difference in the length of time required for the cooking of various dishes. Thus, because pastry is cooked in a comparatively short time the oven can be loaded several times during the morning, whereas, when it is used for the cooking of rice puddings which need a much longer time, it can only be loaded once.

Another factor which influences oven output is the shape of the tins and the way in which they ‘nest’ together in the oven. Square or rectangular tins occupy completely all the available cooking space and the output is greater than when round tins are used.

The output of an oven can be assessed by calculating the number of portions produced when the oven is loaded with tins of the correct size. A 5 cu. ft. oven with three shelves will hold 6 rectangular baking pans 16″ x 10″ x 3″. If each of the tins serves 25 portions the output of that oven can be considered as 150. This is however a maximum figure based on optimum conditions and it will generally be found more satisfactory to consider a 5 cu. ft. oven as adequate for 100-125 portions, or a double range with ovens of the same size for 200-250 portions. This, in unit figures, works out to 1 cu. ft. for every 25 meals which can be used as an average figure for calculating baking oven requirements in canteens serving a plain two course meal. When meat only is being considered it may be taken that 1 cu. ft. is required for about every 10 lb. of meat.

(c) Steaming Ovens
The output of a steaming oven can be assessed in the same way as a baking oven; the 5 cu. ft. steaming oven has, however, 6 shelves against the baking oven’s three. This is because the whole of the space can be used for cooking since there is an even temperature distribution throughout the whole of the oven. Thus the output of a 5 cu. ft. steaming oven using baking pans 16″ x 10″ x 3″ would be 300 portions. If roll pudding tins each serving 12 portions are used, four tins can be placed on each tray, giving an output of 48 portions per tray or 288 per oven. When steaming ovens are used for the cooking of vegetables a similar method can be used for reckoning. Each tray in a 6 cu. ft. steaming oven will hold 20lb. of potatoes so that total output will be 120 lb. which is sufficient at 1 lb. per head for 240 persons. Stated in another way this is 20 lb. per cubic foot.

The general average figure used for assessing steaming oven requirements and based on the calculations already given is 1 cu. ft. per 50 meals for canteens serving a plain two-course meal.

(d) Hot cupboards.
Hot cupboard capacities are less easy to assess accurately because the uses to which the cupboards are put vary a great deal. The shape of the dishes used and the time that food is kept in hot cupboards are important factors. As has been stated earlier in this section, it is important that food should be kept in a hot cupboard as short a time as possible, but under certain conditions the ideal cannot be attained and this must be remembered in calculating capacity required. There is one use to which a hot cupboard is put where a fairly accurate reckoning of capacity is possible, and that is the heating of plates. A standard 4 table type hot cupboard will hold 300 dinner plates and so is adequate for plate heating for a two course meal for 150 persons.

(e) Machines
The choice of machines of a suitable size depends on different considerations from those already discussed in relation to cooking equipment. Of first importance is the time taken in relation to output and to initial cost. In preparing 1 cwt. of potatoes for a kitchen serving 200 meals, a standard machine of 10 lb. capacity would be loaded approximately 10 times, whereas a 56 lb. machine would be loaded only twice. The choice would obviously be the 10 lb, machine because the higher cost would not justify the purchase of the larger machine to be used for such a short time daily. For a much larger canteen of say 2,000 meals the 56 lb. model would obviously be essential. To prepare 9-10 cwts. of potatoes would require 18-20 loadings even with this machine; with the 10 lb. model the time taken would make it quite impracticable.

A similar principle applies to the choice of suitable sized electric mixers, vegetable shredding machines and dish-washers.

(f) Refrigerators
Considerable variations are found in requirements for refrigerators and cold rooms. In a small canteen, where there is a daily delivery of all perishable goods, a refrigerator is needed only for the storage of small residual amounts of food and for the preparation of certain items which must be chilled before service. If, however, the canteen is situated in the country where there is less frequent delivery of perishable foods more generous provision is obviously desirable. Kitchens for residential establishments also require more refrigeration space because of the longer daily period of meals service and week-end requirements. When refrigeration space is being considered for kitchens serving a thousand meals or more, similar considerations arise but in addition cold room space may have to be provided for the storage of such foods bought in bulk, as meat. For example, if whole carcase meat is purchased to be butchered on the premises a cold room is essential.

A figure frequently recommended for estimating the refrigeration space required is ½ cu. ft. per main meal served, the average weight of foodstuffs stored being taken at 3 lb. per cu. ft. This is a generous figure which is not reached in many existing kitchens.

3. Cost

The influence of cost on the provision to be made varies to some extent with the different types of equipment. With heavy equipment the kitchen cannot function satisfactorily unless certain basic requirements are met, and any variations in cost will therefore be related to differences in quality and more particulars in the quality of the materials used. With machines the high cost raises the whole question whether the purchase is necessary at all, and a deciding factor may be the saving of labor costs.

Variations in cost and quality of heavy equipment may be reflected in design and efficiency, but it is usually the selection of the material to be used which has the greatest influence on the price. An obvious example is the use of stainless steel for sinks and boiling pans. It is an excellent material for this equipment, not only because it is pleasant to use and easy to clean but also on account of its hard wearing qualities. High costs, however, almost prohibit its use in the majority of kitchens. As in most cases where a decision has to be made about cost in relation to quality, it is usually sound policy to buy as good a quality as can be obtained; this is particularly true with kitchen equipment which will be subjected to exceptionally hard wear.

In deciding on the use of machines in the kitchen certain of them, such as potato machines, must be considered as essential for all kitchens. Almost all the others are desirable as time and labor-saving devices and should be provided if possible, particularly where there are difficulties in obtaining suitable staff.


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