Starting a new business or renovating an existing commercial kitchen can be an exciting yet daunting task. Managing a kitchen fit-out is no small feat. As every restaurant, bar or cafe owner knows, the kitchen is the driving force that determines the success of your business. The kitchen fit-out presents an opportunity to reassess your business needs and the kitchen equipment, appliances and other essentials you purchase.
With the cost of the average kitchen fit-out going well into six digits, it’s crucial to balance items you need versus those you want, to avoid going over budget. Planning is the key to minimising stress and keeping budget constraints. Consider the necessity of every piece of equipment, appliance and furnishings you place into your kitchen workspace.
In the initial planning stage, you would have carefully considered the location of primary cooking equipment, prep and food storage areas, washbasins, dish and glasswashers. As your vision comes closer to reality, deciding on what appliances, based on brand, size and capacity are paramount. At times, with the pressure of managing a kitchen fit-out, it is easy to overlook some of those all-important kitchen essentials.
To prevent that happening to you, we’ve put together an exhaustive list of kitchen appliances, equipment and other essentials to help make your job a little easier. And, because it’s such a mind-numbingly long article, we have broken it down into eight, easily digestible sections, they are;
The cooking equipment you use can determine the efficiency and flow of your entire kitchen. As you can well imagine the heart of any great kitchen is its chef, and behind every great chef, is the cooking equipment he or she depends.
Commercial ovens are the most used and versatile pieces of equipment in the ‘chef’s cooking arsenal. Ovens can cook large quantities of food faster than conventional ovens. Ideal for baking, roasting, broiling, drying and cooking vegetables, they are the quintessential workhorse of the modern kitchen.
While gas ovens are the preferred choice of professional chefs, electric ovens and hot plates are a common alternative. Ovens are available in standalone and benchtop variations.
Last, but not least, don’t skimp on quality. Consider the constant use your oven needs to endure and the impact that precision temperature regulation has on results. Something all chefs appreciate.
Ranges are a popular choice in commercial kitchens, combining the versatility and convenience of a burner and oven in one standalone unit and offers greater flexibility in the kitchen layout. Ranges also offer full griddle or combination burner and griddle combinations.
Burners are available in both freestanding and benchtop variations and designed to withstand the rigours of commercial kitchens. Commercial burners are incredibly robust, easy to clean and maintain. Be sure to consider your current and future needs while paying attention to usability if you have small and large pans on the go at all times.
Whether your grilling with gas or charcoal, grills are fast, reliable and robust cooking methods designed to meet the needs of busy restaurants, roadside stops and grill houses and customer taste expectations. Available in standalone and benchtop variations.
Griddles offer significant benefits in restaurants and fast-food applications as they heat up quickly and provide a consistent cooking temperature. Cast iron is an old favourite and incredibly durable as well as retaining and distributing heat across the plate better than any other surface.
Depending on the cooking application, stainless steel can represent a better alternative as it’s easy to clean and does not impact on the taste of certain foods. Available in both standalone and benchtop variations.
Commercial deep fryers provide a safe and hygienic way to fry large amounts of food with precision and consistency. Simple operation, robust and easy to clean, deep fryers are used in a variety of foodservice environments from restaurants, burger joints and cafes. Deep fryers are also available in both standalone and benchtop variations.
There are a variety of freezer solutions designed to meet the needs of your kitchen while balancing function and space-savings. There are four freezer types;
- Chest freezers have spring-loaded lids and commonly used in kitchens that require a significant freezer capacity and hold up hundreds of litres of capacity.
- Upright freezers are a practical solution where kitchen floor space is a real commodity and enable easy access to food items.
- Under-counter freezers offer space savings and convenient access to frozen items, ideal for busy kitchens, durable and come in single and multi-door configurations.
- Counter freezers – like their under-counter counterparts, counter freezes provide space savings by adding to the storage or preparation area in your kitchen.
Space is a valuable commodity in every commercial kitchen; fortunately, modern fridges are designed to meet the needs of today’s business by balancing function and space-savings. There are four fridge types;
- Upright fridges are perfect for kitchens with limited floor space and come in a variety of configurations such as single, double and glass doors with stainless steel and painted finishes.
- Counter fridges are a professional and hygienic way which provides efficient refrigeration with the added benefit of increasing your prep space.
- Under-counter fridges are the perfect solution for space-conscious and suit hospitality businesses, both large and small.
- Low fridges are perfect for kitchens with limited space. Both practical, durable and robust enough to enable additional catering equipment like grills and ovens to be positioned on top.
Ice Makers, Crushers & Storage
Ice markers are a dependable solution for hotels, bars and clubs who need a reliable source of ice year-long.
- Underbench and modular ice machines provide a convenient and hygienic way to create ice ready for use. Perfect for bars, cafes and restaurants.
- Ice Crushers are perfect for a variety of hospitality applications such as chilling fruit juices and soft drinks or lining display beds to keep produce fresh throughout the day.
- Ice Bins – are the ideal storage solution for cubed or flaked ice for busy hotels, bars and restaurants with a constant need for ice on the go.
Great chefs are defined by the tools they use. When it comes to catering equipment, nothing could be truer. Commercial kitchen equipment by design will withstand the daily rigours of regular and continual use and form the cornerstone of productivity and performance in the kitchen.
Food Processes, Blenders & Mixers
Commercial blenders are designed to withstand continual use. Are for ideal for coffee shops, restaurants, and bars alike. With the ability to vary a blenders viscosity makes it perfect blending smoothies, milkshakes, frozen juices and creamy drinks in a matter of moments. Blenders are available in a variety of types you might like to consider depending on your use case, they are;
- Stick Blenders
- Milkshake & Smoothie Blenders
- Kitchen Blenders
- Bar Blenders
Food preparation demands in restaurants, cafes, takeaway and sandwich shops can be brutal. Slicers provide a simple, safe and hygienic way to prepare high volumes of food without all the fuss quickly. There are three primary types of blenders, they are;
- Meat slicers
- Tomato slicers
- Vegetable prep machines
A versatile piece of kitchen equipment used to broil, brown, glaze, caramelize, grill and toast. Salamanders are energy efficient, produce excellent results and easy to clean and maintain. Although you will not find a salamander in every kitchen, it is nonetheless an essential appliance, so we have included it in our benchtop equipment list.
Commercial vertical and conveyor toasters are perfect for hotels and self-service buffers where toasting large volumes of bread or crumpets is needed with the least amount of fuss and a quick turnaround. Griddle toasters provide commercial kitchens with the versatility of a grill and toaster, capable of grilling sandwiches, frying burgers and cooking pancakes.
Available in a range of sizes with both benchtop and freestanding options available depending on your business needs. The three primary types of toasters are;
- Vertical toasters
- Conveyor toasters
- Griddle toasters
Whether you run an upmarket cafe or restaurant and serve high volumes of hot beverages, you will no doubt understand how essential it is to keep up with demand. Coffee brewers and beverage machines are designed to satisfy high customer demand while delivering consistent results with every use. Microwaves
Microwaves have proved their worth as an invaluable tool in the commercial kitchen, delivering faster cooking times and quickening meal turnaround times. Cooking aside microwaves are perfect for defrosting and reheating, making them ideal for use cafes, restaurants, sandwich shops and takeaways.
There are four commercial dishwasher types, they are;
Under Bench Dishwashers
As the name suggests, under bench dishwashers can be conveniently tucked away under a bench or shop counter, enabling significant savings in floor and bench space. Although compact, they offer small to medium businesses a powerful solution to their washing needs. Suitable for cafes and restaurants in need of a quick-loading and easy to use solution that is economical, reliable and built to last.
Pass-Through & Rack Conveyor Dishwashers
Are you looking for a washer with the power and versatility to meet the high demands of your busy restaurant or cafe? Pass-through/upright dishwashers combine speed and wash efficiency in a compact, space-saving design that meets the needs of the most active hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Pass-through dishwashers come in a range of sizes and wash capacities, so it’s easy to match the right washer to your business needs. Pass-through machines offer the versatility to clean a broad range of kitchen goods such as crockery, cutlery, pots and pans.
Rack-conveyors are a step-up from the pass-through dishwasher with the ability to pre-wash, wash, rinse and dry hundreds of wash cycles per hour with ease. Rack conveyors are essential to kitchens with high turnover.
Pot & Utensil Washers
Commercial pot washers are task-specific upright washers designed to meet the needs of large restaurants and hotels; with the capacity to handle the toughest baked-on grime and high-volume wash loads, dependably, all-day, every day.
Another task-specific upright washer is the glasswasher; delicately washing your glasses, yet powerful enough to remove the toughest grime or lipstick stains. Your glasses emerge spotlessly clean, dry and ready for use.
Kitchen equipment and appliances aside, two things every master chef and kitchen hand wish they had more of is bench space and food storage. As you can imagine, food preparation and storage are high on the must-have list, but other items are equally as important, such as;
- Food Preparation Tables
- Food Storage
- Commercial Sinks
- Drying Racks/li>
- Food Trolleys & Utility Carts
Food Preparation Tables
As all experienced chefs and kitchen hands know; inadequate food preparation space slows the preparation process and keeps customers waiting longer than expected. Considerable thought into the design and layout of your kitchen will aid in maximising preparation areas and result in significant productivity benefits. Stainless steel is the preferred surface for food preparation as it’s resilient to dents and scratches, easy to clean with less chance of harbouring harmful bacteria.
Food storage containers are ideal for storing a variety of food staples in bulk such as quinoa, oats, pasta and rice. Having an adequate supply of clearly marked food storage containers and jars for the handling and storing of food is crucial to increase longevity avoid cross-contamination, reduce spoilage and bacteria growth. Introduce a systematic management and rotation system, which ensures the oldest food stocks are used first.
The most common types of food storage systems are;
- Ingredient bins
- Storage containers
- Preserving jars
In our upcoming articles, we will discuss the various types of storage solutions available and which ones best suit the commercial kitchen environment.
Selecting the right commercial sink for your kitchen will depend greatly on the layout of your kitchen and the availability of space next to your dishwasher. Commercial tubs are a freestanding combined table and sink with either a single or double washbowl. As with most kitchen equipment and furnishing commercial sinks are sturdily constructed and made from high-quality stainless steel, easy to clean, scratch-resistant and durable.
Drying racks have a dual-purpose use by providing a convenient place to both dry and temporarily store crockery, glassware, cookware and utensils during busy periods.
Shelving is as vital to the productivity of your kitchen as any other area in your kitchen workspace. Having an ample supply of uncluttered shelving is paramount to the efficiency of your kitchen. Opt for quality steel shelving where possible, its robust, durable and able to withstand the hard knocks, heaving loading and the harsh conditions of the kitchen environment.
Food service Trolleys & Utility Carts
All reputable hotels and restaurants have several utility carts and food service trolleys at their disposal. Trolleys are an efficient way of hauling heavy loads and serving guests, quickly and easily.
Utility carts aside, service trolleys are available in a variety of service types and use specific, they are, they are;
- Foodservice trolleys
- Clearing trolleys
- Dish trolleys
- Cutlery trolleys
- Food prep trolleys
Although widely used in the hospitality industry, utility carts are incredibly versatile, suitable for just about any application, and for this reason, are used in a variety of other industries.
It’s not always possible to find all of your kitchen essentials in one place, but now and then one certainly comes close. The guys at Butler Equipment have an extensive range of quality kitchen equipment with helpful, knowledgeable staff to guide you in your purchase decisions.
It has been said; ‘clothes define the man’, well, when it comes to kitchenware, nothing defines the professional kitchen better than a chefs tools. Furthermore, the crockery and cutlery you select for your restaurant or cafe conveys a subtle, yet important message to your customers about who you are.
For this reason, considerable thought needs to be given to ensure the tableware chosen matches your restaurant’s theme and surrounds. We’ve compiled a list of essentials every notable kitchen requires, those distinguishable elements are;
- Turners & tongs
- Cutting boards
- Pots & pans
- Mixing bowls
Crockery selection can be likened to putting the all-important finishing touches on a painting which captures its essential character. The plates you select; whether simplistically elegant or artfully noteworthy culminates the customer experience.
The chef’s knife is the cornerstone of the food preparation process, here are the seven essential knives you should have in your kitchen;
- Paring knife
- Chef or Santoku knife
- Boning knife
- Fillet knife
- Carving knife
- Bread knife
Keeping knives sharp is essential, and there are a variety of sharpening solution available from electric knife sharpeners to whetstones and honing steel. We’ll discuss the primary differences between these solutions in a future article.
As mentioned a little earlier, tableware plays a role in the overall customer experience. Consider the weight, look, feel and material of the cutlery you select as it can either enhance or devalue the dining experience.
Crockery forms a significant part of the table setting so it makes sense that your dinnerware reflects your restaurant theme.
Choices are abundant when it comes to dinnerware. Aside from picking the right style to match your restaurant theme, it is also important to consider durability, material, the statement you wish to make and your budget. When selecting dinnerware it’s important to evaluate the entire set, consider the pros and cons of each component and how it enhances or detracts from the dinner set. We’ll talk more in detail about how to select the right dinnerware for your restaurant in an upcoming article.
Cups & Saucers
Selecting the right cups and saucers can be tricky and is an area which receives a lot of scrutiny and for good reason. When evaluating a cup and saucer it’s a good idea to look out for the following;
- The shape of the cup
- Shape of the cup handle
- Cup placement within the saucer
Table spills can be embarrassing and frustrating for customers, impacting their overall experience while burdening staff during peak hours. Consider the shape of the cup, how easily the handle can be held, and the cup fits securely within the saucer. These simple checks will not only improve the customer experience but also save staff time and limit costly breakages.
Restaurants need to stock a wide range of glassware. Depending on whether your dining experience is casual or formal, the look and feel of your glasses will no doubt vary. The most common types of glassware your restaurants will need are;
- Beverage Glasses
- Tumbler Glasses
- Beer Glasses
- Wine Glasses
- Cocktail Glasses
- Champagne Glasses
- Beer Glasses
- Dessert Glasses
When shopping for glasses, look for features which match your restaurant’s theme and avoid overly thin glassware as it breaks easily.
Perfect for picking up and holding a range of food types for a variety of food handling tasks. The most commonly used tongs are plating, serving, turner and grill tongs.
We’ve listed the full collection of tongs types available below;
Stainless steel tongs stand the test of time, durable and able to withstand a considerable amount of heat and are food safe.
The majority of professional turners are made from quality stainless steel and available in a range of slotted and perforated blade variations with steel, wooden or heat-safe polypropylene handles.
The primary turners types are;
When selecting a turner, consider the material used, the comfort of the grip, and whether or not the turner will be exposed to heat for long periods. Stainless steel handles conduct heat very quickly, so wooden handles can be a great option to avoid burns.
Running a food service business has never been easy. One area of particular concern for commercial kitchens is cross-contamination, which can occur through cutting boards. So choosing the right surface for your food preparation is of paramount importance to protect the health and safety of your customers.
Many commercial kitchens prefer to use plastic cutting boards as they are easy to clean, dishwasher safe, durable and relatively inexpensive. Whatever prep-surface used it’s recommended you allocate one for each food group; such as meat, bread and vegetables.
Cutting boards are made from one of the following three materials;
Both plastic and wooden boards are approved for use in commercial kitchens, as shown in the NSW Food Authority Guide, which stipulates the correct use of cutting and serving boards.
Pots & Pans
Cookware is the indispensable item in every kitchen and cooking process. The materials used in pots and pans in particular need to conduct and distribute heat evenly while preventing food from burning.
As with most kitchen items, materials often determine the quality of the item; however, materials also play a role in its suitability to cook certain food types.
There are four primary steel types used, they are;
- Stainless steel
- Anodised aluminium
When selecting cookware, consider it’s construction, the thickness of the base, how well lids fit and do the handles and covers have a heat-proof surface.
Mixing bowls have a variety of uses around the kitchen and come in a range of size depending on the amount and type of ingredients mixed. The three most common bowls used in commercial kitchens are stainless steel, polycarbonate or polypropylene. Stainless steel is robust and easy to clean, while polycarbonate and polypropylene are durable, lightweight, inexpensive and easy to clean and can be placed in the microwave.
The five types of materials used in commercial mixing bowls are;
- Stainless Steel
It is worth doing a little further research into the pros and cons of using all of the above materials before committing to purchasing any one type of mixing bowl.
An indisputable necessity and requirement for every commercial kitchen, exhaust canopies, hoods and exhaust fans are designed to extract and filter airborne grease, fumes, heat, smoke and steam and draw the air out of the building.
Commercial Exhaust Canopy
The exhaust canopy is a commercial-grade range hood which draws and filters the air emanating from one or more appliances located under the canopy. Depending on the area to be covered, exhaust canopies are custom made where required.
Exhaust hoods are designed to cover appliances in areas not covered by an exhaust canopy or where air extraction requirements differ from other areas within the kitchen. An excellent example of this is exhaust hoods located over dishwashers which draw only condensed air, unlike cooking areas which need to filter smoke, grease, condensed air and heat.
Roof and Inline Exhaust Fans
Roof-mounted exhaust fans draw air up through the roof, while inline exhaust fans are wall-mounted and draw exhaust air and fumes outside the building.
As discussed in our recent article, we discuss the importance of cleaning and sanitising your commercial kitchen. Creating a cleaning schedule for your kitchen aids in systemising the cleaning process and ensures you don’t attract the watchful eye of the food authority. Keeping stock of cleaning supplies along a vigilant attitude to cleanliness is required to prevent harmful bacteria and possible cross-contamination.
Below is our checklist of necessary cleaning items to keep in stock at all times;
- Floor mats
- Hand soap & sanitisers
- Microfibre cloths & cleaning rags
- Wet floor signs
- Brooms and dustpans
- Restroom supplies
Our cleaning and sanitising guide provide tips on cleaning frequency and cleaning equipment required.
Last but not least, safety in the workplace should always be a priority. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure the safe working environment for your employees and their compliance in ensuring the safety of others, whether fellow employees or customers.
Necessary safety essentials every kitchen needs are;
- Fire blanket
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit
- Heat detection devices
- Fire suppression systems
In a future article, we will delve into the topic of fire safety compliance and why they are so crucial in the commercial cooking environments of today.
The cooking needs of commercial kitchens vary greatly depending on their area of expertise. Our aim in creating our kitchen essentials guide was to cover the pieces of equipment most commonly used in commercial kitchens.
We hope that you have found the above resource useful, and we welcome comments to help us make this guide even better.