Whether you're in a restaurant or at home, cleaning up is a real pain-in-the-nuts. Everyone loves cooking but nobody loves cleaning up. Cooking isn't just about knowing how to make the right hit on your guest's palate, it's also about the divine décor of it, the mess created from it, the clever resemblance and integration of materials, ingredients and equipments, the methods used to produce foods and so forth.
This guide is here to tell you: Check these places in the kitchen NOW, or face possible damage to your equipments, end-products or cutleries.
In commercial kitchens, giving none or your least attention to these areas could be signal bad quality food experience - Let alone producing exquisite cuisines to tantalize tastebuds of many. At home, these areas would simply just collect rust and rubbish - Not literally, but to a level where filthy is achieved.
Commercial & Home Kitchen - The Drain Filter
Every restaurant has a drain filter. Whether or not the head chef delegates this 'cleaning' job to any of his/her subordinates, it won't be known until the drain filter is checked. This drain filter collects almost all sorts of rubbish, and can be EXTREMELY filthy if not maintained of its hygiene. Drain filters' location vary from the size of the establishment to the mind of the interior designer - And it's best to brief each and every person working inside about it. Make it a weekly task.
Drain Filter Hygiene Solutions:
- In the kitchen's duty roaster, make a path for someone to clean the drain filter - And rotate them so that everyone gets a piece of it. Don't just let the apprentices' do the job: It's everyone's responsibility, ultimately the Head Chef.
- Wash the filter with hot water. If possible, soak them in soap. Clean them during non-restaurant hours (in between split shifts). Other than just doing Mise en place, get that done first.
- Tell everyone to throw wastages into the rubbish bin - From warm oil to bits of pasta pieces. Make sure your huge rubbish bin uses at least two 'durable' plastic bags to withstand the load.
Commercial Kitchen - Gaps in Between
Everyone hates gaps; but they are entirely necessary. Without gaps, pipes and wires can't pass, or there is no room for you to place your spatula into that little hole when you need to grab another ingredient placed on another table next to your hood. Not only table gaps, but also cabinet gaps, floor gaps between the floor and kitchen equipments, gaps in between bain maries, gaps between 1 cooker hood to another, etc.
Perform a health and hygiene check on your kitchen before you start your operations every fortnight. Prepare a checklist if you will, and make everyone do their job. These areas pose as one of the dirtiest yet 'invisible to the eyes' area(s).
Gaps in Between Solutions
- Create a checklist of all possible gaps in the kitchen, and run a routine check every fortnight to see if these gaps are greasy, dirty or contain little food ingredients like chicken pieces or dried pasta strands.
- Avoid having gaps at areas you do not need to, like worktop to worktop, cabinets in a storage facility, etc. Alternatively, (or if you cannot help it) you can use a cover for your table and make a hole for the wires to pass, then close the lid.
- Place everything in order - Have a place to put clean and dirty pans, a bin to put in cutleries, a place to easily grab kitchen knives or any other prep cutleries.
Commercial & Home Kitchen - The Fridge
It may sound common, but have you checked everything? In a kitchen, refrigerators are extremely important. A dirty fridge may reduce food quality before it's even prepared. In commercial kitchens, cold rooms/walk in chillers are also dirty. The problem is, walk in freezers are so cold (or maybe it's just magic) that bad smelling items (that expel liquid) are frozen before they have a chance to actually kill your nostrils.
Among the common areas of a Walk In Chiller are surrounding walls, racks, ceiling, fan filter, door and floor. At home, it's usually the bottom tray (collecting all sorts of dirt from above) and the freezer.
The Filthy Fridge Solutions
- In your kitchen hygiene checklist, do not just write fridge. Write fridge walls, trays, gaps, racks, fridge flooring, filter and fan. Also include arrange contents properly, wrap ingredients in plastic wrap, don't balance ingredients on top of another that you know cannot stand.
- Check to see if ingredients in the cold room have expired. Discard them if they are unusable. Alternatively, those with a longer lifespan (after expiry date and still going strong) can be used, but up to 2 days after thawing. Certain bacteria can still grow in -40C. Keep that in mind.
- Limit opening and closing of the fridge door. Opening it too many times in a day can create an unstable temperature in your fridge. Keep pre-prepared foods aside, raw foods aside and cooked foods in another side. At home, keep them in separate compartments.
For home use, keep food items in compartments which clearly states its AREA. For example, vegetables right to the bottom, meat higher above, dairy on the back part of the door, juices near the bottom, etc.
Commercial & Home Kitchen - Inside of Kitchen Equipments
Chefs should press on this issue more often than ever - The compartment of kitchen equipments like the oven, the cooker hood of the char-grill, bread proofer, and so forth collects little ingredients and liquid over time - And when not used frequently, (or even frequently), there will be a particular dirt inside them, like it or not. Serious cases would mean sticky oven doors (inside) covered with thick grease and hellishly bad burnt odour emitting from the char-grill.
Even at home, when we're preparing the barbecue or grill set, be sure to always clean its interior with a damp cloth and appropriate soap - Deal with what you make, as how you deal with what you cook (by eating them).