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Equipping the Church Kitchen
By: Frank Leadley

If you need to feed large groups of people, what could be better then outfitting your church kitchen with restaurant-quality cooking equipment? The fact that you can have 35,000 BTU (British Thermal Units) burners in lieu of a residential range with only 12,000 BTUs and commercial ovens twice the size of home units, what could be more efficient?

There is more to a commercial kitchen then just restaurant-type equipment, though. When a kitchen is rated for commercial use, there many other code requirements that you will need to follow. Examples being that the flooring has to have a 6-inch continuous cove up the walls, all of your light fixtures have to be shatterproof, and the ceiling and walls need to be smooth, washable surfaces (no cork ceilings). The most popular wall material used is FRP; however, epoxy paint or tile can also be used.

There are other health code requirements like "dedicated" sinks for food preparation, dish washing, mops and hand washing. Hand sinks are required to be in visual sight of the dish room and kitchen areas. Always check with your local city or county health department for a list of code requirements. I always recommend a preliminary walk-through with the local health inspector before and/or during construction of the kitchen.

When designing a commercial kitchen, there are two things you can never have enough of: refrigeration and storage. Whatever you have, you will use. Your biggest single cost will probably be your exhaust hood. A rule of thumb is $1,000 per linear foot. That would include the hood, exhaust and supply air fans, ducting, fire shaft, permits and fire suppression system.

Here is a list of the most common equipment you will find in a small commercial kitchen:

  • Convection ovens
  • Range with open burners, griddle top and ovens below
  • Fryer
  • Warming and holding cabinets
  • Beverage dispensers (coffee, tea, water, etc.)
  • Refrigerator and freezer (either reach-in or walk-in types)
  • Work tables
  • Pot and pan sink
  • Dishwasher with soil and clean tables
  • Preparation sink
  • Hand sinks
  • Mop sink
  • Storage shelving
  • Serving counters

    Some kitchens will have steamers, tilt skillets, combi-ovens and other high-tech equipment; however, because in a church application, there are usually volunteers who are working in the kitchen, simple is always better!

    Always remember food safety when serving mass amounts of people. Cold food should be below 40 degrees, and hot food should be above 140 degrees. I also recommend that at least two of the kitchen staff take a local food safe-handling course, which is usually sponsored by the city through the local health department.

    Frank Leadley is a food facilities consultant. His company is Leadley Design Services, www.nwfdesign.twoffice.com .

    Product Roundup

    Sico Catering/Buffet Service Table
    A Sico two-tier catering table allows a beautifully presented service to be completely set up in the kitchen and then rolled into use by one person. When the event is over, tables fold and roll into compact storage. Versatile tables, with casters that lock in place to keep them stationary, also can be used as dry bars or registration desks. Convenient storage racks underneath hold extra tableware or supplies. Table tops are made of medium density fiberboard (MDF), which outperforms plywood and particle board, with Sico Armor-Edge to allow for easy cleaning. To complement the service tables, Sico offers solid fuel and electric food warmers. Warmers present food hot from the kitchen, without overcooking or drying out. Units are reinforced stainless steel for easy cleaning.

    Eagle Red Hots
    Eagle Foodservice Equipment has expanded its Red Hots family of countertop cooking and warming equipment to include a complete range of cookers/warmers, fryers, griddles, broilers, hot plates and drop-ins. Equipment comes in a wide range of sizes and configurations, all sporting a new stylized look. Bulb warmers are also offered as part of the Red Hots line. Red Hots units are constructed of heavy-gauge stainless steel and incorporate design details to enhance their functionality and durability under demanding day-to-day use. For instance, new Red Hots char-broilers feature 25,000 BTU burners, adjustable cast-iron grates, and removable splash guards and grade supports for easy clean-up. Griddles feature 3/4-inch-thick plate assemblies plus a 3-inch splash guard on the rear and sides, along with recessed front panels to provide safe access to controls. All Red Hots equipment is NSF-approved, AGA certified and/or UL-listed.

    Henny Penny's SmartCooking System
    One-step cooking-it's that simple with the SmartCooking System from Henny Penny. The patented system automatically cooks food when the display depicting that food item is pressed. No need to enter cooking times, temperatures or humidity settings. Simple operation of the system means no complicated employee training. Fifteen percent faster cook times mean reduced operating costs and increased throughput. Twenty-five percent smaller footprint means you save valuable floor space. All-in-one grill, steamer and oven versatility means a reduced overall equipment investment. And, automatic clean-up is a snap with drop-in cleaner tablets.

    Combithern Combination Oven/Steamer by Alto-Shaam
    Alto-Shaam offers an electric combination oven/steamer with advanced, boiler-free technology, all with the added bonus of a narrow footprint. Steam production without a boiler eliminates boiler maintenance, service and burn-out due to hot combustion gases. With a capacity of six full-size pans or six half-size sheet pans, the Combitherm model 6.10iN provides food service operations combination-oven production efficiency, wide range versatility and faster cooking times. Add the optional Ventless Hood for a wider range of installation site choices. Combitherm steams, bakes, roasts, thaws and reheats, while taking up little space and coming at an affordable cost.

    Vulcan-Hart is a leader in commercial cooking equipment, with worldwide distribution of gas and electric equipment including ranges, fryers, ovens, steam equipment, griddles and broilers. The comprehensive line of dependable and durable equipment has been giving chefs the ultimate in creativity and control for more than 130 years. Ranges are typically the most used piece of equipment in any kitchen. Vulcan offers an extensive selection of top configurations and base options to meet any menu and volume requirement. Vulcan Heavy-Duty Ranges and match equipment handle high volumes and heavy pots and pans. They also can be configured into a battery with fryers, broilers and griddles for a truly integrated system that maximizes meal production. Vulcan Medium-Duty Restaurant Ranges are individual units with cooktop options for moderate production and high efficiency.

    Flavorwise Cabinets by Bresco
    Flavorwise cabinets from Bresco are designed for holding and transporting prepared food. Circulated, heated air inside the cabinet keeps food hot until it is served. A tough, clear window allows viewing of contents without opening the cabinet. All controls are on the outside so they can be adjusted without opening the door and disturbing the atmosphere within. Slide racks, heat module and chimney can be easily removed for thorough cleaning. Three slide options-11/2-inch, 3-inch and variable-allow the cabinets to accommodate various tray sizes. Model 4 and V racks-with 3-inch spacing-also adjust laterally to take both 18-inch and 20-inch width trays and pans.

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