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Module 5: Principles of Food Preparation

The basic principles and standards of food preparation isn’t just knowing how to cook a meal – it’s also about having a fundamental understanding of kitchen operations.

Kitchen organisation

This is a typical kitchen organisational chart seen in hotel and restaurant operations. Some of the positions seen here may not apply in smaller scale operations, but understanding the organisational chart will allow you to create a system that best suits your type of establishment.

The kitchen is usually divided according to the following responsibilities:

  • The kitchen or brigade de cuisine headed by the chef de cuisine or executive chef (in Asian kitchens, the head chef is called the chef or the chief cook).
  • The sous chef who supervises menu preparation at the different stations under the chefs de partie.
  • The pastry chef is in charge of baked goods such as bread and desserts. Under him is the baker. The pastry area or cold kitchen area is separate from the hot kitchen area.
  • The butcher takes care of butchering requirements.
  • The chief steward is in charge of the kitchen’s cleanliness. Below him is the steward.
  • The banquet chef heads banqueting and functions.
  • The garde manager is in charge of cold food.
  • The assistant chef or assistant cook prepares the menus at the different stations. This is also known as the commis.
  • The person in charge of the pantry handles the dry goods and stored items, and the commis is an assistant chef working under the chef de partie.

Common kitchen equipment

Apart from knowing the roles of different persons in the kitchen, one should also be familiar with the different pieces of equipment used. In general, there are 3 broad types of equipment: storage, production, and cooking equipment.

1. Storage equipment

  • Chillers – Where food items that do not require freezing are stored. Items that should be kept cold but not frozen include vegetables, because their quality will deteriorate.
  • Freezers – An example of food items that are stored in freezers are frozen meats. This is important to prolonging the shelf life of the meat.
  • Warmer – These are temporary storage equipment where finished products or dishes are stored until served.

2. Production equipment

  • Mixers – For combining ingredients in large batches. Mixed ingredients are usually of the solid form. This can be for cake and pastry ingredients or ground meat mixes. Mixers come with different attachments depending on the use, such as the paddle attachment to mix ingredients, or whisk attachment to whip ingredients through incorporating air and making food fluffy. 2 types of mixers are the table top (smaller ones such as the KitchenAid) and floor (large industrial ones).
  • Slicers – For slicing meats and baked products
  • Choppers – One example is a food processor. This is used for chopping various ingredients into smaller pieces, such as vegetables.

These items help chefs prepare food faster, rather than doing things by hand.

3.    Cooking equipment

  • Steam cooking – These are steam kettles, steamers, combination cookers and microwave ovens. This type of equipment makes use of steam for cooking.
  • Dry heat – Dry heat cooking equipment makes use of cooking methods without liquid or oil. Examples include ovens and stoves.
  • Grills – Also use dry heat, but by exposing food to open flame.
  • Fryers – Make use of oil for cooking. An example is a deep-fryer. 

Aspects of kitchen layouts

There are two aspects of kitchen layouts. Before deciding on a suitable kitchen layout, you should also know what type of kitchen is needed. These kitchen types are classified in terms of special equipment, stations or logistics/transportation needs as follows:

  • Quick service restaurant
    Characterised by speed and high-volume activity
  • Hotel food service
    A huge kitchen that prepares high-volume banquet service, with satellite kitchens
  • Hospital kitchen
    Requires the highest standard of sanitation
  • Mid-scale restaurant
    Medium-sized, the size of a hotel kitchen station
  • In-flight food service kitchen
    Commissary-type; operates round the clock and usually located very near the airport
  • Cruise ship kitchen
    Has large storage units to keep enough food for the duration of the cruise

Kitchen layout flow

The layout should flow as such:

  • Receiving and storage area should be close together
  • Next to storage should be the mise en place and production area
  • Once ready, food should move quickly to the plating and pick-up area near the dining room.

Criteria for a well-designed kitchen

The kitchen layout should be designed according to your menu to ensure the right equipment, workspaces and capacity are available. Consider these criteria and how they fit your restaurant concept and menu:

  • Division of areas for proper distribution of labour
  • Smooth traffic flow
  • Sanitary and hygiene standards
  • Equipment selection
  • Determining capacity
  • Purchasing system

Congratulations, you’ve completed the Kitchen Operations – The Basics topic!

Continue on to the next topic, pick a related topic from the Principles of Food Preparation module, or go back to the Chefmanship Academy modules page.

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