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Catering Kitchen Design Tips for Community Kitchens

If you manage a church or community centre, you know just how rewarding it is to cater for your community, especially as the events you put on grow and welcome more people.

A catering-ready kitchen has the power to transform the events you host – from cooking classes to charity events, fundraisers, bake sales and more. However, if you don’t have dedicated catering staff, you may even look to hire an outside team to come and use your kitchen and cater for specific events.

However you plan to use your community kitchen, keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks for choosing a kitchen that will be easy for caterers to use – and help you put on a fantastic events programme.

What do you need to consider for catering kitchen design?

1. Space

There’s nothing wrong at all with a dependable tea-and-biscuits service from your kitchen.

However, if you want to start expanding the events you put on – ones that put food at their heart – you will need enough space for multiple occupants to work in the kitchen without obstruction.

Just like your church or community centre didn’t come in a flat pack, there is no ‘out-of-the-box’ or ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that will be perfect for your community kitchen – which is precisely why we design kitchens specifically for your unique space.

Just because it’s precise and tailored to you doesn’t mean it’s difficult, however. With a free design and consultation service, we assess the space you have available, listen to your needs, and design a 3D version of an effective, gorgeous-looking kitchen that complements your space.

At Steelplan, we always use the ‘kitchen triangle’ principle to limit cross-contamination and help to keep an easy, seamless flow for kitchen users without getting in each other’s way: perfect for busy caterers.

2. Hygiene and safety

Hygiene doesn’t have to be priority of yours when imagining your perfect kitchen – but you should ensure that whoever designs and installs your kitchen does make it theirs.

After all, having surfaces that are easy to clean with over-the-counter cleaners, hard-wearing and easy to maintain is critical to a safe food preparation environment – as well as keeping the caterers happy.

Thinking of an MDF Kitchen?

If you are thinking of installing an MDF kitchen – and there are many options that look appealing and budget-friendly – you will want to opt for a stronger material, like a polyester powder-coated mild steel carcass, covered with a stainless steel worktop.

MDF absorbs grease, spills, and moisture, can be prone to mould and bacteria build-up, and often can’t endure the chemicals used in over-the-counter surface cleaners, making it significantly more difficult than a stainless steel worktop to keep surfaces clean and bacteria-free.

Likewise, MDF units are much more fragile, and present a hazard should they break or splinter – a possibility when your community uses your kitchen regularly. That’s why a powder-coated mild steel option for the ‘carcass’ and door is far preferable in terms of safety – and in reducing the cost of replacement.

All in all, MDF is a false economy, and your catering team will find it hard to do their best work with it.

3. Appliances

If you define what appliances you would like in your kitchen and the food you want to serve, catering teams will work around you.

However, it’s important to ensure that your kitchen isn’t just properly equipped with the basics (ovens, cookers, etc.) – but it can also be adapted and added to with time.

For example, a mild steel carcass allows you to slot, fit and re-fit restaurant-grade appliances into your kitchen should you wish to upgrade it – and as you grow, your caterers will appreciate your ability to say yes to their requests.

We run through some of the most common appliances that will help any catering team, plus a few optional extras that you may want to think about when launching a regular catering service that’s a ‘cut-above’ the average community centre kitchen.

Do I need a commercial kitchen in my community centre or church?

If you run a large community centre or place of worship, you might be weighing up whether you need a fully commercial kitchen to allow for restaurant-grade appliances.

We don’t think so. Not only will a commercial kitchen fail to offer the warm and welcoming ambiance needed to complement your space, it could simply be deemed over-specified for your catering needs.

Instead, semi-commercial kitchens are the perfect middle ground between commercial kitchens and domestic kitchens: they are appropriately equipped for a regular catering service, offering a blend of aesthetics, functionality, durability and hygiene.

What else do I need to know to cater at my church or community centre?

A new kitchen can do a lot more than serve tea and biscuits, and while it’s exciting, you will also need to bear in mind just a few additional rules and regulations if you are providing a regularly catered service: this can range from following basic food hygiene regulations, to potentially having to declare yourself as a food business.

We talk more about this here, but it shouldn’t be a cause for concern, whatsoever.

If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to get in touch and we can advise on what the process will look like for your community centre or church.

So, if you think you are ready to provide a catering kitchen in your community centre, we hope these tips have helped you. And if you want to take the stress out of designing the perfect kitchen, why not get in touch, and we can talk about how to make the perfect place to prepare food for your community.

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