When renting a commercial kitchen, kitting it out with equipment essentials is an indispensable element of a successful commercial catering company or restaurant.
Safety, workflow and space efficiency should all be taken into consideration when either buying or renting the necessary appliances. The size of your venue will dictate the equipment installed and therefore a professional kitchen should be designed around its apparatus to ensure your food service business operates as smoothly as possible.
Here is our ultimate guide to commercial kitchen equipment, focusing on the recommended commercial kitchen utensils and appliances, whether to choose domestic or commercial apparatus and the advantages and disadvantages of buying and renting catering equipment.
We have also included our favourite suppliers to hire or buy new and 2nd hand equipment from.
A commercial kitchen requires industrial-grade equipment that can withstand the wear and tear of heavy-duty use. Breaking it down into three sections – before, during and after service will ensure no essentials are missed off the list.
Here is our essential commercial kitchen equipment list:
Before Service: Commercial Storage Equipment
Counter Fridge & Freezer
It’s essential that we consider every space-saving option when storing food. Incorporating counter storage into your food preparation stations frees up a lot of precious kitchen space. This under-counter storage provides easy access to ingredients via drawers or doors and is available with 1-4 doors dependent on the space available. If you have a higher demand for fresh produce or frozen foods a cold or frozen room may be required.
During Service: Food Preparation Equipment
When designing your kitchen, logistically, it makes sense to position the prep area between your food storage and cooking area. Stainless steel prep stations are recommended because of their durability and easy to clean surfaces, reducing cross-contamination. Make sure to also include hand-washing basins and sinks for your pot washers in the food prep area.
During Service: Cooking Equipment
A commercial oven is a must-have appliance for any catering business, it is manufactured to withstand heavy-duty use, allowing for flexibility with multiple burners.
Should you choose gas or electric? If your kitchen has access to a gas supply and you are able to pay for the installation, gas ovens are recommended as they are far more responsive when adjusting heat levels. For a smaller space, a multi-functional combi-oven is the recommended, cost-effective option.
Deep fryers are included in the essential restaurant kitchen equipment list because of their ability to cook certain foods in an efficient way. Ideally, a kitchen should have two fryers to avoid cross-contamination of foods. As with most pieces of equipment on an industrial scale, there are two options to choose from, free-standing or countertop fryers. The former is able to cook a high volume of food at once and is more robust, whereas the latter is used for a smaller kitchen to maximise on space.
Grills & Griddles
Two other space and time-savers are the grill and griddle. Grills are used to efficiently finish the tops of dishes and in a commercial kitchen space, can be mounted on shelves above ovens or situated on a stainless steel shelf unit. A griddle is powered by heat positioned below a flat plate to cook large quantities of food quickly and is necessary for greater capacity kitchens on a larger scale.
A commercial microwave is another necessity for your rented kitchen, as unlike a domestic microwave, it won’t lose power and can sustain long periods of use. Instead of the turntable microwave, used in a domestic kitchen, a flat surface is fitted as the base for easy cleaning between uses.
Before fitting an extraction unit, it’s important to adhere to the strict regulations of a commercial kitchen. Safety restrictions require adequate ventilation and a gas cut-off to be installed for every new kitchen.
After Service: Cleaning Equipment
The dishwasher is a fundamental element of the commercial kitchen and choosing the right size and type is essential. An under-counter dishwasher is a space-saving unit which is ideal for medium-sized venues. A pass-through is required for larger kitchens and a conveyor for very high volume used to clean a large number of dishes at once. Your venue may also need to consider separate glass and pot washing machines to cater for different temperature requirements.
Commercial vs. Domestic Equipment
When scaling-up your catering business, it’s recommended to choose the heavy-duty, albeit more costly, catering kitchen appliances. There are a few distinguishing factors between commercial and domestic equipment to bear in mind.
The domestic kitchen is ideal for the average-sized, lighter-use household, whereas the commercial or dark kitchen is able to contend with high volumes and heavy-use and would be built to a higher specification.
A domestic fridge, for example, would require a lower-powered compressor to manage the loss of cold air, as the door would only be opened occasionally throughout the day. Comparatively, the larger-scale kitchen would require an industrial-powered compressor to handle the high temperatures and the fridge door being opened multiple times by chefs and kitchen staff throughout service. These fridges will also be installed with better insulation, fans and digital displays to ensure the fridge is chilled to the prescribed safety temperatures.
Renting vs. Buying Equipment
You have the freedom to spec out the kitchen to your specific needs and requirements; should you rent or buy the commercial cooking equipment?
Where to Hire Commercial Kitchenware Equipment?
Here are some of our favourite suppliers:
Advantages of Renting
Affordability: warrants the renting of appliances that are initially too expensive when starting out in the foodservice industry.
Cash-flow management: enables you to rent equipment as and when you need it.
Variety: allows you to keep abreast of new trends and discover which appliances are necessary for business.
Disadvantages of Renting
Risk: you may be asked to pay a penalty fee if the equipment is damaged.
Inconvenience: collecting the equipment requires extra time and effort that could be used more efficiently elsewhere.
Expense: renting equipment for long periods of time will be more costly than buying it outright.
Used Commercial Kitchen Equipment vs. New
When it comes to purchasing appliances and commercial kitchen utensils, there are two options: buying used commercial kitchen equipment or brand new. Both options take affordability into account and are available to buy online.
To keep costs low, the option of buying 2nd hand commercial equipment at an auction house is available and a popular choice amongst those starting out in the foodservice industry and for those looking to scale-up their food business.
If you’d prefer to purchase new appliances in bulk, buying wholesale catering equipment is also guaranteed to reduce costs.
Where to Buy Used Commercial Kitchen Equipment?
Here are our suggested suppliers:
Where to Buy New Professional Kitchen Equipment?
Here are some of our favourite suppliers:
Advantages of Buying
Control: owning equipment will ensure it’s professionally and responsibly cared for.
Savings: bulk buying equipment (wholesalers) will allow for potential negotiations and the option of buying used equipment is a cheaper alternative.
Convenience: no need to return the equipment to owners.
Cash-flow management: the option of renting out your equipment is available.
Disadvantages of Buying
Funding: you will need to have the initial funds to buy the equipment which can be costly.
It is recommended to purchase essential kitchen equipment for your food service company, whether it be new or used. If you have the funds to do so, it will be economically and financially beneficial in the long-run.