Posted by Tara Webber
Few things can make a food-lover salivate like the sizzle of meat on the grill. And whether it’s a freshly cracked egg or chopped veggies, that sound of cool food meeting a hot surface is louder than a dinner bell.
Of course, if you happen to be working in the kitchen, bent over a stove, cooking those burgers on the grill or pulling food from the roaster, that appetizing sound comes with a lot of heat.
The fact is, kitchens get real hot, real fast. And a hot kitchen isn’t just uncomfortable for the cook, it’s also a cause for concern among management. Excess heat can slow down work, make a kitchen less efficient and create a potential safety hazard.
Bottom line: No matter how many steaks you're cooking or turkeys you're roasting, you have to keep the kitchen cool. To do this, you should invest in a good air conditioner and take a three-step approach that looks closely at ventilation, circulation and hydration.
A kitchen ventilation system
The foundation of a cool kitchen is an efficient AC unit. However, in order for the AC to work at an optimal level, you need to make sure all the fans in the kitchen are regularly cleaned and running smoothly.
Exhaust hoods over the stoves and grills expel hot steam and air, and they also filter out smoke and particles that severely affect the kitchen's air quality.
In addition to getting rid of the hot air, you want to bring cooler, fresh air in. Setting up a kitchen ventilation fan in a screen window (preferably shaded from the sun) can do wonders for bringing in outside air. Needless to say, if you’re running a kitchen in Florida in August, you’ll want to keep that window closed.
Setting up a system of auxiliary fans around the kitchen is the easiest, most effective way to move air and create a stream of cool air circulating through your kitchen. Of course, you don’t want these fans blowing just anywhere. Keep them away from pickup counters and the prep station.
Because the body naturally uses water to stay cool and regulate its internal temperature, it’s important that everyone in the kitchen stays hydrated. You can encourage this by giving them water bottles to keep by their side during a shift, easy access to ice and filtered water, and reminding them to drink 12–16 ounces of water each hour.
In addition to installing and using an air conditioner, there are simple steps you and your management team can take to make sure the kitchen remains cool. This will make for happier employees, which carries over to better service and, ultimately, more satisfied customers.
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