Back of house at 7pm can be a trip–the bustle of chefs and waiters, plating like maniacs, sizzling grease…all with the sound of the industrial dishwasher blasting in the background. Although a commercial kitchen can be chaotic, there’s one thing about a restaurant’s back of the house that’s the exact opposite of haywire: the walk-in.
Obviously, food is the life source of every restaurant. That’s why it’s so important to not only have a quality walk-in fridge, freezer–or combo of the two–but to also keep it as clean and organized as possible. The organized chaos of the kitchen starts in the walk-in! An orderly walk-in is the key to efficiency, as well as keeping the restaurant’s budget in check.
There are plenty of simple tips that can keep you and your walk-in beautifully sorted. One of the best ways to start organizing your walk-in is to use the “first in, first out” method. It’s exactly what it sounds like–whatever comes in first, needs to be used first. Cue masking tape and permanent markers–every single bin of food should be labeled with the date that it was delivered or prepared to ensure that your system works as smoothly as possible. This way, it’s easy to track what should be used first, and what shouldn’t even be used at all.
Next up is something that should be on every chef or line cook’s mind: contamination. Of course, you’re all doing your best in the kitchen to prevent cross-contamination of foods. This should be a principle extended to the walk-in as well. Maintaining bottom shelves that are at least six inches off the ground is a great way to easily and without thought reduce contamination of foods. As workers run in and out of the walk-in, dust and grease can be kicked up into the air, which is not something you want settling into the box of julienned bell peppers.
Along the same lines of preventing contamination, a great practice to have is to make sure that meats and fish are stored on the bottom shelf. Bins containing meat can easily drip liquid onto any food being stored underneath, risking dangerous contamination that could make patrons genuinely ill. To easily circumvent a situation where this is possible, storing meat on the bottom shelf alleviates your mind of worry.
You have to protect your vegetables, too! Make sure not to store fresh produce, like leafy greens, too close to the fans in your walk-in. Since these foods tend to be quite delicate, the constant cold air flowing over them can cause them to spoil prematurely or develop freezer burn, thus rendering them useless. If you must utilize the space right next to the fans, make sure to put things that are used quickly so that they aren’t subject to the extreme environment for long periods of time. Of course, make sure not to block the vents, either!
Air circulation is something every chef might not think about. Making sure to not overstuff your walk-in is vital. A walk-in with no air circulation can become a breeding ground for a host of problems, including uneven air flow, poor ventilation, and possibly even inviting bacteria to settle down and get comfortable. Without proper air circulation, you can also risk the efficacy of the walk-in altogether, as it will overcompensate.
Lastly, walk-ins need to be thoroughly cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Emptying the walk-in of all contents and habitually giving it a good scrub and round of sanitation will not only keep your walk-in squeaky clean but also provides an extra layer of protection for all the food that’s stored inside. Staying proactive in its maintenance is also pertinent since a broken-down walk-in won’t do you or your customers any good.
Have questions about maintenance and cleaning for your walk-in? Start right here by giving us a call here at Tri-Point Refrigeration and we would be ecstatic in helping you keep your walk-in and any other machines in tip-top shape! We’re excited to help you along the way, and with regular servicing, we can keep your equipment running smoothly and healthily, while also extending the reach of your dollar.
For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community.
Or check out our website at www.tripointrefrigeration.com
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