How to re-start your commercial kitchen…
If you have closed your commercial kitchen for any prolonged period of time, such as a national lockdown or local tier restrictions, it’s important you re-start your catering equipment correctly.
This is not only to prevent equipment damage but for the safety of your team.
Unlike our commercial kitchen shut down tips, there is no acronym to make things easier to remember. However, there are still some critical steps you should follow when re-starting your commercial catering equipment to prevent long term damage to your equipment, and for the safety of your team.
We’ll explore the tips further below, but if you need any help with your catering equipment you can book a callout or contact us here. As a rule, if in doubt, ask!
The first thing that you should do is plan your re-start process. Some procedures take over 24-hours (for example, starting refrigeration and waiting for it to reach a sustained temperature) however others should be done in a certain order.
One thing to keep in mind is to not start all of your electrical equipment at one time. This may create a spike or increased load on the electrical systems and cause the distribution board to, or worse cause a fire. Therefore consider turning on equipment, beginning the start-up procedure then move onto the next piece of equipment.
With gas equipment, you will want to ensure your gas interlock is working correctly (a gas interlock is a safety feature that shuts of your gas supply if your extraction is not working correctly). Therefore it is important this is all switched on in the correct order.
Here is our tips for the gas interlock:
- Switch on the ventilation system
- Switch on a gas appliance and leave to run
- Turn off the ventilation system
- If working correctly, interlock system should switch-off the gas supply
- If it doesn’t, turn off the gas appliance immediately
- Seek assistance from a suitable qualified commercial kitchen engineer
Some equipment will need to go through an automated cleaning procedure that takes time, so consider getting these going before checking the more basic appliances that just need an inspection and switch on.
Re-starting your ventilation and gas interlock system is key for kitchen safety,
With kitchens being closed for prolonged periods of time, it’s important to visually inspect equipment. This is to ensure it hasn’t been compromised at any point (by cleaners, rodents or other visitors) and that connections have not perished.
Visually inspecting equipment will help prevent cause damage or knock-on effects such as floods or gas leaks.
Here are features of catering equipment you should visually inspect:
- Electrical cables – inspect all of the electrical cables from the plug socket or termination/isolator point to the appliance ensuring there are no split or pesky rodents that have gnawed through the cables.
- Water connections – by inspecting water connections you could prevent costly and inconvenient floods! When switching on the water supply, do so slowly and use paper towels to wipe connections and make sure any seals haven’t perished.
- Gas connections – it can be more difficult to spot a gas leak, but fully-inspect all gas connections and hoses, then turn on the gas supply slowly and listen out for gas escaping or for the smell of gas.
- Filters – if you have removed filters from any warewashing equipment, cooking equipment or ventilation systems, ensure these are in good condition and fitted correctly.
- Seals – whether door seals on ovens or refrigeration, ensure the seals are in good condition and have not perished. Any signs of cracking, splitting or crumbling seals could cause further issues down the line and make equipment far less efficient.
- Dials – ensure any dials on equipment are moving freely and haven’t seized during the closure; this is particularly important with gas equipment to ensure the supply to burners has not been compromised.
Carrying out a visual inspection is vital to ensuring that equipment won’t cause any issues to the rest of the kitchen or damage the equipment itself when you do switch it on.
The key to re-starting your commercial kitchen is to plan, inspect, clean, re-fill, run and check.
3. Fill & Clean
One of the most important aspects of a kitchen re-start procedure is to clean everything thoroughly, much like shut down.
Despite how well your equipment has been cleaned and the kitchen ventilated, bacteria can still build-up, particularly within enclosed equipment such as warewashing, ovens and other water systems.
You will also want to consider re-filling any equipment that was purged as part of the shutdown procedure, such as detergents, rinse-aids, salts and so-on. Now will also be a good time to order if you are running low!
When it comes to cleaning your catering equipment, here is what you need to consider:
- Gas Ranges & Ovens – don’t use excessive liquids or chemicals, so that you don’t block any of the burners.
- Combi Ovens – run the automated wash cycle and ensure that the wash-down hose is run for at least 10-minutes to remove any bacteria.
- Cast Iron & Steel – give these a wipe down to remove any vegetable oil you may have applied to prevent rush or corrosion when closed.
- Warewashing – as well as running an automated clean cycle don’t forget to re-fill with detergent and/or rinse aid.
- Refrigeration & Freezers – don’t forget to clean the seals and gaskets, then wipe off any chemical/detergent residue with water.
- Don’t forget to give the walls, floors and ceilings a good clean ready for the start of your first service after your re-start procedure has been completed.
If you have any concerns about the safety of equipment after cleaning, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Don't forget to thoroughly clean and re-fill warewashing equipment with detergent and rinse aid © Meiko
4. Switch-On & Run
Once you have thoroughly inspected and cleaned your equipment it is time to switch it on. As we mentioned earlier in the blog, it’s important not to switch everything on at the same time.
Switching on all electrical equipment at the same time could cause a spike in power and trip the distribution board or worse, cause a fire.
Of course, some equipment may have been switched on to run cleaning cycles, but now it is time to switch-on and run to ensure they’re working correctly. This could include:
- Gas equipment – switch on and ignite your gas equipment ensure all burners run correctly and all dials work as intended. Don’t forget to test your gas interlock if you haven’t already!
- Ovens – turn on your ovens and ensure that they’re performing correctly and reaching temperature. This can also help to kill any germs or bacteria remaining in the oven.
- Warewashing equipment – run at least 3 full cycles of any warewashing equipment including glasswashers, dishwashers and pot wash machines to ensure the machine is performing correctly.
- Fryers – re-fill with oil and ensure that any drain valves are closed and sealed correctly.
- Refrigeration – turn on refrigeration and wait for it to get to temperature (see below). Now is a good time to check any door safety release mechanisms particularly for walk-in chillers and freezers.
- Ice machines – run a full cycle and ensure the machine starts to produce ice; you can consider wasting the first batch of ice just to ensure the machine has fully rinsed of all cleaning chemicals.
- Water Boilers – fill these and like fryers, ensure the drain valves are closed and sealed correctly.
Do you need help with re-starting your kitchen safely? We can help!Get In Touch
5. Check, Check and Check Again!
Once you have thoroughly inspected, cleaned and switched on your catering equipment it is now time to re-check everything.
As part of the checking process, you’ll want to visually inspect all pipes to ensure they are still not leaking and that all equipment is performing as expected. For example, in steam or combi-ovens you should be able to see that the door is sealing correctly once operating, or that gas burners are running at a constant rate of flow.
The main part of this checking process will be to ensure that equipment is reaching the correct operating temperature which is important for several pieces of equipment:
- Warewashing – it is important that warewashing equipment is reaching at least 60°C in order to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, including Coronavirus.
- Gas Interlock – we have already mentioned it but this is a vital piece of safety equipment so once the kitchen is up and running, test the gas interlock system by turning off the ventilation system; your gas supply should switch-off.
- Ovens – ensure these are reaching the temperature displayed on the dial but using an external thermometer.
- Fryers – once refilled with oil and turned on the oil should be reaching temperatures of between 175°C and 190°C. Consider using an external thermometer to ensure the machine’s inbuilt thermostat is working correctly.
- Refrigeration – after at least 24-hours, ensure that your refrigeration and freezers have reached the correct operating temperature; also keep a log to ensure this temperature is being maintained over a long period of time.
- Water boilers – similarly to fryers, ensure water boilers are reaching 100°C and check this with an external thermometer to double-check the thermostat is working correctly.
If you have any concerns about the safety of your equipment speak to a suitably qualified engineer who will be able to advise. Or contact us!
Ensure your refrigeration is maintaining the right temperature for a sustained period of time before filling © Adande
If in doubt, ask!
The correct kitchen shut down or decommissioning procedure is designed to keep your equipment safe, fit for us, and most importantly ready to use when you start-up your kitchen post-Lockdown.
The correct procedures will prevent breakdowns when you have minimal time and finances to get things fixed, so it is worth investing the time now!
However, if you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are happy to provide free advice and arrange for an engineer to attend site to help.