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Stay organized with a kitchen staff checklist

Keep track of kitchen operations with checklists and make them more efficient.

What is a kitchen staff checklist?

In kitchen operations, a checklist is used to ensure that all kitchen procedures and standards are followed across shifts. This is important to maintain a consistent level of customer service and food safety, but also to ensure worker safety and reduce costs. A checklist in kitchen operations also helps prevent unwanted incidents that could lead to food contamination and other health hazards.

Checklists for kitchen operations can be used prior to opening, during operations and to monitor kitchen closure. Depending on the type and size of kitchens, the format and scope of the kitchen operations checklist will vary. In addition, it makes sense by having different checklists for different areas of the kitchen.

This article covers the following topics:

1. The format determines the checklist

2. Kitchen procedures for which a checklist is necessary

3. Monitoring kitchen operations with digital checklists

The format determines the kitchen staff checklist

The kitchen operation in the restaurant industry is not identical but differs in its operation depending on the type of restaurant business. While they all aim to provide food to their clientele, the format and the expectations associated with it significantly affect the way the kitchen operation works and the amount of work it requires. This also affects how kitchen operations checklists are designed, particularly regarding work practices and quality expectations.

The following four formats are distinguished in kitchen operations:

  1. Quick service restaurants
    The food is usually ordered at the counter. The type and quality of the food varies, the focus is on the speed of preparation.
  2. Canteens/Buffets
    The food is prepared in larger batches. The clientele can serve themselves at stations or the selection is finished before their eyes.
  3. Recreational catering
    Diners are served at the table, and food is ordered from a mid-priced menu. Generally, these restaurants have a fairly wide selection of food prepared by moderately skilled cooks
  4. High-end cuisine
    Guests are served at the table, and expectations are much higher than in casual dining. Many dishes are prepared from scratch and can require a high level of culinary skill.

Despite their differences, however, all four formats follow basic procedures in a kitchen operation, such as kitchen opening, cleaning, and closing. This will be discussed in more detail in the next section. What scope and how these are designed, however, can differ significantly depending on the format.

Kitchen operations for which a checklist is necessary

Kitchen operations can involve numerous procedures and hundreds of tasks that need to be completed by the staff daily. Knowing which kitchen procedures to focus on with a checklist has a motivating effect. The following kitchen procedures are the top procedures that occur in every kitchen and for which it is worth creating a kitchen operations checklist:

#1: Kitchen start

Perhaps the most important moment in kitchen operations: the start. If something goes wrong here, it can affect subsequent kitchen operations. Kitchen startup tasks include:

  • Switching on the basic utilities (e.g., lights, ventilation, etc.).
  • To inspect the entire kitchen area to ensure that closing procedures were properly implemented during the previous shift. (e.g., cleanliness, equipment malfunctions, proper storage and waste disposal)
  • Check and control temperatures of refrigerators and freezers.
  • Preheat kitchen appliances (e.g., ovens, griddles, grills, etc.)
  • Receive, inspect, and properly store food. (e.g., label, date, properly package and store)

#2: Food preparation and kitchen service

Food and kitchen service preparation is the secret hero in the kitchen process. A well-thought-out and monitored preparation plan will ensure that the team succeeds with guests. Such a plan must include the following two items:

  • Having sufficient quantities of prepared ingredients on hand to fulfill customer orders
  • High quality ingredients with proper temperature, consistency, thickness, saturation, shape, elasticity, etc.

When preparing the kitchen, adhereing to OSHA’s food safety standards also plays a major role in protecting consumers from foodborne illnesses and restaurateurs from lawsuits and closures. That’s why it’s important in commercial kitchens to take preventive measures, such as making sure kitchen staff follow all sanitation and kitchen safety procedures. Food should also be prepared according to standard recipes and served promptly.

#3: Staffing

For perfect service, it is important to have enough staff on-site at the right time. Having the right number of staff can have the difference between satisfied and angry customers. That’s why it’s not only important to make the staff’s job easier by using checklists in the kitchen operation, but to take care of their concerns by using checklists in HR.

#4: Kitchen cleaning

Commercial kitchens should be clean and well maintained to meet health department requirements. A clean environment promotes food safety and increases the productivity and efficiency of the kitchen staff. Cleaning should be done daily when the kitchen opens and closes, as well as between shifts. Using a checklist, kitchen cleaning can be easily monitored for all items and areas and integrated into the kitchen cleaning plan.

#5: Kitchen Closure

Closing the kitchen is just as important as opening it. Proper storage of food debris and facility safety before closing is critical, for example, to prevent food contamination and fires. Kitchen closing tasks include:

  • Double-check to see if any perishable food remains.
  • Check that all refrigerators are working and locked.
  • Turn off all heaters and other utilities.
  • Locking cabinets and properly storing keys.
  • Locking the facility and activating the alarm system.

Standardize kitchen operations with digital checklists

Paper checklists have their pitfalls: lost documents and unshared information and work instructions can have disastrous consequences for kitchen operations. Moving to a digital solution simplifies communication and information sharing. With Lumiform, a mobile app and desktop software for audits and inspections, you can provide clear and concise kitchen work instructions while monitoring their execution.

Keep track of kitchen operations by using digital checklists for different kitchen applications. From now on, perform kitchen checks only paperless, and together with your team, benefit from:

  • Start going digital right away using kitchen operations checklists from Lumiform’s template library.
  • Convert existing paper-based checklists into digital templates for your team in just a few steps using the innovative form builder.
  • Assign corrective actions instantly from the app to team members, and set priority levels and due dates.
  • Generate reports automatically on the spot and share instantly within the organization.
  • Save reports and store them securely in the cloud.

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