Hydraulic Planning and Commercial Kitchens

For new comers that haven’t built a commercial kitchen before the ever oppressing list of associated professionals required can be daunting. One of those is the the Hydraulic Engineer, in layman’s terms the person that plans all the plumbing requirements both for the kitchen and the entire site.

As well as planning all correct plumbing drain requirements they will often also cover correct tap ware specifications (all though we normally cover this also) they will specify other items  required also such as RPZ Valves, Sink arrestors , correct floor wastes as per building codes (in association with the kitchen designers requirements), hot water systems , grease traps and any other associated plumbing concerns.

The Hydraulics engineer works closely with the local council/authority to ensure correct plumbing requirements meet with the local town planning guides.

An application for a new ‘Food Service Premise Licence’ has two main components  of paper work the Kitchen/bar Plans to Australian Standards provided by your food service consultant AND the Hydraulic Engineers plans.

The Hydraulic engineer(HE) cannot even start his plans until he has received the final kitchen/bar designs, and equipment specifications.  We provide the plans in CAD format to the HE they then can draw them design and specification over the top of our plan.

We normally look over the HE plans for the kitchen and bar once completed to ensure all appliances and requirements have been covered.

Why is all this important in the scheme of things? 

It’s very because if the hydraulics are not dealt with correctly the environmental damage that can be caused to the community can be massive. A recent example of what happens when it all goes pear shaped is the recent London Fat Berg! The Foodservice & Restaurant industry was heavily blamed for the fat build up because of poor or lack of any grease trap/collection being done in large.


London fatberg 2017

Other things that can trigger the need for a HE and new plans.

This is where a lot of clients get caught out with extra expenses, especially the classic ‘upgrade’.  In many situations the establishment has been around for years, decades even, initially it may have been servicing a small market and business, small kitchen, small dishwasher etc. Times pass, business increases often dramatically and the time comes for a much larger kitchen and facilities, this will include often a larger Dishwasher system, Combi Oven/s Fryers, more sinks, different locations etc and of course a lot more customers.

Net result the requirement to upgrade the water/hydraulic waste facilities on site this can be a significant cost to the project, yet it’s unavoidable.

Even smaller players can easily get caught out, simply upgrading your Dishwasher to a larger model, changing the menu that can mean equipment/cooking changes. For example the site changes from a small Cafe doing Coffee/Cake to a Burger Store , the Hydraulic requirements and outputs will vary greatly, for sure there will be the need for a HE to be involved and possibly some major capital investments to the  property.

In most cases the local council/authority requires new HE plans anytime there are plumbing changes on site (new Sink, Combi Ovens etc)

Read more of the disgusting mess here, if you dare!


To Drain or Not to Drain?

Actually shouldn’t even be a question on a new build or a refurbishment. The Australian Code CLEARLY calls for commercial kitchen floors to have correct floor falls to drains, so that ‘pooling of water does not occur’.

I recently visited a  newly refurbished club kitchen, the floor was a disaster! Drain locations in all the WRONG spots and NO FALL to any of them! In fact the only fall was to the corners of the room under benches , exactly what the health inspector doesn’t want, the local inspector must have been asleep when he inspected this one to reissue the food premise license, clearly it was a fail.

How to fall? When the new floor is being prepared a filler level are applied around the  perimeter  of the room and in other key areas that slope TOWARDS the drain/s, so when a for example a bucket of liquid is thrown on the floor all liquid heads to the drain. There are correct Australian Standards that dictate the angles required etc.

Too much fall/angle can lead to challenges for equipment and appliances also, in some cases requiring modification to front castors/legs or plinths to compensate the angle.

What sort of floor drains? In bigger busier kitchens I prefer floor trough grates, (must be able to remove the ‘Ant Slip’ grate and wash floor cleaning typically in front of Combi Ovens, Brat Pans, Dishwasher areas , other areas simple ’round’ floor waste drain grates are fine. Not a fan of the ‘square’ floor waste drain covers they tend to catch mops, and have corners that are easily raised etc.

There is a fair bit of building preparation required for these drains, and in some cases (raised concrete slabs) it is not always possible to have ‘troughs’ as there is too much structural integrity lost by the large cuts in the slab required, this is when the smaller round drains need to be used. The building engineer will make this call.


Rotisserie Cooking Spectacular , whats Old is new Again.

Food mirrors fashion at times, and like fashion its not uncommon to see the old become new again.

I picked it with ‘real BBQ’ back in 2007 when 99% of Australians had forgotten or didn’t know that  that cooking over wood/charcoal fire was, now everyone knows its 100 times more flavorsome, tender, juicy and engages the of all the senses, wonderful.

The current Sous Vide trend….is being treated as if it is brand new…it’s been around for decades its not new, it is however a far more popular cooking method than ever before.

Rotisserie cooking be it over Charcoal or Gas was super popular decades ago, every town in Australia had a ‘charcoal chicken shop’ which is the most basic example of it.

But then came the ‘marketers’ !! They told us that the Combi oven was a far superior cooking tool, more power efficient, faster cooking, easier to cook with, more versatile, easier to clean, more compact, programmable defined results…all 100% true facts and statements.

What they will never tell you or admit as its against their interests is that food cooked in these ovens, lacks flavour, texture, aroma and theatre. Yes the food is super moist and consistent no questions about that. However it’s a ‘little too perfect’ , its almost likes it is photo shopped with that super nice (remove all  the blemishes and wrinkles) airbrush look.. you know the one,  like that airbrushed photo that you got caught out on once on that tinder date !! haha!

The food businesses that I see doing the best currently and also charging good prices and are booked out more often than not are ones that have ‘unique’ cooking points of difference, and also are a lot more honest and respectful of the ingredients and the processes involved.

The french love these types of cookers, they also love their chickens, especially roasted, in fact they take poultry to an entire level we could only dream of in this country.  They respect and honor the food and the process, they ‘dine’ they don’t ‘eat’  and spend a lot of effort ensuring the best quality produce and ingredients. When this much effort is applied why would you bastardize the dish in a mass produced clinical food factory oven? You want to cook it slowly with love and care, letting it baste in it’s own wonderful juices…..you want to make a spectacle and big deal of the entire thing.. watching things cook is the ultimate in food porn, especially when you smell and see the juices basting… cue Nigela Lawson about now!

Respect the ingredients/produce and process….it’s so far from your local supermarket deli that’s for sure! And it’s also how you can charge 2-3 times what your local supermarket does for their factory hen churned out in the combi steamer.

If roasts are part of your menu then it’s hard to go past the  flavor and spectacle of a proper Rotisserie, massive value and a unique point of difference to make your business stand out from the crowd.

Yes, there is more work involved, Yes there is more organisational and cooking skills involved, but the end result is well worth it. One thing that hasn’t changed in cooking over the years is that ‘short cuts’ and ‘cheats’ are exactly that, if you want good food it does take time, effort and skill, sadly it doesn’t magically happen in between add breaks on master chef!

Commercial Kitchen Design Rotiserie
Commercial Kitchen Design using Rotisol rotisserie

To see more about this type of cooking watch this video, (click link) and from the master himself Mr Gordon ‘Fkn’ Ramsay!, Sorry couldn’t find Nigela on a rotisserie!

Commercial Kitchen Design Rotisserie

commercial kitchen design gordon ramsay demonstrates rotisserie cooking
Gordon Ramsay demonstrates rotisserie cooking




When its so Hip and Gen ‘Y’ that its well, hmmm…..

A lighter read, I’m lucky enough to get around to quiet a few different places, both professionally and as a customer, unfortunately the lines blur at times!

There is always something that I learn or pick up, trends or even thoughts, these notes are not designed to bash or shame a place , occasionally i ‘may’ promote a place if its really special.

This is a TRUE story.

On the Coast recently we picked out a great looking cafe  for some lunch, place was super cosy, cute and looked really great, in fact I really liked what they did with some simple interior design tricks to an otherwise bland spot. Menu was Ok, typical cafe , all as expected no surprises, service super friendly and nice, place wasn’t too busy.

All good , till we ordered drinks,, Coffee, Tea and a kids Chocky Milk.

“coffee machine is playing up will be a bit of delay” …no probs..no rush that fine…these things happen.

“oh and the hot water thingymajig on the coffee machine isn’t working either , so we cant do a pot of tea”!!!!

Well I cracked up laughing in my head, bit my tongue, then watched as she waited for response… which was delayed due to bewilderment …”yes we cant boil water as the coffee machine is broken so we cant do tea, what else would you like?”

My partner and I looked at each other ….with that look of mind reading and smiled at the dear Gen Y hipster who was really trying , just that clearly her brain was stuck…..an alternative was ordered.

WHAT!!! Its a fG%^$!! Cafe , you have a stove, you have pots, you have a microwave, major shops nearby, go buy a kettle….you run a cafe but can’t boil water!!

We were in hysterics of laughter , but felt sad for the poor GenY espresso mistress, she probably has never heard the sound of a kettle  whistle , let alone a billy boil…as for the rest …45min wait, average(actually below) and no idea that a 4 year old does not require 600mm size portion of chocolate milk!!

I guess the moral of the story is invest in getting the basics right before the expensive fancy fit out….its all about repeat business in cafes, food & drink is the game, not fancy decor, if you cant boil water your’e in trouble!

can’t boil water