Some tips from Greg Christian on how to create a sustainable kitchen with the proper equipment.

For more details on creating a sustainable kitchen, see our feature Sustainable Planet, Sustainable Business: Connecting the Food System and Commercial Kitchens of the Future

Consultant Greg Christian describes the attributes of the sustainable kitchen. Here's what he had to say about the necessary equipment and supplies and how they support sustainable foodservice practices throughout the kitchen.

Delivery/Dock Area: Multistream recycling; place to store different vendors' containers; 200-pound scale for weighing incoming produce and outgoing garbage; biodiesel tanks/hookup for operations with high-volume oil use.

Dry Goods Closet: Tiny

Cold Storage: Large walk-in cooler that can handle rolling racks for storing fresh produce, proteins and the like and prepped ingredients; clear bins for storing highly perishable grains; space for a compost bin at the back. Freezer sized to store fresh produce for use throughout the year as well as blast-chilled sauces, demi-glac├ęs and homemade soups and stocks.

Prep Kitchen: Long prep tables, plus at least one refrigerated prep table for prepping meats and fish; sharp knives and color-coded cutting boards; two-compartment, deep vegetable sink situated near the walk-in cooler with boards on either side for drying just-washed produce; salad spinners for drying washed produce; food processors for easy chopping; bins or hotel pans for temporary storage; garbage bowls for collecting scraps or emptying into the main compost bin; separate LED or CFL lighting for this area that turns on and off as necessary; tilting skillet and blast chiller for small-batch cooking; shock freezer for storing fresh vegetables harvested throughout the year; and perhaps a coffee roaster for house roasting beans.

Cookline: Smaller footprint than traditional lines; Energy Star-rated and other efficient foodservice equipment and only what's needed, especially items that multitask, such as combi ovens; on-demand ventilation; undercounter refrigeration that staff restock between peak periods.

Dishroom: Energy- and water-efficient dishwasher, possibly one with heat-recovery technology; three-compartment sink with green cleaning solution and a measuring cup clearly marking the necessary amount; compost bin for collecting food scraps or small garbage can for transferring to compost bins later; scrappers/pulpers/disposers, if allowed and appropriate; and shelving for plates and other permanentware.

Other Considerations:

  • Equip hand sinks with aerators. 
  • Develop planned maintenance programs for all equipment pieces to ensure they function at the highest possible efficiency levels.

Equipment Supporting Sustainable Foodservice Practices

  • Large prep tables
  • Refrigerated prep tables
  • Scales
  • Sharp knives
  • Color-coded chopping boards
  • Larger walk-in coolers
  • Long-term storage freezers
  • Undercounter refrigeration
  • Blast chillers
  • Tilting skillets/braisers
  • Shock freezers
  • Hot-hold cabinets
  • Combi ovens
  • Two-compartment vegetable washing sinks
  • Food processors