The Chocolate Life

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I am writing the second in a series of articles for Dessert Professional magazine on "Perfect Kitchens" (the first was on ice cream and gelato kitchens).

When you think about your "perfect kitchen" for making confections, what comes to mind?

When you think about your current work space, what things come to mind that you wished you knew before you made some critical decisions ... before you went ahead and implemented them?

The answers can be on any topic from design and construction (including utilities), to licensing and permitting, to equipment and tool selection. This isn't an article about ingredients so opinions about specific chocolates is not something I am looking for.

I am also interested in hearing some real-life stories of good (and not so good) experiences using rental kitchens. You don't have to name names, just let me know what did and did not go well - and how you might approach this issue in the future now that you have more experience.

The article is for the June-July issue and the editorial deadline about May 1, so any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. I know it's the Easter rush so I've waited this long in the hopes that in the relative quiet of early next week you might have some time to help me out.

I am going to try to work a deal on discount subscriptions to the magazine not only for everyone who contributes but also for any ChocolateLife member who contributes.

Thanks in advance,
:: Clay 

PS. Contributions can be attributed or anonymous, and I will send everyone whose writings I use a heads up on how I used them before I submit the article for final approval.

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comfortable space for individuals to work

convenient location for utilities for everyone:making sure the production flow is smooth.i.e:raw material must be next to entrance while  end product must be near exit and not close to anything else.

Isolation of different sections for different products: baking products should be away from ice cream or chocolate as well as products containing flour

Digital key ovens have prooved to be a pain in the bum on the long run if you use alot of flour in your kitchen.The dust gathers around the keys. It causes alot of technical issues and it's not a hygienic approach on the long run.

Floor:I like to have two minimal downhills  which meet in the centre of the kitchen. Its ideal to clean.That way the water meets in the middle where the sewerage is. (i hope you understood this point and am sure you have a much better way of explaining it).

Location of the kitchen is important to be accessible for suppliers.During busy times (like today) when you run out of an item all of a sudden, its good to have someone close by or a good enough alternative at least and fast delivery.

Avoid stairs as much as possible, the flatter the better

 

Hope this helps

 

My dream kitchen has excellent temperature control, a large cool room for storing work in progress and tons of verticle bakery racks for storing things in various stages of completion.it also has open shelves under the steel tables where you can stack molds as you unmold them or sheet pans.

A temperature controlled work environment is the first thing that comes to mind.  Most kitchens are hot and extremely difficult to work with chocolate in.  I work in a catering kitchen where I do other work besides my own chocolate stuff.  If the line and ovens are all going, I have to plan my chocolate days for when it's not going full blast. Or, if we open the doors, it's like a wind tunnel with the ocean air blasting through.  We are a block from the ocean, so dampness can be an issue as well.

I used to work for a large caterer that was in a warehouse.  We hand tempered chocolate for everything and some days it was too warm to get the chocolate to cool down enough, even on marble.  

A private country club in my area is remodeling their kitchen and are including a "chocolate room".  Would be my dream :). 

For a "watch your back" on a rental kitchen story...

 

I got a call from the landlord that others using the kitchen had unplugged the fridge. (Eek!) I had dairy products in there and it was a good thing I was told or I could have been using tainted ingredients. Fortunately, the landlord covered the cost of replacement ingredients. So all was well in the end. But, yeah, could have been a nightmare.

Perfect kitchen = storage.  LOTS of shelving and LOTS of drawers.  Get extra shelving installed on stainless steel tables - the more the better.  At the Montreal Callebaut Academy they have a ??? - gosh I don't know what they're called, it's like a big tool chest - mechanics use them to store their tools.  They have lots of drawers that slide really easily.  I thought this was a great idea for all the small pieces of equipment that a chocolatier uses.  One thin drawer for rubber spatulas, one for dipping forks, etc.  At the Callebaut Academy in chicago they have rows of drawers fitted for molds.  Open a drawer and the molds are all labelled and accessible.  Beautiful.
I agree, I would be nowhere with out my Craftsman Tool Chest.  Other kitchen essentials for me have been a granite stone or countertop. I have a tempering machine for each chocolate, milk, dark, and white.  Also an enrober, shaker table, Craftsman tool cart with a small ACMC tempering machine on it so I can move it to whatever station I need to use it at, for detail work.  Retractable Outlets hanging from the ceiling have helped a lot.  I can plug up anything where ever I need it.  Multiple speed racks, shelves, and stainless work tables.  Windows for customers to see into the kitchen are important to me....and really good temperature control.  I have a packing station that holds all of my packaging and has a large surface on top to work on packaging.  Impact floor mats, and an airbrush station.  Wow!  I was all over the place with that!  Hope it helps!  ~Wendy

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