Cooking in a Restaurant vs. Cooking at Home

Think you’re ready for cooking in a restaurant?

If you love to cook and find yourself making food for friends and family, you’ve probably had someone tell you that you should cook professionally at some point. Maybe you’ve even thought to yourself, “Why not?”

Well for one thing, there is a huge difference between cooking in your own kitchen and cooking professionally. Almost everything is different from techniques, storage and even equipment is much different.



Commercial Kitchens versus Home Kitchens

A commercial kitchen is much different than a standard home kitchen. For one thing, the equipment is different. From ovens and ranges to pots and pans, restaurant equipment has to be durable and built to withstand constant daily use. If you used your range for 12-16 hours a day all day everyday, it would break down pretty quickly. Same goes for just about everything else. Mixing bowls, storage containers and such are also much larger since restaurants typically cook in larger batches. Commercial equipment is also much more expensive for these reasons.

While not always the case, commercial kitchens can be bigger and are almost always laid out differently. There is much more prep room and they are usually designed with flow of traffic in mind. Unlike a home kitchen where there may be only one or two people cooking at a time, depending on the size of the establishment, a restaurant kitchen could have a dozen people or more all cooking or doing other food prep.

Commercial Kitchen Environment

You many enjoy being in your kitchen at home because it’s a nice relaxing hobby; you can start a dish early, and finish when you like. Not so in a commercial kitchen. Commercial kitchens are fast paced and stressful; there is often yelling of orders and demands by the Executive or Sous chefs, and with the equipment running constantly, it’s often extremely hot. If you don’t work well under pressure, you won’t last long in a busy restaurant kitchen.

Restaurant Kitchen Safety Procedures

Restaurants have to follow strict safety and sanitation procedures, and for good reason. They are cooking for the public, and if one dish is not stored properly or contaminated, a lot of people can get sick. So cleaning has to be thorough and there are certain procedures that have to be followed as far as storage and handling of food items.

Professional chefs must also adhere to stricter dress codes. You are at greater risk for injury, fire and falls in a fast paced kitchen. Not to mention protecting food from contaminants such as hair (which is why chefs where hats), nail polish (no polished nails in the kitchen) or jewelry items (In strict kitchens, no jewelry items of any kind are allowed). You must wear sturdy shoes that will protect your feet if say a large pot is dropped on them, and they must be comfortable as you’ll be working on your feet for hours. Aprons, flammable clothing, and even a neckerchief are often required as well.

Restaurant Food Ingredients

Restaurants have to worry about the bottom line as far as food costs, and may not be able to use all fresh ingredients like you can in your home kitchen, so very often restaurant chefs find themselves working with prepared and frozen products. This serves a couple of purposes: First, it’s often less expensive and limits waste; It also helps to keep all dishes tasting the same; this is especially important in chain restaurants where you want diners to have the same experience across all restaurants.

If you do find yourself using fresh ingredients in a restaurant kitchen (which is not unheard of these days, especially given the recent trend towards better health), you’ll find that every part of every item must be used. Where you may cut the tops off of peppers at home and toss them, in a restaurant, actions like this cost significantly more money over time.

If you love to cook at home and think you would make a great chef, it’s important to remember these distinct differences in cooking before jumping into a career in a restaurant, as you’ll soon find out, it’s a different world out there.

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