The only difference between residential kitchens and commercial kitchens is that in residential kitchens, you cook food for consumption by the residents, while in commercial kitchens; you cook food for the purpose of selling or distributing the food. Just like any other form of business enterprise, rules and regulations govern your operation of a commercial kitchen to ensure public safety—both of those working in your kitchen and of those who will be consuming the food from your kitchen. The requirements, rules, policies, and regulations vary from community to community.
The first thing for you to do, then, is to ask your county office for information about the requirements for setting up a commercial kitchen. Generally, the basic requirements would involve floor space, kitchen equipment (e.g., cooking hoods), sinks, fire suppression system, and electrical appliances. However, since the exact requirements can vary, you will need to ask for the specifics from your county office.
To check whether your kitchen complies with the requirements and the regulations, have the community inspector come over and inspect your kitchen. The kitchen inspector will check each aspect of your kitchen and will tell you whether everything complies with state or county rules and regulations. Take note of the recommendations of the inspector and act on them promptly. The inspector has the power to shut down a non-complying commercial kitchen or give approval for a compliant kitchen to operate. So, if the inspector finds that this item needs fixing, fix it right away. If the inspector says you need one more fire extinguisher, go ahead and buy one more.
Enroll in the commercial kitchen certification course. This course teaches you the basics of operating a commercial kitchen in a way that complies with state or county regulations. You will also learn about food storage temperatures, sanitation practices, food preparation and handling, and many other important lessons about running a commercial kitchen. You will probably discover that most of the lessons are common-sense, but it’s good to be reminded anyway. The duration of the course varies from county to county, although in many communities, the course usually runs for just one day.
While attending the certification course, always ask for clarification whenever you encounter a topic that you understand vaguely. At the end of the course, you will be required to take a certification exam. So, it is important that you understand the lessons in the course.
Take and pass the certification exam given at the end of the course. You will be given a certification to run your commercial kitchen only if you pass the exam. Take note that not every worker in your kitchen needs to pass this certifying exam. While your other workers can enroll in the course so that they will benefit from the lessons, only one person per commercial kitchen needs to pass the exam.
Commercial kitchens are lively places. They cook food and meals that many people can enjoy. Ensuring that your commercial kitchen complies with state and county regulations is one way for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable experience with food.