It's not usually the first thing you think of when planning a kitchen, but with an ever-increasing focus on energy efficiency, it really pays to get the ventilation right.
Ventilation is one of the most overlooked - but essential - aspects of kitchen design.
It's not just a matter of removing smoke and fumes from the cooking area. It's also about making the working environment more pleasant and staff more productive. But beware: ventilation can help or hurt the kitchen environment, depending on how it is designed and maintained.
The most prominent item in any kitchen ventilation system is an exhaust canopy over the cooking equipment. This can come in several forms, including wall-mounted canopies, island canopies for island suites, "eyebrow" canopies fixed to ovens and other equipment and pass-over canopies.
They can even be built into the ceiling: ventilated ceilings are growing in popularity, as they can be made to look more open and aesthetically pleasing than conventional canopies, creating a greater sense of space.
Sometimes expensive and complex ducting can't be installed, either for practical or aesthetic reasons. In such cases, ventless canopies are a good option. Self-contained, with powerful fans and integrated filtration systems, ventless canopies are typically quite complex but remove smoke, grease and fumes using a variety of methods, such as fine-mesh screens, or filters of disposable paper, fibreglass or activated charcoal.
Normally ventless canopies should contain an automatic fire suppression system if they are to be used with a fryer. Such canopies may have pressure sensors or a safety interlock system, which shuts down the system if filters are too dirty.
The BS 6173 standard covers installation and operation of gas-fired equipment. It now requires the interlocking of the cooking equipment and ventilation systems so that cooking can't proceed unless the ventilation is working properly.
Fire suppression equipment isn't mandatory, but insurance may require it and 75% of extraction systems now include it.
Q Working conditions are becoming very hot throughout the kitchen. What steps should I take to improve ventilation, and in what order? (Owner, 100-cover restaurant )
A First of all, don't assume that you need more efficient ventilation and faster extraction. That might simply increase your fuel bills. Look at where the heat is coming from. Have an energy audit to establish the amount of heat generated from refrigeration, dishwashing, cooking equipment, etc.
Consider upgrading older models to equipment with better insulation, built-in heat exchangers (for kit such as dishwashers), etc. Remote refrigeration systems allow any heat to be dispersed from the kitchen area. After an energy audit you may find that upgrading your equipment is cheaper than installing an expensive new ducting system.
Q We've got a terrible problem with grease accumulating, the worst I've known in any kitchen. The building has already been refurbished and there's no chance of getting the ducting replaced again. (Head chef, hotel)
A Try retrofitting the latest ultraviolet light systems. These are sited behind grease filters in the canopy, inducing chemical reactions in the grease, breaking it down and dissipating it using UV light and ozone. The major benefit is that less cleaning is needed, but these systems can also reduce cooking smells while improving efficiency and running costs.
Also, at the next deep clean, ask where the hotspots of the grease are accumulating and try to get extra access hatches installed at those points for more frequent partial cleaning.