What does a quality mobile commercial kitchen look like?
When investing in a mobile food business, it is easy to get caught up in menus, marketing and how the outside of the food truck looks. Yet it is the inside of the truck that does the heavy lifting – it’s where the cooking magic happens – so it is important to have confidence in the equipment supplied within.
In most cases, the cost of a reliable mobile catering unit is significant – they are commercial-grade facilities that are licensed for food service providers to prepare and store food. They should be built to withstand commercial-level capacity and frequency of use for a lengthy period to ensure return on investment.
A mobile commercial kitchen must meet the same food safety requirements as other bricks and mortar food businesses. This includes implementing a food-safe design and fit out and having the standards in place that are required to obtain a local council food licence and pass regular food safety inspections. The use of quality stainless steel on all surfaces means they can be easily cleaned and sanitised, whether they are benchtops for food preparation and service or shelving units for safe food storage and packaging.
In addition, in-fill panels around the cookline are a legal requirement to ensure food cannot fall behind the appliances. The panels must also be removable so the appliances can be serviced by a gas technician and in a Bella vehicle, these stainless-steel panels are all removable to meet code and so they can be washed and cleaned thoroughly and regularly.
Flooring is important. It must be quality, commercial grade R12 and the legislation states it must be able to be effectively cleaned; unable to absorb grease, food particles or water; laid so water cannot pool; and where possible, not attract or harbour pests.
The kitchen layout design should consider both effective workflow and employee health and safety, with things like handwashing facilities close to the entrance to serve as both a reminder and provide an easy access point.
When cooking with gas, ventilation is critical. The gas code states appliances must have natural air flow, so air vents are often provided in both floor and ceiling locations and should not be obstructed.
Investing in a mobile food vehicle either to complement an existing business or as a stand-alone venture can be a fantastic opportunity. It is important to realise upfront, however, that it is a commercial kitchen that is being created and that all standards and codes need to be adhered to for the safety of you, your team and your customers.