Contemporary cuisine and innovation in the industry is changing the way in which restaurants and their kitchens are designed. At the same time many chefs and restaurants are getting back to some basics and looking to engage their customers in an experience beyond mere taste.
The rise of the open kitchen
Historically the restaurant kitchen was a place of mystery and magic and if customers wanted to know anything about the way in which their food was prepared they had to hope for a brief word with chef at their table. More and more restaurants have chosen to open their kitchens to their customers by removing the very physical barriers between them. Customers can watch their food being prepared and experience the sights, sounds and even smells of the kitchen producing their meals. The nature of an open kitchen immediately generates a sense of energy and vibrancy within the restaurant area.
The open kitchen design also unites customers in an overall experience and if seating arrangements are sympathetically organised then every customer can benefit from a similar experience.
The open kitchen design is popular in restaurants boasting both hi and low tec kitchens: what this means is that the design works for venues presenting both contemporary food and cooking as well as traditional. The open kitchen design has filtered through to many high street restaurant chains but given the influence customer taste has on design it may be that the open kitchen has limited future life.
Variations on a theme
Traditionally the open kitchen has been characterised by removing the physical barriers between those cooking and their customers. New trends have seen the creation of venues where the eating area is built around the kitchen. For example, a restaurant in Berlin is basically a kitchen featuring a counter at which customers eat built around the kitchen area, making it totally open.
The new approach to the open kitchen may see smaller venues built around the kitchen rather than larger traditional venues merely removing a wall. Such a complete revelation of the process of preparing, cooking and serving food will generate new experiences built around very real interaction with chefs and kitchen staff. Their very close proximity to their customers predisposes towards just such an experience, with open conversation passing between chefs staff and customers throughout the experience.
Some “open kitchens” are making use of technology to present changing experiences to customers using devices that can be easily moved around and are highly visible. This can assist in offering regular customers an ever-changing range of activities to observe. In some venues, particularly those featuring a totally open kitchen as the main hub and focus of the entire premises, kitchens are designed to make them the aesthetic focus of the restaurant as well as the engine room.
These new trends are something that specialist companies such as Dawnvale are fully aware of. It will be fascinating to watch how such companies integrate the new trends in their work.