“The cardinal rule of cooking: your kitchen must be clean, and by clean I mean spotless!” – Gordon Ramsay

Famous chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay has a reputation for blowing up at chefs and restaurant owners who don’t adhere to strict kitchen hygiene. You simply need to watch his reality television show, Kitchen Nightmares, to understand why practicing good kitchen hygiene in the hospitality industry is so important. Bad hygiene practices result in dangerous health issues in your kitchens. If that happens, your restaurant could be closed down.

Top 3 Steps You Should Take to Ensure a Spotlessly Clean Restaurant Kitchen

  1. Make sure everyone working in the kitchen clearly understands good hygiene practices and if they don’t, you need to get them trained up fast.
  2. Set up a strict cleaning schedule and ensure everyone working in the restaurant adheres to it – it must become a part of the daily routine and include a backup plan just in case of last minute issues, like someone getting sick and being absent from work.
  3. Get to know your local environmental health officer because, believe it or not, they would rather help you than close you down.

The Top Tips from Executive Chefs

Imran Ali, who was the executive chef at the popular Indian restaurant, Tamarind of London, in California, USA, says that a food thermometer is the only reliable way to properly make sure food is cooked to the right temperature because meat contains bacteria. “Your goal is to make sure you’ve cooked it to a high enough temperature to guarantee the rapid destruction of the bacteria that can cause human disease.’’

Imran Ali’s 3 Top Tips to Ensure Your Food is Cooked Properly

  • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius.
  • All poultry should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure cooked food is kept safe until served. Cold foods should remain at 4.5 degrees Celsius or below, while hot food should be kept hot at 60 degrees Celsius or above.

Fortunato Nicotra, executive chef at acclaimed New York City-based restaurant Felidia, is fastidious about the way he stores shelf-stable foods such as flour, nuts and dried fruit. He once said it was vital to make sure these goods are fresh when you buy them, and to use containers to store them at room temperature with little light and dry conditions. “That’s your best bet for keeping weevils from invading your flour and sugar.”

Ed Cotton, Top Chef Season 7 runner-up and executive chef at Sotto 13 in New York, is a firm believer in keeping ingredients fresh at all times. He suggests keeping pantry goods moving. “If you haven’t used it up in six months, get rid of it.”

Charlie Marshall, chef-owner at The Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, says he washes his dishes while he cooks. “This not only helps keep my kitchen clear and usable, but over time it becomes a habit so that kitchen cleanliness is never three steps behind me.”

These tips, from some of the most respected chefs and restaurateurs, can be applied quite easily in restaurant kitchens. Practising good kitchen hygiene is one of the reasons why they are at the top of their game and continue to serve great food to loyal patrons.