SafeFood© Open Kitchens

In keeping with the motto “we’ve got nothing to hide” many restaurants are opening the kitchen to diners. This can be a good thing as people like to see the action, which in a busy kitchen is truly a well choreographed display of talent and dexterity. Obviously, a glass wall obliterates some of the sounds that go with this ballet (what does the chef say when he burns his hand?), which is also a good thing. Some restaurants do place tables in the kitchen – which can be a fun experience for diners.

So, what is the downside? Well, there are some employees who will forget they are on stage and practice behaviors that are less than hygienic (such as licking their fingers). I am all for full disclosure and applaud the restaurants providing transparency. Fellow blogger John Foley described the drawbacks very well in his post: People tolerate the occasional bad meal, weak service, or mismatched ambiance. They draw the line at poor hygiene practices.

If you have an open kitchen, don’t let it backfire – train and monitor, and then retrain and continue to monitor employee practices. They are the front line and can ruin a good thing.



Catherine Hemphill Strohbehn has been a faculty member at Iowa State University in the Hospitality Management Program for 30 years. She is a State Specialist with Human Sciences Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University. As part of her work, she conducts research, develops educational materials and provides programs to help retail foodservices use their resources effectively and ensure safe food is served. Cathy is a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a Certified Professional in Food Safety from the National Environmental Health Association.

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