Beating the heat

hood system

In some parts of the country, soaring summer temperatures can give even the hardest-working air conditioners a run for their money. And when it comes to outdoor events, keeping cool is an even bigger challenge. Here, operators share their trusted tactics for keeping staff comfortable this summer—in and out of the kitchen.  

1. Balance your hood system

oven hood

Having hood systems that are properly balanced for the equipment below is crucial for keeping a kitchen cool, says Rene Rodriguez, director of food service at University of Texas at Austin. “If you’re changing out equipment and not taking into consideration the hood, if it’s not drawing up enough [air], it’s going to generate heat in your kitchen,” he says. One common mistake Rodriguez has seen is switching an electric flat top with a charbroiler—which have two different CFM requirements—and keeping the same hood. “Your kitchen will never get cold.” 

2. Pick cooking styles wisely

chef grilling

With the wide-ranging weather in the Pacific Northwest, outdoor tailgate events at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash., from August through December can range from 100 degrees down to 0, says David McKay, director of dining services. Though grilling burgers or brats is the quintessential warm-weather tailgate choice, it’s nearly impossible to avoid overheating with the equipment in use. 

“Cooking over a hamburger grill with hot gas or charcoal, somebody’s going to get pretty hot, whether you’re doing a couple hundred or 1,000 [items],” McKay says. Instead, operators should look to smoked meats at a carving station. “You’re giving [your diners] the outdoor experience, yet you don’t have your staff working over the hot charcoal,” he says.

3. Cut down compressor heat

kitchen equipment

Equipment that keeps the food in your kitchen cold can actually be responsible for making the whole space hotter, Rodriguez says. During his department’s last renovation, the team decided to convert to a central refrigeration rack system, eliminating the need for individual compressors on freezers and fridges. Cumulatively, those compressors do give off heat and raise the overall temperature of the space. “We [noticed] a huge difference in the temperature that we’re able to maintain in our kitchen because we weren’t getting heat from those areas,” he says. 

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
Mushroom Council blended burgers

From The James Beard Foundation.

At the same time the James Beard Foundation announced the first annual Blended Burger Project™ Campus Edition, they concluded the third annual Blended Burger Project™ with a bang!

The Blended Burger Project™ contest concluded with 414 restaurants* in 45 states participating, and more than 400,000 consumer votes. Over the last nine weeks, the competition created a buzz on social media with more than 4,700 unique posts on Instagram and Twitter using the #BlendedBurgerProject hashtag.

“The Blended Burger Project™ is a phenomenal...

Ideas and Innovation
moving boxes

Because we have 39 locations throughout the state, employees are offered a transfer if they’re planning a move. They’re rehired by the company, but there’s no additional training needed and employees are ready to go on Day 1.

Ideas and Innovation
staff pack

To keep staff motivated, we locked them in a room together. As part of a midsemester training session, we formed work groups and sent them to a local Escape Room to see which team could play the game together most effectively and escape first. Not only was this training a great team-building experience, but it supported a local new business and gave our staff a memorable experience.

Ideas and Innovation
star employee

Senior leadership meets twice a year to do organizational talent planning for every position from the top down. We talk about who are the potential high-performers, and go through how they can grow. People are your differentiator—you need to take care of your assets, and your assets are your human resources.

FSD Resources