Is it possible to cook several thousands of delicious and nutritious meals a day? With the opening of the Oden commercial kitchen in October 2021, Vänersborg Municipality says yes. In the new kitchen, employees work with smart solutions to accommodate every individual’s food preferences.
Tengbom’s Malin Ljungblad, who previously worked as a food inspector, headed the project.
“For a project of this size, we prepared by doing a lot of preliminary visits to learn about the space and by going through surveys and reports from earlier projects,” Malin Ljungblad explains. One of our studio’s biggest strengths is our experience – we understand the business, the needs as well as food safety.
The project team also included Magnus Nilsson, a former cook.
“Everything had to be optimized,” says Magnus Nilsson. “From how goods are brought into the kitchen and how food is handled, to workflows surrounding food, safety, and hygiene, as well as cooking to accommodate diets and sustainability.”
Better food and a better work environment
Work on the 2,700-square meter workplace began in 2013. In an investigation conducted by the municipality, it was noted that the work environment for employees in public kitchens needed to be improved. Additionally, modern commercial kitchens had to meet today’s environmental and sustainability requirements. Last but not least, they also had to make delicious food for the municipality’s residents.
“We have been waiting and hoping for a new kitchen,” says Anna-Karin Svensson, catering manager at Vänersborg Municipality.
An important change is that the meals made for elderly care facilities are no longer kept warm after they’re cooked. Instead, employees use a special process to immediately freeze the meals, which preserves both taste and nutritional value. Previously, food would be kept warm until it was served. The reactions from people who eat the food prepared in the Oden commercial kitchen have been positive. They’ve said that the food both looks more appetizing and tastes better.
“The residents think that the food’s gotten better, and that’s pretty much the best part of it all — that, and giving employees a better work environment,” says Anna-Karin Svensson.
Work zones with a severe allergy kitchen and backroom
Every day, the Oden commercial kitchen serves 400 meals on-site to the middle school it’s located in. The remaining 4,200 portions the kitchen makes are delivered to other facilities around the municipality. The new kitchen has been planned out to include work zones, so teams no longer have to go from one work station to another unnecessarily.
“The recipe for a successful commercial kitchen is the ability to combine helpful features with logical workflows for employees and a workspace that isn’t too large.”
In addition to packing and freezing newly cooked meals, there is now a diet kitchen, as well as a severe allergy kitchen for allergy-friendly meals. The kitchen now allows for food to be kept completely separate from any allergen or contaminant in a way that wasn’t possible before. There is also a new backroom where employees can bake bread for the school restaurant, as well as make timbales for individuals with difficulty chewing and swallowing.
Environmentally-friendliness is baked in
Solar panels were installed on the roof of the new building, generating enough energy to power the equivalent of ten villas. All green waste is converted into biogas, and plans are in the works for a separate composter for food waste.
“Our mantra is to utilize everything we can to the fullest,” Anna-Karin Svensson explains.
The team behind this project
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