Oden Commercial Kitchen

Location: Vänersborg
Assignment years: 2018-2021
BTA: 2700 sqm
Construction contractor: Serneke
Photographer: Felix Gerlach

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.

In the hot kitchen, employees can use the industrial cooking pots to make large amounts of delicious sauces, mashed potatoes and stews. An ergonomic emptying system above the cooking pots makes it easier than ever to portion out the meals into containers and tins.

Tengbom’s Malin Ljungblad, who previously worked as a food inspector, headed the project.

Ergonomics and simple cleaning is important.

“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.”

The range hoods of the industrial cooking pots collect steam and heat that are then carried to the ventilation system. Cleaning all the equipment and appliances is easy.

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.

There’s a lot of space to pack meals in the cold packing room. Meals are then sent to different facilities and organizations. Packing food in a low-temperature environment ensures both the quality and safety of the food.
Cold food is stored in refrigerated carts before it’s sent around the municipality. It’s vital that the cold chain is never broken on the way to the receiver.

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.

In the diet kitchen, employees cook and prepare meals for various diets. The kitchen is equipped with an industrial cooking pot, oven, griddle, and a separate counter to ensure food is handled safely.

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


Malin Ljungblad Commercial kitchen and food consultant +46 31 757 64 13