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Seeking Advice on Chocolate Kitchen Set Up


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I am in the very beginning stages of building a chocolate house in my backyard. It will technically be a guest house/mother-in-law suite, but I will be using it mainly as my chocolate kitchen for my cottage food business (and am considering making it fully commercial if the health department will allow and if my budget allows). I plan for a main open kitchen/living room (with stainless steel tables instead of living room furniture), a large pantry for storage, a bedroom (with closet for extra storage), and a bathroom. The advice I am seeking is for a couple things specifically, and any advice in general is appreciated.

 

Specifically, I am wondering what future equipment to plan for and the requirements I would need to accommodate for that now. I would love to someday upgrade to a tempering machine and enrobing line, so I know I need to consider electrical requirements for that, but also space. If I'm dreaming and want a selmi someday, how much space would I need for that? Would you put it against a wall, or do you need access to both sides of an enrobing belt? I'm assuming this would determine where the electrical outlet needs to be. I was really hoping to get a feel for all this equipment at the conference this year, but that apparently, was not in the cards.

 

Other concerns are a spray area. I can't bring myself to buy a nice big spray booth right now because I imagine there has to be a way to build one cheaper. Either way, that brings up the concern about venting. Would it be smart for me to build in a vent to the outside, and if so, any advice on where to put it? I want the house to look as much like a normal kitchen as possible. Do you think a vent hood above the stove could somehow serve multi-purposes? Or do you think it would be better in a large walk in pantry where the cocoa butter could be more confined to one room?

 

I plan to put a small island in the kitchen. I know marble is the classic material for tabling chocolate and other things, but does granite or other cheaper stone work as well? I do not temper my chocolate by tabling, but do occasionally use a stone for certain things (I've always just used my granite countertop in the past and it seemed to work fine). Since a traditional island will help the house feel more like a guest house and less like a commercial space, I figured I should make sure it adequately serves my chocolate purposes.  

 

Another question is about rolling racks and stainless steel tables. Where do you buy them and what size tables would you recommend? I have found plenty of places online but was wondering if anyone has any good (or bad) experiences with anywhere in particular.

 

I have so many questions and am feeling super overwhelmed about it all so I appreciate any advice anyone is willing to give. Also, if anyone would be willing to share photos of your spaces, I would love to see them. I know its a busy time for all, so thanks in advance for any help you can give.

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4 hours ago, Haley said:

I am in the very beginning stages of building a chocolate house in my backyard. It will technically be a guest house/mother-in-law suite, but I will be using it mainly as my chocolate kitchen for my cottage food business (and am considering making it fully commercial if the health department will allow and if my budget allows). I plan for a main open kitchen/living room (with stainless steel tables instead of living room furniture), a large pantry for storage, a bedroom (with closet for extra storage), and a bathroom. The advice I am seeking is for a couple things specifically, and any advice in general is appreciated.

 

Specifically, I am wondering what future equipment to plan for and the requirements I would need to accommodate for that now. I would love to someday upgrade to a tempering machine and enrobing line, so I know I need to consider electrical requirements for that, but also space. If I'm dreaming and want a selmi someday, how much space would I need for that? Would you put it against a wall, or do you need access to both sides of an enrobing belt? I'm assuming this would determine where the electrical outlet needs to be. I was really hoping to get a feel for all this equipment at the conference this year, but that apparently, was not in the cards.

So you can have your electrical against the wall and approach the enrobing line from one side. If you have the luxury of putting in 220V 3 phase power when you build - it will mean you can purchase one of the older used Selmis. If you are going to have to put in a 3 phase converter - then give some thought to having it an another soundproofed room on the other side of that wall where the heat and noise it produces is minimized. Your compressor can go in there too. A Selmi produces a lot of heat too - so make sure the room is cooled. 

 

The more room you have around your tempering machine and enrober to work in the better - cause you'll likely want speed racks you can roll around in the room. 

 

Give serious thought to the ease of cleaning the flooring - enrobers drip.

 

If you can make a closet into a cooling room with a Coolbot - it will give you a nice big cooling area that you can keep at around 10º C less than ambient (which will be above the dew point so you can leave things in there). 

4 hours ago, Haley said:

 

Other concerns are a spray area. I can't bring myself to buy a nice big spray booth right now because I imagine there has to be a way to build one cheaper. Either way, that brings up the concern about venting. Would it be smart for me to build in a vent to the outside, and if so, any advice on where to put it? I want the house to look as much like a normal kitchen as possible. Do you think a vent hood above the stove could somehow serve multi-purposes? Or do you think it would be better in a large walk in pantry where the cocoa butter could be more confined to one room?

Not sure on this one - I've seen a variety of options over the years - I really liked what Luis Amado has done - he has a closet with overhead and downdraft ventilation. The compressor hose and attachments come through the wall on the side of the closet - but the noisy compressor is in a closed room on the other side of the main room. 

4 hours ago, Haley said:

 

I plan to put a small island in the kitchen. I know marble is the classic material for tabling chocolate and other things, but does granite or other cheaper stone work as well? I do not temper my chocolate by tabling, but do occasionally use a stone for certain things (I've always just used my granite countertop in the past and it seemed to work fine). Since a traditional island will help the house feel more like a guest house and less like a commercial space, I figured I should make sure it adequately serves my chocolate purposes.  

I'm fine with any sort of stone myself - quartz, marble, granite - anything with a nice thermal mass. 

4 hours ago, Haley said:

 

Another question is about rolling racks and stainless steel tables. Where do you buy them and what size tables would you recommend? I have found plenty of places online but was wondering if anyone has any good (or bad) experiences with anywhere in particular.

Restaurant supply places - auctions are great places to get them. I'd get some metro shelving as well. I can't really talk to any american places. 

4 hours ago, Haley said:

 

I have so many questions and am feeling super overwhelmed about it all so I appreciate any advice anyone is willing to give. Also, if anyone would be willing to share photos of your spaces, I would love to see them. I know its a busy time for all, so thanks in advance for any help you can give.

I think there is a thread on eG where we show our chocolate rooms. I'll see if I can find it to attach here. 

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https://www.webstaurantstore.com/

 

for tables & speed racks & such - they actually also carry Roxy & Rich colors!  Get 30" deep tables, 24" is too shallow, by at least 6'.   Will you get commercial refrigeration? 

 

Ventilation is so important, don't skimp on your exhaust hood. 

 

What will you do for dish-washing, do you need a 3 compartment sink and a grease trap?

 

 

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About ventilation for spraying cocoa butter:  There are many approaches and solutions to this.  Many people (me previously) use just a big box with a hole cut in the back and a furnace filter attached there, with a powerful fan behind the box.  It did not work all that well for me.  As soon as the filter gets clogged with cocoa butter (which happens quite soon), it doesn't really work any longer.  The professional chocolatiers we saw at the most recent Las Vegas eGullet workshop have separate rooms with huge fans venting (I assume) to the outside.  Some will argue, however, that when the ducts to the outside gets clogged with cocoa butter, they also don't work all that well.

 

My current solution--and I continue to be very pleased with it--is the "master spray booth" from CakeSafe.  The inventor based it on the principle that cocoa butter in the air is basically completely different from paint fumes.  This device does not need venting to the outside because it has multiple layers of filters and a powerful fan that keep cocoa butter mostly inside the booth area (which is created with large acrylic panels).  Truly, if a white sheet of cardboard is held behind the spray booth, no color shows up on it.  Still I wear a respirator from 3M ever since I read one of Kerry's comments on blue showing up in her nose.

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12 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/

 

for tables & speed racks & such - they actually also carry Roxy & Rich colors!  Get 30" deep tables, 24" is too shallow, by at least 6'.   Will you get commercial refrigeration? 

 

Ventilation is so important, don't skimp on your exhaust hood. 

 

What will you do for dish-washing, do you need a 3 compartment sink and a grease trap?

 

 

Thanks! As far as the dish-washing, that will depend on if I can go the commercial route or not. Since it's residential I may not be allowed to do anything other than a cottage license anyway. But if I can do commercial I'm sure I'll need the 3 compartment sink and grease trap. 

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On 10/29/2020 at 8:15 AM, Haley said:

Specifically, I am wondering what future equipment to plan for and the requirements I would need to accommodate for that now. I would love to someday upgrade to a tempering machine and enrobing line, so I know I need to consider electrical requirements for that, but also space.

Just a thought to keep in mind, there may be limits on how much you can modify a kitchen space with cottage food. It would depend on where you are, each state has different rules as well as each county within the state. Where I'm at, there are limits to prevent you from turning your home kitchen into a commercial space and still use the cottage food permit. Actually making the space into a commercial work space is a whole animal on its own. Cottage food in pretty cool, but sometimes it seems that they tie your hands is so many ways.

 

On 10/29/2020 at 8:15 AM, Haley said:

I know marble is the classic material for tabling chocolate and other things, but does granite or other cheaper stone work as well? I do not temper my chocolate by tabling, but do occasionally use a stone for certain things (I've always just used my granite countertop in the past and it seemed to work fine). Since a traditional island will help the house feel more like a guest house and less like a commercial space, I figured I should make sure it adequately serves my chocolate purposes.  

I'd go for granite 100%. Even if you dont table your chocolate, as you know, you often need a perfectly flat surface for ganache, caramels, etc. In time, marble will scuff and scratch, even with light use. I would recommend visiting a fabricator, often times they have granite scraps from kitchen top installations. The cutout from a double sink is quite large. Obviously I dont know the actual size of your kitchen (although I guess its sizable if your considering an enrobing line), but I think you'd have a few options. You could get a wire rack on wheels sort of like this (eG-friendly Amazon.com link)    On top, you could put cheap cutting to level out the top, and a granite piece on top of that.

 

Alternatively, you can just get a table like this (eG-friendly Amazon.com link)

Theres all sort of sizes to those stainless tables, just you can just configure it to your needs, placing a granite cutout on one side and using the rest of the table however you need.

 

It may be that I'm not totally understanding what your looking for, because you seem to not want your kitchen space to feel totally commercial, and theres obviously a lot of personal preference, but when talk about an enrobing line, I think you'll find that your workspace becomes more commercial rather then guesthouse, just something to keep in mind.

On 10/29/2020 at 8:15 AM, Haley said:

Another question is about rolling racks and stainless steel tables. Where do you buy them and what size tables would you recommend? I have found plenty of places online but was wondering if anyone has any good (or bad) experiences with anywhere in particular.

There are alot of places online, like pastrygirl said. WebstaurantStore is good, as well as bakedeco and cheftoys. Before ordering online, visit the restaurant supply locations in your area. Look for a Costco Business Center or a Restaurant Depot, or the many small supply houses. Even if you order online, its good to see the product beforehand, especially if its big. Also, metal wire racks will likely become your friend. Plan to have more shelving then you think you'll need.

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Thanks so much for the advice. The main reason I am trying to make it look like a traditional kitchen/guesthouse is for resale down the road if we sell the house or if I end up growing out of the space and decide to move to a larger commercial space. I think the actual built-in "kitchen" will be quite small. I was thinking maybe a 2 burner induction cooktop, a small oven (the only thing I use it for in my current chocolate work is roasting nuts), microwave, sink, open shelving above and built-in cabinets below, a stone top island (maybe with a hand washing sink in it), and fridge/freezer combo. Obviously if I end up being able to do commercial, I would need to be sure to meet different requirements with sink and other appliances. Its all so much to think about so I really appreciate all these tips! 

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50 minutes ago, Haley said:

a stone top island (maybe with a hand washing sink in it)

 

I would advise against placing a sink in an island. First of all you have splatter troubles, with water drops going anywhere and causing a nightmare (especially with chocolate). Then it forces your choices: if you need to change island then you face troubles; if you want to fake a standard kitchen then you can use an island with blockable wheels, so at needs you can move it away and put a kitchen table on its place (can't do that with a sink); if you will ever sell the place, then most people can't stand a sink in an island.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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23 hours ago, teonzo said:

First of all you have splatter troubles, with water drops going anywhere and causing a nightmare (especially with chocolate).

Good point! I hadn't considered that but you are absolutely right. That is why I come here for advice because I'm sure I will overlook so many things like this! Thanks

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