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History and Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

History and Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

The history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment are fascinating, tracing back to prehistoric times when collective dining was an integral part of human life. The evolution of these spaces and tools has been inextricably linked to the development of communal eating, from simple gatherings to grand festivals. This evolution has given rise to the commercial kitchens we know today, specially designed to meet the growing demands of mass cooking and dining.

The term ‘restaurant,’ derived from the French word meaning ‘to restore or provide food,’ began to take on its modern significance in the 18th century, symbolizing the experience of dining out. This shift marked the beginning of commercialized dining experiences and the birth of commercial kitchens. The evolution of kitchen equipment has been significantly influenced by major technological advancements, particularly during the Industrial Revolution, which saw the introduction of steam engines and other innovative technologies.

The earliest forms of commercial kitchens can be found in ancient times. These were essential for public events, temples, and marketplaces, where large-scale food preparation was necessary. The equipment used then was rudimentary but laid the foundation for modern kitchen tools. Archeological discoveries have unearthed basic utensils like pestles and mortars, showcasing the early stages of kitchen equipment development. The emergence of trade routes brought about the establishment of taverns and inns, which, while providing meals to their patrons, differed from today’s restaurants as they did not offer a choice of menu.

This historical journey of commercial kitchen equipment reflects technological progress and a deeper understanding of human social and culinary needs. As we look back at the origins and transformations of these tools and spaces, we gain insights into the ever-evolving landscape of culinary arts and the role of commercial kitchens in shaping dining experiences through the ages.

Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment Across the World

The history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment and culinary tools occurred individually in many countries, from India to Ancient Rome. New developments mingled through trade routes and wars. The transition from clay to metal was monumental in the evolution of kitchen equipment. Greeks and Romans made tools that could withstand higher temperatures, allowing new cooking techniques to be used. Medieval Europe experimented with copper utensils, and China’s invention of the wok proved revolutionary.

Birth of the Restaurant as We Know It

Antoine Beauvilliers coined the term restaurant, as we know it today, in 18th century France when he opened an establishment that sold multiple food items. Restaurant, as a word, means to “restore strength,” and Beauvillers’ goal was restoring strength through food.

The trend of dining out caught on and spread across Europe. In the 19th century, fine dining indulged the growing middle class, and restaurants became permanent leisure settings. In addition to the growth of gourmet cooking as an occupation, casual restaurants emerged to feed the working class during lunch breaks. Culinary innovations grew rapidly in this period due to the growing demand and increased mass-produced goods with industrialization. World wars also acted as catalysts in the history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment and furthered the improvements of freezers, coolers, and canned foods to feed the soldiers.

The Industrial Revolution and the Birth of the Modern Commercial Kitchen

The Industrial Revolution, spanning roughly from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, profoundly impacted the evolution of commercial kitchen equipment as it set a chain reaction of technological developments and streamlined the manufacturing processes. Mass-manufacturing kitchen tools standardized the equipment, making them more affordable for aspiring business owners.

Advancements in metallurgy and materials sciences were also improved, and manufacturers began using more durable and efficient materials like cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum. These materials offered improved durability and facilitated better heat retention and distribution. The Industrial Revolution also triggered the invention and wide production of specialized commercial kitchen equipment such as commercial stoves, large-scale ovens, refrigeration systems, canning machinery, and industrial-scale mixers.

As a chain reaction, the rapid production and standardization paved the way for more restaurants to open. Thanks to the innovations of the time, larger quantities of food could be easily prepared and served. Overall, the Industrial Revolution drastically changed the landscape of commercial kitchen equipment, and the era’s innovation continues to influence the design and functionality of modern commercial kitchen tools.

The “Kitchen Brigade” by Auguste Escoffier.

In the early 20th century, a renowned French chef named Auguste Escoffier introduced the term kitchen brigade and organized the kitchen’s hierarchy to streamline the cooking and serving process.

This method proved revolutionary and demanded a refined approach to every cooking stage. He assigned his staff individual roles and diligently divided the labor to reduce the wait time for customers and improve the food quality. Since the work was divided into sections, the production of commercial kitchen equipment had to grow more specialized and refined. \

This method proved to be a catalyst for the history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment. The method is still used in the 21st century and has become general knowledge thanks to the hit show “The Bear.” 

The 21st Century and Commercial Kitchen Equipment

In the 21st Century, there have been big changes in the commercial kitchen scene. A new age brought new opportunities and new challenges. Globalization, urbanization, and digitalization have made the commercial kitchen scene more dynamic, demanding, and competitive than ever. Commercial kitchens have become more intelligent and flexible to adapt to these changes and demands.

Chef is preparing fine dining dishes - History and Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Smart commercial kitchens are designed to make the lives of workers and business owners easier and to be more eco-friendly, efficient, and sustainable. They carry the following 5 features:

  • Cutting-edge technology that communicates with other devices via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The devices perform various tasks remotely or independently, like ordering supplies online, tracking inventory levels, monitoring food safety, and even cooking on their own.
  • Renewable energy sources, like wind turbines or solar panels.
  • Energy-efficient equipment is a big part of smart kitchens. You can equip your kitchen with ENERGY STAR equipment to save on bills.
  • They also recycle trash, energy, and water to reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint.
  • They can generate tailored experiences like adjusting mood lighting or creating playlists that align with the restaurant’s theme.

The Evolution of Small Kitchen Tools

From the primal stone knives to high-tech gadgets, kitchen tools have undergone in mainly 4 ways countless changes that have improved them:

  • One of the most significant changes in kitchen tools has been the materials used to make them. In the past, utensils were primarily made of natural and readily available materials like bones or wood. The discovery of metalworking made it possible to use copper, brass, and bronze in production. Today, most kitchen tools are made of stainless steel, which is more durable, easier to clean than other metals, and corrosion-resistant. This change in material, from bone and stone to brass and metal, made it possible for kitchen equipment to be more resilient to heat and opened up numerous possibilities for new dishes and ways of cooking.
  • Special designs and shapes became more common over time. There are now more tools for specific tasks, like potato peelers, apple corers, and avocado slicers.
  • They changed to become more ergonomic to make the cooking process and use of these tools more comfortable.
  • Technological advancements are another significant actor in the history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment. With the invention of electricity, electric kitchen tools have become a possibility. Kitchen gadgets like electric mixers, blenders, and food processors have made cooking and baking easier and more efficient. Technology didn’t only increase efficiency, but the introduction of smart tools like scales and temperature probes into the kitchen made it possible to monitor the food from afar, get the portions right, and have an easier cooking experience.

The evolution of kitchen tools is a fascinating topic that showcases the creativity and ingenuity of human beings. Most of these changes came under necessities, advancements, or a need for an easier cooking experience.

Evolution of Fundamental Commercial Kitchen Equipment

The history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment is an interesting topic when you examine the evolution of the most fundamental and indispensable machinery in today’s kitchens. Refrigerators, stoves, and coffee machines are some of the most commonly used pieces of equipment across the world, and they have fairly long histories.

  • Refrigeration rested on ice harvesting from mountain tops and rivers in its early days. In 1000 BC China, they held religious ceremonies to mark the filling and emptying of the ice cellars that met their storage needs throughout the year. Most ancient communities utilized caves, created pits, or built storage rooms with thick walls, preferably partially embedded in stone, to create ice storage rooms. Jacob Perkins built the first practical refrigerator in 1834 based on the designs of Oliver Evans.
    First, household fridges utilized a more straightforward method and placed an ice block behind or under the products to keep them cold. Special ice blocks were delivered to the houses to maintain the cooling. Through the 20th century, refrigerators went through many changes and became widespread. However, they used harmful refrigerants such as Freon to achieve a cooling effect. In the 21st century, fridges got upgraded to their current state, and now, most manufacturers have phased out Freon and similar refrigerants to protect the eco-system.
  • Stoves are the most common kitchen equipment in today’s world, and their history dates back centuries. Benjamin Franklin invented the first wood-burning stoves in 1490. This method was used commonly until the iron, coal, and gas stoves were invented.
    Even though iron stoves were invented in the 18th century, their size made it impossible for them to be widespread. Sir Benjamin Thompson invented the modern kitchen range in the 1790s. Microwave ovens were invented in 1954 thanks to the efforts that went into improving stoves and cooking/heating machines.
  • Coffee machines are relatively newer inventions. Mr. Edward Loysel de Santais acquired the first patent for a coffee machine in 1843 in France. His device was built to filter the coffee by utilizing steam pressure. Espresso machines, as we know them today, were developed in Italy. Angelo Moriondo and Luigi Bezzera significantly contributed to the development of espresso machines.
2 chefs are preparing dishes in a restaurant kitchen - History and Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

4 Fun Facts about the History and Evolution of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

  • Forks were only used by the aristocrats and became properly common in the 18th century.
  • Rolling pins were being used in ancient times.
  • The first dishwasher was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton, who devised a mechanical mechanism to wash dishes.
  • Before refrigerators were invented, people relied on the mountains’ ice and snow for storage.

The Future of Commercial Kitchen Equipment

History and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment raise questions about the future of commercial kitchens. With rapid technological developments and increasing sustainability initiatives, culinary advancements will grow exponentially. Brands such as Hobart, Rational, and Vulcan are directing their efforts toward producing intelligent kitchen equipment. Smart kitchen equipment production aims to increase efficiency, incorporate AI, improve cooking precision, contribute to sustainability efforts, and add automation wherever possible to minimize staff efforts and save time. In the future, commercial kitchens will operate significantly faster and yield more precise results thanks to these initiatives and be more energy-efficient and eco-friendly while doing so. 


In conclusion, the journey through the history and evolution of commercial kitchen equipment reveals a remarkable tale of innovation, adaptation, and technological advancement. From the simple cooking tools of ancient civilizations to the sophisticated, smart appliances of the modern era, each step in this evolution has been driven by a combination of necessity, creativity, and technological progress.

The development of kitchen equipment is a story of culinary tools, a reflection of human ingenuity, and the ever-changing dynamics of our societies. As we have seen, each era brought its own challenges and solutions, from the basic utensils crafted by early humans to the streamlined and efficient appliances that characterize today’s commercial kitchens.

Looking ahead, the future of commercial kitchen equipment is poised to be as dynamic and innovative as its past. With the advent of AI, sustainability initiatives, and ongoing technological advancements, we can expect to see even smarter, more efficient, and environmentally friendly kitchen solutions. These developments will continue to shape the culinary world, offering new possibilities for chefs and restaurateurs while enhancing the dining experience for customers.

B. Turan, holding a bachelor's degree in Western Languages and Literature, has established herself as proficient in digital marketing. Her educational foundation, deeply rooted in exploring various cultures and linguistic nuances, has endowed her with an exceptional ability to effectively understand and engage with diverse demographic segments. As an SEO content writer, Beyzanur excels in creating content that ranks well on search engines and is captivating and insightful for readers. Her versatile expertise allows her to craft compelling narratives that resonate with diverse audiences, optimizing content for search engines while ensuring it remains engaging and informative. Beyzanur's ability to seamlessly integrate SEO best practices with creative content creation has made her an invaluable asset in the digital marketing domain. Her work extends beyond mere writing; she strategizes and implements comprehensive digital marketing campaigns, leveraging social media to amplify brand presence, engaging with audiences through targeted email marketing, and maintaining strong client relationships through effective account management. Beyzanur's holistic approach to digital marketing, grounded in her literary and cultural studies, enables her to connect with a broad audience base, fostering meaningful interactions and driving digital engagement. Her contributions enhance online visibility and contribute significantly to building and sustaining brand identity and loyalty. Through her innovative strategies and dedication, Beyzanur consistently contributes to the field of digital marketing, showcasing the valuable interplay between literature, culture, and technology in crafting modern marketing stories.

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