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08 December 2009

FOR THE LOVE OF COOKING

I love to cook. Actually I enjoy the process of cooking, the preparation, selecting the ingredients, laying out my tools, cooking my meal and then to finally serve it to my family and guests. As with most chefs, professional or amateur, I nibble my way throughout the undertaking and have little room to actually sit and eat with my guests, but to sit and talk, to eat and drink and just commune with one another is its own reward.

I am glad to say that there has been a renascence in kitchen design over the last few years, maybe it’s because of the current economic times we live in and people are staying home more and eating meals around the family table has once more taken center stage. What has changed, or maybe a better word would be, evolved, has been the democratization of the family kitchen. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to a new social order that reflects the world that we live in. Everyone is welcomed, if not expected to participate in the ritual of preparation.

And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things…we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past, with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person “work-triangle”, must now give way to a new way of thinking.

Appliances once dictated the form and flow of the kitchen, today they have all been replaced by the individual or individuals and the task and then the appliances and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities in this enclosed environment, we must create a fluid, interactive, multifunctional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.

Much like selling toilet paper, the primary use of the product is seldom addressed. The same has gone for modern kitchen design. Over the past several years, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the “illusion of order”. This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.

With cooking returned to the primary function, the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment conducive to the task at hand. To this end we have reached out to the commercial kitchen to better understand the true meaning of efficiency, a world that clearly defines the boundaries of form and function and where the poetry of chaos is the rule of order. The commercial kitchen is designed around a menagerie of players, each with a task or goal to fulfill, all working independently, all working to the same conclusion and all working in perfect harmony.

Next Week: Bringing the Commercial Kitchen Home

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in a large close family that often cooked together. The kitchen was U-shaped, not open to other rooms, and there was only one sink, one range, and one fridge. I have great memories of working in that kitchen.

    I worked once in a commercial kitchen for a caterer--but our crew was small relative to the size of the kitchen--we were so spread out I can't say anything about sharing commercial space at all.

    We're planning a new kitchen as part of a larger remodel, construction to start this fall. I have a handful of kids myself now, and I want the space to facilitate working together on the meals. But I don't really buy this two-triangle argument, especially as I don't see putting in a second sink in a 10'x20' portion of a 25'x20' great room. I'm looking to a generous aisle and lots of island counterspace to facilitate working together.

    I'd love to read part two: Bringing the Commercial Kitchen Home. Is that still coming soon?

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