|RE: kitchen equipment||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Hungerford, David (dghungerforducdavis.edu)|
|Date: Wed, 18 May 94 14:16 CDT|
to Monika Stumpf and also to Rob Sandelin re: commercial or "regular" kitchen stuff (and planning for facilities to accomadate meals) At Muir Commons in Davis, CA, while average meal attendance is 35-45 out of about 70 people, we are very grateful we planned our kitchen and dining room to accomodate the entire community. While the average meal is less, it is frequently the case (2-3 times per month, or 2-3/20 meals) that almost everyone eats or someone invites a group of guests. We've had some meals with as many as 80 in attendance. If we didn't have a large enough facility to accomodate them all, then we would have to overflow into other rooms or ration meals (first-come, first-served?). Either option seems unacceptable to me. When we were planning the Common House, the idea of making the dining room large enough for only the average came up as a cost-cutting option, but Chuck (Durrett) said we'd be very sorry. I think he's right on that point. Remember, the experience of eating meals as a community is deeply affected by the built environment. If you want limited meals participation, build a small dining room. If you want people to avoid cooking, then make it difficult by building a small kitchen. If you want to limit the variety of meals, then buy "regular" appliances which can't accomodate more elaborate or more creative meals. It seems that the challenge is to make a kitchen that _functions_ as a commercial kitchen in terms of ease of preparation and cleanup, space, storage, and hygiene, but which _feels_ like our own home: warm, cozy, inviting. Our kitchen committee, working with Chuck Durrett as a consultant, did a great job, considering we didn't have any other model except the European communities. Ours is large and has all "commercial" appliances, but still retains a homey, non-commercial feel (with a couple of exceptions I'll get to). So, to Monika's question: Dishwasher: we have a Hobart under counter model with bleach sterilization and pre-heater (so we don't have to keep the hot water at a critter-killing 140 degrees) and three removable racks. It cost $3000 and is worth every penny. It will do a load in under 3 minutes, which means clean-up can be accomplished in a reasonable amount of time. The person who "persons" the dishwashing station loads and rinses the dishes (we've gotten to where we leave out bus tubs (those gray 14x24 plastic tubs) with soapy water so people bus can their own dishes and start them soaking) then loads and swaps racks every 3 minutes. We end up doing between 10 and 15 loads per meal(including cooking paraphernalia). I just don't see how one could use a standard dishwasher for more than 8-10 people. Sinks: We have a faily expensive double-deep well sink with one of those spray nozzles (an expensive but indispensable device) hanging over. It has been a problem in that, in an attempt to keep the kitchen as homey as possible, we used a "drop-in" sink in a standard formica-topped 24" deep cabinet. After three years the counter and cabinet are trashed--water damage. The dishwashing area stays wet for long periods of time. We'll be replacing that with a stainless steel sink setup that can hold the dishwasher racks while we spray off the dishes. Fortunately, that area is out of view of the dining room so the visual impact won't be too bad. Refrigerators: We have a Victory commercial double door (that is, 5 feet wide) fridge with the compressor unit on top (about $3000). We went commercial because standard home refigerators can't recover (that is, return to the set temperature) fast enough to keep the food safe, at least when there is lots of in and out like there is with ours. We have a registered dietician in our group whose chosen mission is to make sure we observe proper food hygiene, and she convinced us this was important. We also wanted enough space to store leftovers. While our condiment collection is a bit larger than necessary, it is really nice to be have enough room to buy food in advance, or in bulk. It's also nice to have a place to put the salads or other cold dishes until mealtime. We also have developed a very workable leftover system. People are charged 1/2 price for each meal of leftovers they eat (self-reported on a tally sheet). Most of us snag a container for lunch, or even dinner if a meal isn't scheduled. Our meal cost still averages just over $2/meal, and we very seldom run out of food at meals anymore; people aren't afraid to make too much because the leftovers get eaten. And we couldn't do this if we didn't have room in the fridge. The downside is that the damn thing sounds like a train. We had to move it out of the kitchen into our (fortunately large enough) bulk storage room. We have a small "regular" freezer and use it very little for common stuff. Most of the space in the freezer is taken by vegetables and fruits people put up (for themselves) in the summer, so no one has their own freezer (not that anyone has room). The freezer is an example of a shared tool, like the lawn mower, which has common and private uses. Stove: We have a Wolf 6-burner restaurant stove and we hate it. In fact, we just installed (where the refrigerator used to be) a "regular" KitchenAid 30" double oven (electric, $1200). The commercial gas oven wouldn't keep a constant temperature and didn't heat evenly inside--many baked meals were late or burned until people just gave up and stopped using it. The new ovens are great. The 30" width (standard width is 24" measured by the opening it fits into) is wide enough inside to handle 2 9x13 casseroles(or one 13x20) per shelf--so we can bake 8 casseroles at once (2 shelves per oven), or bake two different dishes at different temperatures. The Wolf oven is gathering cobwebs. If we had it to do over again, we would probably skip the commercial range, going instead for a high end countertop unit--KitchenAid, GE, Jenn-Air and some others offer 2-burner systems that you can substitute griddles and grills for, and build a counter with 6 burners (3 instead of the normal 2 units)--and of course, the double ovens. To belabor my previous point, just having the ovens has changed our diet; we eat more baked dishes (and breads and rolls and cakes and cookies) because it is easier. I regard this as good, although I've noticed that many waistlines are expanding. Vent hood: Maybe because we had the Wolf, the city made us put in a huge, ugly, expensive ($3000) commercial vent hood with fire suppression system and elaborate grease drain--as if we were going to grill steaks every night. It is the most obtrusive feature of our kitchen, and makes so much noise it drowns conversations. If anyone currently planning their kitchen can figure out a way to sidestep this monster, do it. Pots/Pans: Go commercial. Even though $200 sounds like a lot for a 10 qt. stock pot, even the best "regular" stuff like Magnalite and Farberware just doesn't stand up. The handles break, or they seem to require much more attention to keep from burning large volumes of food. Anyone in cohousing who has eaten the inevitable "singed" spaghetti knows exactly what I mean. Go for top quality stainless with thick bottoms. Ours still look like new. Dishes: Commercial dishes don't chip or break as easily, flatware doesn't bend as easily, and both can be replaced easily (patterns are long-lived). And honestly, the stuff is not that much more expensive and the patterns are benign enough that consensus can be reached in just a few meetings(!) And for Rob, why do people not participate in meals? I suppose everyone has different reasons, and you pegged most of them, but you didn't suggest one thing I've observed, and that is that eating at the Common House, at least in our community, tends to be cyclic withing families as well as with the entire group. Weather makes a difference; winter meals, on average, are better attended. I don't know if in summer people have more (conflicting) activities, or if early darkness or the weather itself has an effect. Other climates might be different. I know that in summer we tend to have more "feast day" type meals that people spend all day preparing and almost everyone eats. As a family, we tend to eat almost every meal for awhile, and then not eat for a month--for no other reason than that's what we just stop signing up. As long as there isn't a real "problem" that keeps people from enjoying their meals, expect a little ebb and flow. To deal with problems, we've had "meals check-in" at general meetings a couple of times, and have addressed noise, kid energy, and other what works and what doesn't questions, which has helped diffuse tensions and made meals work better for everybody. And we'll probably do it again to keep fine-tuning and to keep responding to people's changing lives. At Muir Commons everyone cooks and everyone cleans, whether they eat in the Common House or not. It's not a "rule" but a "guideline." If someone just can't fit cooking into their schedule one month, or is on vacation, or having a life crises, then they may beg off by just not signing up, and no one really checks up on it anyway. However, it is expected from all adult members of the community (including housemates and room renters) as part of basic participation; an even higher priority than meetings. We felt, in making this decision, that our meals would not work if people could escape cooking by saying "I don't eat" because once someone stopped cooking, they couldn't even sign up for one meal without feeling guilty. The attrition would eventually drop meals participation below critical mass. Whoops, this is too long so I'll stop.
kitchen equipment School of Mathematics, U of MN, May 17 1994
- RE: kitchen equipment Rob Sandelin, May 17 1994
- RE: kitchen equipment Hungerford, David, May 18 1994
- RE: kitchen equipment Rob Sandelin, May 18 1994
- Re: kitchen equipment Robert Hartman, May 19 1994
- Kitchen Equipment Robert Melvin, November 19 1998
- Kitchen equipment Amy Rountree, November 14 2001
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