RE: kitchen equipment
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Wed, 18 May 94 18:17 CDT
Thanks for all your details about the kitchen layout and such!!!

At Sharingwood we grow one family at a time, rather than being built 
out all at once and so have had the ability to slowly scale our dinner 
operations up a little at a time.  Our commonhouse will be phased which 
will allow the growth of the population to determine the limits of our 
appliances.  I suspect they  will be upgraded one at a time, starting 
with the dishwasher first, although given our thriftiness bent we will 
probably by used stuff rather than shiny new.

Right now a funky old hotpoint dishwasher is doing 20 plates and 
attendant cups and spoons and such and we usually just hand wash any 
stuff which doesn't fit into the dishwasher.  I have seen much 
expressed  concern from others about food handling safety which 
justifies the need for more expensive appliances and I wonder how 
realistic it is?  We are using the same appliances as we have in our 
homes and if they are not a health problem in a home why would they be 
a problem in a commonhouse?  When we began the process of designing our 
community kitchen one of the things we looked at were church and 
community center kitchens and some of those served hundreds of people 
with regular home appliances. The Seattle street center, a homeless 
meal operation serves 400 plates of food a day from a used jenn-air 4 
burner stove and oven. Their kitchen layout is 8 ft. by 12 ft. and they 
have teams of 4 doing food prep and cooking. It works really well as a 
social environment and as a cooking environment.  I have visited a 
number of intentional communities which serve meals using regular 
appliances some of which are even funkier than ours!  So we questioned 
the idea that big and commercial is best or even better.

When we went to a commercial kitchen design center we got an incredible 
pressure sell job on certain brands of stuff, most of which we felt we 
didn't want or need.  They talked a lot about food handling safety and 
yet I know for example the Weslayian Community has never had a food 
related illness in 20 years and has hand washed all their dishes for 
all that time!

When I compare the "ecoli horror stories" of the commercial salesman 
with my observations and learning's from the rest of the world, it 
doesn't seem to jive.  You brought up a point I also heard from the 
commercial appliance sales folks about refrigerator recovery time.  
Again that doesn't jive with my own experience. What food item which 
would be in a refrigerator would spoil under those conditions?  As a 
general rule at Sharingwood nothing stays in the refer currently more 
than 4 days before being either eaten or composted. (with the exception 
of butter).  I would be interested in finding out more about this as 
either we are incredibly lucky in having no food illness in our 2 years 
of meals together, or the risk is being over stated.

Our planned commonhouse will actually seat 80 people (depending on what 
the fire marshal rates the capacity at) although our kitchen will not 
be up to commercial grade for a couple years or more.

We are building our commonhouse ourselves with the first phase costing 
less than $100,000 (at least that is the budget as of today).  Part of 
the planned upgrade of the building may be the addition of commercial 
appliances as well as addition of a wing for extra rooms and such.  We 
will try out using regular appliances and see how it works for us but 
have designed the spaces and wiring and venting to upgrade if we find 
it necessary.  It will be interesting to see how our funky used 
appliance work out and I'll let you know.

I appreciate your posting of your experiences, especially the level of detail.


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