Re: that Kitchen topic again! Don't Panic!
From: lilbert (
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998 20:59:06 -0500
Wow! He really has said some alarming things, this professional cook of 
yours.  I think that you need to listen to what he says with a grain of 
salt.  You will not be cooking  professional meals, you will be cooking 
for a crowd.  Hopefully,  you will be cooking one menu for everybody. 
That is entirely unlike a restaurant.  You don't need to truck food in, 
either, for heavens sake. You will not be cooking every night, and won't 
be storing perishables for long- they'll just go bad. We experimented in 
the beginning with buying food in warehouse quantities, and it was a 
total bust. Someone had to recieve and put away the supplies once a week, 
and we couldn't order enough stuff to get a guaranteed delivery every 
week.  We also had way too much food to store. Your goal should be to use 
everything you buy in one meal, with exceptions like condiments and dry 
goods, like beans and pasta.  You don't need a walk in cooler. They are 
hugely expensive to purchase and run. Buy the biggest home refrigererator 
you can find.  

You will learn to cook simple delicious meals by trial and error(also 
check out Mela Silva's food column in the cohousing journal) and it won't 
take all day. Usually, in our groups of three cooks, shopping, cooking 
and cleaning are divided up according to who likes to do what and has 
time at different times of day. For instance, one person does shopping 
the night before, ore earlier. He takes about an hour to two hours. Then 
he has to waork the day of the meal and comes in for an hour toput the 
finishing touches on the meal and cleans for another hour afterwards. 
Another person has time to cook during the day, and puts in all her time 
cooking, about 4 hours. Third person comes in half way through cooking 
and cleans up with person # one. This sort of thing can take some time to 
figure out, but I think your professional's  estimate could be cut in 
half or more. It will be more work when you first move in, but you'll get 
the hang of it. I've even done an entire meal myself in one day, but it's 
exhausting-strictly an emergency measure.

As for the professional appliances, consider that carefully. Professional 
stoves get VERY hot and can burn little fingers- I'm assuming you will 
have children there, no?  Getthe highest BTU stove that is made for the 
home that you can find.  You don't want to wait an hour for water to 
boil, honest.  They now make a great selection of stoves that have pro 
power and home safety.  We would probably get a bigger dishwasher if we 
could do it over, but don't really have the room anyway. We would 
absolutely have gotten heavy duty stainless steel sinks, one with a very 
deep well, and are replacing ours now.  

Otherwise, you'll need a nice big pantry for dry goods and lots of 
counter and storage space. We find our island very convenient.

But there is one thing that concerns me most about putting in a 
"professional" kitchen, and that is atmosphere. You really don't want to 
feel like you are cooking in an institution, do you? Every group I have 
heard from who went that route is sorry. Try to make it as much like home 
as possible, but sturdier.

We have 25 households; not as much as 35, but pretty close. I have 10 
years experience in professional kitchens, five in cohousing, and they 
are very dissimilar.  I hope I have been helpful, and not too abrasive. I 
just REALLY want you to understand that this is a whole different animal 
from a professional kitchen.

Liz Stevenson
Southside Park Cohousing

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