Re: CH kitchen equipment / design
From: Jim Snyder-Grant (
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 08:26:28 -0700 (PDT)
Greg Smith of JP cohousing wrote about kitchen planning.

Your collected thoughts sound reasonable to me. Some amendments/additions from New View (Acton MA), 5 years in to our CH use:

We looked at counter-height commercial dish washer systems. Some definite advantages in ergonomics, but incredibly expensive when we looked (factor of 5-10 times more expensive than our under-counter model). We bought a cheap used system to get started & recently upgraded to a newer system.

I like having a third dish tray - they are the most flexible & you can have one washing, one air-drying, and one being filled, at the same time.

Our pot washing sink is a three-tub system: one for wash, one for rinse, one for bleach dunk. The sink next to the dishwasher is just a regular size sink: you just need to get the food off the plates before placing them in trays: we don't need a lot of room for that. Then we also have a hand washing & water-glass-filling sink near the kitchen entrance, and a vegetable-washing sink in the butcher-block island, and a big utility sink back in the pantry (cleaning out compost buckets & so forth). It's great to have lots of sinks.

We don't lock away stuff. Knives are in a drawer & in a butcher-block holder. Unsupervised kids under 10 or so not welcome in kitchen (except for getting drinking water near entrance). Shoes are mandatory in kitchen for all.

Finally, there is no generalization possible about 'get commercial' or 'use commercial design'. You won't be cooking 15 different small meals at once, as in a commercial kitchen. Also, social interaction while cooking is a great thing that supports your community purpose.

Have fun, try stuff out, buy cheap used stuff if possible - you can always upgrade in a few years. once you have more experience with what's important. On the other hand: Find a couple of ruthless folks who will throw out or recycle or donate 80% of what folks will try to pawn off on you "for the CH kitchen", otherwise you will accumulate barely-usable stuff that clogs up your storage space. You will come to appreciate the wonderfulness of having at least one or two good piles of nicely stackable plates, all the same size & shape, in addition to the funky oddities that are fun from time to time.


Greg Smith wrote:

Jamaica Plain Cohousing is well into construction of our 30 units and we are planning out our CH kitchen needs. I've been looking at all of the postings for kitchen equipment (thank you Diane Simpson for collecting most!) and would like some confirmation / affirmation / updated information on my notes:

1. Dishwasher:
An under counter commercial with a preheat system. We will need space for heat booster next to dishwasher.
Some models can recycle the water.  Is this important?
Any comments on a counter-height commercial dish washer?
Get 4 trays -2 glass/plate, 2 silverware, etc.

2. Dish washing sinks:
Definitely get a double-deep sink with a wide basin for big things. A spray nozzle is very handy. It is recommended to get a sink with a countertop that can hold wet/dirty dishes and a lot of water (from the spraying and the trays). This can be an integrated stainless steel sink/counter from a restaurant supply company (used).

3. Cooking range:
Stick with a residential model to avoid expensive hoods and fire suppression systems required by building officials. An electric convection oven w/ gas burners is preferred for control of temperature. We will probably need two 30" units.
A broiler is not used often and not needed.
Will the burners be hot/large enough to boil water / cook a big pot o'chili? Are there separate high-powered burners that can be counter-mounted?
How useful are stacked ovens? - any concerns raised regarding ADA?
3a. Hood:
A high powered residential one is preferred for above reasons. Avoid a noisy one as it will not be used as often.

4. Refrigerator:
A single large residential (22 cubic feet) is enough for the average community. The freezer-on-the-bottom kind is good. If the kitchen committee is well-tuned, leftovers will be hard-to-find and unmarked tin foil blobs will be extinct.

5. Prep area:
A large separate prep area with a lowered counter height for kids / sitting / wheel chair accessibility. We plan on having a sink here for food washing. A butcher-block island is great with storage underneath for tools, etc.

6. General:
No cabinet doors. Well-marked storage containers and drawers are preferred. We have linoleum floors which are preferred to ceramic tile for cleanliness and comfort.
A large pantry.

Anyone lock away expensive small things? Knives, etc? Interested in loss/borrow/theft and safety with kids.

What did I forget?
Thanks all, and happy cooking.

greg smith  .  jamaica plain cohousing

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Jim Snyder-Grant
18 Half Moon Hill
Acton MA 01720
978 266-9409

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