A kitchen is usually a space or section of a large room used specifically for food preparation and cooking in a home or in a business. Commercial kitchens can be found in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, military bases, hospitals, offices, educational and office centers, and many other similar establishments. In some homes, the kitchen is used as a family gathering area as well. The kitchen also provides the means for preparing meals and snacks for a large number of people, as well as doing some of the cooking.
In most homes, a standard size kitchen requires at least four working spaces, a stove, a refrigerator, a sink for cleaning and preparation, and cabinets for storage purposes. The majority of modern kitchens use stovetops that have either induction heating or radiant heating elements. The induction heating system uses electromagnetic energy to cook the food, while the radiant heating method is similar to traditional outdoor patio heaters. The most common material for countertops in today’s kitchens is stainless steel, though wood and granite are also used. Other options for countertops include concrete and tile.
Because the kitchen has so many functions, it is no wonder that early Americans remodeled their kitchens with an eye to efficiency. As early as the late 19th century, Americans were building stoves that were made of cast iron, rather than the more widespread and expensive copper. In addition, most stoves were fitted with double doors. Today, double doors are considered standard, but stoves with single doors were popular with the upper classes. The kitchen continued to improve with the passage of time, and stove designs were largely fixed to one unit, or “stovetop,” or two separate units of several rooms.
In the early days of the kitchen, a stovetop consisted simply of a firebox and a place for food preparation, usually a separate room designated as a kitchen. The firebox was sealed away to protect the food from smoke and soot. As fireplaces became more popular, the stove continued to improve, and in some cases, three walls separated a cooking area from a sitting room. Eventually, the invention of the electric oven and slow cooker made the stoves and ovens unnecessary, and most kitchen activity took place under them.
The invention of the chimney gave the modern kitchen another function, cooking. Frankfurt kitchens began to use chimneys as back burners to accelerate the cooking process. The earliest chimneys were crude affairs consisting simply of metal pipes that were heated to allow smoke to be released from the kitchen. As time progressed, metal clay pots and woks were replaced by stainless steel, ceramic, or enameled cast iron. A chimney, which could be either fixed into the ceiling or wall or stood on a legs-like structure in the floor, was built into the center of the kitchen or near a sink.
Open kitchens have their pros and cons. The open kitchens gave the cooks an opportunity to watch what was going on outside while they worked in the kitchen. On the negative side, these open kitchens were often difficult to clean since food often fell out of containers and had to be scooped up with a spoon. In addition, the lack of supervision allowed children to get into the kitchen unsupervised.
Today’s kitchen designs solve many of the problems associated with the open kitchens. Most modern kitchens contain a sink, a stove, a refrigerator, a sink top or bottom, a range hood or top, and a small dishwasher or washing machine. Mixers, refrigerators, microwaves, and dishwashers are all common features of modern kitchen cabinets. In addition, the work triangle concept has been greatly improved. In a traditional kitchen, the stove, sink, and refrigerator form an ‘x’ shaped triangle, while the sink, range, and dishwasher form an ‘x’ shaped section of the counter.
New design concepts for kitchen design help to minimize this problem by creating a more efficient layout that allows people to work in three distinct sections without having to move from one area to another. This type of layout has become quite popular in restaurants as well as hotels, medical centers, and other businesses. A unique feature of these kitchens is the addition of a second stove. This allows the chef to easily prepare two different dishes at the same time, or heat up the soup while making another one. In addition, most modern kitchens contain a built-in microwave, which eliminates the need for a large oven or elaborate stovetop. These innovative designs and innovations have allowed for greater efficiency, while creating a more convenient workspace.