Sorting out nuts and bolts before building

Demonstration kitchen requires floor plan

Getting an accurate idea of how well a demonstration kitchen would work in your facility could be as close as your television set.

To research the basic floor plan for a demonstration kitchen, Terry Guymon, BSN, manager of the Christ Hospital Women’s Health Center in Tinley Park, IL, watched TV cooking shows because their kitchens are designed for audience visibility. She mocked up a kitchen in a 12’ x 9’ space using old cardboard boxes as the furnishings. Then, along with outpatient nutrition services dietitian Anne O’Malley, RD, LD, and the clinic staff, she tested different layouts.

"We knew exactly what we wanted when we sat down with the architect," Guymon says. The finished kitchen has an opening like a giant picture window with a roll-down cover that can be opened or closed to the meeting room.

Inside the kitchen, a long counter provides the focal point from which students watch O’Malley’s demonstrations. A built-in four-burner stove top on the counter allows students to see methods of sauteing vegetables or blending sauces.

A 2’ x 2’ mirror hung from the ceiling can be tilted to ensure a complete view of the counter for even the shortest observer. Behind the counter are the range, refrigerator, cupboards, drawers, and sinks.

"We avoided a lot of built-in cabinets and gadgets," Guymon explains, "so our kitchen would look as much like a regular home kitchen as possible." While the retail price of a refrigerator, range, dishwasher, sink, and cookware can run $3400, you can get by for less. With that end in mind, Guymon creatively cut costs in furnishing the demonstration kitchen. The following are methods she used and others she suggests might work in a variety of women’s health center settings:

• Ask kitchen supply sales representatives who sell products to the hospital’s cafeteria to donate such items as a set of cooking utensils. Ask them to connect you with wholesalers of items they can’t donate — stainless-steel cookware, for instance.

• Circulate a "kitchen furnishings wish list" to your patients and other hospital staff, and you’re sure to round up used mixing bowls or baking dishes.

• Snoop through your facility’s storage area for cabinets or used refrigerators that could be pressed back into service.

• Invite local merchants to do a community service by donating a microwave or even a refrigerator.

As for building the kitchen itself, Guymon says, the figure depends on whether you are adding an entire new room or remodeling existing space. It can cost around $10,000. She suggests getting bids from local contractors. "If you have a vocational school in the area, see if you could arrange to have students do part of the design or labor as a class project. That kind of partnership serves your facility and the school," she adds.