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An early-20th century Art Nouveau-style kitchen in Riga La cuisine (musee dart nouveau, Riga) (7563655820).jpg
An early-20th century Art Nouveau-style kitchen in Riga

A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking and food preparation in a dwelling or in a commercial establishment. A modern middle-class residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator, and worktops and kitchen cabinets arranged according to a modular design. Many households have a microwave oven, a dishwasher, and other electric appliances. The main functions of a kitchen are to store, prepare and cook food (and to complete related tasks such as dishwashing). The room or area may also be used for dining (or small meals such as breakfast), entertaining and laundry. The design and construction of kitchens is a huge market all over the world.


Commercial kitchens are found in restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, hospitals, educational and workplace facilities, army barracks, and similar establishments. These kitchens are generally larger and equipped with bigger and more heavy-duty equipment than a residential kitchen. For example, a large restaurant may have a huge walk-in refrigerator and a large commercial dishwasher machine. In some instances, commercial kitchen equipment such as commercial sinks is used in household settings as it offers ease of use for food preparation and high durability. [1] [2]

In developed countries, commercial kitchens are generally subject to public health laws. They are inspected periodically by public-health officials, and forced to close if they do not meet hygienic requirements mandated by law.[ citation needed ]


Middle Ages

The roasting spit in this European Renaissance kitchen was driven automatically by a propeller--the black cloverleaf-like structure in the upper left Medieval kitchen.jpg
The roasting spit in this European Renaissance kitchen was driven automatically by a propeller—the black cloverleaf-like structure in the upper left

Early medieval European longhouses had an open fire under the highest point of the building. The "kitchen area" was between the entrance and the fireplace. In wealthy homes, there was typically more than one kitchen. In some homes, there were upwards of three kitchens. The kitchens were divided based on the types of food prepared in them. [3]

The kitchen might be separate from the great hall due to the smoke from cooking fires and the chance the fires may get out of control. [4] Few medieval kitchens survive as they were "notoriously ephemeral structures". [5]

Kitchen interior, circa 1565 Maleri, genrebild. Koksinterior - Skoklosters slott - 88962.tif
Kitchen interior, circa 1565

Colonial America

In Connecticut, as in other colonies of New England during Colonial America, kitchens were often built as separate rooms and were located behind the parlor and keeping room or dining room. One early record of a kitchen is found in the 1648 inventory of the estate of a John Porter of Windsor, Connecticut. The inventory lists goods in the house "over the kittchin" and "in the kittchin". The items listed in the kitchen were: silver spoons, pewter, brass, iron, arms, ammunition, hemp, flax and "other implements about the room". [6]


A stepstone was the kitchen designed in Frankfurt by Margarethe Schütte-Lihotzky. Working-class women frequently worked in factories to ensure the family's survival, as the men's wages often did not suffice. Social housing projects led to the next milestone: the Frankfurt Kitchen. Developed in 1926, this kitchen measured 1.9 by 3.4 metres (6 ft 3 in by 11 ft 2 in). It was built for two purposes: to optimize kitchen work to reduce cooking time and lower the cost of building decently equipped kitchens. The design, created by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky, was the result of detailed time-motion studies and interviews with future tenants to identify what they needed from their kitchens. Schütte-Lihotzky's fitted kitchen was built in some 10,000 apartments in the housing projects erected in Frankfurt in the 1930s. [7]


The Frankfurt Kitchen of 1926 was made of several materials depending on the application. The modern built-in kitchens of today use particle boards or MDF, decorated with a variety of materials and finishes including wood veneers, lacquer, glass, melamine, laminate, ceramic and eco gloss. Very few manufacturers produce home built-in kitchens from stainless steel. Until the 1950s, steel kitchens were used by architects, but this material was displaced by the cheaper particle board panels sometimes decorated with a steel surface.

Domestic kitchen planning

Beecher's "model kitchen" brought early ergonomic principles to the home Beecher kitchen.jpg
Beecher's "model kitchen" brought early ergonomic principles to the home
The Frankfurt kitchen using Taylorist principles Frankfurter-kueche-vienna.JPG
The Frankfurt kitchen using Taylorist principles

Domestic (or residential) kitchen design is a relatively recent discipline. The first ideas to optimize the work in the kitchen go back to Catharine Beecher's A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1843, revised and republished together with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe as The American Woman's Home in 1869). Beecher's "model kitchen" propagated for the first time a systematic design based on early ergonomics. The design included regular shelves on the walls, ample workspace, and dedicated storage areas for various food items. Beecher even separated the functions of preparing food and cooking it altogether by moving the stove into a compartment adjacent to the kitchen.

Christine Frederick published from 1913 a series of articles on "New Household Management" in which she analyzed the kitchen following Taylorist principles of efficiency, presented detailed time-motion studies, and derived a kitchen design from them. Her ideas were taken up in the 1920s by architects in Germany and Austria, most notably Bruno Taut, Erna Meyer, Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and Benita Otte, who designed the first fitted kitchen for the Haus am Horn, which was completed in 1923. [8] Similar design principles were employed by Schütte-Lihotzky for her famous Frankfurt kitchen, designed for Ernst May's Römerstadt, a social housing project in Frankfurt, in 1927.

While this "work kitchen" and variants derived from it were a great success for tenement buildings, homeowners had different demands and did not want to be constrained by a 6.4-square-metre (69 sq ft) kitchen. Nevertheless, the kitchen design was mostly ad-hoc following the whims of the architect. In the U.S., the "Small Homes Council", since 1993 the "Building Research Council", of the School of Architecture of the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign was founded in 1944 with the goal to improve the state of the art in home building, originally with an emphasis on standardization for cost reduction. It was there that the notion of the kitchen work triangle was formalized: the three main functions in a kitchen are storage, preparation, and cooking (which Catharine Beecher had already recognized), and the places for these functions should be arranged in the kitchen in such a way that work at one place does not interfere with work at another place, the distance between these places is not unnecessarily large, and no obstacles are in the way. A natural arrangement is a triangle, with the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove at a vertex each.

This observation led to a few common kitchen forms, commonly characterized by the arrangement of the kitchen cabinets and sink, stove, and refrigerator:

A block kitchen Walnut-solid-floor.jpg
A block kitchen

In the 1980s, there was a backlash against industrial kitchen planning and cabinets with people installing a mix of work surfaces and free standing furniture, led by kitchen designer Johnny Grey and his concept of the "unfitted kitchen". Modern kitchens often have enough informal space to allow for people to eat in it without having to use the formal dining room. Such areas are called "breakfast areas", "breakfast nooks" or "breakfast bars" if space is integrated into a kitchen counter. Kitchens with enough space to eat in are sometimes called "eat-in kitchens". During the 2000s, flat pack kitchens were popular for people doing DIY renovating on a budget. The flat pack kitchens industry makes it easy to put together and mix and matching doors, bench tops and cabinets. In flat pack systems, many components can be interchanged.

Other types

A canteen kitchen Canteen kitchen.jpg
A canteen kitchen
A food technology training kitchen of Marling School in the United Kingdom Food tech room Marling.JPG
A food technology training kitchen of Marling School in the United Kingdom

Restaurant and canteen kitchens found in hotels, hospitals, educational and workplace facilities, army barracks, and similar institutions are generally (in developed countries) subject to public health laws. They are inspected periodically by public health officials and forced to close if they do not meet hygienic requirements mandated by law.

Canteen kitchens (and castle kitchens) were often the places where new technology was used first. For instance, Benjamin Thompson's "energy saving stove", an early 19th-century fully closed iron stove using one fire to heat several pots, was designed for large kitchens; another thirty years passed before they were adapted for domestic use.

As of 2017, restaurant kitchens usually have tiled walls and floors and use stainless steel for other surfaces (workbench, but also door and drawer fronts) because these materials are durable and easy to clean. Professional kitchens are often equipped with gas stoves, as these allow cooks to regulate the heat more quickly and more finely than electrical stoves. Some special appliances are typical for professional kitchens, such as large installed deep fryers, steamers, or a bain-marie.

The fast food and convenience food trends have changed the manner in which restaurant kitchens operate. Some of these type restaurants may only "finish" convenience food that is delivered to them or just reheat completely prepared meals. At the most they may grill a hamburger or a steak. But in the early 21st century, c-stores (convenience stores) are attracting greater market share by performing more food preparation on-site and better customer service than some fast food outlets. [9]

The kitchens in railway dining cars have presented special challenges: space is limited, and, personnel must be able to serve a great number of meals quickly. Especially in the early history of railways, this required flawless organization of processes; in modern times, the microwave oven and prepared meals have made this task much easier. Kitchens aboard ships, aircraft and sometimes railcars are often referred to as galleys. On yachts, galleys are often cramped, with one or two burners fueled by an LP gas bottle. Kitchens on cruise ships or large warships, by contrast, are comparable in every respect with restaurants or canteen kitchens.

On passenger airliners, the kitchen is reduced to a pantry. The crew's role is to heat and serve in-flight meals delivered by a catering company. An extreme form of the kitchen occurs in space, e.g., aboard a Space Shuttle (where it is also called the "galley") or the International Space Station. The astronauts' food is generally completely prepared, dehydrated, and sealed in plastic pouches before the flight. The kitchen is reduced to a rehydration and heating module.

Outdoor areas where food is prepared are generally not considered kitchens, even though an outdoor area set up for regular food preparation, for instance when camping, might be referred to as an "outdoor kitchen". An outdoor kitchen at a campsite might be placed near a well, water pump, or water tap, and it might provide tables for food preparation and cooking (using portable camp stoves). Some campsite kitchen areas have a large tank of propane connected to burners so that campers can cook their meals. Military camps and similar temporary settlements of nomads may have dedicated kitchen tents, which have a vent to enable cooking smoke to escape.

In schools where home economics, food technology (previously known as "domestic science"), or culinary arts are taught, there are typically a series of kitchens with multiple equipment (similar in some respects to laboratories) solely for the purpose of teaching. These consist of multiple workstations, each with its own oven, sink, and kitchen utensils, where the teacher can show students how to prepare food and cook it.

By region


A traditional 1920s Shanghainese shikumen style kitchen, Shikumen Open House Museum 20090518 Shanghai Shikumen Museum 6860.jpg
A traditional 1920s Shanghainese shikumen style kitchen, Shikumen Open House Museum

Kitchens in China are called chúfáng(厨房). More than 3000 years ago, the ancient Chinese used the ding for cooking food. The ding was developed into the wok and pot used today. Many Chinese people believe that there is a Kitchen God who watches over the kitchen for the family. According to this belief, the god returns to heaven to give a report to the Jade Emperor annually about this family behavior. Every Chinese New Year Eve, families will gather together to pray for the kitchen god to give a good report to heaven and wish him to bring back good news on the fifth day of the New Year.

The most common cooking equipment in Chinese family kitchens and restaurant kitchens are woks, steamer baskets and pots. The fuel or heating resource was also an important technique to practice the cooking skills. Traditionally Chinese were using wood or straw as the fuel to cook food. A Chinese chef had to master flaming and heat radiation to reliably prepare traditional recipes. Chinese cooking will use a pot or wok for pan-frying, stir-frying, deep frying or boiling.


Reconstruction of a 1832 Japanese kitchen in Dejima, Nagasaki, Japan. Nagasaka-Dejima-1832.jpg
Reconstruction of a 1832 Japanese kitchen in Dejima, Nagasaki, Japan.

Kitchens in Japan are called Daidokoro (台所; lit. "kitchen"). Daidokoro is the place where food is prepared in a Japanese house. Until the Meiji era, a kitchen was also called kamado (かまど; lit. stove) and there are many sayings in the Japanese language that involve kamado as it was considered the symbol of a house and the term could even be used to mean "family" or "household" (similar to the English word "hearth"). When separating a family, it was called Kamado wo wakeru, which means "divide the stove". Kamado wo yaburu (lit. "break the stove") means that the family was bankrupt.


Preparation of bread in the kitchen of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi, India Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi 03-2016 img1.jpg
Preparation of bread in the kitchen of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi, India

In India, a kitchen is called a "Rasoi" (in Hindi\Sanskrit) or a "Swayampak ghar" in Marathi, and there exist many other names for it in the various regional languages. Many different methods of cooking exist across the country, and the structure and the materials used in constructing kitchens have varied depending on the region. For example, in the north and central India, cooking used to be carried out in clay ovens called "Chulha"s, fired by wood, coal or dried cow dung. In households where members observed vegetarianism, separate kitchens were maintained to cook and store vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Religious families often treat the kitchen as a sacred space. Indian kitchens are built on an Indian architectural science called vastushastra. The Indian kitchen vastu is of utmost importance while designing kitchens in India. Modern-day architects also follow the norms of vastushastra while designing Indian kitchens across the world.

While many kitchens belonging to poor families continue to use clay stoves and the older forms of fuel, the urban middle and upper classes usually have gas stoves with cylinders or piped gas attached. Electric cooktops are rarer since they consume a great deal of electricity, but microwave ovens are gaining popularity in urban households and commercial enterprises. Indian kitchens are also supported by biogas and solar energy as fuel. World's largest solar energy [10] kitchen is built in India. In association with government bodies, India is encouraging domestic biogas plants to support the kitchen system.

See also

Related Research Articles

Grilling Form of cooking that involves dry heat

Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of food, commonly from above, below or from the side. Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat and vegetables quickly. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill, using a cast iron/frying pan, or a grill pan.

Microwave oven Kitchen cooking appliance

A microwave oven is an electric oven that heats and cooks food by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. This induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer 25–38 mm(1–1.5 inches) of a homogeneous, high water content food item.

Outdoor cooking

Outdoor cooking differs substantially from kitchen-based cooking, the most obvious difference being lack of an easily defined kitchen area. As a result, campers and backpackers have developed a significant body of techniques and specialized equipment for preparing food in outdoors environments. Such techniques have traditionally been associated with nomadic cultures such as the Berbers of North Africa, the Arab Bedouins, the Plains Indians, pioneers in North America, and indigenous tribes in South America. These methods have been refined in modern times for use during recreational outdoors pursuits.

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

Margarete "Grete" Schütte-Lihotzky was an Austrian architect and a communist activist in the Austrian resistance to Nazism. She is mostly remembered today for designing what is known as the Frankfurt kitchen.

Caloric is a brand of kitchen appliances, which dates back to 1903.

Oven Enclosed chamber for heating objects

An oven is a tool which is used to expose materials to a hot environment. Ovens contain a hollow chamber and provide a means of heating the chamber in a controlled way. In use since antiquity, they have been used to accomplish a wide variety of tasks requiring controlled heating. Because they are used for a variety of purposes, there are many different types of ovens. These types differ depending on their intended purpose and based upon how they generate heat.


A pantry is a room where beverages, food, and sometimes dishes, household cleaning chemicals, linens, or provisions are stored. Food and beverage pantries serve in an ancillary capacity to the kitchen. The word "pantry" derives from the same source as the Old French term paneterie; that is from pain, the French form of the Latin panis, "bread".

Kitchen stove Kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food

A kitchen stove, often called simply a stove or a cooker, is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain an oven, used for baking. "Cookstoves" are heated by burning wood or charcoal; "gas stoves" are heated by gas; and "electric stoves" by electricity. A stove with a built-in cooktop is also called a range.

Frankfurt kitchen

The Frankfurt kitchen was a milestone in domestic architecture, considered the forerunner of modern fitted kitchens, for it was first kitchen in history built after a unified concept, i.e. low-cost design that would enable efficient work. It was designed in 1926 by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for architect Ernst May's social housing project New Frankfurt in Frankfurt, Germany. Some 10,000 units were built in the late 1920s in Frankfurt. In 1930, the Soviet Russian government requested for May to lead a “building brigade” and implement the Frankfurt model when planning new industrial towns in the Soviet Union.

The Japanese kitchen is the place where food is prepared in a Japanese house. Until the Meiji era, a kitchen was also called kamado and there are many sayings in the Japanese language that involve kamado as it was considered the symbol of a house. The term could even be used to mean "family" or "household". Separating a family was called kamado wo wakeru, or "divide the stove". Kamado wo yaburu means that the family was broken.

Solar cooker

A solar cooker is a device which uses the energy of direct sunlight to heat, cook or pasteurize drink and other food materials. Many solar cookers currently in use are relatively inexpensive, low-tech devices, although some are as powerful or as expensive as traditional stoves, and advanced, large-scale solar cookers can cook for hundreds of people. Because they use no fuel and cost nothing to operate, many nonprofit organizations are promoting their use worldwide in order to help reduce fuel costs and air pollution, and to help slow down deforestation and desertification.

Galley (kitchen) Kitchen onboard a vehicle

The galley is the compartment of a ship, train, or aircraft where food is cooked and prepared. It can also refer to a land-based kitchen on a naval base, or, from a kitchen design point of view, to a straight design of the kitchen layout.

Sabbath mode, also known as Shabbos mode or Shabbat mode, is a feature in many modern home appliances, including ovens, dishwashers, and refrigerators, which is intended to allow the appliances to be used by Shabbat-observant Jews on the Shabbat and Jewish holidays. The mode usually overrides the usual, everyday operation of the electrical appliance and makes the operation of the appliance comply with the rules of Halakha.

The Chambers stove is a generic name for several different kitchen cooking appliances sold under the Chambers brand name from 1912 to approximately 1988. Their ranges and stand-alone ovens were known for their patented insulation methods, which enabled them to cook on retained heat with the fuel turned off.

Thermador is part of BSH Home Appliances Corporation, a fully owned subsidiary of BSH Hausgeräte GmbH, the second largest appliance manufacturer in the world. The Thermador brand specializes in cooking appliance equipment such as ovens, ranges, cooktops, refrigerators and dishwashers.

<i>Kamado</i> Traditional Japanese cook stove

A kamado is a traditional Japanese wood- or charcoal-fueled cook stove.

Cooker Index of articles associated with the same name

Cooker may refer to several types of cooking appliances and devices used for cooking foods.

Kitchen work triangle

The kitchen work triangle is a concept used to determine efficient kitchen layouts that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The primary tasks in a home kitchen are carried out between the cook top, the sink and the refrigerator. These three points and the imaginary lines between them, make up what kitchen experts call the work triangle. The idea is that when these three elements are close to one other, the kitchen will be easy and efficient to use, cutting down on wasted steps.


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  5. Creighton, Oliver; Christie, Neil (2015), "The Archaeology of Wallingford Castle: a summary of the current state of knowledge", in Keats-Rohan, K. S. B.; Christie, Neil; Roffe, David (eds.), Wallingford: The Castle and the Town in Context, BAR British Series, Oxford: Archaeopress, p. 13, ISBN   978-1-4073-1418-1
  6. Trumbull, J. Hammond (1850). The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut 1636–1776. Vol. 1. p. 476.|volume= has extra text (help)
  7. Rawsthorn, Alice (2010-09-27) Modernist triumph in the kitchen. New York Times
  8. Moore, Rowan (2019-01-21). "Bauhaus at 100: its legacy in five key designs". The Guardian . Retrieved 2019-01-21.
  9. Blank, Christine (9 January 2014). "C-Stores Eating Your Lunch". QSR Magazine.
  10. "World's Largest 38500-meal Solar Kitchen in India" . Retrieved 2017-03-17.

Further reading

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