Visitors to the studio are often taken aback when they see the kitchen we’ve built smack in the center of the Products of Design studio. It’s a bold choice for a school, and naturally begs the question, how will we possibly keep it clean? With two year’s of students, faculty, staff and guests, things can get pretty, well, busy in there—particularly during class breaks. So over the summer (and having learned some valuable lessons from last year), we made some improvements and created a few simple systems for managing what could be a messy situation. Here’s our recipe:
Assign 2 "KP Stewards" Per Week. This is something we did last year and seemed to work exceptionally well. At the start of the semester, we post a chart on the fridge with Kitchen Patrol responsibilities for each of the 15 weeks of the semester. Responsibilities included wiping up / straightening up at the start and end of each day, and photographing and posting "notable" behavior at the end of the week, namely:
Reward Good Behavior; Acknowledge Bad Behavior. We spent some time trying to figure out a fun, gentle, but unambiguous way to promote good habits. We wanted to insure that the KP Stewards weren't cleaning up after people all week long in a way that went beyond the aforementioned "wiping up," but also facilitated a way to highlight students who actually did great things in the kitchen. So we came up with the "KITCHEN FAME" and "KITCHEN SHAME" rubric: At the end of each week, the KP Stewards are responsible for posting on the fridge two images: One image of something great that was created in the kitchen—and to name the winner—and one image of something sloppy, disrespectful, or wasteful from the week. (We liked the idea of being specific about the person who did well, but not about the situation that wasn't so well...counting on the "you know who you are!" philosophy of behavior modification.)
Give People A Dedicated Space For Their Food.
This one was a year in the making, but we finally bought (and labeled) bins for every single student and staff in the department. We are encouraged to store non-perishables in these bins, and use the fridges for common items such as condiments, sauces, and for fruits, vegetables and beverages. On the fridge handle we tied tape and markers for people to label their food. (That's a system everyone uses effectively.)
[The photo above evidences a distinct lack of labeling. Oops.]
Compost. We use the Vokashi composting service created by Vandra Thorburn. Vokashi uses the Japanese method of fermenting food waste, called EM-Bokashi. It is an anaerobic process, using bran as the fermenting agent. Learn more about it here.
[Salad Wednesday photo to come! (We've just started the semester.)
Have Salad Wednesdays. This is an idea we copped from somebody out there (?), where each Wednesday, students who want to participate bring 1 "bowlful" of 1 ingredient. We line them all up in a row with a stack of plates at the start, and students move down the line and take a bit from each. It's a communal lunch and a great opportunity for first- and second-years to chat, share projects, New York stories...the works.