OT - Do you let others cook in your kitchen?

GWloloApril 15, 2013

This is somewhat tangential to kitchen design per se but I am curious if at all you let your house guests and other visitors to cook in your kitchen or prep. If yes,is only when they help you or SO when you are cooking or do you let them cook even when you are not there? How do you set them up? Do you do a kitchen orientation? Hide your best knifes? Do you have rules?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hah! Try and keep my family and my in-laws OUT of the kitchen! Everyone cooks. I point them in the approximate direction of things ("the glasses are in the corner cabinet") etc, but as good cooks, they all respect the equipment. If they have any doubts, they ask.

I did however, minimise the cleaning materials under the sink so that the only choices available are:
1. dish soap
2. dishwasher tablets
3. Bar Keeper's Friend
4. 'green' surface and glass cleaner

to ensure no-one uses anything harsh on something that won't take it.

Good thread topic!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If I am cooking, I really want to be left alone unless it is my kids or my sisters. They all help.They instinctively know what needs to be done without giving a lot of direction. However, my MIL or DM will want to chat it up in the last several minutes before we sit to eat, while I'm thickening gravy, mashing potatoes and trying to watch the buns in the oven. I am OCD and my kitchen is definately a one cook kitchen. Intentionally! My kitchen is not the heart of the home. Nor has it ever been in the different homes I've owned. My previous home was the only home I ever owned that had the open concept kitchen. Never again!
I do not have complicated appliances or fancy knives or cookware, but I do have pieces that are sentimental and that I have babied over the years that I do not allow others to cook with. If I allowed someone to cook, I'd probably hover over them! Unless it was my kids or sisters. I know, I'm terrible! But it truly is the only space in the house that is mine!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sure, why not?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't think this is off topic. It has a lot to do with kitchen layout, which we talk about all the time here.

It would make things so difficult if others were to cook in our kitchen, unless they were making toast, boiling water, or using the microwave! That is, if I/we were also cooking. Although our layout and storage makes perfect sense to us, a kitchen orientation would take so long that I don't think it would be worth it. Ours is a two-butt kitchen, but not more than two butts. Our range top is a super-powerful Culinarian that takes a lot of getting used to. Our double ovens take getting used to, too, unless one has had ones like them before.

When family members come and don't feel as though a dinner is complete unless they help, we try to set up ingredients and equipment on the peninsula, so they can do that and stay sort of out of the way. For instance, for a salad, we'd put the big salad bowl out there, the lettuces, things to chop, cutting boards, knives, and whatever else we'd need for a salad. (Actually, now that I think about it, that's pretty much how we prep ourselves too.)

Mostly, we put things out on the peninsula for the guests to set the table, pour water, light candles, pour wine, or whatever. Yesterday the blessed day came when my sister-in-law said, "is there anything I can do besides stay out of your way?" We were able to say "yes, you can set the table, pour water, etc."

Now, if someone was coming to stay for a few days, like my mother, I would give her a kitchen orientation, complete with the reasoning behind it, which would hopefully make it easier to remember. I'd certainly let my mom cook here when we weren't around, but I'd stick the fire extinguisher next to the flame-thrower range top (she's had an electric stove for the past several years).


    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Holly- Kay

When my DD still lived at home with us she drove me crazy! She would fry chicken and allow grease to splatter everywhere. She didn't use the fan at all, so not only did I have grease splatters but the whole house reeked when she fried things. She is now out on her own and if she ever moves back home the one rule will be , stay the heck out of my kitchen!!!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If anyone offers to help me cook, I take them up on it before they can change their mind. I usually tell them what needs to be done and hand them whatever they need because I have a time table if I am cooking for a crowd.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 4:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We haven't had anyone stay here when we weren't home, but we've probably had more company in the past 2.5 years that our kitchen has been done than the previous 5 years or more. Within a year we had 2 sets of dear friends visit, about 3 months apart. No kids. My first set of friends really like to cook, so they helped a lot, and since they were here for 10 days or so (although we were all gone for part of that time) they started fending for themselves a lot for breakfasts and lunches. My other friends helped less, but were here a much shorter time. Then last summer we had both DD's and their families here at the same time, so there were four kids ranging from 4-9 y/o, plus extra adults. It was fun chaos. I let them all do whatever they wanted.

So, a long winded way of saying I let people cook and help in the kitchen, but part of my ability to relax and let that happen is because it's not brand new anymore, and I am not as paranoid about things as I was at first. Besides, that's one thing we wanted to achieve with the remodel-a comfortable, functional kitchen for us and for guests.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Suzi AKA DesertDance

NO! I am the Queen of the kitchen!! Period! My DH has a friend that tries to take over, but, his ideas suck, and he is no longer allowed in the kitchen!

Do I mess the garage up? No! Do I have an opinion? No! Stay in your garage, and stay the hell outa my kitchen!!


    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sure. I have at least 5 counter areas others could work at, plus stove and sink areas. Our kitchen has a loveseat and table and chairs that are more in demand, though.

Easy, quick maintenance was a priority for myself, so, no, except for some serving dishes, no delicate accoutrements that need special care or hiding away. No rules either. Except finally for one guy who kept bringing extra entrees in spite of being invited to bring some little extra if he wanted to contribute--so special rule just for him: Extra entrees go in the fridge to be divvied up for take-home gifts at the end of the evening.

As for layout, I've been pleased to see that even a crowd seems to have no trouble finding stuff, including my store of lidded Chinese take-out containers for taking home leftovers; but it was a pleasant accident since I'm more like DrBeanie in spirit. I'd have put way low on my priorities designing so that guests could just open a drawer and find what they want. Apparently my work patterns lack uniqueness.

Bottom line, though, if a busload of strangers broke down outside and wanted to kill time cooking, I'd head for the loveseat before anyone else got the best spot.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You cannot keep my friends, including husbands from helping, so I usually plan stuff for them to attend to while I do the last minute stuff for the entrée/sides. It helps that all of them are great cooks and entertainers. The women put out appetizers for me; the guys usually do the drinks (big martini fans). The guys usually clear the table, too - LOVE that part!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stacieann63, we must have been separated at birth. LOL. I feel exactly the same. My kitchen is smallish, with narrow walkways. A one-butt kitchen for my one-track mind. Still, when my sisters come, we can perform a ballet in there. My stepson and I do well together. But anyone else? Get out.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Emphatic NO. Mine is what folks here refer to as a "one butt kitchen." There isn't extra space for a helper.

I would have been happy to have help from my mom or my MIL but both sadly passed away before the kitchen came to be.

My father comes to visit and is an excellent cook, but he leaves a wake of destruction. DH will help prep if I'm desperate, but I rarely ask. Same with our teens. With guests, I want people OUT--for me cooking is something I enjoy doing alone..controlling everything...I think I'm learning something about myself as I type this response. HMMMMNNN!!!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is so interesting. I have house guests who stay for weeks at a time. I have found it essential to enable them to cook so that they can be self sufficient when I am at work etc. But I do get upset with misuse of tools like knifes and expensive non-stick cookware. However, when I am cooking I want people to stick to the prep zone and only do assigned tasks.. No wandering over and stirring the pot or flipping the pancakes. I am a bit draconian then. So no control or complete control. I have to see how this plays out in my new kitchen as it is a galley with a lot of traffic possibilities. Even before moving in I see when we do "house tours", everyone clusters around in the kitchen automatically. It is not bright and open. It is green and a bit dark and has low ceilings and none of the appliances are installed but everyone hangs out there. Very weird!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My DH and I do certain baking projects together but other than that it is just me in my kitchen. When we were doing the renovation DH hooked up the old gas cooktop in the basement and we set up an interim kitchen down there. It has become the dog dinner kitchen -- DH cooks rice and burgers for them down there.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When all my grandkids (ages 8 - 15) visit, they love to give me a night off and do all the cooking. When they were here at Thanksgiving, they told me to go rest in the living room. They set me up with magazines, music, and a nice drink, and said they would prepare dinner. Well, I just about went crazy sitting there listening to what was going on. My kitchen is perfect for multiple cooks, but the clattering that went on was almost more than I could handle. I worried about the gas stove, they were dropping things on the floor, etc, etc. Dinner was wonderful, but I'm not sure I could classify it as a night off.

They always like to help clean up, but it drives me nuts when they slide things into the sink, and leave the water running for a good 20 minutes while they rinse EVERYTHING off. So, now they don't put dishes in the sink, they only scrap them and stack them on the counter. And only grandma (me) puts things away. At least I can find them that way.

Do I sound like a control freak?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another one butt kitchen here, and it's my butt in there. Although, I have a feeling even if there was room for more, no one would dare offer...

This post was edited by ctycdm on Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 20:25

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If I'm cooking, there are a few people that can help - mom, my adult children, my sister - because they know how to do the multi-cook ballet. My husband is banished. I love him, but he's a slow-moving barrier island.

If I'm not cooking, and someone else wants to take over? Sure! I'll be over here drinking a glass of wine. When my daughter visits she often cooks while I act as prep cook doing whatever she asks. That took some practice on my part starting when she was little, as I supervised her making brownies or mac-n-cheese.

I'm not a control freak in the kitchen unless I'm in charge of the meal.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 7:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Small house, small kitchen. DH cooks on occasion (he makes great hash browns for Sunday "family breakfast"). DD, at 14, is learning to cook, so she uses the kitchen at times. She's a good baker. Incredible chocolate chip cookies. But no, no "strangers" or helpers in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 8:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

too much improvisation and experimentation to involve others. "take the beverage orders" is about the extent of it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow! I feel so relieved to know there are others that feel the same as I do. I was really beginning to think there was something wrong with me! Ha! I'm okay afterall! Unless, all of us are hot mess! I can't wait until my son-in- law comes over and I can yell, "Now get out and stay out!" Until supper is ready, of course.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course.

How else would the kids learn to cook? Yes, they use my various utensils, knives, pans 'incorrectly' but that then presents a teaching opportunity.

I'm certain that after 387 more lessons, they will understand why one might want to use a dish rag or a dish towel and what the difference between those items might be.

I have never had a guest attempt to invade my cooking area so I honestly don't know how I would handle that. There is room enough for 2-3 to be actively cooking or prepping if chef assigns the work properly so, I think I'd let them.

If I have to.

I guess.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am way too OCD for my family to even want to help me regardless of the size of my kitchen. When they come for dinner, they will happily watch me madly finish up so everything is ready at the same time. They have taken to picking off bits and bites before everything is served to try and push me over the edge. So, now I've taken up drinking a cocktail or two before they arrive to not let it bother me!!!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My DM was always queen of the kitchen - she would let me assist but never gave me the reigns until she was over 70 and said T-day was too much for her. I said I would take over the next year - she kept trying to come into the kitchen and I kept sending her back to the rest of the family.

Fast forward - our new kitchen is just completed and I am having my first guests over for dinner. I prepared a nice dinner and someone brought pies. They made me sit in the DR while they cut the pies. I happen to walk into the kitchen and they were using my new Wolf Induction glass cooktop as a cutting board for the pie!!!! I politely moved the pie to the countertop..... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So now, I want to be in the kitchen even if someone is helping....

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd rather others not cook. The space we're designing is a one-cook/one sink kitchen, and I'd much rather you grab a seat, sip your wine and chat instead of "helping". My MIL is the primary bane; in every kitchen I've had, she's found the middle of the traffic pattern and planted herself there to relate long, involved stories that necessitate listeners' involvement beyond "uh huh, uh huh." I've learned not to hand her a knife or cutting board, as they will serve as story props rather than being put to use doing the salad or drinks garnishes or cheese board. Honestly, the worst kitchen visitor possible!

The only person who's totally taken over and cooked is my SIL, whose picky child only eats things like plain boiled pasta - "not spaghetti, Mum, LINGUINE. I want LINGUINE!" After cooking for everyone else, I am happy to clear a burner and let SIL deal with Demanding Child's needs.

My late mom was boss of her kitchen but gracious stay-out-of-the-way-unless-asked guest in others and I imitate her.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Of course I do! I wish I have someone cooking in my kitchen everyday.

Our kitchen is big enough to allow multiple cooks. DH cooks frequently. When my son and brother in law are visiting, they cook too. All three of them are "gourmet chefs" who travel extensively over different continents. They have been exposed to different regions of cuisines, and seriously appreciate fine food. They love to experiment new techniques, use new tools and try new recipes.

When they cook I am the happy gofer. I praise them lavishly, I get wine and desserts ready to compliment the dishes. I don't mind cleaning after them.

I always have my camera ready to take photos of their gorgeous masterpieces. Lots of time, I write down recipes, because I cannot find them in cook books, they are the results of inspiration of the moment.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am sorry to say I do not like other people working around me in the kitchen. DH has his specialties - crepes, hash browns, eggs in a hole, his famous chili,etc. - and he can take full command when he makes those. Otherwise, I find people buzzing around the stove and prep area are more distracting than helpful.

A few regular guests insist on helping and I know from experience that resisting will only cause hard feelings. But I feel most comfortable when I'm managing the meal prep in my space.

Especially dislike when people feel obligated to help clear after a meal. "Do you want to save this?" "Where's the Saran Wrap?" "Which one's your Tupperware cabinet?" - - - - - -Please, I've got this. I can organize and put away in half the time without helpers, plus I'll be able to find everything like spatulas and serving spoons when I need them the next morning.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

>>>How else would the kids learn to cook?

Doc, my mother always said, "That's your problem. I learned the hard way, and you can, too. Get. Out. Now."

We were welcome -- well, required -- to do the laundry and work in the veg garden. But cook in her kitchen? Not even today are we allowed past the scullery, where we may wash up and serve desert. That's it. The poor woman had four kids, a farm, and a demanding husband who didn't lift a hand so I guess teaching us was just one of those things that had to get tossed overboard. As we moved off to college, each of us was given a red and white checked BH&G cookbook and one of her old, well-seasoned Lodge skillets. (I'm still using both!)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Very interesting! We have quite frequently newly arrived employees of my husband's who stay with us until they've found their own place.
I actively try to encourage guests to cook, but it sounds like many/most of them may have grown up in "only one person in the kitchen" homes. Always thought they were used to being catered to, but maybe they really don't believe me when I tell them they are welcome to cook for themselves, or even better, offer to cook a meal for the whole family.
Unfortunately, they usually sit at the table and look at me expectantly.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MizLizzie, We are sisters! I have the same cookbook given to me when I was 17! I can call my adult children and say come over we will make lasagna or bake cookies, and it is planned out and relaxed. We cooked together when they were little and had a blast. What I do not like is when I am having company and people are just standing around, (usually in front of the fridge) not helping,and wanting to talk about the weather. It is distracting to me. I'm trying to get supper on the table and want everything to be hot. I have offered you a seat in the livingroom with a drink. Now please go! We can discuss the weather at the table. My MIL will tell me, "No, I want to see what is going on." I keep reminding myself she is older and there may only be a few more Thanksgivings with her.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Circus Peanut

This reminds me of the wonderful image Johnliu made for Marcolo a few years back when designing a space specifically to keep guests OUT of the cook's way:

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Love the picture! In one since-abandoned kitchen design that routed casual/visitor traffic into my workspace, I considered asking the architect to draft a gun turret as well.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 11:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My old kitchen was a one butt model, but my new one has plenty of space for helpers. My immediate family is allowed full access, but when I'm cooking for guests or a crowd, anyone helping has an assigned spot and task. I have MY spot, which my husband jokingly calls "the command center", which is in easy access of the ovens, cooktop, knives and prep materials. Guests who have been here more than once know that they are not allowed to park in my spot, lest they be politely given a glass of wine and shooed out. Except for my mother, who I need to shoo every time she comes. :-)


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 1:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My kitchen isn't exactly tiny, but if there is more than one cook working, the space and the workers must be organized and coordinated. I like to have the kiddoes or DH help me out, but we have all learned that there just isn't space for all of us to be constantly flitting about the entire kitchen. After all, many restaurant kitchens are very tiny (smaller than mine), and multiple chefs know how to work with the confines by being organized.

Now when guests are present....my tiny island works as a great barrier to keep casual onlookers out of the main work areas. If they need a glass of water or something from the fridge, most usually ask, rather than risk plunging into the frenzied food prep zones.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 3:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Stacie and MizLizzie - triplets as I have the same BH&G from my DM - the spine fell off and it is almost in pieces - but still functional!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Reading nosoccermum's post about having house guests who don't cook, reminds me: we make a house rule that anyone who stays more than 5 days has to cook dinner one evening. One of us will be sous-chef if required - it's resulted in some hilarious evenings and wonderful food and it's been lovely to see people's confidence soar.

It got quite competitive the year my entire family travelled over from London! And if a guest can't/won't cook? Then they have to buy dinner at a restaurant.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 7:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Haha Sara...great rule, which I've tried to implement, unfortunately, to no avail.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:14PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never had anyone offer to cook before, but we don't have many visitors and since we've been destroying the house at every opportunity, I'd hate to ask anyone over for a family dinner. Everyone is holding out for the finished product, I believe. That being said, I would let someone cook. I doubt they could do any more damage than I could in one meal. But we have a pretty no-fuss kitchen. It's meant to be used, and if something happens, it happens. It can be replaced or lived with. I did have a family member come over early one morning to watch the girls so I could go to an appt. without waking them up at 5 am. She called at 7 am to ask how to work the range. In that moment I saw myself being greeted in the driveway by firetrucks and the charred remains of the new kitchen. I told her there was cereal and oatmeal in the pantry, and the microwave was in the pantry cabinet in the kitchen. I probably would stay in the kitchen were she to offer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Too funny, a2gemini! That BH&G cookbook is one thing I'm never without. It really is still my only cookbook, and my favorite wedding gift to youngsters. Other cookbooks have come and gone -- usually down to Goodwill. Mom might have been blunt, but she wasn't stupid. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:06PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Countertop Geology, Part Six. Let's talk about rocks some more!
This is round six of the Great Rocks Thread! Please...
IKEA kitchen nearly done- so delayed
We've been extremely delayed!! The granite is going...
Help! White Kitchen, dark counter and gold/brass fixtures???
Actual kitchen; it's dark and dull! My husband and...
Azalia Speight
Closet pantry or not?
I am doing a reno of our kitchen and wanted to get...
New to Kitchens? Read Me First!
Welcome! If you are new to the Kitchens Forum, you...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™