Idea of a "CookICT"

Wasn’t totally sure where to toss sort of thing out there, but I figure a lot of folks at MakeICT would be thinking on the same wavelength, and I’ve been tossing this idea back and forth for a bit now so could probably get some good feedback here.

The basic elevator pitch is that a makerspace’s great strength is that for a low monthly membership, you get access to this vast amount of expensive equipment that’d be impractical for most to have access to. This principle can be applied elsewhere, to cooking: a lot of folks like to prep cook for the week, but doing so in a cramped kitchen can be very difficult and disruptive. Even just enjoying a full course meal can be difficult without having access to all the utensils, pots, pans, and general cooking implements needed. So a “cookspace” would be a place with all of that provided, in a larger space, where folks could pay monthly dues to come in and cook. It would probably also have a space to actually eat a meal, if you weren’t just prep cooking, and could have minifridges / sectioned off regular fridges that provide storage options with membership.

The main hurdles I’d see with this would be as follows:

1)Health code. It seems like it’s a pretty big grey area with the health department as to whether or not this would actually qualify as a commercial food preparation space, but regardless, it would need to be kept sanitary. If members are serving food to others, there’s a question of if food safety cards would be necessary. Strictly enforcing a “clean as you go” etiquette will help but it’ll take dedicated volunteers to ensure deep cleanings are done regularly. Given that this would not be a commercial environment where rapid-food-prep is being done though, I think a bit of industrial engineering can be applied as well to minimize hard-to-clean spaces that would ordinarily limit efficiency in a commercial setting.

2)Allergies. If any member can come in and cook anything, it’s going to exclude folks with food allergies. Subareas would need to be sectioned off for particular allergies.

3)User error / insurance / common sense. A communal cook area is going to be a high risk location. Fires are inevitably going happen, so there’s going have to be a copious amount of fire extinguishers around to satisfy any insurance underwriter. Becoming a “vetted” member with 24/7 access would definitely require a couple safety classes. Little things like making sure people aren’t chopping their fingers off would make for a lot of trial and error when it comes to implementing particular policies and rules.

4)Electricity. Most buildings aren’t set up for multiple fridges, stoves, ovens, washing machines, etc. Any space it occupied would likely need an extensive upgrade to its electrical system to accommodate. The electric bill will then likely be an absolute killer.

There’s definitely some core hurdles to overcome if it were to ever be implemented, but I think it has promise, and I imagine a lot of these concerns, like safety and member conduct, were issues for MakeICT back in the beginning (and maybe even a bit into the modern day). It could be a really powerful thing for a community though, being able to go to a place where you’re not going to destroy your kitchen doing a big cook project. There’s a lot to be said about making things a lot easier if you’re in a space specifically dedicated for it, in the same way that it’s easier to do projects at MakeICT and not destroy the space in the process, while the same project might result in your house getting all cluttered if done at home.

Like I said, I’ve been bouncing it around for a bit, and would definitely be interested in ideas / flaws folks see to try to refine it to the point where maybe it can be tried to be implemented in the future.


Alex, As a Home Energy Auditor, I would not consider the refrigeration situation as all that intensive from an operating cost POV. Capital Costs to reach that point of efficiency would be something else.You comments about Health Code could well be a huge issue. One of the things a volunteer at the Lord’s Diner has to do is complete a Food Safety Food Handler Course and obtain a Certificate. County Health offers these courses at No Cost. This is a classroom course, no kitchen work involved.

Several years ago, I attended a 5 day Meal Prep Party at a Friend’s house. She had 8 or 9 recipes to choose from. We all brought our own food and freezer bags and left after 4 hours with 5 meals to pull out of the freezer on a ‘what am I going to fix tonight’ nights.

Doing that in your home is one thing, doing it in a MakerSpace setting would be totally different. We may well need a restaurant license and inspections. That would require the commercial kitchen you reference.

If you would like to pursue this, I would suggest going the Classroom Route only. A classroom could be provided for the Food Handler’s class. Every 16 YO wanting to flip burgers needs one. Why should those from our new area have drive all the way Downtown. The County Extension could provide some classroom topics and instructors. A local Association of Licensed and Registered Dieticians could provide classes on healthy (or perhaps unhealthy ) foods.

That would allow you to not only measure the interest from forum responses, it would give you actual class registrations to back it up.

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To be clear, as I think it probably wasn’t in the opening post, this would be something separate from MakeICT, I just threw it out here because a lot of folks here do related projects outside of the makerspace proper. I definitely don’t think this is the sort of program that would be well suited for MakeICT, though it would definitely be nice to see a little kitchenette area expanded at the new building for those of us who spend all day there working on the computer, but obviously nothing like what’s described here.

I’ll probably figure out some more specifics and give the health department a call in the next few weeks to see what their opinion of such a thing would be. A lot of it I feel like will come down to semantics of who’s making the food for who. Health considerations and capital costs would be the biggest hurdles, but at least regulatory concerns can be figured out with time and some mental effort vs capital which is much more of a process.

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You might want to touch base with @Logan Pajunen. He has a commercial kitchen set up at his place, the former Metro Boulevard School, which means he’s already jumped through all of the hoops to set one up. He could help you in setting something up, but as a practical matter, renting his finished kitchen would probably make a whole lot of sense.


We’ve talked about a kitchen classroom before. I would love to audit pie classes. Well I’d love to taste the result of a p… I like pie. And cookies. Stop judging me.

This is the first I’ve heard a meal prep night tossed out there. That’s innovative. One problem we have with meal prep is, though I can eat the same thing day in day out. My wife can’t. Might be cool to have a prep swap. Where if I make 10 stews, I can swap for mini pizzas or something. The other problem we have with meal prep is organization. Plus we have separate dietary needs. And I’m old. And grumpy…from lack of pie probably.

I’m surprised we don’t see more food on the forum. But then I haven’t seen any Halloween posts either. Would we like to have a food category? Hey I’m making cookies $10 a dozen who wants sum? Or check out this Pie I just made. Or even we are prepping enchiladas, anyone want to trade a night?


Another thing that we could do with this is to have healthy cooking classes/use up the stuff from the community garden we are sure to get going at some point.

We can get grants for programs like this (especially if we’re in a food desert). And since we have a real live chef, we can get more insight from him.

I just looked at the map, and our location is just shy of a food desert. Our building is .9 miles from the closest grocery store.

In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that 23.5 million Americans live in “food deserts”, meaning that they live more than one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas, and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas.[6]

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Well… start a group and see where it takes us

I did setup a commercial kitchen at my place. It was pretty expensive and I wouldn’t recommend building one unless you really needed it.

I think the group meal prep idea is a really good idea. You could bulk-buy and have someone lead the group with a recipe they know well.

If any MakeICT members want to teach a class over here or do a meal prep night I’d be happy to host. The kitchen is large enough to get probably 8-10 people cooking food. Cooking is making!



I think it cooking could be an idea for an area.

The first step is to gather up at least 5 like minded people.

Who is interested enough in a food area to meet once a month to be a Cooking Committee?

If you are interested in making a cooking area, start meeting and if you can get 5 people to meet regularly as next year starts, you can ask to become a new area.

(It would probably be good to target April right after we finish the move… but I think you could get started organizing now)

I think having a cooking class is a great idea. With all the interest of growing your own food these days, having a class to teach people how to preserve it might be good. Only have the general gist of canning food but I’d like to learn how.

I don’t know that I have time to be on a committee, unless you’re meeting on weekends but I would certainly participate in classes and using a kitchen. Nothing better than the smell of food wafting down hallways.

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Just an additional oddball thought… The new location is plenty big enough to invite the food trucks to draw attention to your idea [and] to draw in new members.


OH wow. What a great idea! Have a once-a-month “Maker Sunday” with food truck(s)!


One thing that’s been pretty universal when including all of those meeting as a Space planning group and Modification group has been that at this point it has to be a future plan, as opposed to something now. The reason is the cost and modifications required (venting, and other issues.) As well as everything that would be needed to increase the issues getting zoning/code/etc. Room 4 the lounge (Just south of the Break Room having most of the necessary equipment) has that as a potential future use.


I want all of that. I’ve got the steel prep table, but that’s it.


Yes, please. Keep me posted.

Yeah still not sure if this is actually something that’d be feasible for MakeICT to do because of zoning and regulations and the new building and whatnot but if folks are interested in getting together to discuss it, I’m definitely willing to put in some hours researching hour it’d work in this context.


I’m interested. Food Days are great. The handful of times I’ve been involved in something like this it operated one of the ways.

The first was when my parents and I would go over to my aunt and uncle’s place and help them and they’re children with the corn. They would go pick their small correction field and bring it up to the yard in all these buckets and bins and set up on a flat bed trailer. Then everyone would chip in on cleaning it. Some would chop the ends of the cobs, others would remove the husks and check for bugs, others would blanch the cobs in a bin and cool them in another, some would cut the kernels off the cobs and put them in ziplock bags to freeze. And then some would simply keep busy moving the buckets of corn and husks around to where they needed to go, or swapping out the blanching and ice water, or cooking up a meal and running water to everyone. When we finished, all the waste would go on the trailer, and get hauled out to their hogs.

I’ve also done much smaller scale good days with a friend or two. We each found a couple recipes we both wanted to try, or found an ingredient we needed ideas for. We’d work out who needed what, check what we each had to offer, and decide who would buy which items that we still needed. Then you just picked a house, brought what you had and what you bought, and start prepping and cooking. When everything was done, wee worked together to clean up and divvied out equal portions or each dish to each person, or traded a bit if someone wanted one thing more than another, or if one person provided most of the ingredients for that dish.

So there are ways to make this work for large or small groups, big or small batches, for fully prepared or even canned dishes/condiments or simply ‘working up’ something like the corn.

I suggest we look at restaurant kitchens, old and new cookbooks, church potlucks, what happens with the proposed community garden, and enjoy a reading of “Stone Soup” for ideas on practicality and overall inspiration.


Maybe if you start smaller it wouldn’t seem like an overwhelming proposition? I mean, does it really need to be a huge restaurant size kitchen? Do you really need multiple stoves and refrigerators? Maybe just getting it started first and later build on the idea?

Is there an area outside where you could ad grilling outdoors in nicer weather? Maybe that could expand a cooking area with smaller expense. I’ve only seen the new building once and it was already dark so idk. I still think this is a great idea and it would be fun creating it.


Yeah, electricity and space demands would be scalable issues: starting out it’d probably resemble more of a regular residential kitchen than anything else. It could probably be done on a decent budget actually if it started out with some more efficient mechanisms: replacing traditional stove tops with individual induction-based burners (usually run for around $50 or so from Amazon), toaster ovens, that sort of thing. If nothing else I’d love to just see a little cook area for members at the new building, to expand on what somewhat exists at the existing building. There shouldn’t be any zoning issues with that because I doubt the health department would much care about a toaster oven and an induction stove, but being able to cook a meal at the space on a personal to maybe small group basis would be a good start.


I’m hoping for a residential size kitchen. There are so many directions you can go with that as a starting point. Maybe not starting out with cooking for an entire week but coming up with dishes that are easy for busy folks to make ahead? Or even classes to teach folks to do some basics, pie crust for example? Or a fun one could be attempting copycat recipes like, idk, homemade Reese’s cups?