The first order of business is to design a layout of the kitchen. Jeff Carlin of Trimark USA and I begin work with the help of Jack Ponzetti, the engineer that makes our little boxes on paper into grown-up mechanical drawings that the rest of the team can use.

In the first team meeting I see Jeff and Sachin Anand of dbHMS immediately begin to debate about optimum design for the exhaust hoods in the kitchen, You’ve seen those big stainless steel hoods above equipment in restaurant kitchens. These are huge energy hogs, and continuously suck your expensive heated and air-conditioned air out of your building and send it outdoors, forcing you to take in new air and heat or air/condition it to make it comfortable in your space. VERY inefficient, and costly. Jeff and Sachin are scary smart, and are having a conversation so heady that no one else in the room can really follow. But we know we’re in good hands, these guys really know their stuff.

Some key decisions we make: hoods will be placed along the wall; island hoods in the center of the room draw out even more air. Second, we’ll have two baker’s galleys share one hood for convection ovens. Ovens have lowest requirements for hood draw. Third, the heavier duty equipment will be under a hood with some type of variable speed controls. It will sense the amount of cooking activity taking place, and adjust hood fan speed. This will save a great deal of energy over a fan with a constant speed setting.

While we are working on the kitchen layout, the other big issue is where to put all the toilets. Our little kitchen/event space is required to have two toilets for men, two for women. We’re struggling to keep the dining room as large as possible, and the kitchen too. So while it’s the most expensive solution, we opt to have two restrooms on the first floor and two in the basement. All in all, we explore possible location of these restrooms for about a month.

Jeff Carlin and Jack Ponzetti are so experienced, they are making the kitchen light years better than I ever could on my own. I thank my lucky stars every day that they are on our team.

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