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Office Cuisine


IndyRob
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My basic question arises out of observations in several offices large and small. It appears that proper ovens and burners are strictly verboten. Even while touring the newly built headquarters a large, rather stylish corporation, I noticed this. They had a large lunch/break area with an area that had the appearance of a commercial kitchen. But no ovens or burners. Or really, anything that could be used to cook.

I have seen toasters, toaster ovens, microwaves, popcorn makers and, of course, coffee makers. Sometimes, a grill out in the back parking lot seems to be okay for a special occasion. But what are the actual/general rules? Any HR/Legal types out there?

But more generally, what about the community's trials and triumphs of office cuisine.

This post has been in my head for a while, but this link brought it to the forefront....

Cutting Pasta Using a Paper Shredder

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I imagine it depends on corporate policy and city regulations more than anything else, so I think it would be hard to generalize? OSHA probably has some say in it as well.

And LOL paper shredder pasta.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I would think it's an insurance & liability issue over anything else. Most office kitchens aren't equipped with ventilation, hood fans, etc. to have stoves and ovens, so there is a greater risk of smoke/fire. I don't know about other offices, but I'm pretty sure fire from stoves and ovens isn't covered under our own office suite's nor the building owner's insurance policies.

We don't have a toaster oven for reasons unknown, so sometimes I will toast leftover pizza or a cheese sandwich on top of the toaster. Works in a pinch!

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I dont think it's a national thing. Probably liability, as others have mentioned, or maybe something as simple as not wanting to deal with maintenance.

I work for a school within the City University of New York and we have stoves and ovens here. Not in every department, but I've worked in the Office of Academic Affairs and in the Office of Administration and Finance and both had access to full kitchens. I didn't see it used in the OAA more than once, but in my building it gets used pretty regularly. Some people (not my office) cook breakfast every so often. One of my coworkers has made pancakes for us all a few times, and we do a Thanksgiving lunch and several other meals through the year using the kitchen. The really heavy cooking gets done elsewhere (mainly the Thanksgiving turkey - it's actually cooked at home and brought in) but that's more because of the logistics.

"I know it's the bugs, that's what cheese is. Gone off milk with bugs and mould - that's why it tastes so good. Cows and bugs together have a good deal going down."

- Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry), Chef!

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Plenty of offices have full kitchens. They tend to be smaller offices in single-story or house-like structures, or in older low- and mid-rise buildings. In high-rise office buildings, for the most you can't have a proper kitchen without installing some pretty serious ventilation and fire suppression. So you're limited to things like microwaves and toasters.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
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Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Countertop convection ovens, panini grills and induction cookers seem to be ok for some no-vent applications. Check w/ your regional building code office.

I used to do cooking/nutrition demos in a health-care facility. There was NO kitchen. We did stir-fries, baked cakes, braised items, using an electric frying pan. And a 6 ft. banquet table.

Edited by KarenDW (log)

Karen Dar Woon

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Aside from Code or insurance issues, I think office cooking has an odor issue and as noted "who is going to be responsible for cleaning up?" issue. Some offices for instance have banned the smelly mwave popcorn.

We used to put dishwashers in high end highrise offices, but never an oven. They wanted to clean the "real" coffee cups they put out for meetings etc., but nobody wanted to cook. They did have (and the name of the most traditional one escapes me now) nice fridges.

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But what are the actual/general rules? Any HR/Legal types out there?

But more generally, what about the community's trials and triumphs of office cuisine.

Interesting question. Ultimately, it's what your coworkers will tolerate.

Have you actually made shredder pasta?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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As a previous building manager, it has much more to do with insurance than anything else. Sure, there could be some local code issues in order to have a full kitchen, but liability carries more weight.

And frankly, people are pigs. We had to throw out several toaster ovens due to careless slobs.

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My office (on a college campus) has a full-size fridge & freezer, a mini fridge, two microwaves, a slot toaster, a toaster oven, and a hot-water dispenser (you'd be surprised how many things can be made with just hot water)...but I do have a full-size Weber charcoal pit in my office closet for serious outdoor cooking, and we have a Smokey Joe for weenie roasts. I wish we had a stove...I've toyed with the idea of buying an inexpensive induction burner. For a long time, lack of hot water limited our cooking, but we recently got a tankless hot water heater, so washing up is so much easier.

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