Major renovations for the ZMM kitchen

· Photos, Sangha News

The current main sink situation. The new kitchen will have twice as many sinks to help meal crews run more efficiently.

Since the founding of Zen Mountain Monastery in 1980, the Monastery kitchen has been an emotional hearth, a training hall, and the birth place of approximately 38,850 meals.  It has also remained functionally the same for much of that time, even as other parts of the main building have been renovated and other structures on the property have been raised or rehabilitated.

Keeping up with the growing numbers of residents and retreatants who have been coming to practice at the Monastery in recent years has been a bit of a struggle, both in the cooking and the cleaning aspects of a meal.

Now, after many months of head scratching, soul searching, and consultations with engineers, architects, and designers, the kitchen has finally received its date with modernity. Blueprints have been posted in the dining hall for all to see the plans afoot. Starting at the beginning of August, contractors will get to work on a gut renovation of the kitchen and dish room. 

Perhaps the most significant change will be the addition of a walk-in refrigerator and freezer that will be joined to the northwest corner of the main building. This will alleviate a number of functionality issues, most notably the near perennial lack of sufficient space in our refrigerators and the need to bring produce up and down the basement stairs from the cold room. The cold room (a 10×12 foot chamber that once served as a walk-in refrigerator itself) will continue to be used as an additional storage for dry goods. The new walk-in will be accessed through a door that will be engineered into the wall where we currently have our dish sink. This will also enable deliveries to be made via a new, level pathway leading to the cooler, thus avoiding the stone steps.

Preparing the ground for the new cooler.

The numerous changes in the works are almost too many to mention but this web page will be continuously updated with photos and news bits about the renovation, which is set to take place throughout all of August and September.

While the remodeling is taking place, a rented mobile kitchen will be parked on site, containing ovens, sinks and stove ranges for the cooks to continue their blessed work. Crews of kitchen helpers will find themselves chopping, slicing and dicing in a couple different locations, including the dining hall and covered outdoor locations. The dish room will be moved to a temporary platform with tent coverage in the small parking lot just behind the dining hall.

Moving a tree elsewhere from the cooler’s footprint.

A few more elements of the new kitchen will be:

We will also be upgrading and replacing all plumbing and electrical lines throughout the kitchen, including those that lead elsewhere in the building, enabling us to add additional bathrooms on the upper floors. As you can imagine, this floor-to-ceiling kitchen renovation is a major undertaking for the Monastery, though one that is arguably past due. All told, the project is budgeted for $250,000. We greatly appreciate any contributions made to the renovation fund. To learn how you can support this historic effort, please click HERE.

Blueprints for the new kitchen show how activity will flow much more efficiently and safely.

One of the first steps was putting in a cement foundation where the walk in cooler will live. The path is a walkway for deliveries. (July 23) Doug and Wonder working on the temporary dishroom. (July 21) Building the temporary dishroom. (July 22) Residents work alongside ZMM's go-to electrician David Seche on the flooring for the temporary dishroom. (July 22) The dish room equipment has all been moved to the outdoor dishroom. After this image was taken, the doorway to the Common Room was sealed up. That interior wall will be used for a longer drying table and more storage space. (July 31) The mobile kitchen has arrived! (Aug 1) The outdoor dishroom is now fully operational. (Aug 2) The outdoor dishroom looking north. (Aug 2) The outdoor dish room looking south. (Aug 2) Residents have taken to the outdoor dishroom with great enthusiasm. It actually feels great to be doing meal crew while simultaenously enjoying the lovely weather. (Aug 2) On Tuesday, August 1, in one push of activity, we removed everything from the kitchen and started setting up a temporary situation in the dining hall. (August 1) (August 3) breaking through. (July 31) Drilling through. (August 4) A portal appears where the dish sink was. (August 8) The flooring has been removed enabling the contractors to work on plumbing and electrical issues and to install all new flooring. (August 8) Co-cook Laura working in the food truck. (Aug. 19) Slicing fresh garden tomatoes at the picnic tables. (Aug. 19) The pass through appears. A window into the dishroom will enable people to drop off their plates, bowls, silverware and cups without blocking traffic in and out of the dishroom itself. (Aug 17) Washing the kitchen walls and ceilings before a fresh coat of paint gets applied. (Aug. 19) Prepping lunch outdoors. (Aug. 19)
The dish room equipment has all been moved to the outdoor dishroom. After this image was taken, the doorway to the Common Room was sealed up. That interior wall will be used for a longer drying table and more storage space. (July 31)
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