Major renovations for the ZMM kitchen

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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.


UPDATE – September 1, 2017
 We are now halfway through the kitchen renovation and happy to report that the project is on schedule for completion during the upcoming Mountains and Rivers Sesshin. As you’ll see from the photo slideshow above, the space has already been transformed and, in several key ways, expanded.
Beneath the floor and behind the walls new plumbing and electrical lines have been installed. In the coming weeks, contractors will install the new linoleum floor, followed by counter tops and major appliances, with lighting and plumbing fixtures arriving last. We’ll continue to update the slideshow with more progress shots and then add another slideshow once everything is in place.
Thanks to everyone who has donated so far towards this initiative. If you’d like to contribute at any level, it is definitely not too late and certainly appreciated. Click on this link to be taken to the donations page. And thanks.
UPDATE – October 6, 2017

The new kitchen features two island tables that allow for better flow within the room and more total work space and storage space. A state-of-the-art ten-burner range and oven is another conspicuous addition.

During the first week of October, the newly renovated kitchen was put into operation. Residents and visitors could hardly believe their eyes (and continue to wonder in disbelief) at the transformation. A number of improvements have allowed for the space to be more spacious and efficient. Overall the new kitchen feels thoroughly in balance with other initiatives the Monastery has engaged in during recent years–starting with the Sangha House construction in 2012–to modernize our facilities and provide a healthy environment for all who pass through these gates. We are grateful to all the designers, builders, electricians and craftsmen for their hard work and persistence in realizing this project. We’re also thankful for the many sangha members who donated to the renovation fund and to the many retreatants who pardoned our appearance and helped make the 2 month transition a smooth and joyful one.

The reconstructed dishroom is far roomier than it used to be and features a robust ventilation system in addition to improved storage solutions.

While still in the first week of operation, the new kitchen is still a living organism. Residents are enjoying the process of re-learning how to use the space and where best to store our many utensils. Don’t be surprised if that conversation continues with various twists and turns!






On October 6, a liturgy service was held at the kitchen altar to officially open the space. After chanting the S​utra of Great Compassion, the following dedication was read in honor of Idasonten, the Dharma protector deity that presides over many Zen kitchens and dining halls. (He can be found in our dining hall with his sword of flames.)

Buddha nature pervades the whole universe, existing right here now.
In opening the new kitchen of Doshinji Tenkosan,
we dedicate it to the compassionate heart of Kannon Bodhisattva.
May this hall be a true place of training as we awaken wisdom,
and manifest loving kindness and compassion.
We also dedicate it to Ida-son-ten, the guardian of food, fire and water.
May the Sangha and Temple be free from harm so we can offer ourselves to all beings.
May this kitchen nourish the Dharma body of the ten directions,
And may we realize the Buddha Way together . . .

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