Cooking In A Closet

For those of you who live outside of New York City today’s Foodie Friday topic may be a little esoteric.

Tiny kitchen

(Photo credit: doraemon)

Then again, since I’ve never lived in an apartment in any other city, perhaps many of you can identify with it.  I know the subject was one I lived with in our NYC apartment and even when we moved to the suburbs the issue persisted:

The challenges of a small kitchen.

Our apartment’s kitchen was literally a closet.  A large walk-in had been changed into a kitchen.  There was a small stove with a tiny oven, a narrow refrigerator, some shelves and about two square feet of counter space.  A small  cutting board and a bowl would cover it completely.  My culinary ambitions generally overwhelmed my kitchen’s ability to produce what I was visualizing.  You’d cook sequentially instead of concurrently, making one course and removing it to another room while you started the next.  Two pots were tight on the stove even though it had four burners, and good luck if you need to sear something over high heat in a pan while simmering a pot somewhere else on the stove.

What cooking in a small kitchen taught me were a series of skills that I still use.  First, I had to think through the entire meal – what to cook when and how to have everything hit the table at the same time.  Second, I learned to be organized.  There wasn’t room to have clutter nor the luxury of extraneous kitchen equipment or ingredients. In short, I learned to focus on the essence of what I was doing and to do so in an incredibly efficient manner.  Which is, of course, the business point.

It’s not just start-up businesses that have resource challenges.  When I work with my clients who are early and mid stage companies, I think about cooking in a closet and how those skills are critical.  That said, every business can stand to think that way.  Sure, your ambitions are way bigger than your business, but what’s the essence of what you’re doing?  What’s really necessary in terms of tools?  How do I organize everything to maximize efficiency?  Since the business can’t do everything it wants to all at once, what’s needed to be done in what sequence to get us where we want to go?

I don’t cook in a small kitchen any more and I have way more silly tools than I know I need.  But while you can take the cook out of the small kitchen, the small kitchen stays in the cook.  I think it’s the same with small business people.  You agree?

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