After Forty Years, ESG Kitchen Renovated and Hosting Weekly Luncheons

Holly Sweet, Associate Director, ESG

The ESG kitchen was originally constructed in 1969 when half of the 6th floor of Building 24 was renovated for the ESG space. It was a galley kitchen with one refrigerator, a dishwasher, a small fridge, and a 4 burner electric stove. Small as it was, it was the scene of many weekly luncheons spanning 40 years. Some of our more memorable luncheons included guest speaker B.F. Skinner and a chili luncheon that ended a long term relationship between two ESGers (don’t ask!). The galley kitchen was always cramped and often meals would be burned, food would be late, and cooks would be fighting for space. The configuration also resulted in long lines that meant food would be cold by the time students had it on their plates.

When ESG joined DUE in the fall of 2009, we invited Dean Hastings up for lunch the following spring. He was gracious enough to join us but ate burned chili and the chair he was sitting in broke underneath him ( I think this spurred him on to consider renovating our kitchen and dining space). In the summer of 2011, DUE funded a complete renovation of our kitchen.

This included knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to create more space in the kitchen, purchasing new tables and chairs, and putting in new cabinets, an island for use in serving food, a six burner range, two new refrigerators, two ovens, and a commercial dishwasher that washes dishes in just 80 seconds. Students and staff were thrilled with the renovations which were just completed at the end of IAP, and ESG alumni who dropped by couldn’t believe the difference.

This term we are using our kitchen in a variety of ways, including a highly popular seminar open to all MIT undergraduates on “Speaking Italian… with your mouth full”, weekly pasta dinners with our director Alex Slocum, and of course, our always popular Friday lunch series. The Friday meals are cooked by our own students (usually our freshmen) and often feature ethnic cuisine (this past week we had Turkish food and this week we are having Swiss food).

All of us at ESG want to thank Dean Hastings who funded the renovations as well as Jeanne Hillery who oversaw the complicated and sometimes frustrating experience of organizing all of the different parties who planned and created our new kitchen. Our kitchen is now a showpiece of ESG: we hope it will be used by generations of students to come!