Will Your Guests Love Your Kitchen?

yard_sale_sign With thanks to Marcia of the food blog , ‘The Aperitif’, I am able to illustrate one of my own pet peeves about cottage or vacation rental – the underwhelming kitchen. Here’s just a short excerpt from her latest post, Vacation Rental Blues:

“It never fails…one can always expect to find a trusty cast iron skillet.  That's a given.  And, then, a battered old enameled lobster pot regardless of how far one actually is from any ocean.  I've been in rental cottages in Wisconsin, where there's not even a remote possibility that one will be preparing a lobster for dinner, and yet, ha…there, lurking in a lower cabinet… the giant, blue-and-white speckled pot, a burnt patch permanently etched into the bottom.  Potato peelers are usually circa 1945.  You know the kind.  They're a bit rusty and hurt your hand when you use them.  Rubber spatulas are kind of icky and never totally clean.  Oh, and let's not forget the Corningware!  The ubiquitous Corningware baking dish with its cheerful blue flowers etched on the side and matching clear lid. Sometimes there will be a crusty, non-stick pan (an oxymoron, I know) and, until this past weekend, I've always encountered a 2- or 3-quart saucepan.”

To be honest, I’ve never come across a lobster pot in an English or Ontario cottage rental but oh yes, the Corningware (or Pyrex) has been evident in many. Marcia’s observations about potato peelers and rubber spatulas ring very true too, and I would add to that the usually fruitless search to find a knife able to cut anything more than a slice of avocado without a few howls of frustration.

Why is it that some owners consider vacation rental kitchens should be home to every cast-off item they have ever found. Just recently I got into a discussion with a person at a yard sale while I was rummaging through a box of books (looking for new additions to the Osprey Cottage library). When she heard I had a cottage rental, she proudly showed me her ‘finds’ for her own place. 3 mismatched coffee mugs, a set of liqueur glasses, a mildly rusted spatula in a collection of assorted utensils, and yes, a faded blue-flowered Corningware dish. As she enthusiastically talked about how little she was spending and how much she was charging, I inwardly cringed at the mindset that still seems evident in many areas of our business. How do we change this? How do we get new entrants to vacation rental ownership to appreciate they are suppliers to the tourist industry and there is a responsibility to deliver a high standard of product?

How great it would be to change the perception of vacation rental kitchens so that posts such as Marcia’s show an unusual perspective rather than suggesting it as the norm.

Photo on Flickr by jbcurio

Marcia Chocinsky

There are 2 sides to this story. I had some great donations from friends like a set of matching waterless cookware and I found a Cuisinart at a church garage sale in perfect condition for only $5. I did buy new items like measuring cups & spoons, potato peeler, etc. and alas these the measuring spoons are always minus a piece or two after the high season.
We bought our house from people who had owned it for 30 years and they left a variety of things like biscuit cutters, pastry wire, spatulas etc. But I quickly learned that buying brand-new doesn’t always pay. A nice pair of utility sissors that I paid $20+ for because they looked rugged, durable and the blades were guaranteed – ended up going into the owners closet because after the summer they were all gunked up with peanutbutter and jelly. I want my renters to have nice things but they don’t always take care of them. So I try my best to find good quality items at garage sales. You would be amazed at what you can find – a like new Pampered Chef spatula, butcher block cutting board (again it was like new), etc. I must admit I’d love to have a matching set of knives there but I haven’t run across a nice set of those yet. But until then, my renters will have to appreciate the air popcorn popper, wok, deep fryer, hand mixer, blender, juicer and of course the Cuisinart. I keep replacing the baking tins because they use them for non-bake items – but I have cake pans, cookie sheets, pie pans, muffin tins, etc. I pride myself on having most of the things you would need to make a holiday meal – and yes I have a selection of the dreaded corningware – but all are like brand new.

Heather Bayer

Great points Marcia.

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