A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking and food preparation in a dwelling or in a commercial establishment. A modern middle-class residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator, and worktops and kitchen cabinets arranged according to a modular design. Many households have a microwave oven, a dishwasher, and other electric appliances. The main functions of a kitchen are to store, prepare and cook food (and to complete related tasks such as dishwashing). The room or area may also be used for dining (or small meals such as breakfast), entertaining and laundry. The design and construction of kitchens is a huge market all over the world. The United States are expected to generate $47,730m in the kitchen furniture industry for 2018 alone.
The evolution of the kitchen is linked to the invention of the cooking range or stove and the development of water infrastructure capable of supplying running water to private homes. Food was cooked over an open fire. Technical advances in heating food in the 18th and 19th centuries changed the architecture of the kitchen. Before the advent of modern pipes, water was brought from an outdoor source such as wells, pumps or springs.
With the advent of the chimney, the hearth moved from the center of the room to one wall, and the first brick-and-mortar hearths were built. The fire was lit on top of the construction; a vault underneath served to store wood. Pots made of iron, bronze, or copper started to replace the pottery used earlier. The temperature was controlled by hanging the pot higher or lower over the fire, or placing it on a trivet or directly on the hot ashes. Using open fire for cooking (and heating) was risky; fires devastating whole cities occurred frequently.
In the southern states, where the climate and sociological conditions differed from the north, the kitchen was often relegated to an outbuilding. On plantations, it was separate from the big house or mansion in much the same way as the feudal kitchen in medieval Europe: the kitchen was operated by slaves in the antebellum years. Their working place was separated from the living area of the masters by the social standards, but more importantly, it was a means to reduce the chance of fire in the main house from kitchen operations.
The kitchens in railway dining cars have presented special challenges: space is limited, and, personnel must be able to serve a great number of meals quickly. Especially in the early history of railways, this required flawless organization of processes; in modern times, the microwave oven and prepared meals have made this task much easier. Kitchens aboard ships, aircraft and sometimes railcars are often referred to as galleys. On yachts, galleys are often cramped, with one or two burners fueled by an LP gas bottle. Kitchens on cruise ships or large warships, by contrast, are comparable in every respect with restaurants or canteen kitchens.