Course Director

John Ota
John Ota is all about food, architecture and history. He is the author of The Kitchen, the best-selling book about his journey through history in search of the perfect design. The Kitchen was a finalist for the 2021 Paris Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Design category and was a finalist for the 2021 Taste Canada Awards in the Culinary Narratives category. John has degrees from the University of Toronto and the Schools of Architecture at the University of British Columbia and Columbia University. He has worked in architecture offices in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. John has chaired the awards committee of the Ontario Association of Architects, served on the Toronto Historical Board and been a guest critic at the Ryerson University School of Architecture in Toronto.

Picture of John Ota
John Ota

Term and Time

Winter 202r – starting January 12
9:50 am on Friday morning
Room A002 in York Hall

Course Description

This course is a journey through history in search of the perfect kitchen design. The journey will focus on the kitchen as the centrepiece for describing the history of the North American house, kitchen design, roles of men and women, food, cooking and recipes. Each lecture will focus on a tour of a significant house, including those of Julia Child, Georgia O’Keeffe and Elvis Presley. By using historic documentation, photographs and architectural drawings, we will analyse the architectural exterior, interior rooms, the life of its inhabitants and then focus on the kitchen. Key topics to be addressed will include the origins of the kitchen and its historical development, architectural layout, the invention of kitchen appliances, the origins of different foods, drinks and cooking methods. Each lecture will then move to offering practical advice, itemizing the historical features that could be incorporated into a contemporary setting and contribute to making a perfect kitchen. The objective of this series is to review the history of the kitchen and the architectural development of the house.  As well, it will provide a history of how we lived in the past so as to better understand our present in terms of food supply, comfort and the meaning of home. Ultimately, this series is designed to provoke discussion that will have a positive impact on the future of kitchen design, cooking and nutrition.  

Course Outline

Two weeks before the course starts, you can download a printable PDF giving the 10-week detailed course outline.

Lecture Notes

Links to resources such as additional reading or play lists are provided here as the Course Director makes them available during the term.

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