Kettles and coffee pots: Bethel's age-old utensils
Bethel College first began with one major building, now known as the Administration Building. Within this building was everything; this building was Bethel College. It was where the President and students lived, where classes were taught and where chapel was held. It also housed the library. The very first classes of Bethel College began on September 20, 1893.
It wasn’t until 45 years later when the construction of Memorial Hall began and was finally completed in 1942. Many students may not know this, but the current weight room in the basement of Mem Hall was actually first known as the dining room/cafeteria.
A few appliances used in the kitchen in the basement of Mem Hall were carried over to the current caf when it was finished in 1979, and are actually still being used to this day!
“[The steam kettle] is one piece of Kitchen equipment that is still in use that was moved into the Student Center when it was completed. It had been used for about a year or so in the basement of Memorial Hall, so it is old,” Adam Akers, Director of Facilities said.
This means that the large steam kettle is about 43 years old. When the current kitchen was built, a specific transformer was chosen to be able to power the steam kettle because of its electrical requirements. To replace it, it would cost over ten thousand dollars.
“It is remarkable that it is still working after all of these years. Very few appliances last as long as this has with the amount of use that it has had,” Akers said.
Luci Johnson, Food Service Director says the steam kettle is used almost every day in the kitchen.
“Mostly it is either used to just keep extra hot water on hand for making soups, sauces, rice, hot chocolate, etc., or to cook pasta. We cook large amounts of pasta at a time so the kettle works perfectly,” Johnson said. “We also use it when we make everyone's favorite Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup, or the Algerian Beef Stew that is new to the menu this year.”
Akers believes that the large mixer used in the bakery and the meat slicer, also originated from the Mem Hall basement.
“It is absolutely possible that those are just as old as the steam kettle is! We use the mixer daily Monday through Friday when our baker is in to make all of her delicious desserts and also whenever we make mashed potatoes,” Johnson said. “The Slicer gets used the least out of all of them, but still gets used at least 3 to 4 times a week to slice all the deli meat. We also use it to slice the meat for Phillys, Rubens, and French Dip sandwiches.”
One final appliance from the old Mem kitchen that has been kept and used until recently, is the coffee maker. It is stored in the maintenance shop and still works, but needs to be fixed every now and then before using, so it doesn’t get much use any more.