Emeril Lagasse’s Kitchen House and Culinary Garden is a five-minute walk west of the ‘I4 Ultimate’, a 2.3 billion dollar project, near downtown Orlando (FL). The ‘Kitchen House’, as it is more affectionately known, is a brainchild of U-SoA Alumni, and lead design architect, Jose Venegas, (M.Arch I ’03). Along with other innovators, Venegas envisioned connecting the community to a one-stop snapshot of a seed-to-table (food continuum) experience. Venegas attributes his philosophy of community, empathy, and design to his days at U-SoA.
The project was a true partnership as community stakeholders introduced the project to celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse during a visit to his Orlando restaurant. Venegas adds, “We wanted to allow the community to participate in growing, harvesting, preparing, and presenting delicious food while showcasing how much of an empowering experience it can be, while setting the stage for a mindful disposition within the challenges of navigating healthcare, education, and the state of our built environment.” The idea of a kitchen house was intriguing, and a few weeks later, the project was 75%-funded through Emeril’s philanthropy and his prompting of AdventHealth‘s participation.
The ‘Kitchen House’, a recent winner of an AIA Award of Honor, is now operated by The Edible Education Experience and Venegas, the current board chair who has strengthened partnerships with the Lagasse Foundation and AdventHealth to create a place where the growth of fruits and vegetables can be observed, and where neighbors can turn nutritious, local ingredients into delicious meals. This one-of-a-kind structure delivers cutting edge relationships to food, education, nutrition, and redefined healthcare. Physically connecting a garden to a kitchen encourages the necessary thinking which recognizes food as a conduit to wellness and delivers a one-stop snapshot of the ideal food continuum.