Attack of the 4'2" chef
January 26th, 2011
07:00 AM ET
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Cara Reedy is an Executive Assistant at CNN. We pretty much couldn't do anything without her.

Living in New York City has its challenges, not the least of which is apartment size. With these tiny apartments come teeny tiny kitchens - which are manageable if all the “cooking” you are going to do is make a bowl of cereal or an occasional pasta dish.

Every New York home cook has their own way of dealing with the space issue. Most kitchens are built using all the available vertical space. Mine is no exception. What seems high to most people is actually towering for me. I'm only 4'2".

To put it into perspective, the counters in my current apartment come to my shoulders. I have always had to use a stool, but this kitchen is sort of ridiculous. The bottoms of my top cabinets are at least five feet off the ground. My average height friends have difficulty in my kitchen.

Cooking has become an acrobatic exercise. To fix one meal you might see me climbing up on counters, leaning across the kitchen from my stool, so I don't have to climb up and down the stool every time I need to get to the sink. I use kitchen tongs to grab things off the top shelves all the while standing on a stool or kneeling on the counter. It sounds strange and it probably looks strange but at least I am burning off a few calories before I eat.

I also break one of the cardinal rules of cooking, I’m barefoot. I have to be or else I wouldn’t be able to climb and grip with my feet. Have you ever climbed down a ladder with a boiling pot of water? I have, I do it every day. How else would I get the water from my stove to the sink?

You’re probably thinking, “Why doesn’t she find an apartment with a better suited kitchen for her?” But really, unless I designed my own where would that be? So until I can afford to buy an apartment, I will be climbing, leaning and balancing my way through meal preparation.

Do you run up against any physical challenges in your home kitchen? Share your story below and we just might feature it in a future story.

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Filed under: Challenges • Cooking • Think

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soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. AndISayThis

    (Hooray for being the 3rd person to comment on a >3-year-old article b/c it was linked to a recent one!)

    I just had to say that I'm sure all of the people acting like smug jerks about their greater height (like they had more to do with it than any of us) are a lot less jolly about it when they have to deal with ever-decreasing space on commercial airlines! As a 5' tall shorty that's among the times I most appreciate being diminutive.

    September 20, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
  2. Lynne

    I'm 4'6" (have a proportional form of dwarfism), disabled because of severe arthritis, and use a wheelchair to get about when I leave my apartment. There is NO place in the US where it would be easy to find a kitchen that a little person would find comfortable. You would have to have custom work done. Now with respect to living in New York City as a person with dwarfism or a disability...

    I have traveled to a number of major cities in the US and without a doubt, NYC is NOT a city that is what I would call disabled friendly. The public transit system is not accessible, and the paratransit system while better than it was is a disgrace. It's impossible to find accessible housing, the Mayor's office for People with disabilities is totally unresponsive, and it's became worse under Bloomberg. Don't know how DeBlasio will do. It's a shame that NYC doesn't have the will and pride to do better.

    It also seems that Short Stature and Obesity are the last two things that people feel entitled to be cruel about. Most people In my neighborhood are wonderful (I live in Queen) but go into Manhattan, and there are some real unpleasant, cruel people.

    Generally though, at least in my neighborhood, people are wonderful, and the good people make up for the bad most times.

    September 16, 2014 at 12:39 am |
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