Books about kitchens dominated my reading list this summer, and one of them featured an innovative approach to the subject. Toronto-based John Ota has worked in the field of architecture for over 40 years as a writer, designer, historic preservationist, and curator. In his recent book, The Kitchen – a journey through history in search of the perfect design (2020), Ota asserted that by exploring historic kitchens in person – using both an architect’s eye and hands-on user experience, as well as a writer’s gift for story-telling – he would be able to discover useful design guidelines for today’s kitchen. He developed this claim by taking his readers along with him to thirteen kitchens across the United States and Canada. He described his visit to the site and then narrated an immersive experience of cooking and eating food from that kitchen. This consistent research method produced results that Ota scrutinized in order to find lessons for design, and then shared with his readers under the guise of a letter home. He ordered the thirteen sites chronologically to provide a “journey through history.” Ota’s purpose is to entertain, inform and persuade his reader of the value of these lessons in order to support his insights about the perfect kitchen. These insights often transcend function and recognize the importance of cultural value and tradition as spatial practices. While in its essence Ota’s book is an example of design research focused on the user’s experience via a kind of auto-ethnography, he adopts an enthusiastic and informative tone in order to make it accessible and enjoyable for non-specialist audiences.