It stands to reason that travelers who lug their kitchens with them on vacation would be highly committed cooks. But when asked what most RV buyers look for in a kitchen, a salesman at the Seattle RV Show deadpanned "a chef."
Recreation vehicles have evolved tremendously since Pierce-Arrow put a chamber pot and a bed in a touring car. More than a century later, RVs come equipped with saunas, big-screen TVs and and full-size laundry machines. The kitchen, though, hasn't changed much since the microwave became a standard fixture.
"They don't change," LaDonna Kummerfeldt, owner of Tacoma RV, confirmed. "They got the sink and the stove and not a whole lot of counter space."
The popularity of wheeled kitchens was shaky as far back as 1954, when Lucille Ball's character in The Long, Long Trailer tried to make a ragu of beef while her husband was driving. On-board kitchens do help RV owners keep their travel costs down; According to a recent study, driving an RV to a vacation destination is about 50 percent cheaper than buying a plane ticket, staying in a hotel and eating at restaurants. Yet for most RV buyers, the allure of a kitchen ends there. RV makers have lately borrowed design elements from residential kitchens, such as counter islands and brushed nickel faucets, but none of the dealers at this weekend's show are touting high-end ranges or built-in wine coolers.
Curt Russel of Fife RV says he's never had a prospective buyer ask for a particular kitchen amenity, although buyers sometimes have layout preferences.
"One way or another, you can win them over," he says.