17th Century Style Lives On
Designed by Drury Design, Glen Ellyn, Ill.
Crown molding, corbels and paneling add ornate touches to this Old World kitchen.
Old World kitchens — with their large cooking hearths or grottos and distressed, unfitted cabinets — trace their look to pre-17th century Europe. Often painted, the raised panel cabinetry should feature elements like cracking, beadboard, dish and cup racks, valence legs, flushed toes, and bun feet.
Expect to see:
Stone walls and/or floors
Pewter or copper accents
Brick or plaster walls
Deep, rich colors
Appliances hidden behind panels
Tuscan: With a softer, more feminine design, Tuscan kitchens rely on natural materials. While the cabinets are often painted in whites, creams or earth-tone yellows or browns, they tend to be monochromatic.
Other Old World styles: Italian Villa, French Chateau, Normandy cottage, Dutch cottage, medieval, Gothic, Mediterranean, Castle
An Easy to Maintain Option for Chefs' Home Kitchens
Our chefs vote for stainless steel behind the range or cooktop. Save the decorative tile and grout for other parts of the wall.
Here's another area where what works in a commercial kitchen just won't do for a residential kitchen. Chef Michael Daniels explains: "That white fireboard stuff you put in most of the kitchens is not a real nice look."
Other options for the backsplash include solid surface, quartz, natural stone, stone tile, glass, glass tile and ceramic tile. Just watch out for flying ingredients.
"I made the mistake in my last place of putting tile in there with white grout. Once you get some oil or some cooking grease on that grout, it's never coming out again," says Chef Duncan Firth. "I tried bleaching it. I eventually found some sealers. I've got stainless steel now. It's easy to clean, you can soap it up."
Not that stainless steel is the only workable option; the other backsplash materials mentioned above are fine as long as they're properly installed and sealed. But for sheer convenience, chefs say stainless steel is hard to beat.
For Most Chefs, Gas Ranges Reign Supreme
Most of our chefs wanted to cook with a gas range or cooktop, and liked the idea of two ovens.
Every chef's kitchen needs a cooking surface, whether that be a cooktop or a stove. One thing that's not in question: chefs prefer gas to electric, saying that gas offers more precise temperature control.
Only Chef Scott Gottlich said he would prefer an induction cooktop to gas: partly because it heats quickly and partly because it only heats magnetic metals and does not retain it. "You could leave it on by accident, and little kids wouldn't burn themselves," explains Gottlich, a father of two.
Even though some of them get by on four burners, they prefer a minimum of six, with a griddle or a wok burner depending on their style of cooking.
Courtesy of Jenn-Air
Having wall ovens separate from the cooktop comes in handy when multiple chefs are working.
While a range works well if one person does all the cooking, wall ovens allow multiple chefs to work without interfering with each other's activities. Either way, having two ovens makes it easier to cook multiple dishes requiring different temperatures at the same time and get them to the table simultaneously.
Of course, you still have to time each dish properly for that to work. Explains Chef Michael Daniels: "You have to know the things that take the longest to cook. But some people have been cooking at home for years and they don't want to hear it." With a laugh and the voice of experience, he adds, "Like Mom."
One more thing: the ovens should be electric, which Chef Duncan Firth prefers to gas for its dry heat when roasting and even browning when broiling. Convection capability is a must.
Tip: If you need to get a range for space or other reasons, dual-fuel models offer a gas cooktop and electric oven all in one appliance.
Read the Appliance Q & A for a more in-depth look at chefs' appliance preferences.
The Importance of Ample Illumination
This kitchen's well-planned lighting design combines pendant lights over the island and dining table with under cabinet lights and recessed ceiling lights, as well as large windows for plenty of natural light.
For safety reasons alone, good light matters in a chef's kitchen. "At work, I don't have shadows created by cabinets above the countertop," says Chef Duncan Firth. "You need constant light over the counter where you're working." He installed undercabinet lights — puck on one side, a strip on the other — in his kitchen at home to provide that light.
As Designer William Kent notes: "It is important to be able to distinguish your finger from a cornichon." Task lighting in the kitchen comes first to the chef, he says, particularly over the cutting board. Ideally, he says, a chef's kitchen should have multiple light sources with multiple controls or switches.
Courtesy of Sea Gull Lighting
Undercabinet lights illuminate countertops, making it safe to handle sharp knives and other kitchen tools.
Designer Clare Donohue likes LED lights for under the cabinet. "Color balance has really improved, they run cool, and being called up by a client asking how to change a light bulb will become a thing of the past," she says. For overhead lighting, she suggests incandescent, halogen or MR16 lighting, depending in the kitchen's design style.
Making the Most of Surface Area
For serious cooks, a countertop that's easy to clean and care for is non-negotiable.
Too much counter space is never enough; but you can't always get what you want. What's most important is the surface area on either side of the cooktop. Chef Duncan Firth likes to keep the tools he needs for that particular meal on the left (he's left-handed), and set up his cutting board on the other side. When he had an island at home, he says, he used it mostly for storage, not for prep work.
Designer Clare Donohue says 2 feet of countertop ought to be enough for anyone. "Having worked in plenty of restaurant kitchens, I've seen the proof of what's needed; a line chef can crank out 100 covers in 24-inches of counter space, and that's all you really need."
However, chefs at home are tackling every step of meal, not just one part, so they typically desire more countertop space. It's especially important for frequent bakers or makers of pasta, who need the room to roll dough.
As with backsplashes, countertops in a chef's kitchen must be easy to clean.
"The fewer grout lines the better, the less maintenance the better," says Designer William Kent. "The more time it takes to clean, the less likely one is to make it a routine. The less one cleans, the more likely someone's going to have an unfortunate encounter with a bacterium. Slop happens in a a well-used kitchen. It just does."
Countertops in commercial kitchens typically consist of stainless steel. Some chefs like that at home; their spouses may or may not, which can be a deciding factor when choosing the material. Firth says he wouldn't want it at home because it can dent and it retains heat too well, offering the possibility of burns when you forget and put a hand down where a pan used to be. On the other hand, he doesn't like his own solid surface countertop because he says it doesn't take heat well enough.
As for whether or not you can cut on the suface, Firth just doesn't see the point. "The one thing that I always see when they're advertising a new surface is that you can cut on it. In a professional workplace, nobody cuts on the countertop," he explains. "It's the worst thing you can do for your knife."
For Some Chefs, the Deeper the Bowl, the Better
Courtesy of Blanco
Chefs agree, it's important to have a sink deep enough to handle roasting pans. A stainless steel bowl makes cleaning the clean-up station quick and easy.
When it comes to the kitchen's cleanup station, the depth of the bowl may be more important than the number of bowls.
"Home sinks are designed for a lot of storage underneath rather than for a usable sink," argues Chef Duncan Firth. "If you're washing anything oversized, a roasting pan or a pasta pot, you don't want to get your feet wet. If you need to clean a whole fish, you want to put it in a deep sink so the scales don't fly."
However, when you don't have a dishwasher — as in the case of Chef Michael Daniels — a second bowl comes in handy. "I like two areas," he says, "One to wash in and one you can drain or rinse."
Designer Clare Donohue recommends an easy-to-clean stainless steel undermount sink, with a bottom liner to reduce noise.
A pull-down faucet comes in handy for rinsing food and for "hosing down" the mess after a meal.
Of course, a good sink requires a good faucet as companion, and our chefs voted for a pulldown faucet as the best option; not so much for rinsing fruits and veggies but for keeping the kitchen clean. Why so much emphasis on cleanliness? In a commercial kitchen, few sins are worse than giving the diners food poisoning. "At the end of the night, we spray it all down with soap and squeegee it off," explains Firth. "We have floor drains."
Keeping it All Within Reach
Whether open or concealed, storage areas should put frequently used ingredients and tools within easy reach of cooking and prep areas.
"Serious cooking always involves serious chaos," says designer William Kent, formerly a caterer. "Because there is so much going on at once, the arrangement of tools and cooking equipment and things like oil and spices in proximity to the cook is crucial." Knives should be easily obtained but also safely displayed, whether in a wooden block or in a drawer holder. Tools should be within arm's reach.
At work, says Chef Michael Daniels, his kitchens have racks for hanging up pots, pans, tongs, whisks and other necessary items. At home he hides most of those items in drawers. Either way, he says, "You have to know where it is, so you can get it fast. It has to be close to where you're cooking, too."
Ceiling-mounted pot racks may be best saved for tall folks; everyone else should consider wall-mounted options.
Living with a "too small" kitchen in "kind of a DIY house," Chef Forrest Parker has covered the kitchen walls with storage units that keep the most important of his many tools nearby.
"I'm 6'4" and make the best use of a tight space," he says. "I've done everything possible with a Metro rack. I have Metro all over my kitchen. I love all things stainless because it's easy to clean and easy to care for—and it's bright and shiny. It's multifunctional and I can hang all kinds of stuff from it."
For every chef who likes open storage at home, though, another one prefers to hide his tools. "We don't have anything hanging out. We like the clean, hidden, off-the-counter thing," says Chef Scott Gottlich. "We have it in the cabinets. We have the knives in the corner in the back, out of the kids' reach." Everything important remains accessible, just not visible.
The Cooks and Designers Weigh In
Used to running multiple restaurants and managing large cooking staffs, these chefs — and designers who used to be chefs — translated principles of efficiency and common sense from their commercial kitchens to their (and your) residential kitchens.
Despite long days at the two restaurants Scott Gottlich and his wife, Gina, a sommelier, own and run together, the couple still enjoy cooking and entertaining at home. Sometimes that means pizza and pancakes with their young sons; at others it means Sunday dinner with their extended family or a party for 20 of their friends.
Bijoux, a fine dining restaurant featuring contemporary French cuisine, was named one of Bon Appétit's 2007 "Top 10 Hottest New Restaurants in America." It 2008 the Gottlichs opened the Second Floor Bistro, a more casual restaurant with French influences. Scott Gottlich's résumé includes stints at Aubergine in California and Le Bernadin in New York.
Chef de Cuisine Duncan Firth
Barona Resort & Casino
San Diego, Calif.
After working as a chef at fine French restaurants such as Napa Valley's Bouchon and Montreal's Toque, Duncan Firth settled in California, first to run a catering business in Malibu and then to join Barona Resort in 2005.
He splits his time between running the resort's fine dining restaurant, helping to oversee the other restaurants and the 300-person cooking staff, and teaching students at the Barona Culinary Institute.
Firth does all the cooking at home, explaining that his wife usually leaves the kitchen when he critiques her technique as too slow or unsafe.
Executive Chef Forrest Parker
Cascades American Café
Formerly Cascades Seafood Restaurant, Cascades American Café re-opened in February 2010 after a menu overhaul and month-long remodel of the kitchen and dining areas overseen by Forrest Parker. Now featuring regional American cuisine with a focus on locally sourced Southern fare, the restaurant is part of the Gaylord Opryland Resort.
At home, Parker — the proud owner of 500 cookbooks, most of which do not fit on his kitchen shelves — likes to grill year-round and prepares ethnic cuisines using tools collected from around the globe.
Executive Chef Michael Daniels
Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
Responsible for nine restaurants, 120 cooks and 4,000 meals on any given day, Michael Daniels has been in the culinary business up and down the East Coast for 28 years.
Daniels prefers to do the cooking at home rather than turning duties over to his wife, but prepares simple meals rather than the "foo-foo" French-American cuisine in which he specializes. He hopes to one day add a dishwasher to his kitchen.
Designer Clare Donohue
One to One Studio
New York City, N.Y.
Having worked in restaurants and hotels throughout college, Clare Donohue brings practical experience to her role as a kitchen, bath and interior designer and consultant. She graduated from New York City's School of the Visual Arts and became a magazine art director before switching to renovation design in 1996.
Thanks to seeing the close quarters of professional kitchens, Donohue knows that complaining about lack of counter space is a lame excuse for not cooking.
Designer William Kent
Kitchen Coach NYC
New York City, New York
With a background as a graphic designer-turned carpenter-turned contractor-turned architectural designer — and a side career as a waiter-turned cook-turned caterer — William Kent eventually merged all his skills into one business: kitchen design.
He has designed kitchens for several serious cooks, including himself. In fact, he ran his catering business out of his home kitchen, even without a dishwasher and a microwave. "In the words of Tim Gunn," he notes, "'Make it work people!'"
Design Ideas for the Outdoor Kitchen
Not all days will be clear and sunny. Pick outdoor living materials that can handle your climate.
Although it's possible just to place a freestanding grill and refrigerator on the patio or deck, you'll likely want a little storage area and a surface for setting down food.
This gas grill, side burners, and stainless steel cabinet inserts are built into a stucco wall. Both the patio and the countertop are colored concrete.
"Basic outdoor kitchens are brick or stucco walls with appliances set in," says Ann Porter, onwer of Kitchen Studio of Naples. "They do not offer much in the way of storage, but they are easy to incorporate into the patio."
Often designed to match or even made constructed of the same material as the outdoor hardscaping, these kitchens may consist of just a grill island with a storage niche covered by a cabinet door. Or they may have stainless steel cabinet inserts with matching doors and drawers. They can be custom or modular.
Designed by Ann Porter, this outdoor kitchen uses white Perma Panel cabinets from Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens.
For those who prefer the look and function of true kitchen cabinetry, two options predominate: stainless steel or a solid surface material such as Perma Panel or Starboard. Developed for use in the marine industry, these acrylic composites can tough out harsh environments.
Both Porter, who is based in Naples, Fla., and Dawn Whyte, a designer in Petoskey, Mich., use Perma Panel cabinets from Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens. "Perma Panel is impervious to weathering, salt water, you can spray it down with a hose," explains Whyte. "It's makeup also works well in northern Michigan because it's impervious to all the weather things, and works with the hot-and-cold weather change."
Photo: Greg Hadley
Stainless steel cabinets from Danver blend into the stainless steel grill and warming drawer. A honed granite countertop won't show water spots. Designed by Dee David & Co.
From a design perspective, this type of cabinetry offers multiple color choices and door styles, allowing the outdoor kitchen to match the architectural style of the home. It can also accept wooden doors and drawer fronts (which should be made from a moisture-resistant species). One disadvantage to solid surface cabinets: They're heavy, so the deck or patio must be engineered to support the cabinetry properly.
Stainless steel is much lighter, and provides a more contemporary or restaurant-style look. The material is just as stylish and durable for outdoor use as it is for indoor cabinetry.
Like any stainless steel product, however, outdoor cabinets need a little more care and cleaning than just a spray from the hose. A non-abrasive stainless steel cleaner should do the trick. Some outdoor appliances manufacturers offer their own cabinetry, but you can also work with cabinetmakers such as Danver or Lasertron that specialize in stainless steel cabinets.
Many of the materials used for indoor kitchen counters work just as well outdoors, at least in warmer climates. "Tile, concrete/terrazo, natural stone, quartz and acrylic/polyester (Corian, Staron, etc.), and glass provide many color and pricing options for homeowners to choose from," Porter says. "I think the scratch-resistant and low maintenance materials are the best choice. For example, unless you use a high quality grout in a tile countertop, cleaning meat drippings and spills may be very difficult."
With Michigan's freezing winters, Whyte prefers concrete or granite countertops, though not polished granite. "Rain and snow have different airborne chemicals, and can leave water spots on a polished granite," she explains. White recommends a honed, brushed, or flamed finish instead. She also adds a final tip: Bevel or slant outdoor counters so water can run off rather than pool. "In Michigan, if it froze, that would create problems in the spring. It could crack the counter, or leave stains in the thaw."
TVs, Radios and More
Photo Courtesy of Electrolux Appliances
Watch your favorite shows while cooking with Electrolux's Integrated LCD TV
For years people have been sneaking televisions and radios into the kitchen to keep themselves company while they whipped up a meal. The downside to this was trying to create more space in the kitchen for items that had nothing to do with food preparation. Luckily, some kitchen entertainment products fit seamlessly into your design, and can be placed comfortably underneath cabinetry. Many manufacturers of traditional televisions now make under cabinet products; there are also under-the-counter apparatuses that can be purchased to mount televisions and other entertainment systems.
Here are two stand-out items that bring the entertainment without cluttering up your space.
iHome has always specialized in making functional iPod accessories (they were not responsible for the iPod-ready toilet paper dispenser), and they have recently applied their expertise to the kitchen. Their iH36 is a docking station and stereo designed to fit underneath cabinetry, keeping your iPod out of harms way while still filling your kitchen with tunes. The slim, horizontal iH36 can serve any size iPod or Shuffle and also features an FM radio and a cooking timer.
iCEBOX's FlipScreen multimedia center does more than simplify things in the kitchen, it can also entertain and inform. This model can be used as a television, FM radio player, and DVD player. But its best feature might be its ability to browse the Web, giving you the chance to look up recipes (or anything else), and giving others in the kitchen something to do besides bother the cook. The 12.1-inch LCD touch screen makes it easy to use, and it also comes with a remote control and keyboard. The design allows it to fit snugly underneath cabinetry, where its adjustable screen can remain hidden until you want to use it.