inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #26 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Tue 7 Dec 99 09:38
    
As far as "kitchen essentials" go, we noted a few major trends (but
did not really track the type of small appliances/"gadgets" listed in
your question). The large design ideas that emerged are: Primary eating
space in the kitchen - very few had separate dining rooms. Lidia
Bastianich prefers to entertain at her large farm table in the kitchen
and says her dining room is rarely used because it "cuts the cook off
from the party"; Larger and deeper than normal sinks, for big post,
sheet pans, etc.; Two sinks - distinct areas for food preparation and
clean up; Higher than normal work surfaces - 37 or 38" high counters,
so they can work without bending over; Speedy dishwashing - some chefs
have commercial dishwashers (Hobart) with 90-second cycles, some had
two dishwashers - Lydia Shire has a dishwasher in the kitchen proper
and a second one in her pantry; High-end fire power - there were many
brands of ranges and cooktops mentioned (Wolf, Thermador, Viking, Dacor
and Gaggenau led the list). Most of the chefs opted for 6 burners, two
ovens and high BTU output.  We did note, however, that a majority have
quality stoves built for =residential= use, and they cautioned
strongly against buying a straight "commercial" range and installing it
at home (commercial ranges are not insulated as well as residential
models, for starters.) The manufacturers of high-end ranges, ovens and
cooktops now all make "commercial-quality, residential" equipment.

The biggest design controversy was open storage (shelves w/ no doors,
open pantries, equipment hanging on walls or on racks) vs. lots of
cabinets/the "put-away" look. The group was split right down the
middle, ranging from Tom Douglas' Seattle kitchen with =everything= out
and at hand to Joachim Splichal's LA kitchen with the most beautifully
designed, ingenious and extensive cabinetry I've ever seen.     
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #27 of 45: Reva Basch (reva) Tue 7 Dec 99 12:25
    
I love the idea of a quick-cycle dishwasher. Do they really work as well as
the conventional kind?

My own experience with open shelving is from my whole-grain early Berkeley
days: Love the look of stuff -- beans in jars, colorful imported packages,
herb vinegars -- but, unless you can live with the layers of grease and dust
that accumulates on everything... I mean, you shouldn't have to DUST your
groceries.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #28 of 45: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 7 Dec 99 12:59
    

True!

Ellen, would you please say more about Joachim Splichal's cabinetry and
what makes it so spectacular.  Details, please! 
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #29 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Wed 8 Dec 99 12:18
    
I don't own one, but as far as I understand the quick-cycle
dishwashers work very well (they're designed for commercial
applications, so I guess they'd have to).

Yeah, dusting the groceries is way down on my list too.  But I think
that having a good, high-powered vent goes a long way toward
alleviating the grease part of the problem. When we talked to Ken Hom
about the cleaning difficulties that come along with having everything
out in your kitchen, he said that if it's an "active" kitchen - where
everything's being used frequently - you have much less problem with
dust and grease build-up.  I guess that makes sense, even though I
don't =totally= buy it.

Linda, Joachim Splichal's maple cabinets are very nicely designed.
Examples: His work island has two dozen small (maybe 4"x6"x10" deep)
drawers with glass fronts that run around the top of the island. They
make a handy and very attractive display of spices and dried
ingredients such as beans and pastas. (The Brittany sea salt drawer is
directly opposite the range.) Also, on one side of the island, the
drawers are both horizontal and vertical for storage of different-sized
equipment.  Some of the drawers are extra-deep for large pots and
pans. Additionally, Joachim's kitchen has a wide back hall that is
fitted out with three large, floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinets and a
second refrigerator. Good china is housed in nifty cabinets with
pull-out shelves, so you never have to unload what's in front to get at
something in the back. But my favorite use of cabinets is to create an
open division (as well as a storage area) between the kitchen and an
eating banquette and table.  The counter runs at a right angle out from
the wall that has the sink and range.  Cabinets over the counter have
ripple-glass doors =on both sides= so that they can be opened from the
eating area or the kitchen and the light from large windows over the
table floods through the cabinets, into the kitchen. If you're into
cabinets, his kitchen is well worth some study.   



























   
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #30 of 45: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 8 Dec 99 13:11
    

Thank you.  That does sound spectacular!
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #31 of 45: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 8 Dec 99 13:40
    
Oh my. I love the idea of the narrow, glass-fronted drawers for grains and
dry pastas.

Ellen, were you bold enough to ask any of these chefs how much money they
put into these fabulous kitchens?
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #32 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Wed 8 Dec 99 17:53
    
Well, I =wanted= to ask how much they'd spent, but didn't.  Actually,
I'm sure the price tags are all over the map since some of the chefs
just updated their equipment and made a few aesthetic improvements,
while others did whole hog, ground-up construction.  Also, the kitchens
range in size from 10'x10' to 21'x65'!
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #33 of 45: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 8 Dec 99 22:38
    

But somewhere up there didn't it say that the books contains price charts
or some such?  I just assumed that meant the prices of the things in the
kitchens you showed.  If that's right, couldn't we just kinda extrapolate?
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #34 of 45: David Chaplin-Loebell (dloebell) Thu 9 Dec 99 04:06
    
I'd be interested in hearing about the 10'x10' kitchen.  My kitchen's
about that size.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #35 of 45: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 9 Dec 99 09:01
    
I wondered about the cost factor, too. I mean, these folks are all
successful, well-established chefs. What are we common folk to do?

Talk about not totally buying a concept, I'm not quite sure what to think of
those arrangements -- a couple of people had them, if I remember correctly
-- of drawers packed with open-top spice bins. I worry about freshness;
those are big containers, and you'd have to go through an awful lot of stuff
very quickly, it seems to me, if you don't want to end up with dusty,
tasteless ex-spices. And there's the mess factor -- stuff getting into other
stuff as you scoop it up in the heat of your creative frenzy. Or maybe I'm
just projecting. otoh, I've never solved the spice storage problem in a
satisfactory way, and this obviously works for some people.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #36 of 45: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 9 Dec 99 10:06
    
(once more, to purchase Ellen's "Great Kitchens" book, visit:
 http://www.well.com/bookstore/index.html  and click on the book cover,
which will whisk you right off to amazon.com. In addition to being a great
addition to any home cook's collection of culinary texts, it might also
be a wonderful gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend who's always inviting
you over for gourmet meals at his/her house)

Ellen, since you've had the opportunity to see so many marvelous kitchens,
which aspects of each kitchen you saw would you like to combine into your
own dream kitchen?
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #37 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Thu 9 Dec 99 12:28
    
Re $$, must be another kitchen design book.  We included a list of
resources - manufacturers' names and phone numbers, but no prices. 

The smallest kitchen in the book belongs to Cecilia Chiang, widely
considered to be the single greatest influence on the Chinese
(Mandarin) restaurant scene in the U.S. Before she opened The Mandarin
in San Francisco, the only Chinese food to be had in this country was
Cantonese (egg foo yong, chop suey, etc.). So, thank Cecilia next time
you blithely order Mongolian beef or kung pao shrimp. Cecilia is
retired now (she just turned 80!), although she is frequently drafted
to help open new restaurants such as SF's pan-Asian phenomenon,
Betelnut. At home, Cecilia's kitchen demonstrates a careful working-out
of what to do with a small space when you love to cook. She opened the
kitchen up on two opposite sides; to the dining room and the family
room. (The dining room side has folding louvered doors which can be
closed for formal dinners.)  Cecilia's "hot line," with a four-burner
cooktop, grill, built-in wok, and a few feet of counter space takes up
one wall. The recessed wok has a hinged, stainless steel cover that
creates a little more work area when it's closed. The facing wall
houses a Sub-Zero refrigerator - there's a second refrigerator in the
garage - two Thermador wall ovens, and a few cabinets.  In the center
of the room, Cecilia put a large, square chopping-block-topped island
with a huge skylight and square pot rack overhead. The island has the
sink and dishwasher at one end (a good arrangement, Cecilia says, even
though you have to be careful to keep the chopping block countertop
oiled so water from the sink doesn't ruin it) and, at the other end, a
tilt-up,  2' extension to the chopping block, which she presses into
service when she's cooking with friends, hosting a crowd, or teaching a
class - the extended island top actually protrudes into the family
room. Actually, there's very little floor space in this kitchen, just a
narrow walkway around the center island.
 
On the aesthetic side, Cecilia kept the kitchen extremely simple,
since it's open to the other living spaces.  Plain white-painted
cabinets with no observable hardware and the use of the same-sized
brown tile for the counters, backsplash and floor make a nice foil for
her elaborate dining room which features a gorgeous, ornate, carved
rosewood table and tons of Chinese art and antiques.

You have to seek them out - because the over-the-top kitchens in the
book are so, well, eye-catching - but there are =plenty= of solid,
simple design ideas for the rest of us (you, too, Reva!) For instance,
Nancy Silverton and Mark Peel's (LA's LaBrea Bakery and Campanile
restaurant) kitchen is very modest and, to my eye, quite lovely. They
specifically said that they didn't want a high-end, professional
kitchen at home, so they worked with what was there when they bought
their house. By replacing cabinet doors, painting woodwork, and
re-tiling the countertops, they created a very homey, warm,
old-fashioned kitchen that is perfectly in keeping with their
80-year-old Craftsman home. They also pulled up new oak floors because
Nancy hated the way they looked, exposing Douglas fir underneath, which
they thought was perfect. Because they decided to leave all the
cabinets as is, they had to scramble to find updated appliances that
would fit the existing spaces.  A Dacor four-burner cooktop suited
perfectly, but to install their new KitchenAid refrigerator, the couple
had to borrow some space from a closet behind the kitchen.

In other chapters, chefs talk about such thrifty ideas as: adapt
free-standing armoires or other antiques for kitchen storage - it can
be a lot cheaper than custom cabinetry (Bruce Aidells/Nancy Oakes);
acquire a few "stock" commercial pieces such as rolling units with
storage racks below and a butcher block top - they're generally  
pretty inexpensive and can add a welcome flexibility to your kitchen
(Anne Quatrano/Clifford Harrison, also Tom Douglas); get an attractive
stainless steel dish drainer and hang it right over the sink, freeing
up counter space in a small kitchen (Charles Dale); make a garbage
cutout, with a waste can directly underneath, in your prime area for
food preparation (Tom Douglas, also Paul Bertolli). And that's just a
few ideas! 

On to the thorny question of spice storage. As I recall, Tony Ambrose
is the only chef in the book who has open "pinch trays" for spices. 
And they're in a drawer next to the range, so he can close them up to
some degree anyway. Yeah, I guess wastage would be a problem if you
don't use a lot of spices, but Tony points out that if you have to go
opening up little bottles all the time, you'll never really experiment
and become adept/creative with them. Maybe a solution would be to load
a drawer with small open trays for the 6-8 spices you use frequently
(as many cooks do with Kosher or sea salt) and then store the rest in
their little bottles/cans. Also, did you check out Tom Douglas'
homemade spice rack constructed of magnetic strips and small tin boxes?
Pretty neat.

Things I'd have in my dream kitchen:
   A cook-in fireplace and pizza oven
   A true island instead of a long countertop that comes out at right
angles from the wall (I'd like to be able to get to the dining table
from either side of the kitchen) 
   Granite countertops (my current French-import tile is lovely, but
the grout is very hard to clean and not very pastry-friendly) with a
garbage cutout
   A quick-cycle dishwasher
   A refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom
   Some better-designed cabinets that really fit my equipment, or
maybe a few antique armoires customized for storage
   A beautiful overhead pot rack loaded with copper pots
   A more accessible, bigger walk-in pantry (to get into my current
pantry-cum-laundry-room, you have to leave the kitchen and walk a few
steps down a hall)      
   Two sinks - one for prep, one for cleanup
   Finally, a little trapdoor in the floor with a staircase down to a
root cellar and wine storage (yes, I'm incurably romantic).
  
That's not asking for much, is it?   
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #38 of 45: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 9 Dec 99 12:54
    
No, not a whole lot!

Our current kitchen floor -- Mexican pavers -- drives Jerry crazy, because
you (read: he) just can't keep 'em clean. And both of us dislike the tile
countertops, for exactly the reason you mention.  It's a very narrow kitchen
too, which you don't notice when you're working alone, but with two people,
you have to sidle by one another. Still, it works pretty well, and the
most appealing element, which I noticed most of your chefs' kitchens had,
too, is that it's open to the dining area and to having friends hang out
with you while you cook.

Ellen, this is such a visual book, and a visual topic: Are any of the
pictures from the book online anywhere? Do you have a web site for it? I
should have asked you this at the beginning.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #39 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Fri 10 Dec 99 12:42
    
Yes, virtually all of the kitchens are open to a dining/living area,
so entertaining really centers on cooking - not surprising for chefs,
or for anyone who likes to cook.

I think cleaning and maintenance issues are generally forgotten when
kitchen design is happening.  One of my favorite tips from the book is
=insist= on thin grout lines if you're having a tile floor or
countertop installed. Cleanup is so much easier!

Well, a few bits from Great Kitchens are on Taunton's website,
www.taunton.com, but I haven't had the time to put up a separate site.
It =is= an extremely visual book (about 300 photos) that was
labor-intensive and (I guess) relatively expensive to produce, so we're
hoping people will want to buy it, rather than just viewing it online.
  
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #40 of 45: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 10 Dec 99 15:16
    
> we're hoping people will want to buy it, rather than just viewing it
> online.

Seems reasonable. I checked out that Web site and I'm even more tantalized,
Ellen.

> cleaning and maintenance issues are generally forgotten when
>  kitchen design is happening.

I was wondering about that. Those glass-fronted drawers for grains sound
like they'd require cleaning after every meal is prepared. At least they
would the way I fling food around when I'm flailing in the kitchen.

I'm thinking of having my kitchen done in camoflage. ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #41 of 45: Reva Basch (reva) Sat 11 Dec 99 11:53
    
This is the official ending time for our interview with Ellen Whitaker,
author of the lovely and inspring Great Kitchens: At Home With American's
Top Chefs.

Of course, everyone's free to hang around and talk about food, cooking and
kitchen design indefinitely, as far as I'm concerned. But I'd like to thank
Ellen for the terrific interview, and wish her continued success with the
book.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #42 of 45: Ellen Reinheimer Whitaker (ewhitaker) Sat 11 Dec 99 21:59
    
Thanks to all you Well-ites for asking me to do this interview and for
posing such interesting (at least, to me) questions.  All fast balls
down the center, gracefully hanging curves and honest change-ups.  Not
a spit-ball in the bunch! I wish all interviews were this much fun. 
See you around. 
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #43 of 45: Erik Van Thienen (levant) Sun 12 Dec 99 02:46
    
Thank *you* !
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #44 of 45: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sun 12 Dec 99 17:39
    
Yes, thanks for telling us such tantalizing things about your book, Ellen.
I've really enjoyed this interview.
  
inkwell.vue.56 : Ellen Whitaker's Great Kitchens
permalink #45 of 45: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 13 Dec 99 13:56
    

Me, too.  Can't wait to see the book and start dreaming!
  



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