The most consistently desired feature in many Atlanta-area chefs’ kitchens—an open floor plan—has less to do with replicating a commercial kitchen, and is more about making cooking a communal, accessible experience.
Atlanta-area chefs share their tips for making a home kitchen work efficiently.
Asha Gomez is the owner of the South Indian restaurant Cardamom Hill and the creator of the Spice Route Supper Club, which operates out of her Atlanta kitchen. “Because I entertain a lot, I like for my guests to be with me in the kitchen,” Gomez said of a cooking area that is open to the entire first level of her home. “You connect with people in a more intimate way than you would in a professional kitchen,” said Gomez, who can fit up to 30 guests in her kitchen area.
Asha Gomez’s tips:
— Airtight glass jars on the kitchen counter allow for immediate access to the most-used spices.
— An open floor plan is critical when you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so guests can interact with the chef.
— Bring the outdoors inside with large windows or doors to outside.
Chefs spend a lot of time in windowless commercial kitchens. For their home kitchens, they often choose a room with large windows, access to a yard and other ways to bring the outdoors in when they are logging long hours at the stove.
Hilary and Jim White are the executive chef and general manager of the Serenbe, Ga., restaurant the Hil. Their 100-year-old Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., farmhouse features a renovated, open kitchen that the Whites designed to suit their food-centric lives.
The Whites’ kitchen includes a number of commercial-grade features such as an industrial meat slicer; commercial sink with drainboards on both sides sourced from a Fairburn, Ga., restaurant supply shop; and a Five Star range with four burners, griddle and convection oven. One innovative feature of the kitchen is the placement of the range in the kitchen island, so that Hilary White’s back isn’t to her guests when she cooks. A serious glassware collector, White would love to add a butler’s pantry to her kitchen. “We pretty much eat at the house every night … we enjoy having friends over,” White said of her much-used home kitchen.
Hilary White’s tips:
— Check restaurant supply shops for features such as stainless steel tables, storage shelves and carts.
— If you can create seating in a kitchen island, do so, to allow guests to enjoy a cocktail while you cook, or even eat in the kitchen.
— A restaurant-grade oven is not a great choice. “The amount of BTUs that it consumes, it’s just not energy-efficient,” White said. Instead, choose an industrial-looking stove geared toward the home cook.
— A rolling cart on wheels for moving hot pans of food or for storage is a handy addition to a home kitchen.
Keith Robinson, owner of the event company Gloriosa, has a 9,000-square-foot commercial kitchen in Atlanta. But for more intimate events, Robinson uses the kitchen in his 1841 Palmetto, Ga., farmhouse for entertaining. “When I designed the kitchen, I designed it in such a way that it would be able to be used for the prep and the finishing of food,” Robinson said. His home kitchen features three refrigerators including two Sub-Zeros and one Traulsen; a six-burner Viking cooktop; and two Viking dishwashers.
Keith Robinson’s tips:
— Functionality doesn’t have to rule out beauty.
You will be spending a great deal of time in your kitchen. Design it to be comfortable and pleasing on a daily basis. Don’t let hyper-functionality dictate all design features. Robinson’s counter-height kitchen island is a 19th-century Belgian fixture from a retail store with both a pine and a marble surface. Robinson’s hand-washing sink is an old copper planter set into the countertop.
— Multiple refrigerators are a great feature for the ambitious home cook.
“Anything that you can do to do as much prep in advance, the better off you’re going to be when it comes time for putting things together,” Robinson said of the benefit of plenty of cold food storage.
— Open shelving allows for easy access to tools.
— Multiple or commercial dishwashers make entertaining manageable.
— For the serious cook, a six-burner range is a nice option.
— If you are building or renovating and using a great number of commercial-grade appliances, consider wiring for greater power usage. Also make sure there are plenty of outlets throughout the kitchen for plugging in appliances.
©2012 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)
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