The culi­nary man cave

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Interiors -

From tep­pa­nyaki hot­plates to bread­mak­ers, the heart of the home is get­ting in­creas­ingly hi-tech. Emily Brooks en­ters the ul­ti­mate bach­e­lor kitchens

Men have cer­tainly nailed it when it comes to cook­ing as a pro­fes­sional call­ing – four out of five of UK chefs are men, ac­cord­ing to data re­leased by the Of­fice of Na­tional Statis­tics. And then there are the men in their own kitchen at home, who imag­ine that they’re pro­fes­sional chefs only by dint of the sheer amount of equip­ment they’ve sur­rounded them­selves with – bread­maker, bain-marie et al.

More and more gents are com­ing out of the man cave and into the kitchen – and that’s hav­ing a knockon ef­fect on kitchen de­sign.

“For an in­creas­ing pro­por­tion of our projects for pri­vate clients, the man is driv­ing the brief for the kitchen de­sign and spec­i­fi­ca­tion,” says Tom Wick­steed of 202 De­sign.

“If the male part­ner is the main cook in the house­hold, then we are of­ten pre­sented with very spe­cific ap­pli­ance re­quire­ments. Steam­ers, bar­be­cue grills, tep­pa­nyaki hot­plates and com­mer­cial-level ex­trac­tion are all fairly com­mon­place, though also they are in­creas­ingly in­ter­ested in the ma­te­rial spec­i­fi­ca­tion as well – work­top dura­bil­ity, hard­ware fin­ishes, in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms and the gen­eral lay­out.”

The men now tak­ing a lead with the cook­ing are do­ing so against a broader back­drop of the kitchen be­ing re­de­fined as the oft-touted “heart of the house”. No longer a place to con­fine your­self away, it’s a so­cia­ble place for to­geth­er­ness where cook­ing might be just one ac­tiv­ity among many. It’s not about do­mes­tic drudgery, but a way of re­lax­ing and de­liv­er­ing some­thing whole­some to the fam­ily.

“Oh, it’s def­i­nitely not a chore,” says Fraser Booth, who lives with his wife, Mar­i­anna, and their young chil­dren in west Lon­don, and does the lion’s share of pre­par­ing meals. “I use cook­ing to switch off and take my mind off every­thing that’s hap­pened dur­ing the day – you open the fridge or the larder, and see what you can make. And at the week­ends it’s more about ev­ery­one eat­ing around the ta­ble to­gether. It’s def­i­nitely where we spend the most time.”

He says that when it came to re­do­ing their house, the kitchen was the only place where he wanted the fi­nal say, and was highly ex­act­ing about the lay­out and spec.

That in­cluded in­vest­ing in an Elica ex­trac­tor hood that sits flush with the ceil­ing, rather than have a hang­ing model over the kitchen is­land that would block sight­lines in the open­plan space – the kind of at­ten­tion to de­tail that any ar­chi­tect would be proud of.

Like Booth, if you ask Dou­glas Hig­gins what his kitchen’s like, he might be more likely to reel off a list of ap­pli­ances first. “Miele through­out – an oven, combi mi­crowave, built-in cof­fee ma­chine, and a wine fridge with three tem­per­a­tures.” Hig­gins is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of devel­op­ers Lon­don & Aberdeen Group, and has just taken up res­i­dence in an apart­ment at one of its prop­er­ties, Ryger House in St James’s. His kitchen came from Ros­sana, a top-end Ital­ian brand that is known for its in­te­grated tech­nol­ogy – han­dle-free cab­i­netry that pops open with a gen­tle knock, for ex­am­ple. There’s no other room in the av­er­age house where you’ll find quite so much gad­getry as in the kitchen, so it’s no won­der men want to get more in­volved.

“I al­ways say, if James Bond had a kitchen it would be a Ros­sana one,” says brand di­rec­tor Chanda Pandya. “We’re find­ing that men are in­creas­ingly tak­ing more in­ter­est in kitchens as they’re be­com­ing more tech­ni­cal.”

Equally ap­peal­ing to men, per­haps, is its use of high-end ma­te­ri­als such as bronze, deep-veined mar­ble and dark wood, with pared-back, un­fussy out­lines. At the most mas­cu­line end of the spec­trum the units are al­most mono­lithic – wrapped in stone and with the messier as­pects such as sinks and coun­ter­top gad­gets hid­den away be­hind full-height doors.

The su­perb engi­neer­ing be­hind it is as se­duc­tive as the de­sign and ma­te­ri­als, and Dar­ren Miller, who brought the Ros­sana brand to the UK, com­pares the kitchens “to a Roll­sRoyce or a Bent­ley: re­strained el­e­gance on the out­side but with all this amaz­ing tech be­hind the shell”.

Hid­den, sleek tech­nol­ogy is on the up: a new coun­ter­top by Ital­ian de­sign stu­dio Tipic has pres­sure sen­sors in it to weigh in­gre­di­ents, and a sink that ap­pears with a sin­gle ges­ture. An­other, by Ger­man de­sign stu­dio Kram/ Weis­shaar, has cir­cuitry within to al­low the sur­face to keep your drink cool and plates hot.

What might the ul­ti­mate bach­e­lor kitchen look like? Aside from high-end ap­pli­ances, the other trend that seems to be male-led is that of the kitchen as en­ter­tain­ing space, for show­ing off your skills to friends.

With open-plan now the norm for new builds and re­fur­bish­ments, no one wants a kitchen that feels too clin­i­cal, and some want one that is an out-and-out show­piece.

In­te­rior de­sign­ers Law­son Robb re­cently cre­ated a kitchen for a bach­e­lor fea­tur­ing a large black mar­ble ta­ble that guests can sit around to view the “culi­nary theatre” oc­cur­ring at the ad­ja­cent is­land unit. Tim­ber pan­elling, pati­nated bronze cab­i­netry and fire­place make the room feel more like a study. Glass­ware by Linley – for savour­ing a sin­gle malt – and lethal chef ’s knives by Ger­man brand Nes­muk are suit­ably mas­cu­line ac­ces­sories.

It’s got to be a good thing for both gen­ders that men are tak­ing more of a lead when it comes to the cook­ing.

But there’s still a nig­gling ques­tion, though. Who’s do­ing the wash­ing up?

Show-off: the ul­ti­mate bach­e­lor kitchen de­signed by Law­son Robb, above; a FABRICA kitchen in a Mount Anvil home, right

In ex­cess: the Beau House pent­house kitchen which is be­ing built by Duke­lease Prop­er­ties and to be priced above £15m

Pukka: the Clerken­well home where Jamie Oliver lived and filmed his first se­ries of The Naked Chef (Sav­ills, £2.75m)

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