Think smarter, not big­ger — and or­ga­ni­za­tion is key

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - HOMES - KIM COOK

Avid home cooks of­ten want to out­fit their kitchens with the kind of high-end ap­pli­ances and gear used by pro­fes­sional chefs. There’s that as­pi­ra­tional no­tion that some­how hav­ing the right equip­ment will lead to bet­ter food.

So what’s in a pro kitchen that works well in a home kitchen?

Chicago-based kitchen de­signer Mick De Gi­ulio is a firm be­liever in buy­ing high-qual­ity gear. “Ap­pli­ances sus­tain a lot of hard use,” he says. “They ’re ex­pen­sive at any level and peo­ple ex­pect them to last.”

From an es­thetic stand­point, De Gi­ulio says, com­mer­cial-look­ing mod­els im­part a sense of strength to the kitchen de­sign. And their ramped-up fea­tures can also be at­trac­tive.

Ap­pli­ances sus­tain a lot of hard use. They’re ex­pen­sive at any level and peo­ple ex­pect them to last.

“Pro ranges have higher BTUs on burn­ers, but also finely tuned set­tings to main­tain lower tem­per­a­tures for sim­mer­ing,” he says.

Big Chill has a 48-inch range equipped with eight pow­er­ful burn­ers and a large-ca­pac­ity oven with a rapid pre­heat fea­ture. It’s avail­able in such hues as green, or­ange, red and yel­low.

Keep­ing food warm be­fore serv­ing it is a prime con­cern in res­tau­rant kitchens. At home, we’re in­clined to just put a mi­crowave lid on a late­comer’s plate. But to re­tain just-pre­pared flavour and moist­ness, con­sider a warm­ing drawer like the pros use.

Wolf has one with sev­eral stain­less-steel com­part­ments, and the drawer can be set for var­i­ous tem­per­a­tures. Use it to warm plates and bowls, too, or to proof bread.

While pro kitchens tend to be gas-pow­ered, not all homes are equipped for that. BlueS­tar has in­tro­duced a suite of elec­tric ap­pli­ances with pro­fes­sional fea­tures: heavy-duty steel con­struc­tion and fast, pow­er­ful heat­ing con­trols, for ex­am­ple. The oven is roomy, and the fridge and freezer can hold ex­tra-large sheet pans, per­fect for host­ing large par­ties.

Celebrity chef Wylie Dufresne just re­did his New York City home kitchen.

“So much about func­tion­al­ity of a kitchen is tied to move­ment within it,” he says, not­ing that in a home set­ting, there may be mul­ti­ple cooks, kids or guests in the space. Iso­lat­ing task zones is a good idea.

He in­stalled a True Re­frig­er­a­tion ice-mak­ing ap­pli­ance, since those in con­ven­tional freez­ers can con­trib­ute un­wanted mois­ture to frozen foods. His fridge is equipped with noise-damp­en­ing in­su­la­tion and a hy­gienic, odour-re­sis­tant stain­less in­te­rior.

Miche­lin-starred chef and res­tau­ra­teur Thomas Keller re­cently part­nered with global de­sign firm Sno­hetta to ren­o­vate his Cal­i­for­nia-based res­tau­rant, The French Laun­dry, in­cor­po­rat­ing el­e­ments that he says are just as im­por­tant in res­i­den­tial kitchens.

Think smarter, not big­ger, when do­ing a ren­o­va­tion, he ad­vises.

“Size doesn’t al­ways yield im­proved func­tion­al­ity. Our new kitchen is de­signed around in­ti­macy and prox­im­ity — to one an­other and the tools we need,” he says. “Ad­di­tional steps slow you down. The same les­son rings true for a kitchen lay­out at home.”

Durable sur­fac­ing is worth every penny, Keller says: “Zero main­te­nance can be a ben­e­fit to both pro­fes­sional and res­i­den­tial kitchens.”

He chose Dek­ton, a brand of solid sur­fac­ing ma­te­rial made of resin and nat­u­ral min­er­als that resists spills, heat and wear. Co­rian’s an­other big brand. Quartz, a durable com­pos­ite of resin and hard stone or glass ma­te­ri­als, is also pop­u­lar; brands in­clude Silestone, Cam­bria and Cae­sar­stone.

No room for snazzy, full-size ap­pli­ances? Con­sider Wolf ’s mul­ti­func­tion coun­ter­top cooker. The ver­sa­tile ap­pli­ance lets you slow­cook, sauté, sear, sous-vide and make rice via a range of pro­gram­mable con­trols. A re­mov­able steel ves­sel also works on any cook­top, in­clud­ing in­duc­tion.

Ikea’s new Kungs­fors rail sys­tem was de­vel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with Swedish chef Max­i­m­il­ian Lundin. It in­cludes stain­less-steel grids, hooks, open shelves, con­tain­ers and clips.

Amer­i­can Stan­dard’s new Beale Mea­sureFill faucet can be pre­set to de­liver a half cup (125 mL) to up to five cups (1.25 L), elim­i­nat­ing the need for mea­sur­ing cups.

But equip­ment and ap­pli­ances aside, a well-or­ga­nized kitchen may be the true mark of a pro-style kitchen.

“In terms of tools, don’t clut­ter your draw­ers with things you don’t need,” says Keller. “Take stock and elim­i­nate the gad­gets or one-pur­pose tools.”

The mul­ti­ple James Beard Award win­ner ticks off his go-to gear: “A good-qual­ity cut­ting board, scale, plat­ing spoons, sauce whisk, timer, kitchen shears. Qual­ity par­ing, util­ity and ser­rated bread knives.”

And one more thing: a good at­ti­tude. “Re­mem­ber, cook­ing should be fun,” Keller says.

“It’s re­ward­ing, and it gives us the op­por­tu­nity to nur­ture oth­ers.”


Durable coun­ter­tops are a boon to keen home cooks. Dek­ton is a brand of solid sur­fac­ing ma­te­rial made of resin and nat­u­ral min­er­als that resists spills, heat and wear.


Big Chill’s pro style range has eight pro­fes­sional-level burn­ers and a large-ca­pac­ity oven with a rapid pre­heat. It’s avail­able in a range of vi­brant hues, and is com­pat­i­ble with stan­dard home cab­i­netry depths.


Wolf’s steamer mod­ule cooks pro­teins, veg­eta­bles and grains, keep­ing nu­tri­ents and flavours in­tact. It can be used to proof bread dough, steam pud­dings, and slow roast. A bas­ket ac­ces­sory al­lows for sous-vide prepa­ra­tion.


Wolf’s M se­ries con­vec­tion steam oven com­bines the two meth­ods in one. Unique dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy senses the amount and size of food and ad­justs cook­ing de­tails.

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