Turn A Gourmet Kitchen Into A Chef's Studio

Turn A Gourmet Kitchen Into A Chef's Studio

Does your kitchen feel more like Julie's than Julia's? No need to be concerned if you saw the film "Julie & Julia" and identified more with Julie, the inexperienced chef, than culinary icon Julia Child. If Julie could learn how to master the art of cooking in less than a year; you can design your own chef's studio in a fraction of that time. But follow Julie's footsteps and take your lead from those who know kitchens best - professional chefs. Moen spoke with chefs and restaurant owners to find the secrets to the best kitchen tools and design.

While the kitchen is the social center of the home, it's also the place that requires the most functionality - it's where you prep food, cook, serve, eat and clean - that's a lot of activity for a relatively small space. A general rule is 'less is more' - restaurant owners use this concept when working with designers to create the professional kitchens in their restaurants; and the same idea applies when creating a new kitchen layout at home.

To make a kitchen work efficiently, you need four key ingredients: 1) adequate refrigeration, 2) appropriate cooking equipment, 3) a nicely appointed sink and faucets and 4) a sufficient prep area.

Keeping Things Cool
Any chef will tell you that one of the secrets to cooking like a pro is using fresh ingredients. To keep your produce and meats crisp and moist even longer, consider a professional-grade refrigerator.

While these may take significantly more floor space than standard refrigerators, professional-grade options feature the ability to store more items in multiple large compartments, and set separate temperatures for the different areas. Some brands offer unique innovations like micro chip-operated defrost cycles, touch-screen pads and slide-out storage.

If you're concerned that a professional-grade refrigerator will put a damper on your kitchen décor - not to worry. Many models can be personalized to match the cabinetry in your kitchen and include your choice of handles.

Over the Top Ovens
If you're interested in creating a chef's studio at home, you obviously like to cook and entertain. And whether you're cooking for four or 24, you're going to need the right equipment for the job. At the top of the list is a chef-style oven.

High-end professional-grade cooktops offer two self-cleaning ovens, an infrared gas broiler and multiple gas burners with continuous grates over the top. In addition to sheer capacity, professional-grade ranges have burners that can handle everything from slow simmering to high-speed searing, and small pots to large woks.

Faucets for Foodies
The workhorse behind any professional kitchen is the faucet - or faucets - in many cases. You need a good faucet with a restaurant-style, pulldown or pullout sprayer for cleaning fruits and vegetables; but it's also important for fast and efficient cleanup.

Plenty of Prep Space
Finally, every good chef knows that cooking requires plenty of counter space.The ‘less is more' rule is especially appropriate here, as you don't want to overcrowd counters with too many small appliances that take away from precious work surfaces. Choose the most-used items, such as a coffeemaker, toaster, mixer and blender, to have out in the open; and place other items and equipment in a nearby pantry or cabinet. Just be sure to keep them easily accessible - and within three or four steps of your primary work station.

You can also create a separate area with a prep sink and faucet between the refrigerator and stove. Here, you can rinse and cut food items in close proximity to where you will be using the ingredients next.

Chefs seem to agree that the key to the most successful kitchens is a well thought-out space where designers have thought of every detail - from the best place for big items, like a refrigerator and stove; to small things like the best spot for power outlets. Cooking should be an intense and memorable experience, so work to create a space that celebrates all that it can be.