Great Kitchens for Great Cooks

Cooking aficionados demand more from the modern kitchen
By Ric Coggins, CGP, NCT
June 03, 2010

In the modern household, life happens in the kitchen. It’s where families gather to discuss the day’s events, where couples enjoy a cocktail and conversation and, of course, where the culinary enthusiast engages in his most passionate hobby. In fact, as budgets tighten, many people are rediscovering the delights of cooking at home.

So why isn’t more thought put into the needs of home cooks in modern kitchen design? The truth is most homeowners are simply unaware of the amount of time they spend in the kitchen (second only to the bedroom) and just how vital a carefully designed kitchen is to the chef of the house.

What exactly is a culinary enthusiast? According to consumer research, he or she is anyone whose passion for creative cooking and entertaining determines his or her decision-making, purchases, lifestyle and, of course, kitchen design. Culinary enthusiasts are more interested in a kitchen that achieves culinary and entertaining greatness than one that functions simply as a design statement. While their higher income levels and net worth suggest they appreciate fine design, avid home chefs know that appreciation is secondary to their quest for all-around cooking inspiration.


Kitchen design trends are starting to cater to this cooking die-hard. An appliance-focused approach is emerging—one that matches a chef’s culinary preferences to specific cooking applications, innovations and solutions and creates a truly inspired kitchen setting molded around those needs. Sometimes the entire kitchen design can come down to the cook’s height, or whether he is right- or left-handed. Appliance-focused design isn’t just for accomplished home chefs: With the right appliances, a mediocre cook becomes a good cook, a good cook becomes a great cook and a great cook becomes an extraordinary cook. Even someone who claims not to enjoy cooking can benefit from a kitchen design that works with her to speed through culinary tasks, rather than against her.

In a perfect world, the best course of action is to custom-fit the kitchen to the resident chef. However, due to the current economy, most homeowners simply don’t have the luxury of a ground-up approach to kitchen design. Fortunately, ripping out the kitchen and starting from scratch isn’t the only option; there are practical solutions that can go a long way in satisfying the needs of the passionate cook. Catering appliances to the household chef is the easiest and most effective resolution that doesn’t involve demolition. The right appliances enable any cook, regardless of the size of her kitchen, to prepare even the largest dinner parties, while the wrong appliances can render a large kitchen useless.

The best place to start is your client’s kitchen range or cooktop, long considered the true heart of the room and the determining factor for most other kitchen elements. The right burner can make or break a dish. Does your client complain about cold spots? Try burners with better heat distribution. Need a sauce to simmer for an extended period without burning? Look into ranges with the capability to cycle on and off. For a relatively modest investment, especially when compared to a complete kitchen makeover, upgrading the range or cooktop is the best bet.

If your client complains about heat distribution, try the Star Burner from Thermador


For the complete appliance overhaul—the grand slam of demolition-free kitchen remodeling—keep this in mind: The heart of the home is the kitchen, and the heart of the kitchen is the appliances. Without innovative appliances, the culinary enthusiast simply loses his or her power.

Induction, convection and dual evaporators are becoming commonplace in the kitchen, with appliance technology reaching new heights. Did you ever think it would be possible to use one oven for three different cooking methods—steam, convection and a combination of the two? What about induction stovetops, in which high-frequency electromagnets are used to transfer energy to the cooking vessel? What were once just hopeful possibilities are now absolute necessities for your cooking devotee clients with a passion for culinary excellence.

While appliance replacement is the practical, budget-minded solution to kitchen design, the ground-up approach is the most effective. With this method, the most detailed intricacies can be factored in for design: How many eat at home on a daily basis? How often, and for how many, does your client entertain informally? Formally? What is a favorite recipe for an informal and formal dinner? What appliance gets the most use? Combining the right architecture, aesthetics and ergonomics with the right appliances is the culinary enthusiast’s dream.

A good designer should focus on four main kitchen design components—function, aesthetics, social interaction and intimacy—and use all four to create a kitchen that streamlines and doesn’t add to the time and work involved in accomplishing a cooking task. The result can be a professional-grade kitchen custom-tailored to fit the needs of culinary enthusiasts at every budget level.

—Ric Coggins, CGP, NCT, is sales manager at Thermador and president of the NKBA Arizona Chapter, 2009-2010.
Post a Comment
blog comments powered by Disqus
Ads by Google