Any great cook can whip up a meal with the most basic of tools, but a gourmet kitchen is designed for the cook who uses the finest ingredients and doesn’t want the conditions of the kitchen to thwart his efforts. Inadequate conditions can be one cause for a potential masterpiece to flop. A gourmet kitchen should be more than adequate or beautiful; every appliance and material choice should be ideal for its task in food preparation. Put the perfect conditions in place with these design features of a gourmet kitchen.
Gourmet Kitchen Appliances
The range is the most important feature in a gourmet kitchen. Because accurate, consistent temperature is so important to successful gourmet cooking and cheap models just don’t deliver, the gourmet cook will do well to invest in a range and oven that will satisfy the demands of the connoisseur. Gas ranges are superior to electric for their control, although some cooks like the option of having one electric burner on the range. While all gourmet cooks will almost certainly prefer a gas range, most bakers will want an electric convection oven. Some designers solve this problem by installing a countertop range and stacking convection ovens in separate areas of the kitchen. However, a freestanding dual fuel range/convection oven could be the answer for smaller kitchens. Although microwaves with vents save space in the kitchen, their placement over the range is not advised in gourmet kitchen design. A range hood that can handle high output burners and range-top grills or griddles is best in order to capture excess moisture, smoke, and aerosolized grease. Choose a range hood that vents outdoors and, for large ranges, exhausts at least 600 cubic feet per minute (CFM) and is large enough to match (or extend past) the size of the range. Refrigerators should be as spacious as the floor plan allows, in order to grant the gourmet cook ample room for fresh ingredients and storage for large meals and parties. The homeowner now has many choices, from professional grade walk-in style refrigerators to pull-out units that fit under the counter and are disguised by matching cabinetry faces. All other appliances are up to the cook’s needs, but popular appliances include dishwashers, wine refrigerators, and trash compactors.
Gourmet Kitchen Storage
A gourmet’s next greatest wish is for storage. Storage must be plentiful, easily reached, and organized so that food is at the cook’s fingertips in the preparing area rather than a few steps away. Cabinetry is a crucial part of any kitchen design, but a gourmet kitchen needs cabinets that major on practical and posh. Choosing the right cabinet options can also be the key to making a smaller kitchen work for the gourmet enthusiast, whose priorities are first to wrangle in a professional-grade stove, and then work around it.
Gourmet Kitchen Countertops
A gourmet kitchen is designed for heavy use, and materials should be carefully chosen to withstand it. Options abound for countertop choices, but for the gourmet only a few materials will stand up to the slicing, dicing, spilling and staining of a gourmet cook’s habits. Some will prefer stainless steel countertops, the material of choice in gourmet restaurants. Other durable options include natural stone, stained concrete and, for the environmentally-minded, recycled glass. Butcher block can add warmth and old-world charm, and bakers love marble surfaces for rolling out pastries. Every countertop surface has drawbacks, whether they are susceptible to burns or scratches, or require sealing and other upkeep. Modern kitchen decor allows more than one countertop material to be used, so practicality and style can again reign supreme. For instance, a gourmet kitchen might have stainless steel countertops with a butcher block island and one section of marble for pastry prep.
The Gourmet Kitchen Sink
Often last in line, the kitchen sink plays an integral role to gourmet cooking, and should never be viewed as merely a receptacle for washing up. Any quality material is acceptable, so long as it is heavy enough not to dent (lightweight stainless steel dents easily) or chip (like porcelain). The size of the kitchen sink is more important. A deep sink will receive large pots easily, and an undermount sink – meaning it is installed under the counter material with no protruding lip – allows the cook to sweep food tidbits from the counter straight into the sink to the waiting garbage disposal. Gourmet sinks have practical features integrated in the design. A faucet that pulls out for spraying is a must-have feature.
Lighting in the Gourmet Kitchen
The gourmet chef is hard at work creating delicious anticipation for all in the room. His work goes much quicker, safer and more expertly when his lighting is adequate over all of his workspaces. Countertops and other kitchen work areas need lots of light – four times the normal amount of light in a dining room or eating area. Under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights, or ceiling-mounted fixtures are all part of a well-lit kitchen.
The Gourmet Island
A kitchen island gives the gourmet more counter and storage space, but if it doubles as a bar, the island can receive family and friends while keeping them out of the cook’s hair. A gourmet cook wants unobstructed flow in the kitchen. Strategically planned, the island can aid seamless flow and become the focal point of the room.
A Gourmet Kitchen Backsplash
Because the kitchen walls between the countertops and the bottom of the upper cabinets are susceptible to the most splattering, this area, aptly named the backsplash, should be a washable surface. Although the backsplash is somewhat recessed, this is one of the most crucial areas of design in the kitchen. The material of choice can be an eye-catcher in an otherwise simple motif, or it can tie other strong design elements in the room together. Whatever is chosen – stainless steel, decorative tin, stone, glass or ceramic tile, or just a painted wall – it all has to work together with countertops, cabinetry, and the floor. Remodeled or brand new, a gourmet kitchen is one of the best investments to make in a home. These features are certain to please any cook, but they are basics for the gourmet.