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Great kitchens for great cooks

Great kitchens for great cooks

Some families need only a basic kitchen, with enough cabinets, work space and appliances to prepare simple meals and clean up in time for the next round. But if you're serious about cooking, your remodelling project presents the opportunity to consider speciality appliances, fixtures, accessories and design elements that can make your kitchen a joy to use. A truly customised kitchen, with all the fancy features in just the right places, may be only a dream for most people, but the products and designs that go into pricey kitchens can generate useful ideas for every remodelling budget. ln today's two-career families, cooking has become a shared responsibility and an opportunity to bring the family together.

However, since most kitchens were designed for just one cook, all this togetherness can get rather cramped. Adapting your kitchen for more than one cook doesn't mean just adding more room; it means carefully examining the way you use the kitchen. The solution is to customise your kitchen to fit your family's budget, cooking habits and lifestyle.

Customising the Layout

As with professionals kitchens, a cook's kitchen should operate like an efficient production line. The goal is to organise the space so that cooking, cleanup and storage tasks can be done in sequence, with little-wasted effort or doubling back. This can be done most effectively by creating distinct work zones for the major tasks. For example, you might set aside one "dry" area, for baking and dry storage and another area for "wet" tasks, such as filling stockpots or cleaning fish. While cleanup and wet prep can share one space, it's even better to have separate sinks. That way, one cook can rinse utensils and fill pots while the other can scrub and chop vegetables. If you're modifying your kitchen layout, you can create a second work triangle that shares one or two of the main triangles "points" or work areas. ln many two-cook kitchens, for example, the work triangles share the same cooking area and refrigerator. In others, they share only the refrigerator. just make sure that the two triangles don't cross each other.

Buying Appliances

Not surprisingly, serious cooks tend to have a lot of cookware and crockery in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The dimensions of some speciality items can pose a problem: they won't fit on or in standard appliances. When shopping for appliances, be sure to bring a few of your largest pots, plates or platters to the showroom, just to make sure the models you're considering can accommodate them. Here are some more buying tips to keep in mind: Ranges & Cooktops Because they offer instant heat and almost total control over heat adjustment, most serious cooks prefer gas burners for surface cooking. Today there's a strong trend toward commercially adapted, or "professional-style" ranges and cooktops. These high-output gas appliances, modelled after units found in restaurant kitchens, have the proper size and safety features required for home use. But the race for the perfect cooking surface is still being run, and both gas and electric models have been improved to accommodate many specific cooking needs. Some key features to consider include:

  • Maximum and minimum output. High-heat units boil water quickly, but not all burners are good for low-heat simmering.
  • Heat control. Gas is generally still the best. However, some newer electric units use microprocessors to regulate temperature.
  • Burner size. You may want a model that can heat oval pots or rectangular griddles.
  • Cleanability. "Sealed" gas and glass-top burners are easier to clean than burners with catch pans.

If your family produces a great deal of dirty dishes and pots, where you put your dishwasher might be more important than which brand you buy This will depend on the layout of your kitchen, but the best spot is usually next to a sink. As a general rule, select a dishwasher that provides the largest, most flexible interior space. Adjustable racks and fold - down tines help accommodate large and odd-shaped pieces. If you entertain frequently, you may want a model that has a custom cycle for fine china and glassware, as well as a pot-scrubbing cycle.

Also, consider models that boost the water temperature above 120F. These remove grease and baked-on food well, and they allow you to keep your household water heater at a lower setting, which saves energy and reduces the risk of scalding.

Refrigerators

Select a refrigerator size and configuration that fits the way you cook and how often you shop. If you shop every day and don't need or want a huge refrigerator, select a smaller one that allows for more countertop space. You can always supplement it with a small bar refrigerator that will make ice and store a few frozen items. Multiple under-counter refrigerators, although costly, are another option for adding food storage space. While you may like the look of built-in refrigerators, bear in mind that they are both costlier and shallower than freestanding refrigerators.