Saturday, August 4, 2012

House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year

It was white.  
Lots of white cabinets.
Glass doors.
A wood and marble-like island.
White tiles. 
Not blinding snow white. Rather calm, tranquil cloud white.
With gleaming silver tiles and drawer pulls, black lacquer shelves and confidently placed cabinets. And elegant glass front display "storage."

It was an orchestration designed by Mick De Giulio, kitchen designer since 1984. De Giulio knows his way around the heart and soul of a home. 
In fact, the House Beautiful literature for the 5th Anniversary of this summer rite of passage notes, De Giulio believes that kitchens can be more than workrooms. He believes they can be artful compositions that feel the soul.”

So it is that even in one of the world’s busiest, buzziest tourist sites, with an added attraction on the site of the Today Show’s morning outside features, the Kitchen of the Year is poised as a welcoming, calm respite and heart of this pulsing city. 

Chef Lisa Pensiero cooking demo
There were eager-looking yet respectful visitors watching the cooking demonstration by a soft spoken, focused cookbook author and chef Laura Pensiero of GIGI TRATTORIA.

Others were lounging in the kitchen’s sitting area fronted by a fireplace and big screen TV.

Others at the dining room table,

and still more coming and going leisurely to the outdoor garden kitchen. 

It didn’t look like a major magazine and manufacturer demonstration so much as a casual, family party. 
Oh, but one with lots of media video taping and photographing the cooking action in the kitchen! 

The Look
The 1,000-square-foot kitchen conservatory featured two fully functioning kitchens, indoor and outdoor, where delectable bites and sips were offered throughout the day.
The kitchen brought together a wide array of premiere building and home decoration companies, including Belgard Hardscapes, Caesarstone, Kohler, KraftMaid, Whirlpool, Aircraft Scentsticks, Ann Sacks, Circa Lighting, The Container Store, de Giulio kitchen design, Frontgate, Glidden, Grandin Road, Grothouse, Hickory Chair, iRobot, Kravet, Michael Aram, Napoleon Fireplaces, Shaw Floors, and VTech.
I liked the clever the spice rack and the pin-door like sliding cover. 
However, after more thoughtful inspection, I thought it was a design conceit that was better looking than practical due to the fact that the spices were lined up along the back wall, next to the stovetop burner.  And for diminutive folks like me, that could mean a Biiiigg stretch to fetch the pepper across the stove abyss!

I liked the idea of the indented or square-shaped area built into the wood island counter top – much like a built in bowl – for fruit or other display.  How intriguing… Yet here again, I’m thinking if one is a semi-serious cook, or even an absent-minded one, you could inadvertently put the oil or mixed ingredients down into an “empty” sloping bowl.  It could spell disaster.  It's a design solution in search of a need....
And I'm not entirely sold on the idea of the mix of Caesarstone and wood island counter top. It looked nice but is it enduring?  I thought it could appear as if one or the other textured material was added in rather than designed in.  Not sleek.
The only other challenge is the cook top. It’s electric. I asked chef Laura if it posed a problem as she was trying to demo her recipe. She gamely came round to the answer, saying "It does get hot fast -- It just took some getting used to." (Most chefs use gas powered stove top burners.)
All together, the Kitchen was very, very good looking and the overall, open layout was smart.  Of course every imaginable appliance was included yet due to good design, it wasn’t overwhelming.  On the contrary. It was all easy functionality. The wine cooler, ovens and refrigerator were within easy reach.
The use of glass was elegant.
The flooring was handsome and practical.

The shelves for easy access to cookbooks was enlightened.  Except they didn't showcase my Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook. ha! 

The shelves displaying vases and bowls was artful; a stunning effect. 

The Kitchen was as engaging as a couple’s rainy Sunday romp through a Home Depot Expo.  There was lot’s of “Honey, look at this.” And “Check this out.”  Nice inspiration.  
All events were open to the public.
A complete schedule of events  Here online there are lots of design tips and tricks for small kitchens. 
Highlights included:
            * Todd English of Olives restaurant demonstrates Korean Style Grilled Skirt Steak
            * Highlighting the locavore culinary movement, star chefs from New York-area restaurants 
Peekamoose, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Gigi's Trattoria will prepare dishes and 
beverages with locally-sourced ingredients (
            *  Made In America: American Treasures Culinary Experience that recognized individuals 
and small producers in America  
            *  Miles Angelo of Caribou Club demonstrated Cappalletti with Duck Confit
Other culinary craftsman as part of the showcase were Food Network's Sandra Lee, The Chew Carla Hall, and Prune Restaurant's and James Beard Award Winner, Gabrielle Hamilton.
Outdoor Kitchen and Dining
The Belgard stone cooking island and bar in the outdoor dining area was a terrific design.  
Don't you just love the pop of green sink color?  Convenient, hidden trash receptacle

The aluminum island front and backsplash – not unlike my own inspired mirror backsplash design in our home kitchen – is just a brilliant detail.  

It opens up and reflects the light and space.  Not that one needed that in Rockefeller Center, but you will at home…

The Pizza Oven seems to be a must-do in today’s outdoor kitchens.  Men love them. And this Napoleon model was said to heat up very fast to a very high temperature.  

The Frontgate seating was conservative and rich-looking, indulgent  -- and made for relaxing while reading a good magazine or enjoying a pitcher of sangria with friends. 

The planters and island planters offered symmetry and contributed to a tranquil outdoor living composition.  There were nice container display gardens with a mix of grasses and vines and flowering plants.  
I liked the transition to different levels too – it gives a sense of being transported even if in a modest space.
I especially enjoyed chatting it up with House Beautiful's associate publisher Sean - the brains behind the entire culinary and design concept!  

We bonded over culinary design, foodie interests -- especially jam and local homegrown ingredients.  Instant friends.  Food can do that... 

House Beautiful is the leading authority on American home design and decoration.  Founded in 1896, House Beautiful is the oldest continuously published shelter magazine in the United States. In May 2012, House Beautiful won the American Society of Magazine Editors award for General Excellence in the Lifestyle Magazines category.


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