Three stories of passion and creativity behind the trends of professional kitchens
The throbbing heart of every home, the room for creating, the welcoming space where creativity can be given a free rein. Kitchens as small, separate rooms are a thing of the past. Now they are more than just an integral part of the living area - they are the real hub of the home, the temple in which to do, prepare, eat and share. The starring role of the kitchen in our daily lives comes with an increase in the purchase of premium kitchens, with more and more attention on design and on the quality of appliances and accessories.
High-range kitchens actually represent a bridge between two worlds, in which aesthetics meet the creativity of people who like cooking and where new inspiration can be found. Kitchen appliances, as functional as those in professional kitchens, can also be great pieces of furniture, making the room warm and welcoming.
Here is what Kristen, a photographer living in New York, has to say from her open space kitchen, with a wood and marble island, in her apartment in Brooklyn.“I love cooking and I like the idea of the kitchen as an open space that is aesthetically captivating. I can look at the surrounding environment, at what is happening, and that too becomes a source of inspiration for my dishes. When I have guests I can entertain them while I cook, but on ordinary days I can talk to my children while I prepare dinner. I cannot imagine being secluded in a small separate space. I think that this is a crucial aspect for people who like cooking, precisely because the process of preparing food, cooking, becomes an integral part of life itself.”
For Kristen the preparation of food as a creative process that is always searching for new inspiration starts from photography and reaches the dinner table, following the path of colour. “The aesthetic side is very important in everything I do,” she says.“When I am cooking, just as when I am busy with photography, I am always very aware of all the colours involved. Yesterday for example I prepared cous cous with sweet potatoes and courgettes - orange, green and white, a perfect mixture of colours! Another interesting set of colours is Chilli:red from tomatoes, three different kinds of beans (black, red and pinto, which are pink and white) and a few leaves of cilantro as the final touch.Of course I always also think of the taste of my dishes, and of a good balance among proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, but I never neglect the food’s appearance.”
The “path of colour” is also a good guiding compass for a healthy diet rich in vitamins. “I adore going to the supermarket and choosing fruit and vegetables. I always let colours inspire me, also because I easily associate them with the vitamins we need.”
Kristen’s specialities include multi-vitamin fruit and vegetable juices, which are precious allies for a healthy lifestyle. She prepares them every morning.
“Every morning I look into my fridge and make a drink with what I can find. This morning I prepared a drink with ginger, apple, lettuce, carrots and blueberries. An explosion of flavours and colours!” She pays special attention when preparing juice drinks for her children. “My children love the drinks I prepare too, with just one exception... They mustn’t be too green! For them too colour comes before everything else,” she says.
Having treats and being spoilt with increasingly healthier and tastier food, thanks to the functions of professional appliances designed for domestic use, is part of Kristen’s day-to-day life - and the same is true for Matt. This Australian manager, a traveller who is single by choice, loves cooking, which means he often enjoys himself preparing gourmand dinners for his friends. He likes to amaze them every time with recipes, ingredients and methods from all over the world. A single steel work top and built-in appliances give his kitchen a minimalistic and elegant appearance.
“I hail from a family of caterers and I have always enjoyed cooking and spending time in the kitchen, even if I decided to do something completely different with my life. A few years ago I decided to invest in my kitchen and equip it with everything you can find in a professional kitchen - blast chiller, induction hob, fridge with wine cooler - in other words, nothing is missing! Perhaps it is a way of feeling a little more at home, of going back to my origins. I don’t just prepare incredibly tasty meals (as my friends can confirm!) - my house has gained aesthetically, because the kitchen is right in the middle of my flat.”
Matt is continuously travelling for business or pleasure, so he encounters culinary traditions and habits that he proposes when he returns home, changing some ingredients and adding others. This creative evolution is unstoppable and always very stimulating, for him and for his guests. “Without doubt the raw materials are what is most important for successfully preparing a good dish. I think that lots of chefs worldwide agree on this. But I also think that with the right tools in your kitchen nothing is impossible... I for one have finally learnt to prepare sushi.” Naturally every dish needs the right wine. “For a food lover like myself it is a pleasure to combine the right wine with my dishes every time. I adore red wine and in my wine cooler I always have a good stock of bottles that know no borders.”
From the land of kangaroos we move to the sunny hills in the Chianti region, where we meet Davide and Gaia, a painter and dental nurse/food enthusiast respectively. She amuses herself teaching in healthy eating courses. They have been together for many years and share many interests, such as meditation and vegetarian cuisine. Their approach to food starts from the search for fresh, natural ingredients and moves through special care in the preparation of the dishes.
“For us food is a living creature. It is alive and not something you simply buy from a supermarket,” explains Gaia.“For this reason we try to buy our food from markets or directly from farmers. The search for products that look, and taste fresh too, makes the difference. One of our prerogatives is to not buy packaged food - we go for loose fruit and vegetables and whole cereals and pulses. The more you deal with the food you eat the more you will be nourished, from every point of view.”
They take great care in selecting the raw materials and in cooking them. They are great fans of steam cooking because it allows to valorise the properties of the raw materials and to reduce food waste. “Take carrots for example,” says Gaia. “If I buy an organic carrot and steam cook it I can eat the peel as well, which contains mineral salts and is good for the gut because it is rich in fibre. By steam cooking it you don’t waste anything and all the properties of the carrot remain. You gain in health and time.”
“This also applies to the quantity of food you eat, because the quality of the nutrients obtained from healthy foods means you waste less,” addsDavide. "In the case of vegetables, for example, you essentially use everything and there is very little waste.”
This is comforting news considering that in the last year Italy alone produced more than 16 million Euro worth of food waste, which was mainly fruit and vegetables. We are not talking of wholesalers - we are talking of individual consumers. So this seems the right way to reduce waste and also have a natural and healthy diet. Is there anything to gain in terms of taste? “We like to dress steamed carrots with vegan mayonnaise - soy milk, sunflower seed oil, a teaspoon of mustard, salt and lemon. Broccoli - steamed and best when still a little crunchy - goes very well with Tahina cream (salt, lemon and a drop of Tamari). Simple and delicious!».
For Gaia and Davide too, “good” and “attractive” in the kitchen go hand in hand. “While steaming, broccoli starts releasing chlorophyll, its lifeblood, and becomes brilliantly green. So this is a matter of health, saving money and beauty as well. When you eat broccoli you also eat its mineral salts, its colour and beauty. It is a philosophy of life, a style of life and an approach to food.”
It is a continuous search, constantly using ones’ wits while experimenting with new recipes and food combinations. Preparing food can become a little like meditation in this way and the kitchen, with a rounded wooden peninsula and two worktops, is the holy retreat in which to create and enjoy hours of happiness.
“Cooking is also meditation, I relax and reconnect,” explains Gaia. “An hour to prepare it, fifteen minutes to eat it. But all the effort you put into preparing ultimately fills you and nourishes you at more than one level.”
“The kitchen is the room in the house we spend most of our time in, cooking and eating, without forgetting the conviviality factor,”explains Davide. “We lay the table, sit at table, eat, chat, finish eating and chat a little more, then there is coffee, tea and dessert.”
“For us the kitchen is the heart of the house, where the fire is,” adds Gaia. “The burning heart is right here.”
Food as a cultural expression in the works of Antoni Miralda.
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