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Chef's Delight

Secrets to Great Kitchens, Southern Living — 2004

The approach Chef Giuliano Hazan takes to cooking — few ingredients, simple directions, quick results, and impressive tastes — launched his cookbook Every Night Italian. This same basic philosophy carries over to the kitchen design, which he and his wife Lael planned with efficiency, entertaining, and serious cooking in mind. Step inside their kitchen, and discover streamlined ideas.

Distinctive Details

Although the kitchen, rimmed with a boomerang-shaped bar, is visually a seamless extension of the living and dining rooms, it stands apart in small but important ways: For one thing, the flooring changes from the sturdy bamboo used elsewhere to easy-on-the-feet cork in the food-prep area. "It's so much springier," says Giuliano, stepping from one section to the other.

Throwaway space along the floor is ingeniously put to work for the chef. "Not many people know about toe-kick drawers," says Giuliano, stooping to reveal a deep, narrow drawer created from the baseboard. "You can use the space for large platters or any big item. We have three of these with easy-pull knobs."

Another distinct feature hides behind what looks to be a regular drawer. Inside, a perforated stainless-steel liner — which houses onions, potatoes, garlic, and tomatoes — allows air to flow around vegetables.

Recipe for a Five-Star Kitchen

  • Designate a drawer for lids. Rather than continually searching through cabinets, Giuliano keeps lids in one handy place.
  • Store pots and pans beneath the cooktop. This keeps them readily accessible.
  • Install two sinks. A small sink, centrally located in the kitchen, works for quick washing while cooking; a large,
    nondivided sink is best for cleanups.
  • Opt for a custom vent hood. Giuliano's custom-made glass vent hood provides ventilation for the cooktop without disrupting the view. (When considering vent height, make sure your vent is not installed too high, or it will not draw
    air properly.)
  • Try nontraditional lighting. Monorail lighting, the new generation of track lighting, curves a single row of lights along the perimeter of a room. Starlights, tiny recessed bulbs scattered on the ceiling, provide even lighting for work spaces.
  • Trim the scale of countertop and backsplash edges. Giuliano's granite countertops and backsplash are 1 1/2 inches thick thinner than the double bullnose edge some designers favor to accommodate his clamp-on pasta maker. (By the way, Giuliano never chops on the granite.)
  • Custom-order matching panels for appliances. An appliance garage, which utilizes corner counter space, has a sliding panel to hide the coffeepot, the toaster, and other items that typically clutter a kitchen.
  • Utilize every inch of kitchen space. In Giuliano's kitchen, cabinets literally go all the way from the floor to the ceiling.
  • Try frosted or tempered glass for cabinet doors. Glass-front cabinetry shows off what's inside your cupboards which is fine unless your cabinets are cluttered. Frosted or tempered glass offers a peek inside without revealing everything.
  • Update your cabinetry with interesting pulls. Many large home-improvement stores have custom collections of pulls that can be special-ordered.
  • Set aside children's space in the kitchen for when little hands want to help.
  • Make cooking a family affair. Plan meals together, and let everyone have a hand in putting it together.

© 2004 Secrets to Great Kitchens. Reprinted with permission.

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Historic 16th Century Villa Giona in the gastronomic heart of northern Italy