Building & Renovation

Turn a gourmet kitchen into a chef's studio

64568aH(NC)—Does your kitchen feel more like Julie’s than Julia’s?  No need to be concerned… if Julie could learn how to master the art of cooking in less than a year; you can design your own chef’s studio in a fraction of that time.  But follow Julie’s footsteps and take your lead from those who know kitchens best – professional chefs.  We sat down with Zack Bruell, chef and owner of four renowned Cleveland restaurants – Parallax, Table 45, L’Albatros and Chinato – to learn his secrets to the best kitchen tools and designs.

“While the kitchen is the social centre of the home, it’s also the place that requires the most functionality – it’s where you prep food, cook, serve, eat and clean,” said Bruell.  “My general rule is ‘less is more’ – I use this concept when working with designers to create the professional kitchens in my restaurants; and the same idea applies when creating a new kitchen layout at home.”

Bruell continued, “To make a kitchen work efficiently, you need four key ingredients:  1) adequate refrigeration, 2) appropriate cooking equipment, 3) a nicely appointed sink and faucets and 4) a sufficient prep area.”
Keeping Things Cool
Any chef will tell you that one of the secrets to cooking like a pro is using fresh ingredients.  To keep your produce and meats crisp and moist even longer, Bruell recommends investing in a professional-grade refrigerator.

While these may take significantly more floor space than standard refrigerators, professional-grade options feature the ability to store more items in multiple large compartments, and set separate temperatures for the different areas.  Some brands offer extreme innovation, with micro chip-operated defrost cycles, touch-screen pads, slide-out storage… and LG even offers the added luxury of a fifteen-inch screen that can handle DVD’s.
Over the Top Ovens
If you’re interested in creating a chef’s studio at home, you obviously like to cook and entertain.  And whether you’re cooking for four or 24, you’re going to need the right equipment for the job.  At the top of the list is a chef-style oven.

Professional-grade cooktops, such as the 122-centimetre Dacor Epicure Dual-Fuel Range, offer two self-cleaning ovens (both at 53 centimetres deep), an infrared gas broiler and six gas burners with continuous grates over the top.  In addition to sheer capacity, professional-grade ranges have burners that can handle everything from slow simmering to high-speed searing, and small pots to large woks.  Some cooktops even do the work for you – GE’s Monogram Electric Induction Cooktop features a pan size sensor, which automatically adjusts the heating element to the size of the pan.
Faucets for Foodies
The workhorse behind any professional kitchen is the faucet – or faucets – in many cases.  “You need a good faucet with a restaurant-style, pulldown or pullout sprayer for cleaning fruits and vegetables; but it’s also important for fast and efficient cleanup,” added Bruell.

A second faucet to consider in a chef-inspired kitchen is a Pot Filler.  These faucets, which are installed over a range, not only provide a distinctly industrial look, but they also are extremely efficient.  The new ShowHouse® Modern Pot Filler, for instance, offers a quick-fill rate of 20.8 litres per minute, which enables you to fill a large pot with ease…and eliminate having to carry heavy pots of water from sink to stove.

Designed with style and utility, the ShowHouse Modern Pot Filler folds against the wall when not in use, and conveniently extends 61 centimetres, via its double-joint extendable arm, to deliver water to pots from above.  For convenience and safety, the Modern Pot Filler features dual shut-offs at the base of the filler and at the spout.  Water is first turned on at the base, and then after the swing arm is positioned over the pot, water can be turned on and off using the handle at the spout – so you don’t need to reach over a hot pot or open flame to turn off the pot filler.
Plenty of Prep Space
Finally, every good chef knows that cooking requires plenty of counter space.  Bruell’s ‘less is more’ rule is especially appropriate here, as you don’t want to overcrowd counters with too many small appliances that take away from precious work surfaces.  Choose the most-used items, such as a coffeemaker, toaster, mixer and blender, to have out in the open; and place other items and equipment in a nearby pantry or cabinet.  Just be sure to keep them easily accessible – and within three or four steps of your primary work station.

“With my years in the restaurant business, I’ve seen my share of kitchens,” said Bruell.  “And the key to the most successful ones is a well thought-out space where chefs and restaurant designers have thought of every detail. Cooking should be an intense and memorable experience – so work to create a space that celebrates all that it can be.”

Additional kitchen design inspiration is available online at

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