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Cook Like A Pro

Articles From Issue 13

When talking about the size and intricacy of chef’s kitchens in the home, misconceptions are common. Roland Henkel, the director of Jurodesign, speaks with Bhria Vellnagel about how you can design and construct an authentic chef’s kitchen in your own home.

The most admired thing about a chef’s kitchen is the potential for cooking up amazing food. Installing a fully fitted chef’s kitchen in your home may sound a bit extravagant, but the name can be misleading. People often believe that a chef’s kitchen must be large, lavish and expensive, but that’s not entirely accurate. In fact, chef’s kitchens can be built on a smaller scale, without sacrificing the functionality of a large kitchen. If your household loves to cook and entertain, investing in a chef’s kitchen will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. Read on as Roland Henkel explains the essentials of a great chef’s kitchen, with the knowledge that comes with years of installing them in the homes of his clients.


Henkel says the essence of a chef’s kitchen lies in superior functionality, which maximises efficiency when cooking. The ability to streamline the cooking process will make a world of difference when you have hungry mouths to feed or when you’re cooking complicated recipes that take time.

By positioning these three major appliances in a triangle formation, the ideal functional layout is accomplished. Carefully dividing your kitchen into separate zones – namely food preparation, cleaning and storage – will always improve efficiency. Each zone should comprise appliances and utensils that are relevant to its purpose. In the cooking section, for example, you’ll have your oven/s, cooktop and cookware. By storing cookware close to the relevant appliances, you’ll spend less time searching and walking to other sections of the kitchen, which will cut down on time and stress.


Convenience Is Key

While the positioning of zones is important, it is equally important to organise your storage space. A chef’s kitchen requires all important items to be at your fingertips, with everything in storage areas being strategically organised. Removing non-essential items from your immediate space will de-clutter often-used drawers and cabinets, which is vital in creating an unhindered cooking process. “Drawers, drawers, drawers; [include] as many as [is] practical for optimum storage space,” says Henkel.

A Triangle Of Organisation

According to Henkel, ease of access is one of the most important elements in streamlined cooking. “Smaller kitchens often have a preferable layout [to larger kitchens], as there is less distance between the cooktop, refrigerator and sink,” he says. Spacious cupboards, a butler’s pantry and open, eye-level shelving are considered essential in a chef’s kitchen. Henkel suggests installing drawers inside the pantry to make food items more accessible, while increasing storage space. These solutions will ensure you have enough bench space for food preparation, and will save you from juggling items you don’t need. An island bench is also a great addition as it provides extra space for food preparation, as well as entertaining.

The Essentials

Certain appliances are more important in a chef’s kitchen than a regular kitchen. According to Henkel, an easy way to make a standard kitchen more like a chef’s kitchen is to replace old appliances. Investing in high-quality

Choose Your Oven

Convection ovens are the long-held secret to faster cooking, as they cook 25 per cent faster than standard options. A fan is used to circulate the air in a convection oven, which results in evenly cooked food. By reducing cooking time, a convection oven is more energy efficient.

The popularity of steam ovens has also increased rapidly in recent years. The steam rehydrates the food, restoring taste and retaining all nutrients, while reducing the need to use oils and fats, which creates a healthier dish. The only downside to these ovens is that they can only steam food, which means no appetising browning can be achieved. While steaming food is ultimately healthy, this option can be limiting in regards to cooking potential.

Henkel recommends installing a combined steam/convection oven as they “ensure the best possible food quality and contribute significantly to a vitamin-rich and healthy diet”. By combining the power of convection with steam, an efficient and versatile oven is achieved, which is perfect for any home chef. Commonly labelled a combisteam oven, this style has the ability to steam, grill and evenly cook any dish. With classic exterior finishes such as stainless steel and matte or reflective black on offer, a combi-steam oven will blend seamlessly into any kitchen.

Cooktop Tips

One thing that doesn’t go out of style is the gas cooktop, which is usually bigger in a chef’s kitchen than in a standard one. Gas cooktops are the traditional and preferred option for most

chefs as they have the unique ability to work well with almost any cookware. However, Henkel says that “induction cooktops are [becoming] popular [in chef’s kitchens, as they offer] instant heat and are easy to maintain”. Induction cooktops make a great modern addition as they feature digital touch controls that allow heat to be adjusted instantly and precisely. This style of cooktop is ideal for any home with children as the heat is generated by magnetic induction, which affects the pan but not the surrounding cooktop. Most induction cooktops feature a flat surface, which makes them easy to clean. When purchasing an induction cooktop, be sure to consult a professional, and be aware that the coils within can vastly vary in quality and efficiency.

Clean With Ease

Chefs observe sanitation standards with the utmost diligence and their kitchens need to withstand wear and tear over continuous use. Therefore, hard-wearing surfaces that are easy to clean are essential. With multiple dishes often being completed all at once, a chef’s kitchen must also be fitted with appliances that are highly functional.

Sink Big

Large sinks with pull-out spout taps are popular appliances for chef’s kitchens as they promote a streamlined and simple clean-up. Sinks can quickly become congested with cooking utensils, and cleaning while trying to follow a recipe can be stressful. Henkel says a chef’s kitchen requires a “deep oversized sink [in which to place] larger pots and pans [while cooking]”. By installing a sink that’s large enough to hold the bulk of the dirty dishes, clean-up can be left until a more suitable time. To ensure the kitchen is always presentable to guests, an extra sink within a butler’s pantry will hide the mess of cooking. Deep stainless steel sinks are the preferred option among most chefs, as they’re spacious and easy to clean.

A double sink allows one sink to be filled with dishes, leaving the other available for food preparation. Porcelain sinks are also popular for the luxurious quality they bring to the space, while blending easily with the décor of your home. Henkel says mixer taps – also known as singleflow taps – are a necessity for all chef’s kitchens. With a vast range of design, shape and function options available, mixer taps can be easily integrated into any space. Retractable flexihose mixers are the go-to for most chefs, as they prevent splashing with a pull-down mechanism.

The power of your tap will dictate how deep your sink needs to be. If you want strong water pressure, a deep sink is necessary to prevent splashing. A lever-operated tap is preferred by most chefs as it allows for easy activation, which is ideal for when your hands are messy from cooking. Your tap can be mounted on the bench or wall, depending on your aesthetic and cooking needs. Installing a tap that provides instant boiling water will save you a lot of time and stress when cooking, while fitting your tap with a filtering attachment will ensure your water always tastes pleasantly clean.

Surface Value

According to Henkel, reconstituted stone, Corian and stainless steel are the most popular benchsurface options for chef’s kitchens, as they’re extremely durable and pleasing to the eye. While a stainless steel benchtop may be the most hygienic option, it might be difficult to integrate with the aesthetic of your home. Reconstituted stone offers the same aesthetic as natural stone, while being non-porous and resistant to scratches, chips and stains. Reconstituted stone combines highly durable polyester resin with natural-stone granulates – such as marble or granite – and is generally less expensive than natural stone.

Other popular hard-wearing surfaces include solid granite, quartz and porcelain, which may better suit your interior styling.

A Splash Of Colour

Splashbacks are a necessity for cleanliness and style in any chef’s kitchen. Oils and fats are especially prone to getting stuck on splashbacks and the last thing you’ll want to do after cooking is worry about scrubbing every surface of your kitchen! Splashbacks are required to protect your walls from the mess of cooking, but they are also fantastic as statement pieces. It’s best to steer away from installing tiles, stone or anything porous, as food matter will cling to these materials. Henkel says that a functional and visually pleasing splashback should either match or contrast with the benchtop material. In addition to visual cohesion, using the same benchtop material in your splashback will ensure that it’s highly durable. Glass is a popular option as it’s easy to clean, and can be coloured or patterned to create the perfect backdrop for your space. “Although the focus is on functionality for a chef’s kitchen, the design can most certainly create a beautiful space [in which] to entertain,” says Henkel. Customising your chef’s kitchen can be as simple as adding a pop of colour or an artistic design. Remember, your chef’s kitchen needs to be enjoyed, not just to exist as a functional cooking space. A personalised and streamlined cooking experience is a pleasant one. By incorporating the design ideas and appliances recommended by Henkel, you can join the league of happy home chefs who have their own professional kitchen. You’ll be able to entertain with ease, while creating the ambitious recipes you’ve always dreamed of perfecting.

Images courtesy of Jurodesign