Even if your fondness for cooking shows and new recipes is the closest you get to becoming a chef, you can set up your kitchen to provide the efficiency, performance and functionality that define your favorite pioneers in food. From its layout and appliances to its access to helpful technology, an outstanding kitchen can elevate your food preparation, expand the range of your cooking prowess and provide a space in which you enjoy making great dishes.
Efficient kitchen layouts make traffic flow a priority. The traditional gold standard of culinary design includes a triangular path between your sink, range and refrigerator, free of furniture or cabinetry that interrupts the flow. The geometry behind this efficiency limits individual legs of the triangle to dimensions that total less than 26 feet. If you've built a large, multi-station kitchen with more than one sink and enough work areas to accommodate more than one chef at the same time, you can modify the classic triangular arrangement to reflect your expanded floor plan.
Great appliances do more than you expect of them. Look for options that expand your capabilities at the same time that they accommodate your everyday needs. A range with a convection oven enhances your baked and roasted foods with better bread textures and succulent meats. A refrigerator with a touchscreen computer gives you advanced control of your food storage and helps you organize your grocery list. A quiet dishwasher with a stain-resistant stainless steel tub helps you focus on your cooking while your cleanup proceeds in the background. Top off a suite of energy-efficient appliances with equally energy-efficient LED lighting for bright illumination without the extra heat generated by incandescent bulbs.
To cut down countertop clutter but still keep essential tools at fingertip reach, set up functional stations that center around specific tasks you perform all the time. For example, if you're an avid baker, you'll want your stand mixer near your baking utensils so you don't have to run across the kitchen for a cake pan when your batter's ready to pour. Switch to an over-the-range microwave oven and you can reclaim a chunk of countertop real estate thanks to a three-in-one performer that combines multi-mode cooking, efficient LED lighting for your rangetop and a vented or recirculating range hood.
You need a way to store your inspirations— recipes, ideas, new ingredients—that goes beyond pen and paper. If your smartphone, tablet and home computer all sync together, you can photograph interesting ingredients while you're on the go, research cooking methods on your tablet and pull all your culinary concepts together on your computer. When you develop a new dish with innovations in preparation or spices, set up your camcorder in the kitchen and capture your own cooking show so you can share methods or flavors with your family or friends. Add some closeups of the finished dish, too. With an HDTV in the kitchen, you can watch food-related programming—your own or the pros'—while you work.
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