When I first look at a kitchen before starting a job, I take into consideration a number of factors…
First of all, does the family have young children?
Secondly is a working chef in the home.
Finally, I find out how often and in what capacity the family cooks: Do they cook a lot? A little? At all? Do they bake? Is take-out or delivery food a big part of their weekly routine?
From these answers, I’m able to make sense of a family’s “culinary lifestyle” and know where to go from there.
If there are children in the home, I make sure that storage methods include more bins and less glass containers. I also like to create a ‘help yourself’ area, so kids are able to access approved things on their own.
If the family tends to cook together, I like to ensure that there is enough workspace for everyone; Perhaps a prep area for one person, plenty of space around the stove for the ‘chef de cuisine’ of the household, and even a station for an extra person who may help stage the evening’s dishes, or pour drinks.
If it’s a home with one person who cooks a lot, I see to it that prep area is in the same area as cabinets, providing easy access to bowls, boards and other preparatory accoutrements. Meal prep is so much easier when everything is close at hand!
I apply the same philosophy to bakers: baskets of the necessities – chocolate and other flavored chips; vanilla, peppermint and other extracts; and baking soda, powder, arrowroot, cornstarch, etc. – are kept in jars for ease of viewing and accessibility. Then, when the baking urge hits (as it somehow always seems to, and you need those brownies ASAP), all that’s required is to grab the baskets and get started! The joy truly comes with the ease of it all.
And I don’t just limit these guidelines to cabinets and shelves. I keep other main-use areas in mind as well – namely the freezer and refrigerator spaces.
Anyone can attest that opening a disheveled refrigerator gives no inspiration, but opening a well organized, gleaming refrigerator with everything in perfect view makes it a pleasure to dream up a dish based on what’s on hand!
I am of the belief that inspiration comes easily when the artist has a full palette ready to create a masterpiece. So whether it’s finger-painting with puréed peas, carefully crafting a last-minute party platter or throwing together a weeknight meal, it’s my job is to make sure all of the right tools and trappings are at the fingertips of the “artists” to make their work as fluid and fun as possible!