FOR THESE WOMEN, STUNNING KITCHENS ARE NOT ONLY THE HEART OF THE HOME BUT THE HEADQUARTERS – AND SOURCE OF INSPIRATION – FOR THEIR VERY CREATIVE FOOD BUSINESSES, AS CLAIRE BINGHAM REVEALS …
Foraging the savage, beautiful surrounds of the Connemara National Park in the West of Ireland, Cliodhna Prendergast is an avid gatherer of foodstuffs from this wild pantry, which she cooks either in the open or at her contemporary lakeside home. “I’m a very simple cook really,” says Cliodhna, who is happiest roaming the countryside for ingredients such as spruce tips, mushrooms and seaweed: “I try to show off individual flavours and do very little with them.” She is a modern cook with a no-frills approach, deeply linked with the outdoors, and her home – an architect-designed bungalow – where she lives with her husband and three children, suits her lifestyle.
The interior is simple, with a neutral palette and natural materials. Mid-century furniture adds to the elegant vibe, but the true knockout factor is the cinematic lake view. Although the house is only a few years old, it feels like it might have existed in the woods forever. The kitchen features a huge central island and a much-loved Aga, two things essential to the functionality of the family home. “When you’re in a professional kitchen, you need clean lines and a clear space. That’s why my island doesn’t have a sink or a lot of clutter,” she explains. “The size of the kitchen enables me to do commercial work.”
The Aga is something Cliodhna grew up with and, for her, it is very much the soul of the space. “As the house is so big and modern, I wanted something warm,” she says. “What I love most about the Aga is that you don’t have to heat it up. Between family and food writing, I cook all day long, so it’s wonderful to be able to open the door and throw in whatever, very quickly.”
For storage, she has a big larder so that when it’s open, she can see everything at a glance. “I wanted something that was open and organised.” But it is the woods outside where a lot of the cooking action happens. “When you’re collecting food outdoors, there’s a connection with the land that’s very special. When you’re cooking something in the place where the ingredient grows, there’s just something very real about it.”
New York chefs Jody Williams and Rita Sodi of Buvette and Via Carota restaurant fame have created a dreamboat of a kitchen in a third-floor apartment between Waverly Place and Sixth Avenue that mixes grand design with a mood that feels welcoming and warm. This is the first home kitchen renovation for the couple, and they went down a classic craftsmanship route. Cool cabinetry, quality materials, as well as super-smart organisation, came courtesy of British kitchen company Plain English.
Functionality is key. Broken into distinct areas, the kitchen has a cooking area, a prep area, a washing area and space to stash utility ware. There’s also a cocktail station where Rita gets to play various vermouth riffs, as well as a spot devoted to making pasta. “We have a drawer of pasta-making equipment,” Jody explains. “We make it on the back bar underneath the cabinets, which incorporates a wooden top that slides away. We don’t hang pasta to dry. Spaghetti is rolled into little nests, laid out on a cloth on the dining table. Sometimes we throw linens over a back of a chair and dry pasta on them.”
And then there is the open fireplace that the homeowners cherish, both for its simpatico nature and for its use for cooking and smoking with embers. It’s all very Italian. “We needed a home space where we could work on our menus and entertain more,” says Jody of the crowd-pleasing element. “Rita’s home in Florence on via Carota had a fireplace in the kitchen, so the idea came from there.”
This kitchen exemplifies the adage that opposites attract, something worth remembering when decorating a home. Polished materials paired with rusticity, a vibrant red and white colour palette that, saturation-wise, doesn’t feel too extreme. It works like a charm. Upscale yet grounded, the veined marble, stained dark walnut floors and vintage furniture give this newly decorated home its well-loved feel.
Updating the country kitchen aesthetic with a contemporary yellow-and-white scheme, this Parisian kitchen and garden is keeping things fresh. From the canary-yellow Lacanche range to the ceramics on the wall, the decoration of this apartment is all about showing off what you love. “Yellow is just a colour I love to live with,” says US-born cook and food writer Patricia Wells. “It’s happy. My home in Provence is a kind of ochre too, which allows me to move things from place to place.”
Patricia’s gift for kitchen planning (this is her tenth redecoration to date), devotion to cooking and genuine love of all things French make her 1830s ground-floor apartment as bold as it is beautiful. She teamed up with renowned Parisian property developers A+B Kasha, who specialise in the renovation of historic homes in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood, to create this dream kitchen and garden on the Left Bank’s rue du Bac. “If anyone is ever to do an apartment in Paris, France, they are the best,” she enthuses of the Kashas’ work.
A great friend of fellow expat and cheerleader of French cuisine champion Julia Child, Patricia moved to Paris with her husband more than 40 years ago, swapping a journalist’s life in New York for that of a food critic for the International Herald Tribune. It is in this apartment that she hosts her famous cooking lessons.
The scheme for the kitchen began with the arrangement of space. Patricia knew she wanted two sinks, a pantry area, a rotisserie and access to the garden. She amped things up with the Lacanche stove, the bright yellow balanced with the neutral tones of the marble floor, cream Silestone worktops and exposed stone walls, which are part of the original building.
The walls provide texture and the marble floors run seamlessly through the space. The cherry on the cake is the garden. “Not too many people have black pepper, kumquat trees and kaffir limes growing in their garden that you can just go out and pick.” Patricia is living her best life, the Parisian way.
From: Wild Kitchen – Nature-Loving Chefs At Home, by Claire Bingham (Thames & Hudson, €28), out now.
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