April 1, 2008
Four top American chefs talk about the custom designs and unique tools that define their celebrated kitchens.
In the age of the designer restaurant, we focus too much on the theatrical entryways and the shimmering floor-to-ceiling bottle walls, often neglecting the most important space: the kitchen. But the restaurant’s fiery heart is also its soul, telling us more about its character than a thousand exquisite table settings ever could. Alice Waters, a pioneering advocate for locally grown and sustainably harvested food, preserves that same frankness with Chez Panisse’s open, farmhouselike kitchen, which invites diners to peer inside and see how their Capay Valley grass-fed veal is coming along. Alinea’s Grant Achatz and WD-50’s Wylie Dufresne, on the other hand, do their cooking in kitchens that have a whiff of the laboratory, where unusual gadgets (liquid-nitrogen tanks, anyone?) and easily modified work spaces support their avant-garde fare. Meanwhile, Dan Barber splits the difference, emphasizing fresh produce by dint of Blue Hill’s location, a stone’s throw from a farm, but relying on cutting-edge technology to prepare it. In the following pages these four chefs—among America’s finest—tell us what makes their kitchens work.
The Chefs of Necessary Ingredients:
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