What Goes into Creating a Gourmet Kitchen?
A gourmet kitchen means different things to different people. When you add “gourmet” to describe a food, it gets elevated to mean fancier, more upscale, more desirable.
But, it all comes down to the fact that “gourmet” is about the person who is the subject of the word. Gourmet is a term for a food connoisseur.
Gourmets love to prepare and eat fine food. They don’t regard food as merely something to ease hunger. To them, food is art, something to be savored and enjoyed.
How Does This Translate into Kitchen Design?
A gourmet kitchen is about the food enthusiast’s love of preparing, cooking and eating the best foods, using the best appliances and equipment. It means a kitchen personalized to the cook’s wants, needs, preferences, style and individuality.
When people who are passionate about cooking and baking say they want their new kitchen to be “gourmet”, the design process becomes more complex. Thus everything, from the layout and appliances to storage and lighting, becomes hyper-personalized.
The kitchen designer must ask a lot of comprehensive questions because each response has its own set of needs. Questions might include:
- What kind of meals do they like to cook?
- Is baking their passion?
- Are they preparing meals for more than two people?
- Do they cook for vegetarians?
- Is creating French cuisine their favorite?
- How many people will be working in the kitchen?
What Goes into a Gourmet Kitchen? The Basics
Every gourmet kitchen includes some features in common.
- large island
- well-organized floor plan
- efficient work triangle
- spacious and durable countertops
- storage for specialty equipment
- high-end, professional-grade appliances
- walk-in pantry and/or butler’s pantry
- ambient, task and accent lighting
- powerful ventilation
- cabinetry customized to the cook
- flooring that is kind to the chef’s legs and feet
- easily cleaned backsplash
Lots of Functional Space
A top priority for the gourmet kitchen is that it must have lots of space and a good work flow. There is always a lot going on in the kitchen, so plenty of space to move around in is critical.
Gourmet cooking is more complicated than simple meat-and-potatoes cooking, and, as a result, more steps are involved. Someone cooking a gourmet meal must be within arm’s reach of the sink, refrigerator, cooktop and trash bins. Think of how many steps are needed to prepare a delectable recipe such as crab-stuffed filet mignon with whiskey peppercorn sauce. Timing is everything, and all ingredients and equipment must be close.
An Important Rule of Kitchen Organization: Eliminate Steps
A restaurant chef sets up his work space to reduce steps while he’s cooking. A home kitchen set up in a similar fashion is the way to make it functional and organized.
To ensure good work flow, the kitchen is designed around a triangle that connects the refrigerator, sink and range. Items not used for cooking—water glasses, serving dishes—should be stored outside of the work triangle, to keep the work flowing efficiently.
Main Features of a Gourmet Kitchen
A chef’s kitchen is designed and equipped to satisfy the needs of the homeowner who wants to cook at the professional level. Requests for a gourmet kitchen typically include the following:
- Space for multiple people to cook and prepare food comfortably at the same time.
Heating and Cooling
- A Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer. This high-end brand includes a superb air purification system and a vacuum seal to keep food fresher longer. The Sub-Zero refrigerator has always been in a class by itself.
- The range is probably the most important feature in a gourmet kitchen because accurate, consistent temperature is critical to successful gourmet cooking.
- A Wolf range is the gold standard for home cooking enthusiasts who demand high performance.
- A gas range that operates with high BTUs is on many wish lists.
- Dual-fuel ranges are popular with serious cooks – gas for high heat and electric burner(s) for tasks requiring lower heat.
- Induction cook tops are also popular because they heat up faster and deliver heat directly from the source to the pan.
- Warming drawer(s) keep food hot and protect the moisture of food.
- Microwave Drawer. An excellent alternative to shelf-mounted microwaves or freestanding units that take up counter space.
- Industrial strength ventilation. Professional grade cooking appliances put off a lot of heat, smoke, aerosolized grease and vapor, so the gourmet kitchen needs a massive ventilation system. Exhaust hoods can be decorative elements that match the range or cabinetry.
- A pot-filler faucet over the stove to easily fill large pots of water.
- Specialty Appliances. Gourmet chefs are also likely to include specialty appliances, such as a secondary cooking surface, such as an auxiliary induction cooktop or teppanyaki griddle (think Benihana-style cooking).
- Smart Appliances. Appliances have gotten “smart” and connected. You can pretty much run your kitchen from your smartphone.
- Hands-free opening for trash bins, faucet operation
More Than One is Twice as Good
- Multiple ovens, including convection and steam
models, are ideal. Many items can be cooked at different temperatures at the
- A steam oven helps keep food moist while retaining natural minerals and vitamins.
- A convection oven circulates hot air so food cooks uniformly, efficiently and quickly.
- A secondary fridge located nearby – in a butler’s pantry, laundry room, even in the garage. Refrigeration should be sized for the number of people who live in the home with enough space to store extras, like an appetizer tray or a sheet cake, along with everyday groceries.
- A refrigerator drawer located in the island or pantry is ideal for drinks at a party or for your children to help themselves.
- More than one deep sink for washing food and dishes.
- More than one full-size dishwasher so no more stacking dirty dishes in the sink until the other load is finished. Bosch and Miele are the best dishwasher manufacturers in the world. Whirlpool is a top brand when it comes to reliability.
- Dishwasher drawer to supplement the main dishwasher. A dishwasher drawer placed near a bar sink or entertaining area can manage dirty glassware, while the main dishwasher is used for pots, pans and dishes.
- Multiple cutlery organizers, roll-outs in cabinets and pull-outs by the cooktop place essentials within the gourmet’s reach.
Kitchen Storage in the Gourmet Kitchen
A gourmet always needs abundant storage that is easily reached and organized so that everything is at their fingertips, rather than steps away. They need storage for their specialty equipment, like stand mixer, Instant Pot, slow cooker, food processor, sous vide cooker, power blender, Nespresso coffee maker, waffle iron, etc., plus specialized storage for the various items they need while cooking:
- Drawer organizers near range for often-used utensils
- Integrated paper towel dispensers
- Open roll-outs under the cook top for easy access to pots and pans
- Open shelves near the range can store serving bowls, dishware and platters, like in a restaurant. Everything is ready to grab and go.
- Pull-outs in lower or upper cabinets on each side of the cooktop for utensils, spices, oils
- Integrated cutting boards
Countertops Prized by Gourmets
Gourmet cooks choose materials for their countertops that can stand up to heavy use. Many options are available, but for the serious cook, not all of them will take the slicing, dicing, spilling and staining their work creates.
Stainless steel is used for countertops in restaurants, but this option with its industrial look might not be popular for a home kitchen. Natural stone or manmade quartz (the most popular countertop material in the USA) are both durable, beautiful and available in any number of colors and patterns. Butcher block adds warmth and charm, and bakers love the coolness of marble for rolling out pie dough.
The gourmet – and, in fact, anyone remodeling their kitchen – can include more than one countertop material. For instance, the gourmet kitchen might have stainless steel countertops with a butcher block island top and a section of marble for the baking enthusiast.
Custom Cabinetry in the Gourmet Kitchen
Cabinetry is a crucial part of any kitchen design, but a gourmet kitchen needs cabinets that are practical as well as beautiful to look at.
For example, the versatility of custom cabinets makes it so that they can be modified to change countertop heights, an important consideration for the chef’s comfort. If she is tall or short, the countertop can be lowered or raised to accommodate her height. Dishwashers can be raised for people who are tall to reduce bending over and stooping. Countertops can be lowered to 30” for bakers when rolling or kneading dough.
The Gourmet Kitchen Sink
The kitchen sink plays an integral role in gourmet cooking and should not be regarded as merely a place for washing dishes. The size of the kitchen sink is more important than the material. A deep sink will fit large pots, and an undermount sink – one with no protruding lip – allows the cook to sweep food scraps from the counter straight into the sink to the garbage disposal.
A faucet that pulls out for spraying is a very handy feature. Hands-free faucets and hot water on demand are becoming common in gourmet kitchen design as well.
Secondary, Specialty Sink
A specialty sink can take food prep and entertaining to a gourmet level. Many specialty sinks come with accessory packages that allow the chef to do more than wash dishes. Gourmet cooks can use half the sink for cooling wine and the other half for serving cheese on the cutting board. If you have a specialty sink on an island, you can do everything – prep and serve food, visit with guests, etc. – in one central location.
Lighting the Gourmet Kitchen
The gourmet chef’s work goes much quicker, safer and more expertly when the lighting is adequate over all work spaces. Countertops and other kitchen work areas need lots of light – four times the normal amount of light in a dining room. Under-cabinet task lighting and ambient light from pendants and ceiling-mounted fixtures are all part of a well-lit kitchen.
The Gourmet Kitchen Island
A kitchen island gives the gourmet more counter and storage space. It can also double as a bar to accommodate family and friends while keeping them out of the cook’s hair. A gourmet cook wants unobstructed flow in the kitchen. Strategically planned, the island can aid seamless flow and become the focal point of the room.
An island is extremely versatile. The gourmet chef will want his to include:
- extra storage
- lots of countertop space for prep work
- a second sink
- a cooktop
- the microwave drawer
- a second dishwasher or dishwasher drawer
A Gourmet Kitchen Backsplash
Because the kitchen walls between the countertops and the bottom of the upper cabinets are susceptible to the most splattering, this area, aptly named the backsplash, should be a washable surface. Backsplash tile can be extended all the way to the ceiling and cover the entire wall — like in a restaurant — for easy cleaning.
The material of choice can be eye-catching, or it can tie together the overall room design. Whatever is chosen – stainless steel, decorative tin, stone, glass or ceramic tile, or just a painted wall – it all has to work together with countertops, cabinetry, and the floor.
Other Elements Often Requested in a Gourmet Kitchen
- Hanging pots and pans rack
- Clever knife organizers, such as the magnet strips or base cabinet pull-outs
- Rubber, large tile or wood floors (easier on the feet)
- Salamander-style broilers
- Indoor smoker
- Pizza oven
A gourmet chef’s kitchen is equipped with professional appliances, durable and easy-to-clean surfaces and lots of storage for specialty items. The layout will focus on zones for preparing food, cooking meals, cleaning up and serving. The appliances must be all about high performance.
Any good cook can whip up a meal with basic tools, but a gourmet kitchen is designed for the cook who uses the finest ingredients and wants his or her kitchen organized and efficient. A gourmet kitchen should be more than adequate or beautiful; every appliance and material choice must be ideal for its task in food preparation.
KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.