I was lucky enough to be in Piedmont in Northern Italy last year, home of the slow food movement, where I visited their headquarters in Bra. For more information, you can visit their websites at www.slowfoodusa.com or www.slowfoodfoundation.com, to support the movement for local and sustainable foods.
I strolled through the Slow Food Nation event near City Hall today to take a peak at the historic food festival. It was a much larger scale San Francisco Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
The Slow Food campaign is to promote local sustainable foods and to step back into the kitchen and create a healthier lifestyle. The anti-fast food.
Slow Food was founded by Carlo Petrini, in Italy in 1986, to fight the fast food chains (notably McDonalds) from moving in and pushing out the smaller establishments. From there, the Slow Food movement has been advocating fair trade, sustainable farming practices, and preserving and celebrating traditional foods. The movement has reached over 130 countries with its message to stop the industrialization of food production, and to search out local farms.
I have supported this philosophy in my eating and cooking for years. It was great to have the opportunity to visit with the local farmers and food producers that have been working hard to bring the chefs great product to work with.
Choosing a countertop and the endless choices of materials has been daunting. We were advised by experts to use the same material throughout the entire kitchen to keep cohesiveness. Well… we ignored the experts.
We decided to use a natural material for the counters. We started searching the stone yards throughout the Bay Area looking for the perfect piece that fits in with our design. A designer we consulted with recommended that we use marble in the kitchen. It’s a classic material that fits in with everything from Victorian homes, to the craftsmen homes, to the mid-century-modern homes, But, it’s not a popular choice with contractors and stone fabricators. They advise against using it due to the fact that it’s a porous material that can stain and etch. We love the look, and a large number of European kitchens use it without a second thought, so we decided to go with marble.
We wanted a piece of marble with a clean look, not too much veining, lots of white, and a slab that was three centimeters thick. Two centimeters seems to be the most popular choice for people, therefore, it being the most plentiful. After months of searching, we found the perfect piece to go into the main part of the kitchen.
As for the other areas of the kitchen: The plans are to put a stainless steel countertop to the left of the stove that will take the brunt of the work load of a busy kitchen. The bar top that is raised above the stove, and has a birds-eye view of the action going on in the kitchen, will be made by our cabinet maker with a wood that matches the floors (hopefully, we’re still looking for the floors).
Marble keeps a consistent cool temperature that a chef loves. This is a valuable asset for a kitchen enabling you to cool things down in a hurry.
We had to purchase a new refrigerator to fit in with the new dimensions of the kitchen and cabinet layout. Deciding to replace our seven-year-old, large (36” wide), side-by-side fridge was a battle that I had to fight long and hard for. It was hard to justify replacing it without breaking the budget. The small size of the kitchen needed a smaller size fridge, and by getting a smaller fridge, I am able to gain 6 more inches of counter space as well as 6 more inches of cabinets from floor to ceiling. To make up for the lost cubic feet from the smaller fridge, we decided to purchase a new wine refrigerator for the bar area underneath the raised countertop.
Trying to find a refrigerator in something other then stainless steel has proven to be a difficult task. I remember when stainless steel was only reserved for high-end, professional, commercial appliances. Now you’re hard pressed to find a material other then stainless, so we surrendered our search, and went with a stainless steel fridge. We chose a brand that was smaller then most American fridges. The Fisher Paykel bottom freezer made the most sense for our smaller space and our cooking style that has us buying mostly fresh ingredients. The model is E522B flat door stainless steel refrigerator. The size is 67” high by 30” wide by 28” deep and cost around $1600.
After extensive research on the internet, and flipping through the pages of Consumer Reports, we went for a wine fridge from Costco that can be built-in or free standing. It’s a Vinotemp, model TC-32G, 32 bottle wine cellar, that we bought on sale for $399.99 (regularly $479.99). This compact fridge has a simple design and is a lot quieter then some higher end chillers, which was an important concern for us.
Going with a smaller refrigerator enabled us to gain more cabinet and counter space, which is crucial for a professional chef working in a smaller kitchen.