It is often referred to as the engine room of the home. It is the place where family members come together to prepare and share meals and create happy memories. But planning a dream kitchen isn’t as simple as choosing the right fittings and fixtures.
Once the look and feel of the space has been decided on, making it functional and user friendly is often a big and difficult challenge. Getting it right the first time requires research and planning.
Kitchen appliances retailer Rick Hart has been in the business for decades and he says some insider knowledge can go a long way.
He says the best modern kitchens are equipped with more than just traditional cooktops and ovens. New technology, previously only available to professional chefs, is starting to become commonplace in homes too.
“Induction cooking has been taking the world by storm,” he says. “With the use of flat-based stainless-steel or cast-iron cookware, induction cooktops create an electromagnetic reaction between the pot and the induction-cooking zone. In the same way that steel or iron objects will ‘stick’ to a magnetic surface, induction cooktops utilise a magnetic reaction to create heat, and this makes a very fast and energy-efficient method of cooking.
“Combi-steam ovens provide both the healthy alternative of a steam oven without compromising the delicious golden and crispy finish of foods that are baked in a fan-forced oven. Top brands to consider when selecting a combi-steam oven include Miele, Wolf and V-Zug.”
Steam ovens cook food using hot pressurised steam, instead of just hot air.
“This means that your meals will be much healthier, because the use of oil is not necessary and steaming also helps retain valuable vitamins and nutrients,” Rick says.
“This type of cooking is also increasingly popular among chefs as it can intensify flavours, creating incredibly tasty food. Steam ovens are also a lot faster than traditional methods of baking, as well as easier to clean – all you need to do is wipe the oven interior out with a damp cloth once you have finished cooking. Food residues will simply wipe away.
“The space required for a typical steam oven is 600mm in width and 450mm in height, which is the typical size of a ‘compact appliance’. The price ranges from approximately $2200 to $7000. This varies as some units are steam-only function and others are combi-steam, which includes oven and steam functions.”
Rick says there have been lots of innovations in the industry in recent years. “Integrated appliances are finished with the style of your kitchen’s own cabinetry, which can greatly enhance its aesthetic. This is especially appealing to those with open-floor-planned homes, where the kitchen is visible from other rooms.”
Integrated coffee machines are increasingly popular, allowing people to enjoy cafe-style coffee at home. “Like coffee machines, dishwashers and ovens, integrated fridges are also setting the scene for personalised and aesthetically pleasing kitchens that reflect your own personal style,” he says.
“Alternatively, if integrated appliances don’t suit your taste, the return of the retro fridge has been making a huge comeback in Australian kitchens. An item from Smeg’s colourful range of fridges is the perfect mod-con appliance for the vintage lover, enabling style from another era without compromising the benefits of modern technology.
“Wine storage cabinets have also provided a state-of-the-art appliance to refrigerate your wine. These specialised storage spaces emulate a traditional wine cellar – consistent temperature, humidity and stillness – which all contribute to preserving your drop, helping you get the best out of your wine.”
Rick says ovens are also becoming more functional.
“Pyrolytic ovens use high temperatures to incinerate any food residues on the walls into a fine ash, which can then be simply wiped away using only a damp cloth. This will save you the time and effort of scrubbing your oven clean and reduce your exposure to harsh cleaning products,” he says.
“Modern ovens now feature a variety of auto-programs to enhance the entire cooking experience from start to finish. A safety feature such as the automatic shut-off function ensures that your oven will turn off after a certain period of time, and the automatic spillage stop function will help to prevent mess.”
MASTER PLAN FOR DREAM DOMAIN
Perth’s seafood expert and former MasterChef Australia contestant Josh Catalano says being confident in the kitchen is a breeze when you have the right appliances. We asked him to spill the beans on his must-have inclusions for a dream kitchen.
1 The combi-steam oven is my favourite appliance by far and I pretty much use one every day. Since I have never really enjoyed using a microwave, the combi-steam oven has certainly replaced that and then some. The versatility of these appliances is incredible and the pre-set functions make cooking so much easier, with a perfect result every time. Since I got my very own combi-steam, I have really started to cook a lot of sous-vide, which is classically a technique used in most commercial kitchens and the results are fantastic.
2 I just love using my induction cooktop but it wasn’t always the case. Learning to cook on my mum’s ceramic cooktop at home as a young boy was a nightmare, so as soon as I discovered gas cooking I adapted and thought it was the best thing ever. These days it has all changed, induction cooking has come a long way and it is a must-have piece in my kitchen. My favourite part about the induction is how easier it is to clean, no more lifting up parts and spending so much time cleaning up after you cook. I must admit, they do take a bit of getting used to but when you work that out you will love the control you have over your heat.
3 Since I’m the male in the house, the outdoor kitchen is also my zone and when it comes to outdoor cooking you just can’t go past the DCS Grill from Fisher & Paykel. This is no ordinary barbecue, this is the granddaddy of all outdoor cooking and will give you amazing results every time. I love cooking on the open fire or over hot coals and the DCS will give you the closest result without lighting a match. There is so much science that has gone into the construction of this grill and they have thought of everything, plus not only does this grill look the part, it also performs like no other and even cooks pizzas.
4 The Sub-Zero fridge is one of the most amazing appliances I have ever seen. The technology behind these fridges has been created for the sole purpose of keeping your food fresher for longer and has a unique air purification system developed for NASA. These fridges are big, bold and beautiful and are right at the top end of kitchen appliances. Despite their often impressive size, the units are so energy efficient that they use less power than a 100-watt light bulb.
5 Gone are the days of having big, bulky and noisy rangehoods in the kitchen. The Schweigen designer ceiling rangehood is one of the coolest products on the market and has certainly made rangehoods sexy. They have created a quiet and sleek product that you wouldn’t even know was a rangehood, in fact it doubles as a light and can be configured the way you like. These rangehoods are a true sign of the times, and are sure to cap off anyone’s new kitchen.