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If you can't stand the heat,
October 15, 2002 11:02 AM   Subscribe

If you can't stand the heat, better stick to the kitchen of your dreams... Reading about the new industrial home chic in last week's Time and The Wall Street Journal, with its Viking and SubZero worship, how couldn't one be reminded of Mark Shatzker's now classic "My Dream Kitchen" piece for McSweeney's? In the light of all this fetichism, it deserves to be read afresh. For a sobering dessert, may I propose a look at Julia Child's kitchen, now in the Smithsonian?
posted by MiguelCardoso (34 comments total)

 
make me a sandwich, bitch.
posted by quonsar at 11:06 AM on October 15, 2002


I understand we're spending more on kitchens than ever before, and using them less. To me, though, the more interesting trend is the one TIME noted: toward free-form interior spaces that can serve a variety of family members in different activities, and how this is driving the McMansion look.
posted by dhartung at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2002


Bigger, stronger, faster. Bigger, stronger, faster. Must use up all the natural resources. Must spend money. Must...keep...up...with...those...Jones'.
posted by foxyfoxinsox at 11:26 AM on October 15, 2002


Miguel, I'm not sure what your take is on this whole thing. I just remodeled my kitchen (well actually the entire house but thats another, more expensive story). We tried hard to get quality equipment without going overboard and create a comfortable space for the room in which, truth be told, we spend most of our awake hours in the house. Americans (and Brit's too) have made remodeling a national pastime - for whatever socioeconomic reasons people are staying home more and are just looking to create comfortable spaces. Granted its obviously easy to go overboard - the choices available to a home remodeler are overwhelming - but it's also nice to know that it has become easier for an amateur to do a relatively good job remaking a very important living space.
posted by dhacker at 11:33 AM on October 15, 2002


It's just a refrigerator! It has no feelings!
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:37 AM on October 15, 2002


I keep watching home improvement shows on TV and thinking that in 5-10 years from now, stainless steel appliances will about as hip as avocado painted appliances are today.

I also wonder what all those six burner commercial stoves will ever get used for, and if people will get tired of their open layouts with theatrical cooking islands.
posted by mathowie at 11:38 AM on October 15, 2002


I have a six burner commercial stove that I use almost everday. And yes, I use most of the burners. I don't have a theatrical layout - pretty standard - but I cook all the time. I see the availability of this equipment on a commercial level to be a blessing - how many of you have a 2.8GHz computer that you use to browse MetaFilter?
posted by dhacker at 11:44 AM on October 15, 2002


The Mark Shatzker piece is classic. 35 years in that place. 35 years.
posted by stbalbach at 11:48 AM on October 15, 2002


Moe: Oh, boy! The deep fryer's here. Heh heh, I got it used from the navy. You can flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds.

Homer: Forty seconds? But I want it now!
posted by The Michael The at 11:52 AM on October 15, 2002


dhacker, I don't mean you and your kitchen in particular. It's sorta like the SUV argument: yes, some people have their huge rugged vehicles for a reason and need them, but the vast majority do not. Professional chef-style kitchens have become a status symbol, and whether or not people know how to cook anything more than boiled water, everyone seems to want the equipment and setup. It's a pointless, wasteful trend in many respects.
posted by mathowie at 11:54 AM on October 15, 2002


I have to admit to jonesing for a Fisher and Paykel Dish Drawer, or a Smeg refrigerator.
posted by machaus at 11:58 AM on October 15, 2002


Bah. I love to cook and I'd have a super-duper industrial range if I could but I don't have gas off the street. I'm cursed with an electric stove. I do enjoy my Maytag Gemini though.
posted by bondcliff at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2002


Yea I hear you mathowie, it's also an easy target - to attack. The ergonomics and usability (oh my god, is this a website I'm reviewing!) on my Thermador are outstanding. I could not, however, justify a SubZero - since it seems to me that its just a big thing that keeps things cold and all the usability is in how the door opens. I have seen some "dream kitchens" that occupy their proud space in the 6000 sq. foot house sadly - standing clean and unused by the owners. Mine is cozy and always in need of a cleaning!
posted by dhacker at 12:02 PM on October 15, 2002


Really though, I don't know who people can boil water without a Le Grand Palais 180 Series Range, it's only 26,000 dollars.
posted by dhacker at 12:09 PM on October 15, 2002


I don't know that I understand the disdain for people buying ultra-high end, hipster kitchen appliances. As an armchair chef, I too feel a tickle in my pants when I see Smeg ranges in a magazine. But if somebody goes out and buys a fresh set of Global knives with no intention of lifting them other than to open their Mars bar, I don't mind. In fact, If it takes a decked out kitchen to make some guys Kraft Dinner feel like Molto Mario's leftovers, then all the better for him. The gear has served its purpose.
posted by UncleDave at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2002


The funny thing about a lot of those so-called "industrial" kitchens is that if you were on fire to get out plates for 30, you'd find the ergo all wrong. Me, I like the Naked Chef's motif, that and a nice pair of knives.

May as well tack benjamins to the walls and write on each of them "LOOK, I HAVE PRETENTIOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY!"
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:24 PM on October 15, 2002


The Time story is ridiculous, in a kitchen-appliance-fetish-porn way, and Matt's comparison with huge SUV's is very apt -- they're flashy and most people don't _need_ them, but they can _afford_ them, so what the hell
Huge refigerators are useful if you have a wife and a few kids, but you often see single guys with the most amazingly useless pro equipment in the kitchen (like someone who buys a Titanium G4 even if he does not need a portable computer -- and also needs help everytime he has to attach a file to his e-mails)
But, consider Ferraris -- often, their owners don't drive that well -- it's about having the money to buy cool stuff
Personally, I live alone but I wish my kitchen was bigger -- it's very nice but pretty small and difficult to operate when you are actually cooking for guests
posted by matteo at 12:31 PM on October 15, 2002


Multimedia refrigerator, anyone?

But kitchens are so passe. In the sort of hard-hitting journalism we've come to expect here in Boston, the Boston Globe devoted pretty much its entire Sunday magazine this week to The brash new bath:

"From hip restaurants to staid suburban houses, today's bathrooms are designed to shock, seduce, and soothe."

Among the exciting articles:

* Contemporary towel has depth and character, and a vocabulary all its own
* Urinals: A must-have thing of beauty or an odoriferous eyesore?

Towel warmers! I want a towel warmer!
posted by agaffin at 12:32 PM on October 15, 2002


how couldn't one be reminded of Mark Shatzker's now classic "My Dream Kitchen" piece for McSweeney's?

A classic piece at McSweeney's? Ugh.

Anything you can buy, you can buy a sleeker, hipper, more expensive version, whether you're talking about a sink or an SUV. People like spending their money to make their houses look nice, even if that means their kitchen is an accessory for the maid to look at when the family's in the Hampton's.

What's new?
posted by Kotch at 12:35 PM on October 15, 2002


I keep watching home improvement shows on TV and thinking that in 5-10 years from now, stainless steel appliances will about as hip as avocado painted appliances are today.

But aren't the avacodo appliances hip again? Or was that last week?
posted by jalexei at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2002


If we're bonding about jonesing, I might as well confess that, although I favour the spare, beat-up Mediterranean kitchen where everything delicious can be cooked, I have literally dreamt and swooned about owning a Miele laboratory washing machine - for those analytically clean, antiseptic, utterly transparent Martini glasses alone.

when the family's in the Hampton's
In the Hampton's what, Kotch? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2002


My expensive accessories are vitally necessary. Your expensive accessories are, well, a bit much, but I understand your desire to show off. His expensive accessories are a standing indictment of the fecklessness and corruption of modern so-called civilization!
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on October 15, 2002


Unlike an SUV, you're not going to be a menace to others with your new stove (unless you really suck at cooking or you don't install a proper firewall behind it), so I don't really understand the comparison. Yes it's used as a status symbol, but who cares?
posted by gyc at 1:29 PM on October 15, 2002


agaffin beat me to the Boston Globe link!

(SELF LINK ALERT!!)

We've been redoing our kitchen for the past couple of months and discovered quite quickly that while we could get a very nice kitchen, we were nowhere NEAR these dream kitchens, even though we are spending a frightening amount of money. I don't know how mere mortals ever get close to those.
posted by briank at 1:31 PM on October 15, 2002


Really though, I don't know who people can boil water without a Le Grand Palais 180 Series Range, it's only 26,000 dollars.

At least you get a whole stove for that. At Vertu, you'd only get a cell phone.
posted by jeb at 2:14 PM on October 15, 2002


Mig in a home if your adding to or remodeling your bathroom or kitchen it does add to the value of the home, more than a pool. Also if you like entertaining, having a well planned kitchen can add to the socializing by allowing me to entertain with the guests while cooking. Plus with a family it's great to still be apart of the family while in the kitchen too.

You must think we in the USA don't need a kitchen, heck we have so many fast food joints, then on top of it all the restaurants to pick from, why do we need to cook. But if I was in Europe I guess going out would be better than eating in my condo. Yet I would rather have guests over to eat than going out, even if it does mean extra work on my part.

Honestly, I like home cooked meals. I'm also not a big fan of fast food and once I get this I will be able to skip fast food altogether especially work nights. Then I can save eating out for special occasions or when on holiday.

PS, microwaves are only great for popcorn in MHOP.

PSS, come to Dallas seems to me like a lot of the well to do, have these dream kitchens, yet I notice they do eat out a lot. And the prices for these kitchens are cheaper here in Dallas as we have the largest corridor in the USA for most of the manufacturing warehouse for home decorating. So you can get the goods at a big discount. Must be nice to be wealthy and save a buck or two.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:48 PM on October 15, 2002


And believe me when I tell you that when my kitchen is done, I'll be doing some serious cooking. You don't need a SubZero fridge and a Viking stove to be a good cook, but the right tools and appliances have made all the difference between me being a decent cook and a good one.
posted by briank at 6:10 PM on October 15, 2002


once I get this I will be able to skip fast food altogether especially work nights

Holy mother fucking god, its a oven... that refrigerates?!? And you can program it like a VCR? I'm completely floored. We live in the future folks.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:20 PM on October 15, 2002


Ahh, I love the industrial kitchen...and SubZeros are to DIE for.

You people can be SO narrow.
posted by rushmc at 6:38 PM on October 15, 2002


Great topic, but above all, thanks for the McSweeney's link, hilarious stuff. Got me thinking, there's just so much crap on McS, it's not worth the effort to read through fifty lame pieces to get to the occasional brilliant one. If only there was some kind of McSweeneyFilter...
posted by jonson at 9:28 PM on October 15, 2002


I keep watching home improvement shows on TV and thinking that in 5-10 years from now, stainless steel appliances will about as hip as avocado painted appliances are today.

In fact, the cutting edge now seems to be appliances with customised panels which match the overall decor (the wood of the cabinets or the color of the tile in the counters or floor) and can be changed to update the look of the kitchen whenever desired. I've also seen several refrigerators with slate inserts as the door panels, creating a chalkboard for the kids to play with as well as a place to write shopping lists on the fly or phone messages, etc.
posted by Dreama at 10:23 PM on October 15, 2002


Ditto on the McSweeney's piece - loved it!

My fate is to always have a mingy kitchen, it appears. Every time I find a place that has all the characteristics I want, the kitchen is always too small, too dark, too formica-ridden.... My dream kitchen, though, has mullioned windows, terra-cotta glazed tiled floors, warm wood cabinetry, a real fireplace, hand-painted porcelain tiles and a French door leading to a small kitchen balcony or patio filled with pots of fresh herbs. Pretty much the opposite of chic, I guess. Oh well. At least I have a window at the moment.
posted by taz at 10:43 PM on October 15, 2002


Corrections is another of Mark Shatzker's most memorable pieces.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:35 AM on October 16, 2002


I've also seen several refrigerators with slate inserts as the door panels, creating a chalkboard for the kids to play with as well as a place to write shopping lists on the fly or phone messages, etc.

Better yet, do that panel with chalkboard paint on steel and you not only have a writing surface but a magnet surface. (Some folks discover too late that their stainless steel fridge front does no hold magnets.)

I've designed a few kitchens (I'm an architect) and used a few others. I have no idea what the cutting edge might be. It was years ago when people started looking into restaurant supply shops to outfit home kitchens (new from Subzero: the glass front refrigerator).

I'm designing two kitchens right now. One in France and one in the US. Both will have appliances which are among the best tools available.

Our apartment, renovated by the previous owner, has a La Cornue stove. I must say, the thing is a beast! Heat diffusers required.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:56 AM on October 16, 2002


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