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An Open Kitchen - Almost
gourmet articlesarchivean open kitchen - almost

With the restaurant scene progressing to the point of near over saturation. As a chef you need not only to provide guests with great food, service and a creative wine list but peripheral details giving them fond memories and good reason to talk about your restaurant. Their experience needs to go above and beyond the food and beverage. An open kitchen fits the bill very nicely allowing them the opportunity to see the chef hustle and to watch the cooks work at what is considered lightning speed.

How ever if you are not ready to go the whole hog and leave you and your kitchen totally exposed to the watchful eye of your guests, opt for a partially open kitchen. Screening off part of the kitchen or the use of frosted glass are options to consider. This still gives your patrons a glimpse of behind the scenes but allows you the opportunity to decrease your equipment costs and gives shelter from the guest’s permanent glare.

Seattle based chef and restaurateur Kerry Sear has never been a big fan of open kitchens. But wishing to incorporate a water feature he had seen in France fifteen or so years ago he devised a "rain wall" to use in his plan for Cascadia, the restaurant which he opened two years ago. Kerry worked with Seattle-based Girvin Strategic Branding & Design to create a floor to ceiling wall of glass to separate the kitchen from the restaurant. Water flows down the glass offering guests an intriguing visual of the kitchen action. With a desire to encompass all things Northwest, Kerry’s suggestion of rain fits well with the concept of life in the northwest, as do the wood and other natural features he has used in his design. Within the wall of glass and water, portholes have been inserted allowing guests an undistorted view of the kitchen team busily working on their customized Garland stoves.

Chef Sear worked with Garland to provide a sixty-two-piece island range. He found the standard finish of the equipment quite satisfactory with no real need for brass or copper extras. True under-counter refrigeration was installed. In place of stainless steal, the kitchen’s tables were topped with black granite. Granite is not only aesthetically pleasing but also solves the problem of light being reflected on to the rain wall from within the kitchen. With a desire to keep the kitchen clean and clutter free for its on lookers, Sear using the services of CMA Restaurant Designs had the granite customized further with holes cut for garbage cans to sit underneath; discreet undercounted shelving was additionally installed.

Other visual touches include the kitchen’s yellow tiled walls as opposed to a plastic wall covering. The greater expense for the walls was made possible as a less expensive one was used on the floor and wall base. Silcal a floor covering that is simply painted on to the floor was used. Non-slip grit is incorporated in the paint and therefore this flooring option proves to be a very slip resistant one.

In addition to the restaurant’s portholes, one larger window is available for diners to stop and view the action, or from the kitchen’s perspective - to be "on TV", the code word used to inform co-workers that there is an on-looker. As a final supplementary touch for the gastronomic action lover, the pastry kitchen was designed free of any form of glass separation. With interaction in mind Cascadia’s pastry team and sweet-toothed customers can chat and even ask for at tip or two.

"The beauty of the rain wall," Kerry explains "is that you gain the effect of an open kitchen without guests having to battle against the noise, smell and smoke that it generates. It is certainly an aspect of Cascadia that drives business. People come to the restaurant because they have heard about the wall and it is a point of discussion when they leave".
by Jeremy Emmerson

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