Dinner at home is back. I don’t know about you but I am certainly cooking at home more these days AND truth be told I’m really enjoying it! Ok, so perhaps it’s partly due to the fact that I have two littlies under the age of two and opting to “stay in” is a far more enjoyable (not to mention cheaper) experience compared to the alternative… an unpredictable toddler trantrum in front of an entire restaurant where I am generally paying for a meal that is costing me an arm and a leg – not what I call enjoyable!
I would nearly go as far as saying that ‘eating in’ is the new ‘eating out’. Within my own circle of friends we have monthly dinner parties which we rotate – different home, different theme – and I know we are not the only ones. The truth is these days a lot of us are opting to stay at home and entertain family and friends – although the ‘reborn dinner party’ is a far different affair to my mother’s era where it consisted of a classic white tablecloth laid out with polished silver and crystal glasses. These days none of us have the energy to polish the silver and we generally serve dinner in a more relaxed ‘dressed down’ atmosphere, around a table in the kitchen or extended table from the kitchen. People like to go to the farmers’ market on Saturday, buy some great food and then have their pals round the kitchen table that evening – sharing a good bottle of red (bought at a third of restaurant prices).
And this changing trend is having a dramatic effect on what we demand of our kitchens – both in how they look and how they function. We are seeing the request for seating go beyond that of the island bench/breakfast bar. Tables and furniture are now being incorporated and often built-in to the kitchen itself.
Tables: tables, seating and furniture incorporated / built into kitchen cabinetry (Photos from Euroccucina, Milan 2010 and Darren James Interiors)
In equal demand is professional equipment, suitable for a real chef, to dignify the kitchen environment as a focal point for creativity and social gathering. Durability of materials plays a major role and for cooking surfaces and stainless steel is often the material of choice. It’s heat resistant and hygienic qualities as well as the fact that it’s easy to maintain and can handle bumps and scratches means it’s highly sought after. Many love this material for its aesthetic and it’s commercial look, although not everyone wants the high tech kitchen. One way of toning this down is to mix stainless steel with other materials such as timber and wood – it allows for that organic touch and is the perfect combination.
Stainless Steel: the material of choice for cooking and preparation surfaces
Gourmet chefs are not the only ones that carry out more than two operations at the same time and if you’ve ever tried fixing a complicated meal when entertaining I am sure you will agree that having a sink with two or even three deep basins is much more functional as it permits less “walking” and transporting of pots and pans around the room, saving time and energy – which essentially allows you more time to spend with your guests.
Sinks: Large, deep and multiple sinks allow for more function in the professional kitchen
But it’s not all about what you can see – space permitting, serious entertainers are opting for the ultimate concealment with the inclusion of a butler’s kitchen / scullery – in short a kitchen behind the ‘show kitchen’ that hides the mess.
So without a doubt the masterchef phenominem is having a huge impact on our desire to cook and entertain at home. I know I am enjoying the mere fact that my husband is inspired to cook more – giving me a break from the kitchen. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us. Happy cooking!!!!