A Kitchen for Cooks

“When we cook, it’s big and all over the place,” says Dree Lo, standing in the middle of her sleek stainless steel and butcher block kitchen overlooking Little Traverse Bay. The culinary fun starts when Dree and her husband, Petoskey physician Gustav Lo, get to making spicy, multi-course Chinese feasts for their sons, Carson and Austin, and their friends.

The couple cooks with the help of serious equipment that includes a 30,000-BTU DCS wok cooktop and, for when filet mignon is on the menu instead of stir fry, an APW Wyott gas charbroiler. Prep and cleanup happen easily with three stainless sinks and three dishwashers, one with a tall drawer for stemware.

Dree worked with independent kitchen designer Nancy Blandford to devise a compromise between Dree’s desire for the beauty of maple cabinetry and Gus’s need for a room full of utilitarian shelving so he can quickly grab pots and utensils when the wok is fired up. The solution: a mix of open shelving and cabinets – all centered around a handsome island topped with thick maple block and an in-mounted prep sink and drip rail.

Nearby, an extra prep nook with a maple bar counter is a great place for Dree to pore over the cookbooks she keeps there, including China Moon, Cook’s Illustrated, The New Best Recipes and The Barefoot Contessa. For Dree, a cookie-baking fiend and chocoholic (her current favorite is bacon-chocolate candy bars made by Voges Haut-Chocolat) the fuss-free nature of stainless steel is superb. “I don’t care if it gets scratched, it’s easy to clean and very functional,” she says. Ditto for her speckled commercial-grade vinyl floor – no grout to clean or worry about.

Advice for dinner at Dree and Gus’s house? Settle into the dining room to avoid the cooking fray and enjoy the aromas until the remarkable flavors are served.

Patty LaNoue Stearns is a regular contributor to Northern Home & Cottage. [email protected]

Resources for: A Kitchen for Cooks

Note: This article was originally published in January 2008 and was updated for the web February 2008.