Planning Your Kitchen

As a professional chef, I am often asked what people should think about when planning the layout and storage within their kitchen.  Obviously, while the kitchen is the hub of any home, it’s for cooking, so thinking through the process and needs you have when preparing meals will enable you to design a layout that works for you.
A good starting point is to aim for work surfaces that as clear as possible to give you plenty of space and room to make your life easier.  There is nothing worse than having to clear and clean working space before you even get started! Efficient storage is also essential to keep things close to where you actually use them.  So, for instance, saucepans and spoons should be close to the cooker and your cutlery near the dishwasher, for easy unloading. Keeping knives sharp is, of course, important, so I keep mine in knife blocks.  The most loved ones are close to the chopping boards and the ones I use less frequently are in another block inside a cupboard, to save on surface space.
Keeping the clutter down is really important as you need wide work space that is safe, clean and usable.  So things I use less often such as food processors and blenders go in a cupboard and the really important things are allowed to stay out.  I love my red Kitchenaid so much I could not put that in the cupboard, plus the kettle, coffee maker and the toaster have to be handy.  Then, my most important kitchen essential is my radio, which is always on.
Sometimes fashion intervenes in kitchen design with trends for things like hanging pots and pans from the ceiling.  While, it might appear to be convenient and looks fashionable, it is not actually very hygienic as they can quickly gather grease and dirt if you are not using them daily.  Having a clean kitchen is an important part of being a cook and putting pans away in a cupboard is much better.
Overall, a cook’s kitchen layout is a personal thing as each of us has much loved items or essential kit that cannot be ignored.  There are essential ground rules such as maintaining kitchen hygiene, putting things away safely and keeping good spaces for doing the actual cooking, but in the end I find that what works for you is what is best – and let’s face it, we are all head chef in our own domain.