Walking London ….

One wouldn’t say that London is a “walking city” per say, but I think that the only way you can truly appreciate any new environment is by strapping on your runners and pounding the pavement.  Fortunately for the participants one of our kind sponsors, Poggenpohl, organized an entire day’s of festivities for us starting in their beautiful showroom…..

Poggenpohl  Collage 2 Poggenpohl Collage 1

I loved walking through the Poggenpohl showroom and was pleasantly surprised by the range that the company is now showing.  Mostly known for slick and modern kitchens, Poggenpohl is really stretching it’s design muscle by showing more traditional kitchens as seen above.  So you still get the quality and ease of a Poggenpohl kitchen with all the amenities but the look of a more traditional space.  It’s the perfect middle ground for many of my clients where the wife wants traditional but the husband hankers for the bells and whistles.  Now I can give it to them in one nice package!

From the showroom, Poggenpohl arranged a coach/walking tour by local architect, Timothy Bruce-Dick, who proved to be a well-spring of information all delivered in the dry delivery that only a Brit could give.  Having access to someone like Timothy who has a deep knowledge of London architecture and the internal politics that building in city details was amazing!  I spent the first half of the tour listening intently to the behind-the-scenes stories and forgot to take pictures (bad blogger…)!  However, I more than made up for my snafu in the second half of the tour as Timothy lead us past some of London’s more iconic buildings & structures including the Shard and the Gherkin as well as redevelopment areas like More London……

London 1 London 2 London 3 London 4 London 5 London 6 London 7 London 8 London 9 London 10 London 11 London 13 London 14 London 15 London 16 London 17

The London skyline exudes a kinetic energy with the new juxtaposed against the old.  I am smitten and wish that America had the same mentality of celebrating the new but cherishing the old.

Okay I am off to absorb some of my local history and culture with a run!  Have a GREAT weekend!

[pictures courtesy yours truly!]

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Pen To Paper: Oakland Kitchen….

I am working on a kitchen remodel in my backyard…..figuratively and literally since the clients are my neighbors.  They have asked me to help them rethink the small and outdated kitchen in their bungalow.  They love modern mixed with classic and want something that feels warm but not overly traditional.  We talked alot about the different finishes that they like and I interpreted their likes through my design filter to create a concept that is warm, modern and harks back to the home’s roots……

Oakland Kitchen 1

Oakland Kitchen 2

(sorry for the odd tinge of yellow on the shots – the drawings were done on trace paper and the lighting is off…)

Initially they wanted butcher block countertops but were afraid of the maintenance associated with them, so I reinterpreted the wood and placed it on the walls in long horizontal planks.  The wood will give them the warmth they crave as well as give the space a modern look.  A classic gas stove, apron front sink and hinged arm sconces are a reference to the age of the home and are the perfect foils to the modern update.  Throw in some Calcutta Gold Marble for the countertops and the back splash and we have the basis for a nice melding of classic, modern, warm and new.

Okay, I am off this weekend to participate in the Joy & Revelry Style Summit with some amazing designers and bloggers.  If you get the opportunity, take a look at the site and let me know what you think.  Otherwise, enjoy your weekend and take some time to relax….you deserve it!

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New Project: Oakland Kitchen Remodel….

I am just starting to work on a new project — a kitchen remodel in an adorably remodeled cottage in my neighborhood.  Actually, it’s my next door neighbors which makes the commute REALLY easy!

But that aside, the project looks to be an interesting in that it is challenging me to mix the client’s contemporary tastes with the traditional bones of the cottage.  The wife loves warm colors and sleek lines while the husband has a thing for slick cabinetry and reflective surfaces.  So last week I pitched them three concepts…..










Of the three, there was a clear winner among the Client but I am curious…which one would you pick for your own home?  Okay I am off to start a custom cabinetry install at the Douglass Project!  Have a GREAT weekend…..

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Recipes Revisited….

When I decided to stop pursuing being a chef, my relationship with food changed.  For a short time in early 2011, I hated cooking, being the kitchen or even going to the grocery store.  I think I may have been suffering from “culinary PTSD” but fortunately, this phase soon passed and I rediscovered the zen of being in the kitchen.

As we close out the year, I thought it would be nice to share the recipes that rekindled my love of being in the kitchen.  None is too difficult, matter of fact one requires no cooking, but they all represent things I love to make, eat and share with friends…..

Arugula Pesto

Vanilla Bean  Frozen Custard

Turkey Curry

Sweet Potato, Red Onion & Fontina Galette

Portuguese Fish Stew

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Coconut Cupcakes

Caldo Verde Soup

Braised Brussel Sprouts with Bacon & Parmesan 

Blueberry Muffins

Balinese Tea

Shepherd’s Pie

While I love all my recipes, you all made it pretty clear that you loved my recipe for chewy sugar cookies most.  Guess y’all have a sweet tooth…..

Chewy Sugar Cookies

So did you try any of these recipes?  If so, how did they turn out for you?  I would love to know!

ps:  Today is The Partner’s birthday……I will be making at least one of these recipes for him tonight!

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Sneak Peek……


Here is a sneak peek from the photo shoot at the house last weekend……


Exciting things are happening!  Bear with me as I try to keep up.  I don’t think I have been this tired yet energized at the same time.  Going to take the morning to organize and recharge before heading out East tomorrow.

I promise a more in-depth posting shortly!

Practice Makes Perfect……

My back aches.  My fingers  marred with knicks.  Burns cover my wrists and forearms.  And my shoulders have permanently connected with my ears.  I am nearing the end of my Skills One-Kitchen Basics class and it can officially be said that it has kicked my behind from here to China and back.  This is the first time in my life where I have felt defeated, elated and satisfied in the span of six hours.  Each day starts with lecture in a classroom for about 30 minutes, then we move into the kitchen where we are placed into groups to complete a set of assignments dealing with stocks.  From there, we complete our knife cut drills and proceed into our individual work that we present to the Chef for a grade.

I have been very upfront that by nature nervous when it comes to my kitchen skills.  From the very  beginning, I have doubted whether I could hang with the “big dogs” but I am happy to say that for the most part I have held my own.  While I may not be a “natural” in the kitchen, I have worked diligently on my knife cuts, slowly raising my scores and increasing my speed to where I am able to cut several cups of julienne, diced, brunoise and minced vegetables in under 40 minutes.  To understand where I came from, I started three weeks ago barely  able to cut a half cup of three vegetables in an hour.  I am far from proficient and am still in awe of certain members of my class who sail through these knife trays with time to spare.  Honestly, one person in particular who I will call “Milo” has amazing knife skills.  His cuts are precision and simply beautiful to look at – he is my inspiration and where I aspire to raise my level.  However, he is never 100% pleased with his scores and has on several occasions questioned the Chef on why he did not get a perfect “10”.  I respect that he believes in his work to the degree that he will argue its validity.  I, on the other hand, am normally just quite proud to finish all my cuts and to not have lost a finger.

If you read the blog often, you may have noticed that I have posted several inspirational quotes in the last few weeks.  I find that these quotes are almost mantras that I say in my head as I am doing my knife cuts and assignments.  The above quote from Aristotle is profound in its depth of meaning and simplicity.  I have seen the fruits of my hard work.  I  have challenged and pushed myself to do better.  When I have not pushed myself to the point where I thought I  could not go, I did not achieve superior results.  I now know that I am stronger than I was yesterday, yet I still have more to go.

I have tried hard not to compare myself with my classmates because their journey is different from my own.  The barometer I set to measure my success needs to be based on my own goals and mandates.  I won’t fool myself into thinking that my work is stellar, but I know my attitude towards my work exceeds my own expectations.  I have found a zen and contentment that I believe comes from putting it all out on the table every day and holding nothing back.  It’s exhausting and draining, but then I never assumed culinary school would be anything less.