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Jun 04 2014

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Atlanta Food and Wine Festival – A Little Something for Everyone

AFWF

Being a member of the press definitely has its benefits. I was able to enjoy for the first time the Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this past weekend – it’s in its fourth year, and although it called for rain, we managed to escape it. My boyfriend accompanied me, and we both highly enjoyed ourselves. If you haven’t gone, definitely make it a priority next year.

Food samples

Restaurants and drink labels from Georgia, as well as several surrounding states, were on hand to give out plenty of Southern food and drink samples, including barbeque, fresh seafood, red and white wines, craft beers, bourbon milkshakes (my boyfriend’s favorite – he went back for thirds), sweets, cheeses – you name it, it was there. While we wanted to stay for the whole three-hour program, after 90 minutes, our tummies were just too full. We took a break at the 45-minute mark but then made our way back into the crowd – after all, there were still items to be savored!

Me getting wine sample

Big Green Egg – probably a favorite appliance a lot of designers and homeowners specify in their outdoor kitchens – was a sponsor, as well as Sub-Zero/Wolf, Kingdom Woodworks Cabinetry, Brumark Total Flooring Solutions, Calphalon Cookware and Le Creuset. After eating some sausage, BBQ, Indian cuisine, fried seafood, cheese, various salads and even half of a Patron popsicle, we left with our tummies full and a lot more knowledgeable about available local food and drink – as well as some of the appliances used to provide it.

Ribs

I plan to attend some of the available classes during next year’s programs so I can see how some of the exceptional talent prepares world-class dishes.

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May 06 2014

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Outdoor Residential Kitchens Crave Professional-grade, Specialized Equipment

Kalamazoo 01 (2000x1487)

In the wake of the housing recovery, professional-grade equipment is becoming more prevalent in outdoor kitchens. “What we’re seeing with outdoor kitchens parallels the trend we saw with professional indoor cooking equipment,” said Brian Eskew, marketing director for Twin Eagles.

Fueled by an increased interest in artisan cooking and entertaining at home, a growing number of outdoor kitchen products are now becoming more specialized with the capabilities of restaurant kitchens. As outdoor kitchens are forecast to be one of the most popular residential outdoor design elements in the coming years – according to a recent survey of residential landscape architects by the American Society of Landscape Architects – there are no signs of this trend cooling down.

Power Heating Up 

Performance is truly the name of the game. Commercial cooking equipment is designed to cook quickly, effectively and consistently at high temperatures. Homeowners want the same thing when they cook their favorite meals in their outdoor kitchens. This is driving product innovation, and more manufacturers are finding ways to repurpose commercial products for residential use.

For example, outdoor kitchen companies have brought the salamander grill – common in many restaurant kitchens – into the backyard. These can deliver intense heat overhead to help the food avoid exposure to flare-ups or charring. Similarly, restaurant-caliber burners have hit the residential market in a big way. They create external heat, giving homeowners the firepower to do everything from searing steaks at more than 700 degrees to handling lobster pots and turkey fryers.

‘Foodie’ Revolution 

Those who want to step up their outdoor cooking game know they need the right equipment to get them there. “People are becoming more adventuresome in their cooking,” said Russ Faulk, grill master and vice president of design, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “The better your equipment is, the more easily you can try out some advanced techniques, and the more you’ll enjoy the experience.”

While enthusiasm for artisan cooking has always been at a simmer in our culture, it’s now more widespread than ever, thanks in part to the rise of food bloggers and celebrity chefs. It’s not just avid cooks who seek professional-grade equipment – it’s everyone.

“Everybody just wants to get into the kitchen, whether they’re cooking from scratch and need specialty cookware or if they’re just reheating a dish and giving it their own twist with a special garnish,” said Deborah Pankey, food editor for the Daily Herald in the Chicago suburbs. “As people travel more, read food magazines and watch cooking shows, they want to bring that into their own space.”

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Today’s Special

Happening simultaneously with the heightened interest in cooking, outdoor kitchen equipment has become more specialized. As people begin to develop a more sophisticated palate through exposure to a variety of cuisines and regional dishes at restaurants, more focus is placed on recreating those recipes at home. To cook these dishes, equipment that extends beyond grilling is often necessary.

“Specialized outdoor cooking equipment is becoming more popular,” said Faulk. “For example, we’re seeing a rise in popularity of the pizza oven – a specialized piece of equipment designed for a certain type of cooking. It has capabilities that a grill does not.”

In fact, manufacturers have discovered ways to redesign commercial wood-fired brick ovens for residential use while maintaining the same performance found in a restaurant kitchen. Along with specialization, the cooking equipment has become more functional. Added capabilities allow for both endless recipe possibilities and versatility when it comes to cooking styles. By offering multiple functions for the user, grills with options such as dual-fuel capabilities, sear burners for high-temperature cooking and rotisseries have risen in popularity.

Elevating Lifestyle

Food is only half the story, and according to Eskew, “As much as it is about food, it’s even more about lifestyle – gathering and entertaining.”

Entertaining at home has taken on new life following the recession. Homeowners enjoy staying at home more often and value spending more time with family and friends. In turn, they seek the best available outdoor kitchen equipment that will help them cook restaurant-quality meals for their guests.

“The fact is that more people are eating at home now more than ever before. Therefore the ability to be able to cook for your family or for a group of people is important,” said Jim Ginocchi, president of Coyote Outdoor Living. “Homeowners are looking for quality – both in the time spent with loved ones and from the equipment they are cooking their food on.”

As the outdoor kitchen is another center for entertaining at home, consistency is one of the most important elements of the cooking equipment, according to Dawn Whyte, principal designer and owner of Designs by Dawn. “While the indoor kitchen is the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is the pulse of the neighborhood – it brings people together,” she said. “And when people get together, the host wants to feel confident that their dishes will be delicious every time – just like restaurant chefs.”

Beyond Cooking

While much emphasis in professional-grade performance has been placed on cooking, manufacturers also have been bolstering other parts of the outdoor kitchen. Refrigeration and cabinetry are two areas that have become more important as homeowners want their outdoor kitchens to be completely self-sufficient – and in some cases, the primary kitchen.

Storage has become more important as homeowners are using their outdoor kitchens more often.

“Not only do we have the BTUs, different styles of grilling and cooking, built-in halogens for nighttime grilling, side burners, storage, high searing options, rotisseries and all kinds of refrigeration – cabinetry also has improved. We have choices beyond stainless,” said Elaine Markoutsas, nationally syndicated design writer for Universal Uclick. She points out that Brown Jordan, a luxury furniture manufacturer, has a line of outdoor cabinetry with classic styling in a range of colors and models.

To improve functionality, some outdoor cabinetry now has the ability to protect the contents inside. For example, magnetic gaskets that create a seal to shield dry goods from the outside elements and weather-tight designs with rain gutters around door openings are becoming more commonplace. These allow homeowners to store items such as linens, pots and pans, dishes and spices outside without worrying about them getting wet.

Looking Ahead

To predict what lies ahead for outdoor kitchens, experts suggest looking inside.

“Consumers will probably see more translation from what is popular for indoor cooking,” said Ginocchi. “Trends for the outdoor usually follow what is popular for everyday use inside.”

Experts also agree that specialized equipment will continue to flourish as manufactures push the limits of innovation. We’ll likely see more specialized professional-grade products – such as fryers, dual-fuel appliances, smokers and electric grills – become popular outdoor kitchen staples over the next several years.

- By Bradley Carlson, Communications Manager, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

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Apr 25 2014

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BlogTour’s Report on Salone in Milan

Modenus’ BlogTour, part of a brand-sponsored series of tours within the U.S. and internationally that brings a select group of design and lifestyle bloggers to trade shows and design events, also visited Milan for Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and the following is what a select members of the group had to say. For a more in-depth look at these and other trends from EuroCucina and the International Bathroom Exhibition, check out K+BB’s May/June issue coming out soon!

Color Everywhere
Color and mixed metals were abundant at this year’s Salone del Mobile! Interesting splashes of vibrant hues rocked light fixtures and cabinetry in kitchen and bath alike, including whimsical touches like the inside of this vibrant green sink paired with a patina brass faucet. The lesson here is for us all to take a colorful cue from our friends across the pond and embrace color where we’ve traditionally gone safe and neutral.

- From design bloggers Krista Nye Schwartz & Tami Ramsay from CLOTH & KIND, a boutique interior design firm with locations in Michigan and Georgia

Sink by Kreoo, Photo by Chasen West 

Sink by Kreoo, Photo by Chasen West

Bathroom Spas

Bathrooms are becoming more like “spa living rooms” and personal wellness retreats in which to spend more “me” time relaxing, luxuriating, pampering oneself both physically and mentally.  Designers and brands are integrating more nature in these sanctuaries: natural materials like wood and plants, lounge furniture that could live outdoors, offset by mood lighting and music.

- From lifestyle blogger:  Robin Horton, Founder/Creative Director urbangardensweb.com

Gessi Spa Bath, Photo by Chasen West

Gessi Spa Bath, Photo by Chasen West

Ergonomic and Sophisticated Storage Solutions

Clever Storage’s LeMans’ swing-out corner storage unit was one of my favorite finds at EuroCucina. Its innovative and elegant design makes organizing and working in the kitchen a joy. No more spinning the in-cabinet lazy Susan with items flying off into the cabinet’s unreachable dark recesses, the ergonomic LeMans lets you quickly and easily see what you need – no spinning, and even better, the organized shelves make retrieving items a breeze. Definitely a kitchen product that is bringing back the joy of cooking.

- From design blogger Carmen Natschke, Editor, The Decorating Diva

Photo Credit: Chasen West

Photo Credit: Chasen West

Tech in the Kitchen

Cutting-edge appliances with a sense of humor make cooking fun, stylish and add personality to the kitchen. We loved Smeg decorative gas burner grids and their collection of vintage inspired ovens and cooktops.

- From Veronika Miller, Modenus CEO

Gas Cooktop by Smeg, Photo by Chasen West

Gas Cooktop by Smeg, Photo by Chasen West

Kitchen Islands

These have gotten friendlier. Islands now have a table component attached at one end to allow people to dine around a surface and promise easy conversation, rather than lined up at a bar.

- From design blogger Lisa Smith, Interior Designer, DecorGirl.net

Steninger Booth

Steninger Booth

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Mar 26 2014

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Engaging the Senses through the Five Elements of Feng Shui

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Good feng shui engages all five senses. And while it is great to engage the senses, it is also important to not overwhelm them; your home should feel like your very own safe and peaceful sanctuary. Here are a few tips for your kitchen and bathroom to create the ideal feng shui environment within your home. Kitchen The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home. Whether it is the functionality it provides or its nurturing center, it is usually the room in which everyone – whether family members on an everyday basis or guests during social gatherings – congregates.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

The kitchen also happens to be the room with a natural balance of the five elements of feng shui, which include wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The stove is the home’s strongest fire element and should be the one appliance on which to splurge. Built-in water elements are provided with the sinks, and the metal element has particularly become popular in kitchens through stainless steel appliances. Cabinetry is usually made of wood, which brings in the wood element, and the Earth element can show up in a natural flooring type or countertop surface. So you can see how the kitchen has a natural balance of the five elements, which adds to why it is oftentimes the most favorite room in the home. It is important to pay attention to your clients’ kitchen flooring as well. Surfaces such as tile, granite, concrete and slick surfaces are considered to be yang in nature. Yang energy is more active and modern, whereas yin is quieter and cozier. Hardwood flooring has and will always be one of the most common types of flooring because it gives the warmth of yin energy but also provides a modern feel.

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Bathroom The bathroom is a space over which we don’t have much control. It is aligned with drains and plumbing, so it can be difficult to move the shower, sink or toilet. To make the bathroom more peaceful, I would suggest tying a red ribbon around the plumbing pipes coming in and out of the sink. The ribbon should be preferably nine inches long and doesn’t necessarily need to be seen. This is a feng shui methodology technique that uses the color red to neutralize the negative draining energy.

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

As part of your bathroom project, you could also hang an octagon-shaped, beveled mirror on the outside of the bathroom door threshold to reflect the negative energy out of the space. Unfortunately there is no good “place” for a bathroom with regard to feng shui, however, some places are better than others. If you are renovating, it is best to not place the bathroom door opening near the kitchen. The energy of the kitchen is the complete opposite to that of a bathroom. The kitchen takes in and nourishes, while the bathroom excretes waste. I suggest placing the bathroom near family-oriented spaces, such as the living room, den or between bedrooms.

Our clients naturally feel better being surrounded by a balance of the five elements of feng shui, so including those in your kitchen and bath projects is a must. I believe in using feng shui methods to connect every aspect of the home – from the foundation to the roof, to the physical and mental state of the mind and body.

- Tisha Morris is a feng shui consultant and the author of Mind Body Home, a book that focuses on the energetic connection made between homeowners and their homes.

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