Four Cook's Kitchens

What makes a good kitchen? Is it efficiency? The right tools? Size? A beautiful space? A great view? There are probably as many versions of “good kitchen” as there are good Island cooks. Here are four of them and the places where they work their magic.

Beth Kostman, Island architect and husband Jim Cranston of Cranston Timber Framing wanted to create an open kitchen that was 
integrated with the rest of the living space. Guests can, and do, gather around the two-level kitchen island. The kitchen offers a wonderful expanse of open and uncluttered working counter space around both the stove and white fireclay Rohl sink. The section of 
the kitchen to the right offers accessible open shelving, a wall pantry, and nearby refrigerator, along with even more counter space – perfect for locating the blender, toaster, and other kitchen essentials.

As a private chef for the past decade, I’ve cooked in all kinds of kitchens, from plain to fancy. The small galley kitchen can 
often work better than the largest kitchen where too much time is spent moving around. My least favorite kitchens have been those where little thought has been given to the basic kitchen tools that can make cooking efficient and enjoyable. One of the best kitchens I ever cooked in was at the home of the owners of a Boston sports team. They flew in their chef from Florida to fully equip the kitchen. “There are tools in here, I don’t even know what they’re for,” the owner told me. I found an entire line of All-Clad pots and every utensil I would need to make almost anything.
Which brings us to one of the 
essential culinary questions: What makes a good kitchen? Is it efficiency? The right tools? Size? A beautiful space? The answer lies in how you want to cook, and what you hope to accomplish.
To Paul Weiss and partner 
Bryan Freehling, who own the 
Shiverick Inn in Edgartown, an ideal kitchen means two of everything: 
two stoves, two ovens, two sinks, two refrigerators. Both cooks can work at the same time in their seasonal Upper Makonikey home, whether it’s preparing a weeknight meal or a dinner 
party for twelve. In baking, cleanup, 
storage – they get double the action.
Their kitchen also accommodates individual styles. “I’m a sloppier cook,” says Weiss. “Bryan is very neat. 
My refrigerator is low-carb. He can eat everything.”
Molly Finkelstein’s kitchen 
reflects her interests in both cooking and antiques. The co-owner of Nochi, a country antique and fine linen 
store in downtown Vineyard Haven, Finkelstein surrounds herself with unique objects. The coziness of antiques mellows the modern stainless appliances. “I like things with a little more personality,” she says. The kitchen’s focal point is an old-style Canadian table in the center of the room alongside a working wall fireplace. “I’m a huge fan of kitchen tables and families eating together,” she says. 
    Vineyard architect Beth Kostman 
designed quite a few kitchens before building her own. She created something that’s hard to find in many kitchens – the right mix of attractiveness and functionality. The sleek, stainless backsplash is cut by the 
warm wainscoting. The stove sits across from a large sink and both 
are surrounded by lots of uncluttered counter space. This is made possible by a working section of the kitchen, with open shelves, the often-used kitchen appliances, an open pantry, and refrigerator.
My own kitchen leans heavily toward the practical, efficiency-minded end. It may lack something in aesthetics, but I love to cook there. As in Julia Child’s original kitchen, my pots hang on the wall. Most of my shelves are open and I can reach for everything without opening a drawer, pulling something out, then closing the drawer – all of which takes additional time from actual cooking. I can stand in one spot and reach for any sized metal bowl, one of eight varieties of vinegar, or use the blender or food processor. It’s one step to the stove, three to the sink.
The moral to this kitchen story: don’t leave your kitchen design to someone else. Imagine your ideal kitchen – a space you would love to cook in. The best kitchens are often the ones designed by the people 
using the kitchen themselves.