Hix Reports | September

Clerkenwell Post columnist Mark Hix puts together a kitchen that really works.

Wherever I’ve lived I’ve always designed my own kitchens, and the same thing applies in the restaurants. I love going to salvage yards and trawling through eBay for one-off finds, and of course art plays a big part in how the place looks too.

I’m always surprised when people who have chef friends don’t ask us to have a look at their kitchens. Instead they go to fancy kitchen designers who design something that is more often than not “style over substance”. In my own home kitchen, I converted to induction cooktops a few years back and found it to be excellent in terms of controlling temperatures fast and efficiently. Range cookers have always been seen as a ‘must have’ and I’ve certainly had a few in the past, but the problem is that when something boils over it’s a case of “down your tools and take the whole thing apart to clean it”. The beauty of induction is its streamline approach both practically and hygienically.

I’d also heartily encourage: a drawer-style dishwasher; if you enjoy wine, invest in a small wine fridge; instead of a dining room table, have seats around the cooker where guests sit so you can chat and cook and serve at the same time. The thought may scare the hell out of you if you aren’t a confident cook, but it does save a hell of a lot of space if you entertain regularly.

When it comes to gadgets I’ve always been a fan of the KitchenAid, especially the artisan food mixers (I have one from 25 years ago which is still going strong!), and knives-wise, you should invest in one decent sized knife and one small knife. Then look after them, sharpen them and never put them in the dishwasher. 

Saucepans are another thing worth investing in. A good kitchen doesn’t need a lot of kit to work, it just needs some good kit. Make sure you have a large heavy-bottomed pan for boiling pasta. A good heavy-medium pan for vegetables. A large cast iron skillet for browning meat, and a very good frying pan. If you like to cook, then it’s also worth investing in a large oven-proof dish for your winter slow cooks and braises. Something like a LeCreuset is very good and will last you a lifetime.