(ARA) - Zack Bruell, chef and owner of four renowned Cleveland restaurants -- Parallax, Table 45, L'Albatros and Chinato -- shares his secrets regarding the best kitchen tools and design.
"While the kitchen is the social center of the home, it's also the place that requires the most functionality. It's where you prep food, cook, serve, eat and clean. That's a lot of activity for a relatively small space," says Bruell.
Keeping Things Cool
One of the secrets to cooking like a pro is using fresh ingredients. To keep your produce and meats crisp and moist even longer, Bruell recommends investing in a professional-grade refrigerator.
While these may take significantly more floor space than standard refrigerators, professional-grade options feature the ability to store more items in multiple large compartments, and set separate temperatures for the different areas. Some brands offer extreme innovation, with microchip-operated defrost cycles, touch-screen pads and slide-out storage.
If you're concerned that a professional-grade refrigerator will put a damper on your kitchen dÈcor, not to worry. Many models can be personalized to match the cabinetry in your kitchen and include your choice of handles.
Professional-grade cooktops, such as the 48-inch Dacor Epicure Dual-Fuel Range, offer two self-cleaning ovens (both at 21 inches deep), an infrared gas broiler and six gas burners with continuous grates over the top. In addition to sheer capacity, professional-grade ranges have burners that can handle everything from slow simmering to high-speed searing, and small pots to large woks.
Faucets For Foodies
"You need a good faucet with a restaurant-style, pulldown or pullout sprayer for cleaning fruits and vegetables, but it's also important for fast and efficient cleanup," says Bruell.
A second faucet to consider in a chef-inspired kitchen is a pot filler. These faucets, which are installed over a range, not only provide a distinctly industrial look, but they also are extremely efficient. Water is first turned on at the base and after the swing arm is positioned over the pot, water can be turned on and off using the handle at the spout -- so you don't need to reach over a hot pot or open flame to turn off the pot filler.
Plenty Of Prep Space
Every good chef knows that cooking requires plenty of counter space. Don't overcrowd counters with too many small appliances. Choose the most-used items, such as a coffeemaker, toaster, mixer and blender, to have out in the open and place other items and equipment in a nearby pantry or cabinet. Be sure to keep them easily accessible, within three or four steps of your primary work station.
Bruell also recommends creating a separate area with a prep sink and faucet between the refrigerator and stove. Here, you can rinse and cut food items in close proximity to where you will be using the ingredients next.