We are enjoying our BlueStar range on a daily basis and always receive compliments on its appearance."
Steve Irey - Redding, CA
Owner of a BlueStar 48” Freestanding Gas Range with a Griddle (RNB486GSS)
Published: February 19, 2010
When decorator Vincent Smith-Durham designed the interiors for a recent addition to the Palm Beach home of Pennsylvania snowbirds Lyn and George Ross, he made sure that its kitchen would please the couple's personal chef, Matthew Byrne.
“I think that makes for good cooking, don’t you?” asks the decorator with a smile.
Yet as sleek as it is, the new kitchen is strictly a behind-the-scenes affair. That's because the kitchen seen by most visitors to the home — and the one used by the family — is found elsewhere in the house.
Byrne's new domain is strictly for him, an efficient, industrial-strength version where serious cooking gets done. "The kitchen needed to be utilitarian, workable and aesthetically pleasing to be in," explains Smith-Durham of Embreeville, Pa.
Byrne, 37, has been the Rosses' chef for 10 years, but his relationship with the couple dates back almost 20, when he began helping cater their big parties in Bryn Mawr. Such gatherings are still a staple in both of their residences.
"We have parties for 50 to 100 people, and we needed an efficient, professional kitchen in Florida," Byrne explains.
Today, under the Rosses employ, Byrne and his family — wife Aliza and their two sons, Leo, 5, and Hudson 3 —travel back and forth from Bryn Mawr each season.
The new Palm Beach kitchen was inspired by the big, industrial-style kitchen he uses in the Rosses' Pennsylvania home, Byrne says, adding that there are two kitchens there, too.
"There, we can easily do larger parties. But here in Florida, although we have a very nice family kitchen that we use for breakfast and for buffets, it's not user-friendly for larger parties and entertaining," Byrne explains.
The Palm Beach house had two kitchens even before renovations began, but the floor plan was tight in the one used by Byrne, which shared space with the laundry room. When the Rosses added storage and a laundry area over the garage, they seized the opportunity to redesign the professional kitchen.
"And that's when I got involved," Byrne explains.
The Rosses, along with Byrne and Smith-Durham, worked on the design with Pennsylvania architect Peter Archer of Archer and Buchanan Architecture.
To take advantage of the additional space, the Subzero refrigerator was moved, a large island was installed and a professional hood with a state-of-the-art ventilation system was added. "When you are cooking and searing meat and you create smoke, you don't want the odors going into the house. You need to vent the smells and smoke out of the kitchen," Byrne explains.
The old stove was replaced with a stainless-steel-clad Blue Star six-burner gas stove with a 24-inch griddle and two full-size ovens equipped with convection technology.
Next to the stove are a 24-inch grill, a rotisserie and a salamander.
"That's basically a toaster on steroids," Byrne says. "It's great to have, especially for parties."
The new, marble-topped island houses an under-counter, two-door commercial Delfield refrigerator, a dual-zone Uline wine cooler and drawers and cabinets for pots, pans, bowls and utensils.
"Even though this still feels like a small kitchen, I gained so much space. Everything is at my fingertips, and no one is on top of me," Byrne says. The latter is especially important during parties with servers frequently coming and going.
"They stay on the other side of the island," he notes.
Lining one wall, where windows overlook gardens, are custom-designed cabinets by Eison Construction and a double stainless-steel sink with a restaurant-style designer faucet. There's also a CMA dishwasher that features a 90-second cycle and a 195-degree rinse cycle.
Cabinets are white with a colorful door placed here and there.
"It's all very common-sense," explains Smith-Durham. "White is clean, utilitarian and easily wipe-able. I knew I wanted fragments of dramatic color, and the Formica company sent me the most beautiful samples — liquorish black, candy-apple red and spinach green."
The island's marble top also adds a luscious visual, he notes.
"With food sitting on it, it looks like a beautiful Renaissance still life," Byrne says.
The black floors by Activa Rubber Flooring are "very good on the legs and completely stain resistant, Byrne says. "To clean them, I vacuum and then mop them. I think the floors are beautiful."
Byrne calls himself an eclectic American Continental-style chef. "I try to cook as healthy as possible. I buy the best I can get and do as little to it as possible. "
For his style of cooking, he loves his new island, where he can set up 30 plates at a time.
"Production is so much quicker, now," Byrne says.
His professional kitchen doesn't contain a freezer:"We put the ice cream in the freezer in the other kitchen," he explains. And much of the china and crystal is stored in the other kitchen, where it's also washed.
"We don't do dishes in my kitchen" he says. "Just the pots and pans and things I use."
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