Without wishing to be clichéd, the kitchen really is the heart of my home. It’s where I spend virtually all of my time apart from sleeping. I cook for my family, but it’s also where I make my living, creating recipes and writing cookbooks.
My London flat is open-plan and not very big, but it has everything that you need. My knife rack is on the wall close at hand. I could probably cook with my eyes closed, I use it so much.
We’ve got high ceilings, so my Kilner jars of pickles sit on top of the cabinets. I love fermenting food, it’s a great way to add crunch and sourness to dishes. My perfect kitchen has a counter looking out over the room. I like being involved in the conversation when I cook, and cooking at a counter is very social. It has a professional-style stainless-steel top that’s easy to clean and can take hot pans without any worries about damaging it. It’s a psychological thing. Stainless steel makes me feel like I’m back in a restaurant kitchen – it gets me into work mode.
The tiles are stylish and simple but quirky, and the dark cupboards are contemporary but functional. You pick up too many smudges with a white kitchen. I know I’d get one dirty quite quickly. Practicality wins every time for me, though I still appreciate style and I use items on display, like my jars and chopping boards, to add character and decoration. I always have a sturdy mortar and pestle – a real smasher. I think lots of cooking is still best done in a tactile way. You get better results doing, say, a pesto by hand. It’s like gas hobs. Gas is really reactive and primal.
I’ve only recently allowed a microwave back into the kitchen. We got rid of the last one but we’ve just had a baby and I’ve relented because otherwise sterilising everything becomes a pain. He’s only ten weeks, but I can see myself writing children’s recipes in the future, and I’m planning to strap him to my chest and cook – whether he likes it or not. Here, I’ve tried to create a good-looking kitchen that‘s also functional. I’ve used the traditional chef’s triangle, having a hob, fridge and sink each on a point without anything impeding your route. It’s more efficient that way.
Two ovens are a luxury. It’s not just about capacity, it’s being able to cook different things at the optimum temperature at the same time. Grundig’s Divide and Cook oven does this in one unit; it’s like having a double oven in the space of a single oven. Thanks to the ceramic divider I can use the whole oven or split it into two. It also comes with a meat optimiser, so you can just set it to how you like your meat cooked. I hate wasting food, and I think we should applaud initiatives such as Grundig’s Respect Food campaign, which is a commitment to reducing food waste and developing appliances to keep food fresh for as long as possible.
At home, I give myself a Ready Steady Cook challenge to clear the odd bits left in my fridge. Typically, I’ll have a fridge forage on a Monday or Tuesday when I haven’t got round to doing the weekly shop, so I’ll make a dish from the last of the greens and gnarly bits. Broccoli and cauliflower stems often end up being thrown away, but they are actually delicious. If in doubt, add anchovies, Parmesan, bacon and/or an egg, and you’ve got the makings of a decent meal.
Ed Smith, is a cook and author of ‘On the Side: a Sourcebook of Inspiring Dishes’, and the food blog, www.rocketandsquash.com
The key accessories that bring Ed Smith’s ultimate kitchen to life