A Beautifully Unfashionable Kitchen

johnliu_gwJuly 17, 2010

In the beginning there was the Food Channel. The Food Channel begat the Cooking Channel, and it was good. In the fullness of time, the Cooking Channel begave us the Eating Channel and the Drinking Channels. Whence came the Indigestion and Obesity Channels, the latter sponsored by Sansabelt pants, that timeless brand for this brave new age when 2/3rds of American adults sit, overweight, before their televisions of a thousand Channels.

As I lay in front of my television, * not * wearing Sansabelt pants - indeed not wearing any pants at all, if you really wanted to know - what, you never lay around in your bathrobe? Well, excuuuuse me.

Never mind that. Anyway, I was watching the Cooking Channel, and noticed a kitchen that looked so good, while being so unfashionable by what I think of as today's standards, or at least what I read here, that i thought it merited a post.

The show is ''French Food At Home''. It is a Canadian program, hosted by Laura Calder. The dishes are a bit snoozy, I think, but the kitchen is a different story.

One wall of the kitchen is all windows, old-time ones with small single-pane lights. There are no upper cabinets. The counter under the windows is rusticated blue tile, that hasn't been in style for, I dunno, 30 years? The sink is a big white laundry-style single-tub with wall faucets set in an integral backsplash.

The facing counter - together they form a quasi-galley layout - has a wooden counter, gas cooktop, and hanging pots overhead. The pots are old-school copper, All-Clad, and Le Creuset. At the far end of the galley lives a pretty conventional-looking refrigerator, not a Sub-anything, and some wall ovens.

The pantry looks simple, with nothing that rolls out or telescopes, and dishes are stored on open shelves and wooden cubbies. What there isn't: no pull-out faucet, instant hot water, pot filler, dish drawer, induction hob, granite counter, fancy cabinetry, appliance lift, or elaborate tile backsplashes. Not even subways.

It is so unfashionable a look that, well, I almost wonder if it * is * fashionable. Regardless, it is a beautiful kitchen.

I watch a lot of cooking shows. Their kitchens seldom interest me. Now, on two new-to-me shows on this new channel, I've found two kitchens that qualify as my dream kitchen. The commercial kitchen in ''Chuck's Day Off'', for function. And the old-fashioned home kitchen in ''French Food At Home'', for form. They're both Canadian shows - funny coincidence.

Are you drawn to older, plainer, or just less fashionable kitchens? Are there any television kitchens you really like?

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As I lay in bed watching television with cup of coffee, husband to the left of me, Saint Bernard in between and two cats to the right of me and me in my pink Old Navy PJs, my first thought when I woke was the kitchen design board. Sad, I know.

I googled the kitchen from French Food at Home. That's a large kitchen that looks cozy. It's one of those kitchens where you have loads of friends/family standing around picking small delicious treats and drinking wine. I liked it.

My favorite TV kitchen is Paula Deen's.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:45AM
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Thank you for that laugh to start my day. Googled said French Canadian cook and watched a You tube video on her. Where she is wearing a blue dress that matches her counters. What amazed me is that she was able to make a pie crust without getting flour on that pretty blue dress. I'm to short and fluffy to accomplish that.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 8:18AM
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short and fluffy......... Bwahahahhaaaa!
And yes, I'm drawn to those older, plainer, or just less fashionable kitchens. I tried to make mine like that and half succeeded. Now that mine is finished I see many more of them than I did a year ago. Back then it was ALL white cabs, granite, 5 ft. tall faucets, islands and a room the size of my house.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 8:38AM
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I love Laura Calder - I find her very unFoodnetwork-like. And her kicthen is as comfortable as she is. Another chef I like here in Canada is Anna Olson, who does two shows: Fresh and Sugar. I covet her enormous prpefessional wall ovens and love the bright colours. Like French Cooking at Home, the food is uncomplicated and simple, but really delicious. Great baking ideas!

Eliz from Canada :-)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 8:46AM
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My all time favorite "famous TV" Chef is Jacques Pepin. His tv kitchens are always nice although I tend to go for a more contemporary look. But Jacques himself is a joy to watch, and a very nice man too, btw. AND, he sure loves his wine!

You can rent his villa in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, btw!!
The kitchen looks like a cute little Mexican style kitchen. Nice pot wall rack! It's a dream of my husband and mine to rent that condo someday!

Here is a link that might be useful: Jacque's Mexican Vacation Condo for rent!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:19AM
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Hey, that Pepin place isn't all that expensive to rent. Christmas week, $2000 and it's available!

Very tempting!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Slightly OT, but the mention of Jacques Pepin briought back a nice memory. On occasion DH and I would catch Jacques and Julia cooking together on a local PBS station. They were so wonderful together and such a hoot! Couldn't understand half of what each one was saying, and their good-natured disagreements regarding the proper way to do something were quite amusing. Their enjoyment, of the food and each other (including their different approaches to the same dishes) was very much evident and made for a lovely time watching two old friends cook together.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:38AM
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I can't find a link of the Calder kitchen, but would love to see it. I appreciate the simpler, less techy kitchen.
I'm not a fancy cook and don't need too much to make me happy. DH is happy about that in terms of $$$$$$$$.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:41AM
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I always liked the kitchen on "Hazel."

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:04AM
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Catmom, I love that series too! DH bought me the DVDs for Christmas and they're wonderful. Wallycat, go to the Canadian web site of the Food Network: foodntwork.ca.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:20AM
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A bit hard to get a good look at the kitchen with all those close ups of her cleavage! But the cobalt blue tile is lovely.
I like to watch The Two Fat Ladies to see all the lovely unfashionable English/Scottish/Irish country house kitchens that they cook in (and tents in one memorable episode!).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:22AM
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sivyaleah: It's really not too expensive at all to rent Jacques condo! I plugged in dates for November :) Mr. hellonasty and I like to go away for Thanksgiving and our anniversary is in early Nov. We honeymooned in Playa Del Carmen in 2004 and we loved it there. It's 45 minutes south of Cancun. It was already pretty built up when we were there 6 years ago, with tons of construction going on all over the place, so I can only imagine what it must be like now. But we loved it for its beach, excellent restaurants and European feel. The loud Americans tend to stay up north in Cancun. I hope it hasn't changed much since we were there.

cat_mom: I LOVE Jacques and Julia together! They're adorable to watch. So Silly and tons of fun. You get used to the accents after a while.

JACQUES PEPIN PLUG ALERT!! Anyone looking for an amazing book to read?? This might be my all time favorite book and I highly recommend it! Link below!

Here is a link that might be useful: Jacques Pepin The Apprentice: My Life In The Kitchen

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Seldom watch cooking shows, I am not a cooking mavin, but I can microwave...LOL. I used to watch the Galloping Gourmet back in the day just to see him get sauced. I love The Naked Chef...he is so cute and enthusiastic....then Gordon Ramsey...is he a mess or what!!! Sadly, I have always been attracted to Martha's green dish kitchen. I had this look before she did in my old house, but when I saw it on her show, she outdid me on her Fire-King Jadite collection...but only cause she has MONEY!!!!

I couldn't find the Calder kitchen either, can you post a picture please. :-)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 12:01PM
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Here's a link to a YouTube video of Laura Calder's blue kitchen.

I love how bright and airy the kitchen seems; I'd love to cook here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Laura Calder

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 12:05PM
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hallonasty--thanks for the book recommendation! I will look for that around here. I loved Julia's My Life in France (devoured it while on vacation last year!)--from the reviews, it seems like Jacque's book is equally entertaining.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 1:11PM
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This is cracking me up. Ripped out that exact same blue tile a month ago. (It really was pretty, but a frustrating surface to actually work on, and the cabinets were beyond shot.) The backsplash tile had flowers on it-we saw the same tile edging a hot tub in one of the final scenes of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" last week.
I took my teenagers with me to the tile store (big mistake...kind of like when they went with me to look at puppies) and they insisted on choosing the backsplash behind new range. My very polite contractor has only commented that they have "old fashioned taste." (This is a pricy handmade tile...but I suppose not like anything he's installed recently!) My new kitchen will have " no pull-out faucet, instant hot water, pot filler, dish drawer, induction hob, granite counter, fancy cabinetry, appliance lift, or elaborate tile backsplashes." I do like an old kitchen, and suspect my old house does too!
Fashionable or not (likely not) I just hope my new space will be comfortable and functional!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 1:28PM
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I love the blue tiles! That's what I want to do for my backsplash, but I didn't know how it would look. I think it will be beautiful :)

I've always wanted a warm white kitchen, with blue tiles, antique brass hardware and a blue woodstove. It goes so well with the medium wood finishes...like our antique pedestal table and a big farm table for an island (that I have yet to find).

So, I guess you could say I do love old, less than fashionable (at least by today's standards) kitchens. They're so comfortable and if YOU like it, who cares what's fashionable?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 1:35PM
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"It is so unfashionable a look that, well, I almost wonder if it * is * fashionable. Regardless, it is a beautiful kitchen." - I think you're absolutely right John, it probably *is* fashionable, but lovely regardless. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I never watch the food network, perhaps I should.

"They're both Canadian shows - funny coincidence." Is it, or do Canadians just have fabulous taste? :) Is it also a coincidence that the two (perhaps) most lusted after kitchens here on GW belong to Elizpiz and RedRoze - both Canadian? Who knows.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:55PM
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lavender_lass, I just got my latest Traditional Home mag in the mail, and there is a kitchen with blue, white, and brass ... I fell in love. It's really quite similar to the one we just put in, so that's good ;-) , but the island was blue, and they used blue tiles in the butler's pantry backsplash. Rest of kitchen was white cabinets, soapstone, brass hardware and lights, antique farm table, and the range was tucked into the old brick fireplace ... not quite a blue woodstove, but still very warm and cozy.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 9:22AM
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Here is a pic of Laura Calder's sink and counter. Her show caught my eye because her kitchen looked like a real person's kitchen. I am going to remodel my circa 1966 kitchen this year, I hope. I find myself drawn to unfussy kitchens as well.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Awww I miss Johnliu and his thoughtful posts. Where did you go? Come back!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 2:13PM
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Me too angel411! I got excited when I saw the author to this thread, then the date :-(

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:00PM
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Hope y'all don't mind me resurrecting this old thread. I'm about to finally remodel my circa 1966 kitchen and have been looking at lots of pictures and reading lots of remodeling threads. When I was watching the Food Channel today, Laura Calder's show came on and I liked the way her kitchen looked, so I googled "gardenweb" and "Laura Calder" and lo and behold here was this thread full of other like minded people. The internet is amazing.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:21PM
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I'm not particularly drawn to that kitchen, but I am also interested in a "real person 's kitchen" rather than an overdone show-off room: plain appliances, simple cabinets, reasonably priced granite countertops.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 7:28PM
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