Cooking Up a Dream Kitchen

A Chappaqua foodie creates a “kitchen stadium” that suits her business, her family, and her friends.

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Bamboo cabinetry, matte-finish Fireslate countertops, lots of brushed stainless steel, and a river-rock backsplash create a calm Zen atmosphere in a usually bustling kitchen.

Cooking isn’t a spectator sport in Marissa Hardie’s “kitchen stadium,” in which even those who can’t stand the heat are welcome. Besides being the heart of family activity in the Hardies’ Chappaqua home, the 330-square-foot multi-cook space is also the headquarters of Marissa’s Kitchen, a business Hardie established in 1990 to focus on all things food-oriented, including teaching and catering. Students cluster around the bamboo island’s Fireslate countertop to see demonstrations, try their hands at what they’ve learned, and nosh on the results.

Regardless of what else is going on in the kitchen, Marissa’s husband, Dave Hardie, a managing director at the headhunter firm Herbert Mines Associates, and their two sons, Spencer, 21, and Mason, 19, have a space to call their own. Their food-prep station adjoins the main work area but is out of the traffic flow. It contains everything required for preparing drinks, snacks, and casual meals: a Miele Coffee System, Liebherr beverage coolers, a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawer, and a Miele MasterChef Speed Oven.

Marissa Hardie has been a chef, dining critic, blogger, consultant, line cook, kitchen manager, and more, in a career that’s spanned two decades and five states.

Things didn’t always run this smoothly in Marissa’s kitchen. When the Hardies moved to their 3,600-square-foot modern house in Chappaqua in 2001, the original kitchen, with its small, four-burner cooktop and inconveniently located wall oven, was far from ideal. And the Culinary Institute of America-trained chef realized that a few tweaks wouldn’t add up to a perfect solution. “I needed a layout that allowed me to cook big while the rest of the family had access to what they needed,” she says.

Durability, function, and efficiency topped the chef’s wish list. As far as looks, she had few ideas beyond her preference for modern design. “I don’t do a lot of fussy things,” she says. “Modern just feels a lot cleaner to me.”

To get started on the remodeling, Hardie contacted Fivecat Studio in Pleasantville. The architectural firm made room for the new design by gutting the kitchen, appropriating an adjoining breakfast area, and stealing space from the living room. Though some major remodeling jobs end with hard feelings and frustration, months after the kitchen was completed, Hardie and project architect Annmarie McCarthy, a Fivecat partner, reminisce about the experience like longtime girlfriends. “Marissa could literally walk through every inch of this kitchen and say, ‘I know what I want here, I know how I’ll work here, I know what I’ll be doing here,’” McCarthy recalls. “That kind of detail is hugely helpful to build the design around.”

Two sets of NanaWall folding doors bring the outdoors in.

Practicality informed most of the chef’s products and appliance decisions. Hardie found her 60-inch BlueStar Prizer stove, which retails for roughly $13,000, at Albano Appliance in Pound Ridge. Besides having the oven capacity she requires, it’s factory-fitted for propane, a key issue since the house does not have a gas line. She liked the modular options for the Sub-Zero Pro 48, also from Albano, which allowed her to choose two refrigerator drawers, two freezer drawers, and a variety of drawer dividers from a range of available components. The shelf-free doors permit extra-deep interior shelves that can easily accommodate big party platters and serving dishes. The easy-care, man-made countertop material, Fireslate, is tough and stain-resistant. It develops a soft patina that looks similar to slate, without the natural version’s fragility. The Miele speed oven combines microwave and conventional cooking abilities in a small unit that fits nicely in the breakfast/snack-center space. Hardie liked the idea of a space-saving, built-in unit coffee system rather than one that sat on the countertop. After using the Miele system, she declared that, no matter where the family lives, including “a tent or an RV, we will take this system with us.”




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