How Local Chefs Entertain

When designing your kitchen did you take any ideas from the commercial kitchen you use at work? Yes, I separated the dish area from the cooking area and included a spray hose faucet in between the dishwashers. I also integrated deep stainless steel sinks, a stainless steel exhaust hood with a lot of power, a walk-in pantry with metro shelving and a rolling sheet pan rack.

If a kitchen is going to be used mostly for entertaining, what type of features should people keep in mind? Lots of counter space for people to belly up to. We entertain quite a bit and everyone loves to congregate in the kitchen. With a peninsula counter and an island guests can feel like they are a part of what’s going on without being in the way. Lighting is also critical. You need good lighting so that you can see what you’re doing without it being so bright that there is a harsh glare. Adjustable under-cabinet task lighting and over-cabinet lighting works well. Music is also a key element of a good party; multiple speakers with zone control give you the ability to hear the music evenly through the rooms.

Are there any features in your kitchen that you added specifically to help you to entertain for large parties? I added multiple sinks, dishwashers and fridges plus a separate beverage cooler for beer and wine in the home’s bar area.

Now that your kitchen is complete, would you have added anything or changed anything? We changed the lighting several times and might change it a little bit still, but other than that we are very happy with the design.

In designing a kitchen on a budget what’s the most important thing to add? I’m a pretty big fan of cooking with gas. You need to pay attention to the sink, stove and fridge triangle.

If money is no object, what luxe feature should be added in a kitchen? Gas rotisserie and a wood-burning or gas pizza oven.

The Remodel

With the help of Marin architect Michael Pettit, Fairfax resident and Kuleto’s executive chef Robert Helstrom recently remodeled his kitchen into a gourmand’s dream. Helstrom, who has also written a contemporary Italian cookbook, included extra counter space, a large granite island and double of most appliances to make his space an entertainer’s fantasy.

Are any items in your kitchen inspired by the commercial kitchens you use at work? Absolutely. The must-haves of a well-stocked kitchen are as follows: All-Clad pots and pans (as many as you can afford), a variety of cast iron pans, a Cuisinart, a good simple blender, pizza stones for the oven, a Dualit toaster, a box grater, a mandoline, a microplane grater, various strainers, ladles and ramekins.

How do you entertain in a smaller kitchen space? We always cook in courses and do a buffet of sorts. Our friends enjoy watching the chef cook as much as the food. So we try to include the guests in the process and it’s always a wonderful party.

Any tips for optimizing space? When we entertain we always clear the decks. By that I mean take away any clutter so that we can use every inch of space. We often grill
outside and have an extra table set up out there for the extra space that we need.

Do you use an outdoor entertaining space? We do; we have a small quaint space, a patio, and we’ve done a sit-down dinner for 12 and a barbecue for 100.

If you were designing a kitchen on a budget, what would be the most important things to add? Counter space! And a good gas stove, a nice refrigerator; it doesn’t have to be a Sub-Zero. There are some nice ones out there for a fraction of the price.

If you could design your own kitchen (space and money not being an issue), what would be your dream features? An island, a wood-burning oven (for pizzas, bread, whole fish, etc.), a rotisserie attached to a large grill, and one of those cool set-ups to be able to slow cook/smoke whole pigs or lamb.

Maximize Space

Mill Valley’s Pizza Antica executive chef and partner Gordon Drysdale has nearly everything on his menu handmade—including the mozzarella cheese that tops the restaurant’s signature pizzas. In his own home in Mill Valley, Drysdale doesn’t have the luxury of a huge commercial kitchen, but he still has been known to barbecue for up to 100 people. Read on for his tips on maximizing your kitchen space—no matter what the size.

1. Microplane Salt Grater, $28 at NapaStyle (Corte Madera). 415.945.9137,

2. OXO Mandoline, $70 at Sur La Table (Corte Madera). 415.945.0112,

3. All-Clad Gourmet Ovenware Jelly Roll Pan, $120 at Sur La Table (Corte Madera). 415.945.0112, 

4. Pizza Stone, $40 at Williams-Sonoma (Corte Madera). 415.924.6799,