Tom loves to cook. In fact Tom uses a variety of different types of salts, depending on where he is standing in his kitchen and what is being prepared. And his kitchen is not that big!
There's one lineup of salts in beautiful salt vessels above the stovetop and another on the countertop next to the sink. Tom's kitchen serves him well. And it should. He had it custom built a few years ago after living in very small rentals for most of his adult life. During those rental years, Tom had plenty of time to make mental notes of the look and feel of an ideal cooking space. To some, his current fantasy realized may seem small but compared to his last kitchen, this has about 12 times as much counter space!
Tom does most of the cooking in the household, but his partner Justin had a crucial influence on the kitchen's design. As the baker in the family, Justin insisted on marble countertops. When working with flour, it's great to be able to work directly on the counter surface and it's ideal for that surface to be cool to the touch. Marble remains cooler than most materials, even in very warm weather. Over time, however, it may stain or wear down — turning hard edges soft. Tom, who lived in Rome and is currently studying Latin, is a classicist at heart, and doesn't mind the changes taking place. "That's what makes it mine," he says, with no lack of pride.
10 Questions for Tom (and his Kitchen)
What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
My father. He was a great cook and we always ate well. He shopped everyday after work and used fresh regional ingredients decades before this became fashionable. My father was a steady and loyal customer to Sal, the local butcher and to Norman who sold organic vegetables and fruit. In the summer months, my father raised vegetables and fruit and caught fish and shellfish practically on a daily basis. When I market (daily) I always look for what is fresh and local and plan meals around the best of what is available. I do not eat roided strawberries in December (sorry California).
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
I am not one for gadgets or excessively specialized kitchen tools. If a fork works as well as a crimper, I am happy with the fork. Justin has, like a million different cork screws. You practically need a degree from MIT to operate them plus I never fail to stab myself in that drawer fishing for my foldable standard model that most waiters use. Really — its about opening a bottle of wine, why make it an IQ test?
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Justin and I have made some fairly complex meals of banquet proportion but the most memorable for me has to be the Sunday afternoon baby shower that we gave for Elizabeth Morgan where I made an assortment of frittatas; asparagus and tarragon, leek and thyme, tomato and basil and pancetta with shallot.
Biggest challenge in your kitchen?
Let's face it, no kitchen will ever be big enough. Apart from that I adore my kitchen.
Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?
I would rephrase this to say that the kitchen was the biggest extravagance of my renovation. The appliances, the marble counters, the limestone floor and the custom cabinets are just as I wanted.
Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
In my dreams I buy the adjoining apartment on the otherside of the kichen wall.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Mediterannean — 200.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received?
My friend Luca always says "you Americans always always over cook the pasta and undersalt the water." I have to say that I already knew this having lived in Rome for 4 years, but I will pass it on nonetheless.
What is your favorite cookbook?
I look at very few books. I sometimes consult and compare recipes online. YouTube provides some very useful video of an Italian grandmother making pasta by hand or some random French lady making a crêpe. My friend Serena Bass has a great cookbook: SERENA, FOOD AND STORIES.
What are you cooking this week?
Are you crazy? It's too hot to cook — l'm leaving it to someone else.
- • Liebherr fridge, Miele dishwasher, Bertazzoni range: Gringers
• Fixtures: AF NY
• Hardware: Simon's Hardware
• Carrera Marble and the Croation Limestone from Hvar: European Stone in Gowanus.
• Glass tiles as backsplash: Artistic Tile.
• 1930's French Chandelier in Kitchen: Okerson (W. 24th Street between 6th & 7th Avenues)
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(Images: Jill Slater)