Newlyweds Ryan and Tim moved into a beautiful home on Guerrero St. in San Francisco, and with Ryan's love of cooking and talents as a chef, the first order of business was to remodel the kitchen into a more functional space, drenched in natural light. Planning a wedding and remaking a kitchen were quite tall tasks to tackle simultaneously but they pulled both events off in spades!
I first met Ryan in Santa Barbara, California when we lived together in one of those absurdly overpopulated college dream pads. We had seven people and a dog "officially" living there with plenty of guests to make our numbers more like 14 to 15 at any given moment. Needless to say there were a lot of dinner parties and a lot of dishes happening in that kitchen. Ryan dazzled us then with the freshest bruschettas, spaghetti sauces, heavenly salads and ambitious Mexican meals. How many 21–year olds make sure to deseed tomatoes for better texture in their pico de gallo? I was impressed.
Ryan is still busy hosting dinners and cocktail parties. She's a creative chef, using mostly local produce and buying quality pantry items from her nearby Italian market, and baked goods from Tartine Bakery. Her kitchen has a lived-in, classic feel as if it had been in the house all along — not the austere modern design I see in many renovations. It's a space where Tim can create cocktails (his specialty in the dining department) and Ryan can explore new recipes. The adjacent dining room and large window between enable guests and hosts to interact, cook and relax all together. Ryan's passion for interesting new foods and casual entertaining continue to inspire me.
9 Questions for Ryan (and Her Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
My mom, meals out that I try to recreate, the weather... I also recently signed up for a CSA, and I'm trying to cook almost 100% with the ingredients I get each week. It's very fun and forces me out of my comfort zone to try new combinations and recipes.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Toss up between my new Robot Coupe Processor and my Shun 6" Chefs knife.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
There are already so many memorable moments . . .The first dinner party I had was on New Year's Eve, and I decided to do roast Dungeness crab. It was also 5 days after the kitchen was completed and I hadn't tested my oven yet — I went to roast the crab and the oven wasn't working. After a minor panic attack, I got the the oven to light, but that would have been a very disappointed crowd. Remember to test everything — including appliances—before guests arrive :)
Another good memory: I had the fun excuse of the birth of our friends' little girl to spend an entire day making casseroles and frozen meals about two weeks after the kitchen was done. I really broke in the new appliances with batches of mac and cheese, penne pasta bakes, chicken pot pies and lasagnes. The freezer held up swimmingly.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
I feel so lucky to be able to say my biggest challenge is not having enough time to spend in it—I love being in this room. Beats the fluorescent lighting of the office any day.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
The refrigerator and the counters, and we love them both so much. I feel like I definitely graduated from twenty–something to thirty–something with a family–sized fridge :)
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
Nope, we're are so happy with it.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Seasonal, ad hoc, healthy with a good dose of indulgence. I had my parents over the other night and we roasted a rack of lamb, served with oven–roasted kale (tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper), and roasted fingerling potatoes with spring onions. Veggies were from the CSA, meat was a splurge, but it was so simple and delicious.
I'm lucky because I grew up with a chef, my mom, and she taught me so much. It's natural to try new things, and I'm always trying to invent or evolve recipes into my own special version. Sometimes we have to heat up leftovers because of this, but mostly it works out.
9. What are you cooking this week?
Sauteed Collard Greens with Polenta and Pork Chops.
• Peppercorn: Sherwin-Williams semi-gloss paint for the lower cabinets
• Origami White: Sherwin-Williams semi-gloss paint for the upper cabinets
• Origami White: Sherwin-William satin paint for the walls and ceiling
• counter tops: Carrera marble, statuetto style (for pronounced veining look)
• floors: Marmoleum
• Stove/range: Bertazzoni
• Pots and pans: All-Clad
• Dishes: Heath Ceramics
• Our contractor: Tyson Schroeder of Conscious Construction
We're always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Show us your kitchen here!
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)