This past summer, chef Brandon Boudet and his girlfriend Isabelle Dahlin had us over for dinner during a photo shoot for their Apartment Therapy House Tour. Inside this one bedroom English-style cottage is a small galley kitchen that inspired some of the best food I've eaten all year.
Brandon Boudet hails from New Orleans, where he was raised in a big Italian family. He studied culinary arts in San Francisco and now lives in Los Angeles. The successful partner and chef of Dominicks, Little Dom's and 101 Coffee Shop, Brandon is now gearing up for his new venture: reopening a Los Angeles tavern called Tom Bergin's.
Today we get an intimate look inside Brandon and Isabelle's home kitchen. "My inspiration for my kitchen at home is to keep it fun and efficient. It's pretty small but it works well because everything is one step away. Also I always try and use my outdoor smoker, rotisserie or my Weber grill when having people over for dinner, which seems to make the clean up a little easier," says Brandon.
Brandon described some of the changes to me: "It has definitely changed for the better with the addition of the farm sink and the vintage butcher block countertops. The sink is so useful when cleaning vegetables from our garden or seasoning a big piece of meat!"
Ten Questions For Brandon (and His Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
I cook for a living so when I'm at home in my kitchen I like to keep things simple and fun. We definitely added some key components that make our small kitchen work pretty well, too.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My favorite component is our 1950s butcher block/metal prep table, which was given to me by one of our restaurant contractors. Also, the pot rack installed above the prep table .
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
Well, I had to come up with a recipe using Spam for a Time magazine article . I finally decided on Spam Carbonara, and to my surprise it actually wasn't that bad. But it was surely no replacement to guanciale.
4. The biggest challenge for cooking in your kitchen:
It is small but that's where I like the use of the Weber grill on the deck just outside of the kitchen.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
A bigger dishwasher would be the only thing I would change.
6. What was your biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?
Vintage butcher block countertops.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I actually love this kitchen as it is. Yes, it's small but everything is one step away. I can very easily cook dinner for six to eight people out of this kitchen.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
The one thing that differs between cooking in this kitchen and at work is that at home I keep it very simple. Everything is always family style — usually something on the grill and things that can be prepared ahead so I can hang with friends when they are here.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received?
Dont be afraid to use salt and lemon in everything.
10. What are you cooking this week?
• Farmers market and our vegetables garden salad with lemon creme fraiche dressing
• Heirloom melons with prosciutto, basil & Palmina olive oil
• Our chickens' eggs fried in breadcrumbs with olive oil and grilled squash from our garden
• Pee Wee potatoes steamed with butter, tarragon, chives and thyme
• Charcoal grilled redfish on the half shell topped with baby celery almond pesto and grilled lemons
• Farmers market stone fruit with homemade mascarpone ice cream and 25-year balsamic vinegar
• Cocktail for the evening: Lillet, nectarines, basil and Cava
Farmers Market & Our Veg Garden Salad with Lemon Creme Fraiche Dressing
Lemon Creme Fraiche Dressing
Juice of two lemons
One shallot chopped fine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup creme fraiche
Salt and fresh black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and drizzle over your favorite salad greens.
Heirloom Melons with Prosciutto, Basil & Palmina Olive Oil
Melons are wonderful right now. Simply wrap thin slices of prosciutto or your favorite ham around ripe wedges of melon top with good olive oil, salt, black pepper and torn basil.
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(Images: Bethany Nauert)