Jeff and Cherry are very comfortable in the kitchen. Having spent most of their lives on the West Coast of the United States, they live by a 'healthy' and 'fresh' mantra. Ethnically Thai, they grew up with, and learned to prepare, some great dishes from that country. Now after six years in Hong Kong, they've learned that cooking can take place in kitchens smaller than previously imagined.
While this kitchen is very small, and baking is out because there is no oven, everything else seems doable for this adventurous couple. Even a dinner for six is within the realm of possibility and has taken place on more than one occasion!
Cooking in a space this size requires patience, flexibility, and an unending devotion to order. Preparation takes place in stages. The stovetop is generous at 30 inches and can accommodate multiple large pots and pans. Cherry makes sure the kitchen inventory is streamlined and beautiful. As designer of a line of street map-based tableware, and somewhat infatuated with her Le Creuset collection, it's clear that Cherry takes design seriously.
When space is limited, it makes sense that everything one sees, uses to cook, and eats upon is as cute as can be!
10 Questions for Cherry and Jeff (and Their Kitchen)
What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
My kitchen has be clean in order for me to feel motivated to mess it up again. For me to cook, I have to be a little hungry or be thinking of the people for whom I'm cooking.
What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
My Le Creuset pots — in deep royal blue. (If I had an oven in Hong Kong, I'm sure I would have picked that!)
What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
My husband has volunteered to answer this question with my flat pan roasted chicken. (I did it with the help of my Le Creuset.) My answer is the homemade tamales I made with friends! We had the masa and traditional corn husks (I bought the ingredients when I was visiting my brother in Arizona and brought everything back with me to HK!) and I introduced tamales to my local Hong Kong friends. We folded the tamales together and then had a feast but it was the act of gathering around the table and cooking that mattered most. (We made three different fillings: sweet potato, cheese and peppers, and beef.)
Biggest challenge in your kitchen?
Not having an oven. There are two reasons that a lot of apartments in Hong Kong don't have one — the Chinese cuisine doesn't call for using an oven, and there's the space issue.
Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen?
Would it be tiring if I mentioned my Le Creuset pots again?
Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I hope to get an oven so I can bake again. I keep looking at the kitchen and just wonder where I'd put it.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I cook with whatever I have in the fridge or cupboards. Improvisational cooking. Sort of.
Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
How to cook rice on the stove top. Only add half a cup more water than the rice you have. (So, if you have 1.5 cups of rice, your water portion would be 2 cups.)
What is your favorite cookbook?
During my college days, it was anything by Mollie Katzen — the Moosewood Cookbooks. I used Jacques Pepin's Table cookbook a lot when I lived in the Bay Area and still refer to Charmaine Solomon's Thai Cookbook when I can't get hold of my mom.
What are you cooking this week?
I don't know... it depends what I can find at City Super or the Wet Markets of Hong Kong, and what's fresh.
See the Full Tour: Cherry and Jeff Create a Home in Hong Kong at Apartment Therapy
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(Images: Jill Slater)