Victor & Rajiv’s Colorful, Collected Kitchen (and Garden!)
Who cooks and eats here: Victor Wasserman and Rajiv Pinto
Where: Chicago, IL – Andersonville
Rent or Own? Rent
I’m no stranger to Victor Wasserman’s garden. All summer long Victor and his partner, Rajiv, entertain friends for picnics and outdoor “movies in the garden.” Their garden is more than a gathering place, though: the abundant produce also makes its way upstairs to their delightful and eclectic kitchen.
Victor is an interior designer and Rajiv works as an architect. Form meets function in their kitchen and creates a well-equipped cooking space, full of color. To work around the small room, Victor outfitted the walls with easy access storage. Bright blue paint is a perfect backdrop for showcasing ripe fruit from the garden, knives, spices and cookbooks.
The kitchen opens up to a lovely patio (complete with hammock). In the summer months, Victor collects herbs and veggies from the garden for last-minute meals enjoyed al fresco. As autumn approaches, casual dinners will move inside to the back counter, outfitted with bar stools for two.
10 Questions for Victor (and His Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Traveling inspires both. I’m always up for roaming around markets and learning about other cultures’ produce and food preparation. The growing collection of masks on the walls are from India, Guatemala and Ecuador.
My garden inspires both as well. During the growing season I always have fresh flowers to arrange or produce to eat.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Mortar and pestle. The solid granite tool is my favorite because of the aromatic smoke that billows up when I grind toasted cumin and coriander seeds.
3. What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever cooked in this kitchen?
Late last summer my folks came in from Ohio and we ate dinner outside in the garden with my partner’s family and our friends. We harvested as many vegetables and herbs from the garden as we could. A variety of beets and spicy arugula made for beautiful and filling roasted beet salad with walnuts and goat cheese. I don’t remember what else we made that evening but I do remember how special it felt to be sharing a homemade meal under the stars with wonderful people.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
Space. I wish my kitchen opened up into the dining room so I could socialize easier when entertaining.
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wish I could rip out the cabinetry, sink and appliances. I would love a farm sink, Wolf range, and Smeg refrigerator some day.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Coffee and cheese.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
I want a stainless steel prep table and a more ergonomic stool. I like to sit while I chop.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
Almost vegetarian and seasonal.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Write down a schedule if you are making a meal with multiple dishes and cooking times. Also, if you can make it ahead of time, do it. It makes the moments before a dinner party more enjoyable.
10. What are you cooking this week?
Fall is upon us, so I will be cooking up some curly dwarf blue kale, Chioggia beets, and Paris market carrots. I also hope to chop my basil bushes and make pesto to freeze.
Resources of Note
- Paint Color: Benjamin Moore Majestic Blue walls and Ice Blue trim.
- My great grandma: Multiple antique kitchen tools, like the cast iron skillets we use all the time to our beautiful ceramic bowls. I also have two blue and white plates from Mexico adorning the wall (above the doorway).
- Storage/Hardware: Ipso Facto (red tractor seat stool), IKEA kitchen organizers and huge stainless steel mixing bowl great for making pastry dough or serving a salad, thrift stores for clear storage jars.
- Shelves: Repurposed wood for window shelving.
Thank you so much Victor for letting us peek into your kitchen!
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(Images: Lucy Hewett)