Open Kitchen Designs, New Kinds of Appliances a Few of the Entertaining Ingredients for A Room That Really Cooks
Donovan, Deborah, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Deborah Donovan Daily Herald Homes Writer
The kitchen is the most important room in the house - and it's the center of home entertainment.
That's true for new homes in the starter price range and the multimillion-dollar manses on the North Shore.
Today, the layout and style of a kitchen and the variety of appliances available make a big difference in the kind of entertaining that's possible.
It was either the expanse of the kitchen and adjacent family room or the sink in the large island that convinced Chris Pantaleo and Mike Dulek to buy the 2,108-square-foot Willow model at Hampton Glen in the Plainfield/Joliet area.
Both of these features are important to the way the two entertain.
"The kitchen had to be open to the rest of the area," Pantaleo said. "As you know, everyone congregates in the kitchen."
Dulek particularly likes being able to prepare the meal, clean up and wash dishes without turning his back on his guests.
Builders Julie and Keith Jacobs could put almost anything they wanted in their North Shore house, and the 1,100-square-foot kitchen is one place they wanted quite a bit.
Not only are there two islands, but the commercial, stainless steel appliances include a walk-in cooler, a broiler called a salamander, a French cooktop to provide intense heat, a steamer, convection oven and a trough sink.
Julie, director of marketing for Jacobs Homes, likes to entertain in her kitchen, too, but she added a new wrinkle.
Many of her friends are planning to build homes with luxury kitchens or remodel the ones they have, so she thought they might want to get tips on operating some of the more exotic appliances.
Enter Pete Trusiak of the Westye Group Midwest in Glendale Heights, which distributes Wolf and Sub-Zero products.
This professional chef and his assistant not only cooked a meal for the Jacobs and 10 of their friends, but they patiently answered questions and guided volunteers through preparing the dishes.
And the couple insist they didn't invent this offbeat style of entertaining.
"Entertaining at home is not new," said Keith, president of Jacobs Homes. "But taking the traditional dinner party to a new level with a professional chef, great menu and chance to use all of those high-end appliances in creative ways is. It's the new wave in home entertaining."
His wife insists the kitchen is not just for show.
"I'm a cook," she said, "but this kitchen has seven or eight different appliances, and a few of them are quite intimidating, even for an experienced home chef."
When Trusiak offered to show the Jacobs how to prepare a meal, she got the idea of inviting friends who might be in the market for new appliances.
"It is both entertaining and educational," she said. "All the appliances are utilized."
This includes the salamander for halibut, the grill for the lamb and the French top for searing herb-coated chicken breasts.
Dulek, who manages Famous Dave's in Orland Park, has the experience to give demonstrations and lessons in his kitchen, too.
But he and Pantaleo, who is a remodeling contractor, are happy to have folks join in the conversation while they're cooking.
"We haven't had a cooking party," Pantaleo said. "But Mike knows his way around the kitchen. We do have people over, and we put them to work chopping. Everyone gathers around. The central island makes it real good for that."
The oversized double sink was one of the improvements they made on their own after buying the new house. …