Discover how to design a space that’s the life and soul of the party with these top tips for creating the ultimate entertainers’ kitchen
8 tips for creating the ultimate entertainers’ kitchen
Whether you’re channelling Nigella Lawson and throwing a scrumptious dinner party or simply serving a few steaks and sausages off the barbecue, the kitchen is where it all starts and ends. Therefore, it needs to be carefully designed for ease and efficiency, especially if you’re really big on entertaining. Not sure how to go about improving your kitchen? We’ve highlighted eight key factors that will make yours a standout success!
1. In the zone
First up, have a think about what kinds of events you want to host. Small dinner parties or large soirees? Next, you need to establish the basic work zones: prep, cook and clean. Make sure each area has enough space and storage for everyone working there, as well as the right appliances. A triangular configuration that keeps sink, fridge and cooktop within easy reach works best.
For parties, an open-plan kitchen is ideal, as it allows guests and hosts to mingle, but if you prefer to work alone, a separate prepping space may be needed. Try to position the fridge where guests can grab a drink without getting in the way.
2. Island paradise
An island bench is the perfect focal point for kitchens designed with entertaining in mind. This popular kitchen feature makes it easier to talk to guests while preparing or serving drinks and food, and also provides extra cooking, serving, storage and seating space.
Some hosts like to position their cooktop within an island, and induction cooktops are ideal for this as they’re easy to install and aren’t hot to touch. An alternative is to install one or two sinks within the island so hosts can clean up and chat to guests at the same time.
If you’ve got plenty of space, consider two island benches – one for preparing food and the other to serve and entertain guests, with storage below for plates, serving dishes and glasses.
3. Tech-savvy upgrades
Wifi-controlled appliances are essential items for tech-savvy cooks. Some electric ovens have wifi connectivity that allows the user to adjust the temperature from their smartphone. Smart microwaves are equipped with sensor-based cooking that removes the need for fussing with power levels and food weights.
New on the market are smart dishwashers that are energy-efficient with self-operating doors and ultra-low noise levels so they can be switched on while your guests are still savouring their wine.
Other time-saving devices for busy entertainers include slow-cookers and coffee-makers that are controlled via smartphone, sensor-operated rubbish bins that open with a wave of the hand, and electric spiralisers for making vege noodles. Even digital food printers are now on the market, so you can produce elaborate confectionery or pancakes in crazy shapes with a few clicks of the mouse.
4. Get smart with size
Being smart with your appliances is key to creating a successful kitchen for entertaining. Consider installing a commercial-style fridge-freezer with plenty of compartments for all the extras you need when cooking for large groups.
Or perhaps there’s room for an extra fridge and/or freezer somewhere else in the house? Warming drawers are a must for serious entertainers, not only for keeping food warm but also heating up plates. A second dishwasher can also be useful for big gatherings, even if it’s just a single drawer or half-size configuration.
Similarly, a standard stove just won’t cut it when you’re cooking for large crowds. Think about installing a double oven and cooktop so you can serve all food at the same time.
5. Out of sight
No one likes looking at piles of dirty plates and pots, least of all your party guests. A separate utility area or butler’s pantry is one of the best – and most pricey – answers to this problem. It means you can have extra help when entertaining without them being in the way, especially if your pantry is equipped with an oven, warming drawer, sink, dishwasher and fridge.
If you don’t have the space or budget for this solution, raising the backs of your kitchen benches can hide dirty dishes from view, with host on the inside and guests on the outside. You can also add a slim counter to the top level to use as a snack bar or drinks station.
Building a conveniently positioned unit in the kitchen for your small appliances such as the toaster, electric kettle and blender will also free up much-needed bench space when you’re in the midst of entertaining.
6. Be seated
Flimsy outdoor chairs just don’t make the grade if you’re going for an ultra-slick party that lasts well into the night. Cushioned seats are a must, whether they are bar stools around the island bench or outdoor sofas and chairs with good-quality squabs on a terrace or deck. For large groups it’s worth hiring extra chairs so everyone can sit comfortably.
7. Drink up
One of the golden rules of entertaining is to make sure everyone has a drink, alcoholic or not. Guests don’t mind waiting for food as long as they have a glass in their hands. To avoid thirsty guests invading the kitchen, it’s a good idea to set up a separate drinks station or trolley so the traffic can be diverted.
Think about installing a temperature-controlled wine cooler for serious wine drinkers and an extra fridge for beer. Throw in an icemaker for cocktails and your parties will be legendary!
8. All washed up
Make cleaning up after a large gathering easier with an extra dishwasher and/or a large sink big enough for platters and roasting dishes. A second sink where you can dump dirty plates for sorting out later, or just an extra-small one you can use for washing hands and rinsing glasses, will make the job even easier.
If you entertain regularly, make sure you have low-maintenance, easy-clean work surfaces and appliances so tidying up isn’t such a dreaded chore.
Words by: Carol Bucknell. Photography by: Derek Swalwell and Brooke Holm/bauersyndication.com.au.