'Top Chef' judge Gail Simmons gives us a tour of her kitchen and pantry. Find out how Gail has her kitchen organized along with what she stocks her pantry with.
GAIL SIMMONS: Hi, I'm Gail Simmons. And, today, I'm going to give you a little tour of my kitchen.
What you can't tell by just looking at me and my kitchen, is that I'm actually in an old converted church dating back to 1900. It's an amazing heritage-protected property, so we had to keep the bones of the layout exactly as they were. So the layout is very much the same as it was when it was first renovated.
The cabinets were all open behind me. It was completely different colors, completely different appliances. And we basically ripped everything out and rebuilt as much as we could from scratch just to really make it our own. The only thing we kept of the entire kitchen that remains is the stove that's right here.
The kitchen is relatively small. And, although it's completely open to the rest of our house, it is agouti in design. So we decided we really needed to do full custom cabinetry because we really wanted to optimize the space. And what you can see behind me, there are cabinets all the way to the ceiling because I wanted to use every inch. And I really do take advantage of storage for every inch of my kitchen. And I need it.
Because it's so high up, I certainly, obviously, can't reach up there. So my favorite feature of my entire kitchen is that, underneath the sink, there's a little kick spring under there that when you gently kick, it rolls out. And there is a ladder slid under our sink that I can easily just bring out, and climb up, and access all of my cabinets there. And I use it every day.
It's modern, clean, very uncluttered, simple, neutral tones. I mean, obviously, you can see that the base is this gray. Actually, the official color of the paint on the cabinets is called Mole's Breath, which I've always found to be such an interesting, sort of creepy, but also really cool name for paint.
Part of designing a kitchen-- that anyone who's ever done will know and it's so vital, and it's the first piece of advice I give people when I'm talking about kitchen design, which I am asked to do a lot-- is that there needs to be a very easy triangle between your stove, your workspace, and your sink-- one step away from all the major spots that are used the most.
I realized from early on is that everybody wants a certain kind of marble in their kitchen. And, yes, that's beautiful. But things like wine and lemon juice can just destroy it. So the practical person in me decided, made a very early decision in the renovation, that we were going to use Caesarstone.
I now know that the stone that is all over my kitchen-- you can see that the backsplash, and it's covering this Island right here-- is like indestructible. And I never have to worry about it staining. I never have to reseal it. It's just like, um, it's a workhorse. And it's been a very easy thing and a really good decision for my family.
This spot I'm talking to you from is my spot in the kitchen. I have a giant cutting board right here that is out all the time. It never moves from this exact spot. And this is kind of my happy place. From this vantage point, I can see everything around the house. It's sort of the hub of the house. This is like where you can find me many hours of the day. I'm surprised that the floor isn't worn from my feet in this exact spot all the time.
My pantry is just to the other side of the fridge, over to my left. And it's not a huge pantry. One day, maybe I'll move to the country or to the suburbs, and I'll get one of those pantries that my friends have, where you walk in and there's floor-to-ceiling of shelves and cupboards. But I'm not there.
We have a very practical pantry, you know? It's a double-door closet. And it is incredibly organized because we want to maximize it and find everything easily.
We did a few things in our pantry that I think were key, which is, we bought tons of spice jars that are all the same size. I have cleared them all out now. Whenever I buy spices, I empty those spices into these jars that are all the same. And I have a silver pen that I write the name of a spice on the front so that it's so much more organized. And I get so much more useful space on that level of my pantry.
And I did the same for the organization of grains and the organization of pastas and snacks. That way, it's just so much easier to find things and to use that space much more practically.
I have expanded my own pantry, for sure, over the pandemic. My pantry has grown and broadened as I spend a lot more time thinking about the food of other cultures and the diversity of this country and really taken a deep dive into foods that were not in my comfort zone, which the pandemic has allowed me to do and forced me to do because I wanted to broaden my scope of cooking and understand how much more diverse my pantry really should be.
I thought I was a pretty global cook to begin with, but my pantry really has been strengthened by the learnings of the year.