How to: Arrange a small kitchen
Tips for streamlining your tiny cooking space.
Thu Apr 12 2007
Chef Paul Lang’s catering business, A Casa, offers clients elaborate home-cooked meals paired with carefully selected wines, yet his multitasking kitchen is a measly 5' x 10'. He makes up for the lack of room with an arsenal of organizational tactics.
“Lose the toaster,” says Lang, pointing out the need to conserve countertop space. “Bread tastes better when you cook it in a pan anyway.” To supplement his kitchen’s few surfaces, Lang invested in a rolling cart topped with a removable butcher block that reveals a stainless steel surface underneath—perfect for pastry making. He also has a drop-leaf wooden table that folds flush against the wall. Still short on space? Use a cutting board that fits over the sink.
I’m a fan of packaging that makes things fit better,” Lang explains, pointing to a milk bottle filled with raw beans (“you can actually cook them in there”), old marmalade jars stocked with dried porcini mushrooms and spices (labels are on the bottom for a clean look), and canisters loaded with rice, nuts and dried fruit. In addition to looking nicer, “perishable foods last longer when they’re in sealed containers instead of bags.”
Cabinets are overrated. Lang keeps tea in the freezer and bread in the refrigerator (along with greens, which he puts in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel to keep them fresh and dry). Spices range along the top of the fridge for easy access, though Lang warns that “the cooling system on the back gets hot, so store most items near the front.” He shops at local farmers’ markets (find one at cenyc.org), purchasing in small quantities. “There’s no substitute for that!” says Lang. “You’re buying things that were picked that morning.”
Everything in its place
A bowl of eggs rests on the windowsill (“They should be room temp when you cook them”); utensils are lined up on an accessible shelf or hanging within reach of the stove; whole nutmeg and cinnamon sticks sit next to a grater ready to be pulverized: Lang’s kitchen is set up for action. “You need to have a place for everything,” says the chef of his diminutive, tightly run space. “And do your dishes, too.”
1 8" Lamson chef’s knife
2 10" All-Clad frying pan
3 Wood cutting board: “Try to find one made from the ends of the wood, not the sides. The ends are softer and won’t dull knives as quickly.”
4 Cast-iron griddle pan: “Throw out your George Forman!”
5 High-temp rubber spatula
6 Six-quart cast-iron Le Creuset Dutch oven coated in enamel
7 Foldable Ikea table and stools
8 Kitchen-Aid mixer
9 Capezzana olive oil
10 A variety of salts: “Experiment with different ones for finishing different dishes.”