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TopShop News | May 2013


TopShop News | May 2013  

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Julia Child's Kitchen on display at The National Museum of American History | Photo Credit: Hugh Talman (Smithsonian Institution)
In Praise of Julia Child & The Well-Cluttered Kitchen

by Steffanie Cameron | Build Direct Blog | April 29, 2013

Ahh, the French Chef. For many, the arrival of the 1963 PBS series was a doorway into a whole new world. 

In 1948, Julia Child, was stationed in post-war Paris with her husband, and little did she know then, but she’d change America’s cuisine forever in the years to come. 

She spent much of the next decade writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the cookbook that would introduce French cooking to “servantless American cooks” once published in 1961.

By then, she had returned to America to settle down with her husband in Massachusetts. Upon getting the word that her book was being published, there was no looking back for the towering dame who’d dominate the food scene for the next four decades. 

Photo Credit: Julia Child's Kitchen via Build Direct Blog
Photo via Build Direct Blog
Julia Child’s Kitchen

The quaint rural kitchen became the most famous kitchen in America, so, fittingly, at the turn of the 21st century, the Smithsonian Museum adopted it as a permanent exhibit, almost completely intact with the chef’s collection of over 800 knives and endless tools, and, yes, those incredible pegboards. 

Last weekend, I was kind of wistfully dreaming I could live Julia Child’s life and cook in her kitchen. I blame Nora Ephron, rest in peace, thanks to her delightfully fun movie Julie & Julia. The DVD extras came with a long feature about the Smithsonian’s adopting of Julia’s kitchen when she decided to move into a retirement community at the end of her life. It was a passionate tribute to a legendary kitchen, and I watched it rapt.

Today, kitchens often look almost sterile. So clean and clear of clutter. It feels almost like kitchens are meant to be seen but not used. 

My Dream Kitchen

No one could ever have accused Ms. Child of that sin of kitchen neglect. Everywhere, pegs and clips and hooks were filled with tools and pots and pans. Her kitchen was to cooking what a master carpenter’s tool shed is to his woodworking mastery: A place for everything, a tool for every job, with instruments displayed so you simply reach out, grab it, and work.

Looking at Julia’s well-cluttered kitchen, one can’t help but think there isn’t a designer alive who’d put that kitchen in a showhome today, and yet it would be my dream kitchen, and I imagine I’m not alone.

Julia Child didn’t live to eat, she lived to cook. And then eat. And then cook some more. The woman had a mirror and a makeup drawer in the kitchen, for when guests would call, because she spent so much time in there!

Toward the end of Ephron’s film, you see Julia and Paul assembling that famous kitchen upon moving into the house. Paul armed with a Jiffy maker, outlining pots and tools on these walls covered with a carpenter’s pegboards, so they’s always know where the pot was supposed to hang.

Between that, the endless drawers, the knife slots on her butcher’s carts. the magnetic strips filled with knives, and the knick-knacks that made it feel like home for her, the kitchen was a place meant for work, for creating amazing foods, and for sharing them with the world, and we’re all the better for her single-minded passion. 

Photo: Julia Child's Kitchen via Build Direct Blog
Photo via Build Direct Blog
Life Happens in Kitchens

I’m no Julia Child, but I’ve taught people to cook for a living in the past, and I believe there is no more valuable nor rewarding skill one can learn in life. Nothing beats being able to walk into your kitchen and make incredible braised chicken, or serve your lover an eggs Benedict on Sunday morning, or whip up the best cake ever for your kid’s birthday, or just cook yourself a killer steak when you want a quiet Friday night catching up on your PVR.

When you can do it for under $10 in ingredients versus shelling out $40 in a restaurant, you bet it’s a quality-of-life skill that makes you happier in heart and mind. And providing that tasty joy for others is even more rewarding, as Julia spent a lifetime teaching us. Cooking can be done with a minimum of tools, but someone who loves to cook doesn’t just have tools – they burst at the cupboards with spices and sauces and condiments and all kinds of pantry ingredients. There are books, squeeze bottles, weird utensils, and more that we need to truly excel in the kitchen.

Show me an empty, clutter-free kitchen, and I’ll show you a homeowner that doesn’t cook. But show me a cluttered kitchen that’s poorly organized, and I’ll show you a cook who burns more than their fair share of dishes.

Organized Clutter is Good

If any one room should have some organized clutter, it’s a well used kitchen of a passionate chef. Looking around Julia Child’s hub, one instinctively knows there’s not a dish in the world that Julia wouldn’t have had the tools to cook.

In today’s global-village world filled of fusion foods, international ingredients, and a more savvy dining public, you’d think our kitchens would be getting more cluttered with awesome instruments, not less.

Don’t be afraid to fill your kitchen with tools of the trade. If Julia could do it, so can you.

Maybe, just maybe, through the utilitarian-yet-loving tribute to her tool-heavy kitchen at the Smithsonian Museum, Julia Child will continue teaching us the glory of cooking, and the greatness of a well-cluttered kitchen, for years to come.

Thanks for the memories, Julia!

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Downtown Denver, with the Platte River Bridge in the foreground via flickr photostream of Jeffery Beall
Check out some of these fun events happening in Denver, CO this month!

25th Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival and Parade
May 4-5, 2013

Free Day at the Denver Art Museum
May 4, 2013

Furry Scurry
May 4, 2013

Denver Derby Party
May 4, 2013

Buffalo Bill Birthday Celebration
May 5, 2013

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12, 2013 | Photo via Pinterest page City Chattr
May 12, 2015

Tesoro Annual Indian Market and Powwow
May 18-19, 2013

May 24-26, 2013

Denver Day of Rock
May 25, 2013

Memorial Day is Monday, May 27, 2013 | Photo via VSUMC
May 27, 2013

Denver Comic Con
May 31, 2013

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Kitchen Space and the Organized Homeowner

The war against clutter is not just about keeping objects in your space in line. It’s about the emotional pay-off of having a space that is easy to move around in. And no room in your home demonstrates this benefit more than your kitchen.

To explore this, guest writer Jenney Maria is here to present a few ideas on de-cluttering and organizing your kitchen.

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring | Designer Clay Bernard

The kitchen is the central part of every house, as the whole family gathers here to prepare food, enjoy the meal and to entertain friends. It is also the most frequently used portion of your house which needs to be organized on a daily basis. If you utilize your kitchen space effectively, food preparation and cleaning up becomes very efficient and comfortable. Here are some tips that will help you a lot in organizing your kitchen in an efficient manner.

Kitchen space, the wheat and the chaff

First of all, it is very important to make a list of all the items that you will need in the kitchen. You should only include items that you use on a daily basis and try to avoid any unnecessary items. After preparing the list assess the situation, which is, what you actually have and which items you’ll have to purchase. 

Zones and your kitchen

Once you have all the things you need; now you can start organizing your kitchen. Divide your kitchen into different zones, e.g. cooking – eating – and washing. Your kitchen can be organized very easily if you arrange things accordingly. Designate a small area for your family members to sit and eat in the kitchen. A well-organized kitchen will give you a pleasant feeling every time you enter and will make your kitchen tasks quite easy and hassle-free.

The right kitchen tools to have

The next step is to place all the routine tools and appliance near you. You must have an easy access to all these items because while working in the kitchen, you have to perform multiple tasks. You should place your cooking utensils in a storing container so that you can save the drawer space. Make use of the cabinet doors by placing cook books, or other type of reading materials that you require while cooking, inside. 

Kitchen space organization

Finally, it’s time to position things. Ensure that you have placed the things that work together near each other. For example pots, pans, whisks, spatulas and also ladles should be placed near the stove; bowls, measuring glasses and appliances should also be in the cooking zone. Small appliances, sharp tools and cleaning chemicals should be carefully placed in secured storage areas so that children are not able to reach them. Hardly used tools and appliances should be placed on the top shelf.

Simplify your life in your kitchen

By following these simple tips you can easily utilize your kitchen space and make your life much easier. Dividing the kitchen area according to your work will help you find whatever you require as it’s needed and will save your time and energy. Having a well-organized kitchen could make your task movement smooth, and your time in the kitchen will be more enjoyable and comforting.