Archive for April, 2020

Car Crash Cook-a-long

Posted on: April 29th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

The next in our series of #chefsinrealkitchens is inspired by Jason Atherton; holed up, we believe, somewhere near Wandsworth Common. Like the rest of us, his kitchen is in isolation (just him and his family). His IG handles and hashtags, should you wish to pay a ‘virtual’ call, are @_jasonatherton #socialkitchenisolation.

Our MD Tony, has been watching with a certain dedication, and made the call on Friday that, not only would he join Jason’s first ‘cook-a-long-IG-live’ (7pm, Pork Milanese, with crushed potatoes, capers, cornichons, and home-made mayonnaise on the menu) but that he was also going to livestream his following Jason, to us following him (while some of us were also following Jason …) – and at about this point I should probably start using words like ‘meta’, but I don’t want this to get too heavy – and anyway, I was already a bit confused (and a bit excited) to find out exactly how all this was going to work.

As Tony got himself ‘screen ready’, Hayley (our Creative Director and Tony’s Wife) prepped for her designated, if un-practiced, role as cinematographer for this IG live. Perhaps influenced by the current (albeit also currently ‘closed’) Warhol exhibit at the Tate, she took a ‘counter-cultural’ approach to Tony’s ‘15 minutes’, opting for a slightly ‘abstract’ feel in setting the camera angle to ‘landscape’ where IG normally enforces a strict ‘portrait’ regime (and for those who haven’t tried, don’t mock – the charm of the IG live is that nobody out there knows what they are doing with the ‘technicals’ – designed to be WYSIWYG we are getting exactly that).

Anyway, those following along had, duly, to decide whether to turn the screen to see Tony standing upright, or to leave it be if they wanted to read (and/or type) comments in a ‘looking glass’ world where ‘chef Tony’, in his bold red apron, cooked in a kitchen apparently unmoored from the normal rules of gravity (and, even more impressive, drank the occasional slurp of red wine at this angle without spilling a drop!).

This extra layer of IG Live undoubtedly added an element of jeopardy to the mix well beyond Jason’s control. Tony was both hosting and guesting at the same time and, as a consequence, sometimes lost the thread of where he was with the instructions, with callouts to his audience to catch him up; sadly, we had all lost the plot somewhere around the capers (or was it the cornichons?), and the mayonnaise may (or may not) have suffered from the lack of a splash of vinegar when Tony’s connection to Jason (temporarily!) went down at a crucial moment.

But the whole event did give us opportunity to note some of the differences between the two kitchens. Tony’s pans are not pristine, or necessarily worth a mention for their branding, and his hob, as others pointed out to him, is not what he would recommend to others (“where’s your Bora Tony?” came through loud and clear in the comments!) or, indeed, anything like Jason’s super-sized, professional induction ‘hotspot’, priced like a sports car, so we are told, and designed for use primarily in high end hotels. But Tony is cooking in a kitchen that has not been designed by or for him, and has no ambition, in any case, to design kitchens only at the highest end of the market (‘good design should be available to everyone’ is his mantra) – he is simply demonstrating, in real time and with great honesty, how a well-designed kitchen would make his everyday life better.

Jason’s kitchen is, I think we can all agree, well beyond the aspirations of most ordinary domestic cooks and, in some areas, beyond my actual comprehension – that glass fronted ‘pantry’(?) cupboard, seen just out of (full) shot behind you Jason – and filled with, from what I can see, a combination of some good-looking cooking oils, glassware and Aptamil – is intriguing me – and I am itching for you to explain all the thinking and the gizmos and the gadgetry on view.

The thing that we love most about your kitchen though Jason, is the kids wandering in and out of shot as and when they need something, without worrying in the least about your new hobby of talking to strangers they can’t see – it is the sense of ‘family’ that is palpable at the heart of your home that is touching our hearts most (including the recipes demonstrated that are not of your making but mean a lot to you and yours – your wife’s adorable Adobo a case in point). Your kitchen may have some very high spec in its profiles, but there is a very relatable domesticity that is an essential part of how it seems to operate – even as you may struggle to keep professional dignity in it when dressed in white shorts instead of chefs whites (but take heart, we have noticed a general lack of reverence to the comments that a pair of shorts seems to inspire).

Things I loved in Tony and Hayley’s kitchen: the Gluggle jug, sitting on the windowsill, between the teapot and the cookbooks (above the toaster), and just next to the ultimate ‘kitschen chic’ salt and pepper shakers (beware, nothing is beyond notice when a panorama is offered!). The kombucha scoby is undoubtedly impressive Tony, but the whole fermentation thing is hard to wrap your head around as an aesthetically pleasing element in the kitchen for those who’ve not yet taken that plunge!
Overall, the cook-a-long was a triumph – the end result looked great, and I enjoyed joining you both for the process (just a shame, in the circumstances, that we all hadn’t cooked along too so we could enjoy the same at home – maybe next time?)

‘Bravo!’ Jason, for bringing us all together – which is what feels most important just now as we enjoy making some new ‘social isolationships’. Learning some cooking skills from a chef of your calibre is a bonus extra – a cherry on top of this beautiful, complex, and multi-layered confection that you are bringing, livestream, into our homes.

Quote of the day from Tony:

“Jason’s a bit more prepared than me, because he knows what he’s doing”

Car crash cook-a-long written by Erica Husain,

Day True’s better life consultant.

During the ‘lockdown’ Day True are available for design consultations and advice, please feel free to get in touch on 0207 788 9229  or email on info@daytrue.com and please follow us on the usual social media channels, we would love to hear from you. x

 

A View from a Parisian Apartment

Posted on: April 10th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

Across the Channel, where they are slightly ahead of us in their domestic isolation, @cyril_lignac has moved on a pace (we shared his cookies ‘back in the day’ of ‘just a couple of weeks ago’, when we were all pretty new to this, and when Cyril was still livestreaming bits of his ceiling as he put down his phone to put together cookie dough).

Cyril is now fully supported by a fully professional TV crew. At the beginning of each isolation week the TV chain posts a menu for the week ahead – featuring lists of ingredients, equipment etc. Every weekday at 6.45pm (Paris time) Cyril cooks live with and for the nation (millions of French people are watching and cooking-a-long at home with this their ‘chef préféré’ of longstanding – Cyril is a Rockstar in his own nation!), and by the end of each programme much of La Belle France sits down to eat the same meal as each other that they have just cooked ‘together’ in their own homes – the concept is pretty mind-blowing – never has community cooking looked, or perhaps more importantly felt, quite like this!

To put Cyril in context, for those who don’t know him, he plays the Paul Hollywood role in the French Bake Off tent, only he’s got a bit more ‘edge’, shall we say, and he runs a slew of successful Paris restaurants, bistros and patisseries, has a Michelin star – he also, we find it very easy to believe, dates film stars.

On the same screen (but in their own kitchens) as the programme goes live are: a well-known TV presenter (a kind of ‘Philip Schofield’/elder statesman type); a (different each night) celebrity guest, and three ordinary  families chosen from all corners of ‘L’Hexagone’ (as France affectionately refers to the shape of its own geography). Cyril checks out what they’re doing, chats, laughs, sometimes dances with them as he takes them through their culinary steps and, as if all that wasn’t enough, he is also live on IG at the same time, responding to messages coming in from the rest of the nation; it is a totally winning formula – oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, it helps raise funds to support healthcare workers on the ground too – he is another hero among them.

But why we are here, is to share what we are noticing about the kitchens (and, on these, the least said about the red high gloss affair attached to one of the celebrity guests on the first night I tuned in, probably the better).

Cyril’s own kitchen has some interesting features. He has opted for an (induction) hob that faces a wall – probably all well and good on an average week night, when the wide-ranging mirror behind it enables him to look whoever else might be in his kitchen in the eye; but for the purposes of ‘facing out’ to his audience right now, and while that mirror is mostly covered (it would otherwise reflect all the TV paraphernalia/crew), he is cooking on a mobile two ‘burner’ induction unit facing into the room – which is not a bad place for a hob to be facing if you don’t want to spend your time at it with your back to everyone else.

Cyril’s worktop is a thing to marvel at – it looks as if it’s made from melted, marbled chocolate – it’s the kind of stone that might well be favoured by a chocolatier (which of course is one of the many strings to Cyril’s bow), and it looks great every day on his IG Stories with his carefully weighed, measured and styled ingredients prepped and on display for that night’s dinner.

As for his oven, (we already mentioned it was a Miele, remember?), but now we have noticed that Cyril is one of those who have also opted for a Miele coffee machine to sit above it. As the proud ‘foster parent’ to one of these in our Wimbledon showroom, I will admit to initially having my doubts about whether I could ever love it as much as one of my cafetières at home. But I have come to realise it just craves the routine that my raggle-taggle bunch of coffee pots have never thought to demand of me (full confession, I often leave them on the side and someone else feels the need to empty/clean them before I get round to it). The machine just likes to have a wash before it goes to bed (nothing too onerous, just a rinse around its tank and trays, and the opportunity to hang out with the rest of the dishes in the drainer), and then in the morning it likes to have some basic needs tended to – fresh water in its tank, its beans counted (are there enough for the day?) and just to check in that it’s not going to need any ‘special treatments’ (the milk pipes, or descaling …) – now that we have our routine in place, we are best friends; it is polite, easy to read, and almost always available for a really good cup of coffee.

But back to Cyril’s kitchen. His oven, coffee machine, fridge and freezer, I took a double take to figure, pretty much hang out in his pantry – which is a pretty novel idea – but in a Parisian apartment, with long windows to a balcony on one side, only one wall to put a run of units against, and a generous island anchoring the middle ground, it also seems like it might just be a stroke of genius.

Cyril, you may well not be reading (/this may well not translate!), but I feel I am getting to know you (and even I can recognise an accent from somewhere in the South); you are kinder than our own Paul Hollywood (Cyril gives contestants advice that can help them – PH, you might like to take note!), and when all this is over, I aim to seek out some of your establishments in Paris – at the very least to taste a cookie from the kitchen of my new Parisian chef préféré; one of the many heroes we are all applauding.

 

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Silver Linings Playbook

Posted on: April 2nd, 2020 by admin_daytrue

As we get used to the idea of ‘living together separately’ (albeit, we hope, temporarily enough to ‘look back’ and ‘learn lessons from’ sooner rather than later), some of us at Day True HQ (Tony, Hayley and me in particular) have become a bit obsessed with taking an opportunity to take a look around the kitchens of those super-skilled in using theirs. Some stars in the firmament of professional cheffery are going ‘IG Live’ and streaming their real lives as lived in some very real kitchens – no editors, no stylists, no gloss – this is life as streamed through the silver-lining of #keepingitreal – a gift generously offered from one domestic lockdown to another.

With a nation looking at store cupboard ingredients they didn’t remember they had, or never did really know what to do with – or just eager to learn from some real masters how to cook some ‘basics’ (and I use that word loosely – these are serious skills on display) – this is also an opportunity that may never be gifted again: to ‘cook-a-long-in-real-time’ daily bread and daily fare with expert tuition and a shared understanding of ingredients currently: available; running short; that we may not have used before, … [delete as applicable …]. This is as much a time to learn ‘supply’ as it is to redefine ‘demand’.

To honour this gift to our professional curiosity, we are starting a temporary blog series of some observations gleaned from our favourite #chefsinrealkitchens. Look out for our notes, queries, screenshots and some shared attempts at some of the recipes offered over the coming days/weeks (@tom–kitchin has already multi emoji-applauded Tony’s version of his ‘Leek and Potato Soup’ (with Perfect Poached Egg) as demonstrated at the weekend)

There is more than one hero out there, taking the time and putting themselves on view in full domestic glory (dogs barking, doorbells ringing, domestic harmony and discord all incidentally and unavoidably present – hands up all those home schooling!); but today’s post is mostly dedicated to the focus of our current obsession/crush/addiction – @tomaikens – holed up in a Wiltshire country kitchen filled with the glorious humanity of two families with young children, self-isolating (literally) together – with the occasional ‘noises off’ from the dog (not yet seen, but once heard worrying at an unexpected –to the dog at least– sourdough ‘slam-down’).

Our business is to design ‘better homes’; it is our obligation to be forensic in our observation of lives lived and, originally assuming this was Tom’s own kitchen (we soon learned that it’s not), we were keen to observe some of the choices and practices of this normally Mayfair based, internationally renowned, Michelin-coronated chef. Why the choice of a flame throwing range cooker chef? (we hadn’t, at this stage, even seen the full five door white AGA on the other side of the room). What material surfaces might you favour if your day job requires worksurface as workhorse –as capable of keeping pastry chilled as not cracking under the stress of the occasional(?) hot saucepan – and, yes, we do worry at such things.

We see the aprons hanging behind the door, the dishwasher tablets stored on the opposite wall to the dishwasher; we know that this family is not averse to gadgets on the worksurface – at least when they earning their place there (shout-out to the KitchenAid as one many will recognise); we know which chopping boards are much loved wedding presents; we even know where the bins are and what they are being used for.

We are watching the ease and the pain points of the choreography of everyone who is using the kitchen every day (it’s not always just Tom). We see the need for some stable chopping/working/landing space closer to the stove, and we are wondering at the lack of obvious extraction (and thinking about how that back wall might be reconfigured if Fiona (whose kitchen it actually is) really doesn’t like her range (heard on Monday calling across the room: ‘Don’t buy one!’ to the observer asking the question: “what brand is …?”)

And then there is Harriet (known as Harryo), the other star of this show; she chooses and comperes the questions that Tom is being asked to answer – she knows when they might be getting tedious for him, but she is diligent and careful with the questioners all the same. She is NOT one of Tom’s daughters, she does not want to be a cook/chef, she has other plans – but Harryo need not, in any case, be defined by her relationship with anyone else or by what other people think she might be good at – she is a charismatic, charming, beyond competent ‘10 year old’, all in her own right!

We are observing ‘kings of their realms’ (when in pristine white jackets), seem comfortable at this moment in their civvies – T-shirts, shorts, roll necks, lumberjack shirts, socked or bare-footed, often catering to the most demanding audience of all – the unforgiving honesty of children and the people who know them best, friends and family. It’s humbling, edifying, intimate, generous, levelling, comforting as well as educational – locked down like the rest of us, keeping whatever routine is possible, going through some daily rituals and emotions in real time – and demonstrating to us how people yearn to be ‘together’ in kitchens, no matter what the circumstances.

History and memory is being created in front of us – and we are as much participant as witness. We are learning new things about what we do, why we do it, and about the kind of detail nobody normally even remembers or thinks about during their ‘normal’ day to day. These times, of course, are not ‘normal’, and they may change our habits for a lifetime, which is why it feels important to learn as much as we can, as soon as we can; so that we can also respond to new needs, to newly recognised values, to new ways of seeing and being in the world and at home.

And Tom, if you are reading, we are loving what you are doing, we are learning so much from you (not just about the cooking), and we would love to do more with you, now or when all this is over, if you are game to help us learn some more.

Silver Linings Playbook written by Erica Husain,

Day True’s better life consultant.

During the ‘lockdown’ Day True are available for design consultations and advice, please feel free to get in touch on 0207 788 9229  or email on info@daytrue.com and please follow us on the usual social media channels, we would love to hear from you. x

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