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A Chef in Kitchen Quarantine

Posted on: June 15th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

Over the last few weeks, I have spent more time than I could ever have imagined possible in the home kitchen of one of the world’s best chefs – the generous minded: thinker, doer, gatherer and rallyer of people, Massimo Bottura.

And I am far from alone …

Friends ‘virtually visited’, and a few thousand people tuned in nightly for the live broadcast of Massimo’s IG #QuarantineKitchen event, that ran from somewhere near the beginning of his Modena based lockdown, to the end of its restrictions. Featuring Massimo and his immediate family – daughter Alexa (cinematographer, narrator, translator), wife Lara (co-host), and son Charlie (sometimes DJ, and always issuer of important health and safety advice: “Stay Home; Stay Safe; Stay Tuned.”).

The New Yorker ran an article on them, and a cursory Google of the title of this reality ‘show’ will bring you far more detail on background than is necessary for me to revisit here – suffice to say this is a TV show about food and family like you will have never seen before and, I am prepared to lay odds, will never see again. An opportunity to spend time in the home kitchen of Massimo and to chew the fat with him (figuratively), about anything and everything that occurs, as he processes food, thoughts and actions for the day with his nearest and dearest. I feel like I know them – our recently legislated disconnection turning out to be paradoxically connective, and revealing of real lives as lived in domestic circumstances we could only previously have dreamed of imagining.

Massimo appears to live in an apartment, like many in Europe, with large connecting rooms and better ceilings than are revealed in an average UK home (Italian visitors who drop by from time to time, remotely speaking, tend to ‘give good ceiling’ too, as they move their phone lenses upwards and outward, and from one room to another – sometimes in what we can only imagine might be described as an actual ‘palazzo’).

Massimo cooks, it appears, in Gucci – if I owned any Gucci, I would almost certainly wear an apron if I happened to find myself cooking in it, but this is aspirational cooking in a different league from any we have seen before; it is as uncontrived as it is elegant, it is the kind of ‘life as lived’ that only the Italian word ‘sprezzatura’ could ever hope to inhabit or attempt to describe.

We can’t see where there is a garden, but we know Massimo has direct access to some plant life and fresh herbs – and at a time when the world of lockdown has divided as much by ‘those who have’ and ‘those who do not have’ a garden, as by any other metric, this feels important. What we can see is the kitchen, a 360 view, choreographed with wild abandon daily as Massimo flits, and sometimes properly dances, from hob to sink to oven to fridges and freezers, and opens and closes doors to reveal interior contents. I may know more about Massimo’s kitchen than I do my own.

And his kitchen speaks with confidence about who he is and how his family live. It brings home his professional life in very obvious form – stainless steel units and surfaces, on wheels and telescopic legs –and everywhere! It could look clinical without too much effort, but somehow there is nothing clinical about it. It might be the Smurf toy that sits above the oven with a whole host of other curiosities – wearing its chef’s hat and making Charlie smile when his papa grabs it off its perch; it might be the shamble of unidentifiable cook books that sits atop the cabinet, that sits in turn above an impressive knife collection; it might be the well-flamed coffee pots behind the hob, the fruit bowl that decorates the Island unit, the silver Damask tiles that clad the wall behind the industrial-styled extraction unit or, most obvious of all, the Flos 2097 chandelier (design, c 1958, Gino Sarfatti) that illuminates the room.

It could be so many semi-concealed small details, like the framed picture of His Holiness that hangs on the wall above a fridge (and appears to balance a similar sized picture of Massimo on the other side of the arch that leads to a dining table, or two). There are any number of elements that contribute, and allow the room to speak – of personality, design literacy and instinct, utility and memory – some obvious, some discrete – the steel kitchen units wearing their significant design pedigree with the lightest of touches.

And what of the cooking? You may well ask. Often described as a free to access masterclass in the art of home cooking from this world class chef. Importantly, Massimo does not describe it thus – quite the opposite in fact. He emphasises – often – this is NOT a masterclass! And, if you are tempted to follow along for itemised recipes, or precision of thought, this is not for you either; even when Massimo tries to ‘teach’ a skill – one that has long since passed into an instinct as far as he is concerned – he is baffled by the questions thrown at him: “how much” of  “this against that’? – “enough of it” or “what you will” – Massimo literally cannot answer such questions. Basta! You must develop the skill to ‘know’; trust your palate, experiment – use his ideas as guide to possibility, but don’t expect an exact recipe from this man for how to cook this classic item or that. His interest is in knowing his ingredients – how to respect them, how to blend and share them, how not to waste them. There is so much to learn, but you have to be guided by your own instinct on your path to this enlightenment. There are no easy answers, only observations.

My final observation is of the soup tureen that once belonged to Massimo’s grandmother and now sits on a mobile shelf-unit to the right of the sink; here Massimo accesses it with ease and serves from it without ceremony. I have a similar tureen, purchased because I loved the classic elegance of its lines and imagined formal occasions where I might bring it out and ‘display’ it in use; it currently resides on the top shelf of a closed cupboard in my kitchen where I can rarely be bothered to access it for any purpose at all, and would require a step-ladder if I were to try. How I now wish I could keep it obvious – to hand and for mundane use – because I can see that soup shared like a rite into beautiful bowls made to ‘break bread’ around seems inducement to family connection in a way that soup doled out of a saucepan like fuel could never hope to emulate.

I’m not suggesting we all need a soup tureen, or even that where Massimo chooses to keep his is the best way to display it; what I am suggesting is that meaning becomes imbued in the way we choose our objects, in how we keep and use them, in the memories they stir into our souls. And now is, perhaps, a good time to consider the objects that we own and why we give them houseroom. This seems to me a small part of a much bigger whole that I have been observing here; the ‘what we might normally miss’ about the myriad tiny details that turn a house into a home.

Thank you Bottura family for the weeks and months that you have (daily!) invited so many strangers to join you in your beautiful home; it’s been generous, revelatory, touching, informative, and truly life-affirming –it’s also been recorded and awarded – but most of all it’s been ‘real’; an event of a lifetime to be cherished as a precious memory of this time by anyone and everyone who has shared in this moment.

Written by Erica Husain,

Day True’s Better Life Designer.

Day True are available in store or virtually 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 conversation with Tom Aikens – Chefs in real kitchens

Posted on: May 5th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

Here at Day True our priority is to create ‘better lives’ through design – the pursuit of which requires us to be curious; to care about the day to day; to observe the detail. During this coronavirus lockdown we have been both deprived of our routine practice and given opportunity to look beyond our normal horizons – not least via unexpected invitation into the home kitchens of some of the world’s most celebrated chefs!

          

One chef in particular has inspired us: London’s own Tom Aikens, who has opened up his home kitchen to let ‘strangers on the internet’ hang out with him and his, to share how he lives and cooks in real life in real time. Emboldened by a feeling of getting to know him, we shared what we do with Tom, and asked if he would be open to a conversation about what he values in a home kitchen with us – so that we can translate some of his thinking into our ‘better life’ designs. Tom was interested and so, a week ago, Tony and I stood –figuratively speaking– prepped and ready to meet one of the world’s most exacting chefs (Zoom was, of course, involved). We were hoping to gain some insights and wisdom from Tom on what matters most in his domestic kitchen; we brought with us some prompts, as raw ingredients for a conversation, and our curiosity, as melting pot for the ideas we might find to talk about.

Tom helped calm our nerves with some humility and humour – not something we were necessarily expecting from someone for whom ‘driven’ seems the most commonly applied adjective. But putting aside ‘heavyweight industry veteran’ and ‘chef patron’ titles (Tom’s recently opened, fine-dining restaurant – Muse, in Belgravia – has been garnering some mighty fine reviews), Tom is also now a family man, with two young daughters not inclined to cut him too much slack just for being famously good at what he does.

He is changed from the 26-year-old singularly focused individual who made head chef early and was awarded two Michelin stars for his pains (the youngest person ever to be awarded so many stars – still is in fact!). That 26 year old, Tom jokes, ‘knew’ the only ‘right’ answers to any questions were his; the seasoned chef, however, is now as comfortable listening to and learning from others, as he is sharing what he knows – generously, and with the incessant repetition, patience, and dedication that forms the backbone discipline necessary to the art of creating really good food – no matter what the kitchen context, no matter who you are.

This blog is an attempt to document our conversation – a rare ‘long-form’ for Day True (broken down into sub-heads for easy reference). It is a companion piece to the YouTube video embedded here – and we invite you to join us there to watch and listen to Tom in his own words too. Whichever medium you prefer, we hope you might gain some insight, as we did, into how this professional chef, with a knowledge base earned from years of high-end experience, spoke to our domestic focused concerns.

On Daily Bread and Chopping Boards

“Don’t Touch It!” … “I’ll cut the bread!”

Those of us who have been following Tom recently mostly now have a new ‘mother’ to hold close to our hearts; we worry at the state of her health, and closely observe her activity as we do our best to feed her greedy need for flour at a time of shortage.

This is actually where Tony and I came in, independently of each other; watching Tom perform the labour of love that is sourdough bread making on his first IG live. There is ritual, artistry and alchemy here that calls to something very deep – voodoo is what my daughter called it when I got her to tune in – a community-centred, ancestor-worshiping, polytheistic religious act.

There is something very primal about the bread we are currently learning to nurture, and it is the first thing that Tom references when we ask him about chopping boards. Of all the things on his new and complex tasting menu that you might think he would be most anxious about, the one that Tom takes overall control of is the slicing of a loaf. Tough on the outside, maybe, but underneath, a delicate framework created out of thin air, a LOT of gluten rich flour, and a labour of love; too easy to crush, it requires a measured hand, and a good bread knife (an ‘OK’ one is not ‘good enough’!). For this, we needed to talk about something that means more to anyone than a plastic board ever could. Tom favours multiple sizes for different purposes, and acknowledges colour-coded plastic utility as perfectly appropriate for restaurant use but, at home, as in the restaurant, wood is his material of preference – for the way it looks, the way it feels, and for what it says about how you care about the food that it serves.

On Working Surfaces

When asked about the surfaces, it becomes clear that quantity and clarity are as important to Tom as durability. An expanse of ‘reasonably uncluttered’ worksurface is important for keeping some visible order. Some gadgetry, earning its place, that can be pulled in from the edges as needed, is acceptable. Spice jars can be as decorative as they are useful to have sitting in plain sight, and wooden spoons, palette knives, whisks, sieves, spatulas, etc are the kind of things Tom wants to be able to reach for on the surface rather than under it.

Muse, Grooms Place, Belgravia

As a surface layer, steel talks to a professional as a habit that is hard to break – it is not only un-shockable but has durability written into its soul; it looks clean, it is also easily cleanable. But Tom has used nearly every working surface known to man, likes or accepts many of them for their different characteristics (or just because they’re already there), but perhaps hadn’t thought about mixing them all up in Day True style – some marble here for the pastry, a bit of end grain wood as an edge for some readily available chopping surface (even if you must take care when putting anything hot on it, or not mind as it bears its scars – like the average chef – with a certain amount of forbearance, if not genuine professional pride). ‘Every scratch tells a story’ is our philosophy. Once a mix is suggested, and with the caveat of space and budget allowing (this is a man who has just fitted out a restaurant after all!), Tom’s on board with that idea.

Muse, Grooms Place, Belgravia

 Storage Space

Occasionally feeling marginalised on this subject in his own kitchen (a young family has needs of its own!), Tom values as much storage as possible. He laments that large gadgets are not easily accommodated (although we have some ideas …). He talks of storing most things at “900 or below”; from which we guess he’s not a fan of too much overhead cabinetry (although no space need be wasted, and ‘eye-level’ or overhead needn’t involve cupboards).

Hanging racks is just not something he has seen much of recently, although a good use of space is never something he won’t consider. Tom tries, wherever possible, to make sure things taking up space have a reason to be there – he edits and interrogates, on at least an annual basis: what is there; is it proving either useful or beautiful? And, while admitting to having some hoarding tendencies, he knows that, one way or another, there is a need for ‘stuff’ to earn its space.

Appliances

Grooms Place, Belgravia

If Tom were designing his own ‘ultimate’ home kitchen – he would have all the gadgets and the gizmos from a pro kitchen, because they make life easier. This is not about show or a symbol of status, this is just real life – if it’s useful, and you can afford it, he would rather take additional work out of the equation.

What wouldn’t surprise him, incidentally, is if standard kitchen appliances would in future include sous vide functions (vacuum sealing, as well as cooking) and he listed for us the many advantages he sees regarding:

Storage

Shelf life

Prepping a bag that can be cooked and used “2 weeks later”

Saving money and time

Putting something on to cook in the morning before you go to work; leaving it for 12 hours and it being ready with just a ‘flash in the oven’ when you get home.

The Kitchen Table

For Tom a kitchen table represents sociability, and a kitchen should be open (no separate dining areas). In his mind’s eye, the ideal might be something weathered, wooden, maybe even a bit battered. For him it is a place for everyone to share, work, eat, gather. At Day True, our view is that the kitchen table is a member of the family; it grows up alongside us, may inhabit different forms, but is there to bear the knocks and scrapes of family lore and legend.

While all that socialising is going on around the table, I wondered if Tom is as good at ‘socialising’ the work – how easy is it for him to share the working space? His immediate response, complete with wide grin, is that he is able to ‘let’ someone pick up a peeler; but actually, for those willing, he thinks it’s nice to have people help. Whether they want to is for them to offer or choose; he is happy for them just to be there and chat or to pick up a knife and get chopping – that is unless he is prepping a banquet or a birthday celebration, when head down and ‘pro-mode’ may become engaged, and in which case even the washing up may sit quietly in the sink while Tom takes charge.

Design Priorities

On the Professional Choices of Others

I make reference to the home kitchens of some other chefs we have been observing, including multi-starred chef, and ‘man on a mission’, Massimo Bottura, whose kitchen seems homage to commercial utilitarian steel, albeit transplanted into an ornate Italian apartment otherwise furnished with design classics and significant contemporary art (we will visit this subject again!).

Tom and Massimo are friends, and Tom has been watching Massimo’s #QuarantineKitchen and, as it turns out, Massimo has been watching Tom. When Tom first added ‘Aubergine Parmigiana’ to his IG feed, he mentioned it might upset some Italians (not only mushrooms, but a ‘cloaking’ layer of béchamel to try and hide aubergines from children – the provocations as significant as they were multi-layered). What we didn’t know was that one of the Italians who wanted to know what on earth was going on was Massimo himself – a chef known for pushing the boundaries of what memory and tradition will let you play with, currently running an IG live in his own home kitchen where there are no real rules for what you can or cannot include in a dish – so long as you are treating ingredients with respect and, importantly, not wasting a single one of them – and he is not at all OK with béchamel in a ‘Parmigiana’! He called Tom to let him know. There are some memories that will be particular to the current situation.

But the steel setting of Massimo’s conceals a deeper design-centred literacy and pedigree than is obvious at first sight; the hob that Jason Atherton cooks on in his home is very much not designed for a domestic market – so where does a fine-dining chef (for whom the look and taste of a dish, the design elements of a dining space, the functionality and appearance of a kitchen are all well-considered elements) draw the lines at home. On form vs function where does Tom stand?

On the working parts, function is a non-negotiable, but in the soul of a home, form cannot to be ignored. A kitchen for Tom, in any case, takes time to bed in; how it works, what works best in it, where things find their natural resting spaces are not always able to be imagined in advance; for him that’s all a part of a process of breathing life into the objects, space and routine that start to build the essence of real kitchen. And there has to be a ‘warmth’ in a family home, nothing overtly clinical – it needs to accommodate everything from a fried egg for breakfast to a full-on swinging party (we look forward to the day when the latter will return!).

Muse, Grooms Place, Belgravia

He imagines it might be possible to break it into elements; the pro side, incorporating the ‘kit’ where everything is at hand and durable (how often will those doors be opened and closed? How many knocks might a surface suffer? Where is everything going to go?). And then a side where the family feels most comfortable; the part that is inviting – a home kitchen needs to wear a lot of hats, and to do so with a bit of personal style.

Biography and Memory

Which brings us to some memories; starting with a collection we could not have predicted, of old-school ashtrays intended for sharing – we kid you not! Back in the day when a restaurant ashtray was a souvenir (a literal ‘memory’) of the experience of eating or, in Tom’s case, working in restaurants of note, it wasn’t just matchbooks with phone numbers that were there for the taking. Some of us remember those days – some of us have stories to tell of visiting aunts who stole these from local pubs and hid them in guest bedrooms, to ‘shame’ my mother – but that’s a whole ‘nother story, for a whole different notebook. Tom keeps his collection in cupboards, simply so that they don’t get broken, which seems a shame itself. If you’re going to give a precious memory houseroom, …

More visibly, Tom has a monumental sized mortar and pestle inherited from his grandfather, that mostly now holds notebooks and the kind of knick-knacks that tend to accumulate on kitchen surfaces. With the days of grinding ‘loaves’ of sugar or salt as a regular kitchen activity now a memory from a remote generation, there is no real practical need for a mortar of such capacity; and it’s old, and its one moving part feels a little delicate but, as a focal point that embodies familial attachment in beautiful form, it brings an emotional connection that carries its own weight. A large ‘Sugar Jar’ from the same source sits somewhere nearby, maybe once a companion piece to the mortar for when the sugar loaf was processed but now, put to appropriate use, housing sweets for the kids.

Then there is a china teapot-shaped container, purchased in a French market back in the day of working for Joel Robuchon; this holds the teabags, that fuel the chef, that keeps the kitchen contentedly humming – numerous, copious, double-strength (two-bags-at-a-time) builder-appropriate mugs of tea help drive Tom’s day forward. Which reminds Tony of the tea-infused kombucha Tom has also been demonstrating, and the alien-formed ‘scoby’ that Tony is growing in his kitchen – at which point I move well out of the way, only tuning back in again when Tom’s instructions for ginger beer brewing (and something called a ‘ginger bug’) bring us back to something more palatable sounding, and a few memories of my own childhood experiments with fizzy ginger brews, that didn’t always end well.

Top Tips from Tom

 On other people’s kitchens (inherited, borrowed, or visited):

When you walk into a kitchen for the first time, you can normally tell the enthusiastic cook from the person who only ever makes a cup of tea; a kitchen is always ready to give away its secrets to anyone looking to find them.

Tom’s Kitchen Rules:

“Run the show!” – be clean; be organised; maintain visible order.

Follow a routine, and you will become faster and more consistent in what you do.

Keep an eye on your timings! Knowing and allowing for how long something takes to prep and cook – as a regular activity – keeps the atmosphere ‘relaxed’ and helps improve efficiency.

Tom’s focus on his lockdown IG live has been on simple steps and interesting facts – somewhere in the background there might also be a good cup of tea, or an ice cold beer – where and when you draw your ‘beverage’ line is, of course, entirely up to you!

We chatted for the best part of an hour – we had intended less, we could have managed more – and as the hour ticked round, Tony asked was there a question I didn’t want to miss? I went with the penultimate one on my list; the ‘in an ideal world’ option – the view from an imaginary kitchen window at this moment when our view is limited to one strictly from within our own interior. The answer hedged some bets – including both the reality of life in a city and the idea of sheep on a hillside – past and present contained in an idea for time future.  Afterward I worried that I hadn’t asked the bigger question – the how, if at all, is our current experience changing your outlook on what matters to you? But on reflection, I think it is too soon for any of us to know. We have what we have, including our imagined ideas of what we had before, what we might be missing, what we might want to reach for in the future – how this experience will ultimately affect us, and how we feel about ‘home’ is just another part of the mystery that helps to keep life interesting.

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

 

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

https://www.instagram.com/day_true/

Chocolate Chip Cookies – courtesy of @cyril_lignac

Posted on: March 25th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

As the country finds itself at Home, working, teaching, playing we thought it would be good as a team to share our favourite ideas, recipes, design tips and more to all of our lovely followers and friends, with the first of these being a chocolate chip cookie recipe, as witnessed, interpreted and shared by Erica, our Better Life consultant.

This is the perfect recipe to get the kids involved and have some fun, the recipe is inspired by a @cyril_lignac Instagram story, with Erica’s take on it below.

For 20 cookies

120g soft brown (muscovado) sugar
120g caster sugar
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g unsalted butter
A large egg
190g milk chocolate
190g dark chocolate

 

Method:

(mostly ’as witnessed’ from Cyril’s IG Live cook along in his home kitchen as he observes the lockdown in Paris – and he pronounces ‘live’ as we do in English – I checked!)

Measure out, and have ready all of your ingredients (you can add the baking powder to the flour if you like now, and stir together – Cyril added it just before he added the egg, but I can’t think of a good reason why he would do that!)

Cut the butter into squares and leave to soften (NOT to sweat/melt) – at room temperature – near a sunny window will speed this up

(click to watch)

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Erica’s Pro Tip: if your ‘soft’ brown sugar is left over from last Christmas and seems a bit hard (mine was both), weigh it, put it in a bowl, soak a super clean cloth with clean hot water, squeeze it out, then ‘drape casually’ over the top of the bowl (without actually touching the sugar) for an hour or two – it can sit by the butter and keep it company. The sugar will spend this time absorbing moisture and softening back to its prime.

Chop the chocolate into bits and pieces – not so large that the dough can’t easily hold them together, but large enough to matter in a final cookie.

(click to watch)

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(Substitutions: ‘as much chocolate as you have’, if you don’t have as much as the recipe; you can also add or substitute nuts and/or dried fruit)

In a large bowl, using a whisk/wooden spoon/spatula or any combination of the three – whatever works best – beat the butter to make it smooth. Add the (two) sugars, and keep on beating until all are blended (‘official’ baking term: you are ‘creaming’ them together)

Pro tip: you can also use a stand mixer or an electric blender if your butter is not quite soft enough (I did, eventually!), but if the butter is soft enough you don’t need special tools for this recipe.

Crack your egg into a cup/small bowl and break up with a fork; add to the sugar and butter; mix together well.

Add in the flour (sifting in the flour together with the baking powder will help mix these evenly). Mix the flour into the ‘creamed’ ingredients – you don’t need to beat, just mix enough so that you can’t see any white flour. Then do the same with the chopped chocolate – stir it in just to mix it through fairly evenly.

(click to watch)

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You now should have a ‘dough’ – a stiff and shaggy mix that needs taming into a shape like a log. Put the dough onto your (clean!) work surface (probably best on a sheet of baking parchment or clingfilm) and push it and roll it and pat it together until it is log shaped.

Now chill it – Fridge it, Freeze it, Blast-chill it (thank you AEG – I love this gizmo), just enough to let it feel cool and to stabilise it as you cut it into pieces – it should not actually freeze.

(click to watch)

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Set your oven to 170ºC, fan (fun fact: Cyril uses a Miele oven at home – we recognised its ‘tune’); when it is at temperature, cut the log into 20 discs of cookie dough, place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment (allow the cookies lots of space around them to spread out while they bake). Cookies will take about 10 minutes and should be a bit golden when ready; but no more than 12 to 15 max – you want them to stay soft in the middle even after they have cooled.

(Click to watch)

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Cool on a wire rack, don’t try and move them too early (we did, and we had at least one casualty – which had to be eaten IMMEDIATELY! (just to save our blushes!)

Our True Planet!

Posted on: January 8th, 2020 by admin_daytrue

Sustainability is at the forefront of peoples minds when making choices about what they are going to buy. At Day True we are equally concious about the impact our decisions are having on the planet, which is why we choose our suppliers and products with this in mind. We support this because we believe in saving and supporting our planet and we have started our own initiative called ‘Our True Planet’ where we will be regularly sharing tips and products that will make a differrence to the way you live and the environment you live in.

For our first blog we wanted to share a few things to watch out for if you are thinking of investing in a new Kitchen or Bathroom.

If you’re buying a new kitchen then utilise companies that can resell your old one – we can put you in touch with a company that will do this and support you along the way. Always use kitchen brands that have ethically sourced wood. This means checking they use FSC/PEFC accredited wood or recycled/recyclable materials. Our German supplier have environmentally friendly kitchen cabinets to keep up with Germany’s strict laws. If you’re investing in a statement breakfast bar or table then consider a fast growing sustainable wood, like bamboo.

Invest in products that mean you can get rid of single use plastics – cold water and sparkling water taps. This will also save you lots of money in the long run as well as avoiding microplastics commonly found in bottled water. Shop at local farmers markets to avoid the plastic packaging you find in supermarkets as well as helping to support your local producers and shopping seasonally.

Progressive design

Look out for water saving tap and shower options. Quite often they don’t feel any different but will be aerated to save up to 50% less water. It is also advised to only spend between 5-10 minutes in the shower as long showers will strip your skin of the moisture it needs.

Try to invest in appliances that have a high energy rating, A and upwards where possible. This will also save on the running costs of your property. Buy a high-quality fridge that will keep your food fresher for longer.In addition to this, always ensure the kitchen furniture is of a high quality, something that will last forever. Bespoke Kitchens can be repainted in the future if you tire of the colour.

If you don’t have a local food recycling system, then Insinkerators are a great idea for your kitchen. They will turn all your food waste into energy once it travels down to the water treatment plant. If you put your food waste in the regular waste bin, then this will break down in landfill and add negatively to the CO2 emissions. You can even use food waste to make your own cleaning products with white wine vinegar and old orange peels.

 

Use a steam oven to refresh old food from the day before and avoid any food waste where possible. 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year. This amounts to US $1 trillion dollars of wasted or lost food. If wasted food was a country, it would be the third largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world.Similarly, you can vacuum pack food you have bulk bought to avoid missing the use by dates. By sealing your food in a vacuum bag, it keeps your food from contact with the air meaning your product is preserved for up to 3 to 5 times longer. HACK – Cut your vacuum bags to make them smaller and reuse them over and over again.

Minimise deliveries – work with us to plan as few deliveries as possible.

Our business cards are made from recycled t-shirts, so they are made from cotton and not card – no tree’s were hurt in the process.

Lastly and our favourite tip – grow your own herbs, fruit, vegetables and plant babies (they help to purify the air in your property!)

Award Winning Design

Posted on: June 17th, 2019 by admin_daytrue

2019 has been a great year for us so far!

We won two KBB Review design Awards for bathroom design projects AND we just opened our third and biggest showroom in the heart of Wimbledon Village  so we can’t really complain! 😍😍😍


Winning two design awards on the same evening is pretty rare and we are very proud. The two projects were very different, one a loft in East London  and a whole House in Bayswater.

Different tastes for different lifestyles. Each one unique and inspirational.


Winning was really important for us, it’s always great to have industry recognition and it was a great evening.We do what we do because we believe that good design makes life better.  We are proud of our work, kitchens, bathrooms and home design that deliver differently and constantly every time and we can’t wait to build our brand and projects in Wimbledon Village.

 

 

 

 

 

A Day True Year

Posted on: December 20th, 2018 by admin_daytrue

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. (Winston Churchill)

The year is coming to an end, Christmas is approaching, and it is that time of the year when we reflect about what we have achieved and what we are planning for the future.

It has been a hectic and exciting year for us, with many changes and transitions that have helped us to grow and plan the opening of a New Showroom in March 2019. Who would have thought that in 5 years we would have been able to open three showrooms!

But we couldn’t have done it without the people who believed in us and that trusted us in delivering them a better life.

Day True is about being progressive every day. This is our mindset when we design. It is an attitude that accompanies us in our everyday life and drives us to deliver the best result. We love what we do and do what we love, and we always look to find ways to solve problems and enhance people’s life’s.

As a growing business we face difficulties and obstacles, but we are optimists by nature and we always find possibilities and solutions. We are simplifying many things in our business, doing what was right rather than what is easy. this allowed us to expand but mostly to help strengthen our relationships with you.

We like to say that our customers walk in as clients and walk away as friends. Because being approachable and friendly is not a dress that we wear at work and leave at the door at the end of the day. This is how we are and how we will always be. Design should be for everyone and being welcoming and accessible are values that reflects us as people and as a business.

We are looking forward to an amazing 2019 and making lives better trough progressive design! Tony & Hayley

Wimbledon Showroom Press Release

Posted on: December 6th, 2018 by admin_daytrue

Location: 19 High Street Wimbledon, Wimbledon, London SW19 5DX

Dates: March 2019

Marking its 5th year, Day True interiors is incredibly excited to announce its expansion and the opening of its new residence in the beautiful location  of Wimbledon village. The exciting new location is the next step in defining who Day True are, and our brand story as a whole. Our new showroom will focus on the promotion of health and wellbeing and how we can incorporate this into our everyday interiors.

The Day True experience will develop over four floors in a beautiful Victorian building, located in the heart of Wimbledon Village. The first two floors will Showcase our Day True bespoke joinery in Kitchens, wardrobes and living,The redesigned basement will host a fully working Spa, including Hamman steam room, Sauna and the latest solutions in Water therapy, all of which will can be experienced in a private setting to fully explain effect and healing properties in water. Our Day True Garden will provide a flexible space for us and our partners to host various events throughout the year as well as showcase the latest products from around the world. The Garden will also have our first outdoor kitchen, a Day True bar and all combined with plenty or Greenery providing the perfect space to relax with or even one of our own Day True ‘Corner shop’ Gin & tonic’s.

The pop-In Shop

Location: 19 High Street Wimbledon, Wimbledon, London SW19 5DX

Dates: 9th of December – March 2019

We take pride in our corner shop approach and can’t wait to become part of the Wimbledon Village community, Simplicity and approachability are pivotal values for our brand, which is why we will be opening a ‘Pop in’ shop while the construction works are underway.

This POP-IN shop is an opportunity to get to know our community and more importantly, for our community to get to know us. It is an invitation to start conversations and to explain who we are and what we do. We will be launching this on Sunday 9th December just in time to join in the Wimbledon ‘Christmas in the village’ event.