In a home, a kitchen can be a cozy, comforting place.
In a restaurant, it can be chaotic.
Of course, it’s rare that two such spaces should ever meet — except in the case of those who entertain often and well. Such is the situation for Scott and Simone Lutgert and their home, an Italianate beauty completed in 2007 on Venetian Bay.
In addition to their year-round, everyday entertaining, the Lutgerts are trustees of the Naples Winter Wine Festival. As part of that event, they host a vintner’s dinner, an exclusive epicurean evening that gives their guests a chance to enjoy the offerings of some of the world’s great winemakers and chefs. Past chefs include Thomas Keller and Jonathan Benno. The 2011 festival is this weekend, and the Lutgerts will welcome Eli Kaimeh, the chef de cuisine at New York City’s Per Se. It’s hardly the sort of soiree one would want to plunge into unprepared, but their kitchen has consistently proven up to the task.
The secret is simple: With Rob Herscoe, partner of Herscoe Hajjar Architects, the couple considered what role their kitchen would play in their residence, but never forgot that it was also a part of their home. Initially, the Lutgerts debated installing a true commercial kitchen, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be satisfactory.
After all, not only did the kitchen aim to accommodate the needs of top chefs and their staff, but also to fit a family that includes seven grown children, their spouses and kids. It needed to be a place where people could come downstairs for a late night snack, scramble mid-morning eggs and hang out at the holidays.
“It’s more than just the wine festival,” Scott said. “This kitchen has to work when we have lots of people over.”
In designing the kitchen, some of the concerns were logistical. Having worked in a restaurant as a young man, Herscoe understood that those kitchens are zoned for cleanliness and efficiency, and certain areas needed to be separate. A prep person, for example, never needs to be in a dishwashing area.
For that reason, he designed a 110-square foot dishwashing area just off the main kitchen. This is home to two commercial grade fast-wash Miele dishwashers and a dishwashing sink; when hosting a large party, the last thing anyone wants is a dirty-dish backlog.
Other design concerns were equally practical. Organization and adequate storage were essential for the kitchen and its attendant areas, Herscoe explained.
“A place for everything, so people aren’t on top of each other,” he said. “That’s critical for pulling off these dinner parties.”
Off either side of the kitchen are pantries. The first, a butler’s pantry, is a wenge wood cabinet-lined space filled with the couple’s plates and flatware, all neatly stacked and labeled. The second is a food pantry, stacked with dry goods. The pantry is also home to a spare refrigerator; this is where the Lutgerts tuck their personal goodies when the wine festival comes to town, Scott Lutgert notes.
But since it wouldn’t be nearly enough refrigeration during the days leading up to that event, the couple’s kitchen also includes side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerators and also four additional refrigerated drawers tucked beneath nearby counters for additional cool storage.
“I’ve got refrigeration everywhere,” Simone said. “But it works.”
These refrigerators are invaluable in the days leading up to the Vintner Dinner, when the couple receives food deliveries from the attending chef — foods that have been readied at their restaurant and packed on dry ice, such as sauces. In addition, the chef and his staff also prepare fresh, locally bought foods.
The refrigerators aren’t the only extra equipment that the kitchen boasts. As with refrigeration, one can never have enough ovens, Simone explains; the Lutgert kitchen has four. The six-burner gas Wolf range is topped by a residential, commercial-grade exhaust system. Nearby, are a built-in steam unit and deep fryer, and a commercial icemaker, coffee maker and tea brewer are also at the ready.
At the center of the room is an island, topped by a single piece of 5- by 9-foot white Carrera marble. Not only is it good for culinary reasons — marble’s cool surface is excellent for making candies — it’s also a stunning piece of stone. White subway tiles serve as a backsplash throughout the kitchen and sparkling terrazzo floors further add to the room’s sleek appeal.
The day of the event, the chef and his staff go into action, preparing what is technically considered a four-course meal, although often includes much more, Simone notes. Finally, dinner is served, and it’s spectacular to watch, as food streams from the kitchen, seemingly effortless.
This year, the Lutgerts will host 36 people at their “Life is a Cabernet”-themed party. Ann Colgin of Colgin Cellars will be their special guest vintner.
“It’s phenomenal,” Simone said of past events. “It’s just amazing to me. It all comes out.”
2011 NAPLES WINTER WINE FESTIVAL
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- Photo Gallery: Wine Festival Auction Lots
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- Photo Gallery: Inside the Lutgert kitchen for Wine Festival
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- Photo Gallery: Naples Children and Education Foundation updates child well-being study
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- Winter Wine festival auction raises $12 million for kids’ charities
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- Live Blog from the Auction: 2011 Naples Wine Festival totals $12 million for kids' charities
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- Kids in need: Bruce and Cynthia Sherman chair 2011 Naples charity wine festival
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- From cozy to haute cuisine: The Lutgert home kitchen was built to satisfy family and vintner dinners
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