Cooktop Conundrum

I am always amazed and astounded to see a beautiful, high-end kitchen in a magazine that has a cooktop in the island. Moorea”s clients who have islands often comment that their family and guests gather around it during food prep and cooking. Why would you want your children and their homework around a hot stove? Why would you want to give your guests a free steam facial complete with a fine coating of grease?

Seldom do the photos of an island cooktop show an adequate vent – one up above that needs to extend at least six inches on each side of the cooktop in order to suck up all steam and odors. And who wants such a dominating visual in the middle of a room? Especially in the summer, your family and guests may need to “leave the kitchen if they can”t stand the heat.” Do you really want to be alone at an island that should serve as blackjack a gathering place?

An island is the centerpiece of your kitchen, drawing the eye and encouraging lingerers. Traffic swirls around it. The hot, steamy part of cooking can be off to the side. Seriously, please let me know why ever a cooktop would go on an island?

Designer”s Note:
People who want cooktops on the island think it will make for a more social kitchen. They imagine starring as their family”s Food Network Chef preparing meals while talking and socializing. But it seldom works out that way. In addition to the ventilation and safety concerns Dyanne noted, there is an even more pressing issue. Time. Sixty percent of the time spent in the kitchen is prepwork–washing, chopping, seasoning, mixing, grating, whipping etc. Only fifteen to twenty percent of the time is spent actually cooking–and that is often unattended work; you put the onions on to saute and go back to the cutting board to finish chopping the other vegetables. So the question is, do you want to be social and face your guests fifteen percent of the time or sixty percent? The best use for an island is lots of continuous counter with a prep sink (see my blog post on second sinks). It”s more social and more comfortable for your guests. If you are the next Rachel Ray and really want a cooking surface on the island, try a single burner induction unit like this one. You can still have your large range with good ventilation for the stinky, splattery items and use the smaller induction burner for those times you want the cooking process to be more visible.