Designing a cook’s kitchen with Tony Tan

One of Australia’s most respected chefs and culinary teachers, Tony Tan took the time to chat with us about designing a cook’s kitchen and discussed considerations to make during the exciting journey to your dream kitchen.

“Gaggenau and I share the same philosophy – precision and organisation, infused with the same artistic flair for creativity.” – Tony Tan.



What are the three most important things to consider when designing a functional kitchen?

When designing a kitchen there are many things to consider, but three that take the highest priority – layout, benchtop, storage.

The very first thing that you need to decide on is the layout. This is very important as it will determine how you use the space, and exactly how functional your kitchen will be. Once the layout is under control, the design process naturally flows onto the next element to be planned.

The second thing to consider when designing your kitchen is your benchtop. How is your benchtop going to be configured in terms of cooktop, sink and working space? This is certainly connected to the layout stage, and everything within your kitchen design will develop from these initial plans. Each vital consideration should work in a harmonious synergy, as they are all interconnected.

The next most important consideration when designing a functional kitchen is the storage. A good kitchen will have plenty of storage, with easy access to everything that you need while cooking. The layout, benchtop and storage will be the foundation of your kitchen, determining just how functional your kitchen will be.

What considerations need to be made when selecting appliances?

As a cook, speed and precision are important considerations; speed is crucial because a diner wants their meal quickly. And precision because every dish that goes out must taste and look just like works of art. Without great cooking equipment, all the speed and precision learnt will go out the window.

If you’re someone who is serious about your cooking, you will need to look for appliances that are of the highest quality and are time efficient. The reason top-of-the-line appliances are so highly coveted is that you can rely on them to last and to work effectively for many years to come. Gaggenau is a prime example of this. When I talk about time efficiency, I’m referring to the combination of appliances that you select. When needing things done fast, it is ideal to have appliances that offer a combination of different cooking methods.

Remember that the appliances you select have to meet your own personal needs in order to create excellent food, so before selecting certain appliances, take the time to understand how you cook, and what types of appliances offer features that will most benefit you and your lifestyle.

If limited for space in a kitchen, which appliances would be on your wishlist?

If I were limited in space and had to choose what appliances I couldn’t live without, I would have to say a combi-steam oven would be at the top of that list. My Gaggenau combi-steam oven allows me to roast and to steam, achieving amazing results in a single appliance. I would also make sure I had either a gas or induction cooktop as well as my combi-steam oven as those are the types of cooktops I prefer to work with. Gaggenau offer a range of Vario Cooktops that allow you to combine both induction and gas components, utilizing the cooking elements that you most desire in a unique combination perfectly suited to your needs.

Tell us about how the layout of a kitchen can affect productivity?

The layout can most definitely affect productivity in a kitchen! When I am cooking, I need to have all the ingredients I need close by. This doesn’t just mean the food ingredients, I need easy access to my sink, the fridge, plates – and these all need to be within reach of my appliances as well.

If a kitchen is not laid out effectively, you will end up wasting time moving between spaces to get what you need. It becomes less enjoyable, and can certainly affect your cooking results as well.

Personally, I love working in a galley style kitchen. This suits my style of cooking as you benefit from having work surfaces both in front of you and behind. The central core of a galley kitchen allows you to store your ingredients and easily work within a triangle so that right next to me is my sink and cooktop, while immediately behind me I have my plates ready to go. An effective triangle configuration gives you easy access to work surfaces, appliances, and the sink, which means your all-important cooking efficiency is maximised.

Even without a galley kitchen layout, the work triangle should be implemented in all different kitchen designs. Think about how you’ll move around the space – can you quickly take ingredients to be washed, then to your work surface to prepare before cooking and finally plating up? This is especially handy if you’re working on multiple dishes simultaneously.

What should people consider when selecting finishes in their kitchen?

The finishes you select for your kitchen need to find the perfect balance between aesthetics and functionality. While stainless steel commercial benchtops are the height of functionality, I understand that they’re not necessarily attractive or appealing in a home kitchen. Even within a home kitchen, there is still a need for clean, functional benchtops and sufficient work surfaces that are hygienic. Think about working with pastry, you don’t want it sticking to the surface of your benchtops. For this reason, I often suggested engineered benchtops such as Dekton. The surface is heat resistant, scratch resistant and stain resistant making it ideal for use in kitchens.

Can the design of a kitchen truly affect the success of the cooking?

Oh yes, most certainly! A poorly designed kitchen is a cook’s worst nightmare! I can personally vouch for that, as I’ve catered dinner parties in the past where the kitchen layout was terrible and made my job so much more difficult.



What sort of storage would be included in your ideal kitchen? 

In my ideal kitchen, I would love the maximum amount of storage that I can work into the space. For me, I was fortunate enough to have the space to include a butler’s pantry, however they are not necessarily ideal for everyone. As long as you utilize the space to maximise your storage, you will ensure that you have room for everything – from your ingredients, to plates and utensils, cookware and anything else you need on hand when cooking amazing food.

If you had one piece of advice for someone about to start designing their own kitchen, what would it be?

My one piece of advice would be to always consider your individual needs. You’re creating your own dream kitchen, and that doesn’t necessarily need to look like what other people might be doing. Investing in high quality appliances means your kitchen will stand the test of time and you can continue to enjoy cooking in your dream kitchen for many years to come.