Chef’s Table episodes 5-6

Sometimes, the best things in life are hidden or perhaps they are right in front of you without you even knowing it, as in the case of New Zealander chef Ben Shewry’s Melbourne restaurant Attica. Considered one of the top restaurants in Australia and among the world’s top 50, Attica is Shewry’s creation after having succeeded in putting authentic Australian cuisine on the map. Some say that Shewry is the next big thing in the culinary world and food critics and bloggers are flying halfway around the world to see what the fuss is all about. For many years, gastronomy in Down Under has had an identity crisis, struggling to differentiate itself from the influences of other countries. Shewry and many chefs began to make a connection to their own roots by using native ingredients that are indigenous to Australia. However, Shewry’s success story did not come without sacrifices. In this fifth episode of David Gelb’s Chef’s Table, Shewry talked about the quieter, darker story behind his depression despite his own carefree, happy upbringing by his hard-working parents, who taught him and his sister to be self-sufficient at an early age. For many years, he worked long hours, seeing very little of his wife and children. During the times he was with them, he felt like he wasn’t really there. He wasn’t happy with his work and came very close to not cooking any more. Although he was frustrated and feeling helpless, he didn’t admit his feelings and did not want to burden his wife Natalia. But Shewry’s misfortune had an unlikely turn of events when he went fishing with a fisherman named Lance Wiffin, who owns a mussel farm an hour’s drive outside Melbourne. While they went gathering for mussels, Wiffin was telling him how he was nearly going out of business, because of a shortage in mussels and scallops. He nearly gave up but he had a family to feed and barely ever saw them. That’s when Shewry realized that he had to make a choice; to make time for his family, which will help him rediscover his love of cooking.

ben_abalone_18-2 Shewry started to reconnect with his young son, who formed a basketball team with his friends, by becoming their coach. He has been doing this for the past three years now, and also volunteers as a key fundraiser and ambassador for the Helping Hoops basketball program, which promotes growth and mentoring for underprivileged kids through sport. He realized for the first time that he enjoyed something outside of cooking. He was remembering how much his father, always his great hero, had played a role in his childhood. His father saved him one time from drowning when he was caught in a riptide while he was collecting mussels on a reef. His family and friends reminded him that what’s important in life is not whether you are one of the best chefs in the world but that you are remembered as a kind person. And that in order to create something significant, you have to be happy doing it.

magnus Voted as number 19 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, chef Magnus Nilsson’s Faviken claims to be among the most isolated restaurants on the planet. Located in the cold, desolate, rural yet beautiful countryside of Sweden, where six months out of the year, nothing ever grows, Faviken has become one of the most sought after fine restaurants in Scandinavia. An ever-changing tasting menu at Faviken has caught the attention of food critics and travelers alike and a chance to eat in his restaurant has since become a rite of passage. Nilsson’s techniques in transforming traditional Scandinavian cuisine into innovative and thought-provoking dishes using only local ingredients can be challenging at times, considering seasonality isn’t what he and his cooking staff could afford. When he isn’t foraging or hunting wild game on the estate, Nillson employs the use of preserving vegetables and curing meats in their root cellar, which is an old and effective method of food sustainability in their part of the world. Nilsson is an absolute perfectionist in the kitchen. He discusses how most restaurants normally have less-trained staff doing all the menial tasks, such as peeling potatoes and carrots, etc., while the more experienced chefs end up plating the food. He argues that this way of doing things holds no accountability. Instead, he has his trainees on the pass with someone who announces and controls everything while the chefs are in the back actually cooking until it is time to plate the dishes. This way, everyone is expected to carry out their best from the beginning. Outside of the kitchen, it is all about controlled timing on how to serve his 20-30 course tasting menu; a rapid succession of 180 seconds at first and then the pace slows down to every 7-8 minutes, only to speed up again throughout this 2-1/2 hour long meal.

faviken_2014_food_2 700_faviken-restaurant-2Signature dish: (above) Scallops cooked over burning juniper branches

Like most young chefs at the time, Nilsson began his career by moving anywhere away from home. He chose Paris, but it took him quite some time and desperation to finally get a job when he almost gave up and return to Sweden. He was fortunate to work three and a half years at a one star restaurant named L’Astrance. Right around the time of the financial collapse, Nilsson ended up coming back home to work in Stockholm but it was short-lived. His talents were not recognized and he had little opportunity to express his creativity. He no longer enjoyed cooking and gave it up. A friend of his, who was working at Faviken, asked him if he would be interested in becoming a consultant, and soon he convinced himself to accept the job since he and his wife were expecting a baby. Slowly, Nilsson’s ideas opened everyone’s eyes and the restaurant started to achieve recognition and awards, which drew more and more people. As fate would have it, the young Nilsson, who once left his homeland to try and open the best restaurant in New York, Paris or London, has come home to his roots with a greater appreciation and created the best restaurant in the middle of nowhere.

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Chef’s Table episodes 3-4

Somewhere in the middle of Patagonia, a middle-aged man wearing a gaucho-style hat stands over a pit of roaring flames, stirring fire wood with a shovel in one hand and sipping a glass of merlot in the other. We are of course talking about one of the most celebrated chefs in Argentina, Francis Mallmann, an expert at grilling (or burning) food over an open flame. After spending many years with the best chefs in Paris, Mallmann went back to his native Argentina and continued serving gourmet haute-French food to wealthy Argentines. He eventually grew tired of it and the pretentiousness that came along with it, including his own. So he decided to return to his native roots as a young child growing up in Patagonia. Ever since childhood, Mallmann was always intrigued by how the gauchos and Indians cook with Argentine ingredients and wood fires. As primitive as it may sound, Mallman’s method of cooking comes down to an exact science. He is obsessed with all aspects of cooking with fire, the coals, ashes, etc. He is a master of his craft when it comes to Patagonian pit cooking, known as curanto, in which potatoes, vegetables, and/or fish are wrapped up in a large muslin cloth and then steamed underground for hours, not to mention his preferred style of grilling (or smoking) an entire animal over a pyre. Mallmann talks about how every young chef or artist or writer wants to emulate his master and then the relationship slowly loses its creativity and passion. At some point in life, one has to turn around and find a new path of his own so that the next person can take his place.

In this Thursday, April 9, 2015 photo, chef Niki Nakayama cuts fish at her n/naka restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Niki Nakayama is one of just six chefs to be profiled on Netflix's first homegrown documentary series,

In this Thursday, April 9, 2015 photo, chef Niki Nakayama cuts fish at her n/naka restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Niki Nakayama is one of just six chefs to be profiled on Netflix’s first homegrown documentary series, “Chef’s Table,” which features some of the most innovative chefs cooking today. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Niki Nakayama is an extraordinary Japanese American chef who began her career working under the guidance of renowned chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera at their notable Brentwood establishment Takao. Her philosophy of cooking is based on kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner which consists of a sequence of dishes, each small, refined, and artistically presented. While traveling abroad in Japan for three years, Niki immersed herself in the many different styles of Japanese cuisine, based on regional flavors and the seasons of the dish. She stayed in a relative’s ryokan, or Japanese inn, where she became an apprentice for chef Masa Sato and learned the art of kaiseki. It is an art form that is carefully balanced by the sequence of dishes, taste, texture, style, and color while using the freshest local ingredients to enhance their flavor. Following her journey, Niki returned home to Los Angeles and opened up her first restaurant, Azami Sushi Cafe with some help from her family. Although it was successful, she felt that she was limited in her freedom to express her creativity and independence. Nikki describes her struggles of being a female chef in Japanese cuisine which has been traditionally a male profession. Although she is soft-spoken, she speaks of kuyashii, a Japanese word that describes one’s desire to prove someone wrong when challenged or doubted upon. It is this inner drive and dedication that has earned her esteemed recognition in the art of Japanese cuisine. Niki and her staff meet often to discuss the upcoming reservations and the serving of their customers’ favorite dishes, something she learned along the way from her predecessor Takao Izumida.

Chef’s Table episodes 1-2

After the success of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, film maker David Gelb conjures up Chef’s Table, a  Netflix Original series about six renowned international chefs, whose names are making headlines in the culinary scene. The episodes dwell into the passions, emotional connections, triumphs and hardships of each chef. Each introduction is beautifully told before a mesmerizing choreography of the chefs’ artistic creations, all set to the opening theme of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons Winter – Allegro Non Molto.

l_3177_massimo.bottura-1-Chef Massimo Bottura

In episode one, we discover how Massimo Bottura, an Italian chef and restaurateur of the three-Michelin-star Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy, overcame his struggles of re-defining traditional Italian cooking. He developed a love for cooking at a very young age while watching his mother, grandmother and aunt preparing family meals in the kitchen. Over the years, he apprenticed under some of the world’s renown chefs, including Alain Ducasse in 1994 and then at El Bulli under Ferran Adria, the groundbreaking Spanish chef who is considered the father of molecular gastronomy. While living in New York, Bottura met his future wife, Lara Gilmore, who introduced him to contemporary art, which has later become an influential part of his creativity and genius.

New York chef Dan Barber with his dayÕs worth of food at his restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, New York. (From the book What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets.) Staff hold spoons holding food tastes representing the hundreds of tastes he takes during his cooking day.Chef Dan Barber (right)

Arguably one of the most influential chefs in the farm-to-table movement, Dan Barber, co-owner of the Blue Hill restaurant in Manhattan and the Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Hudson Valley, is part farmer and part chef who discusses the importance of local organic farming and sustainable agriculture. In this second episode, he goes in depth about raising many kinds of livestock and how that can yield lush pastures for the animals, and ultimately bring better tasting organic produce and delicious flavors from the organically-fed cows, pigs, goats and chickens to our tables. This concept of producing and consuming food locally has been around for quite some time with influential farm-to-table establishments, such as Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, advocating for the return of simple traditional cooking based on freshness, seasonality, and local availability. Barber poignantly describes how immigrants coming to America saw an abundance of food by way of refrigeration, mass food production, air freight, supermarkets and so forth, and perhaps then wondered why it was necessary to become a culture of great cooking when everything is readily available. Most of the greatest cuisines of the world came out of hardship, where peasants and villagers had to come up with simple preparations of “vernacular food”. So while the upper class were eating filet mignons and other nice cuts of meat, the undesirable parts of meat, including the organs, were utilized by the peasants for cooking various dishes, stews, and soups. This is how our ancestors ate. Nothing was wasted. What we know as French cooking started out this way. Chefs like Fergus Henderson and April Bloomfield have been bringing this nose-to-tail eating concept back to the culinary scene. 0837 Some food writers have pointed out that this food-to-table concept represents the polar opposite of the food-as-art, or deconstructed food, philosophy, pioneered by avant-garde chefs like Ferran Adria, Jose´ Andrés, and Heston Blumenthal.

Departures

About 2 months ago, I stumbled upon Departures, a traveling adventure tv series on Netflix about two long-time high school friends Scott Wilson and Justin Lukach, who decided to take a year off from work to travel the world. Accompanied by cameraman Andre Dupuis, who met Wilson during film school, the three journey together to all corners of the globe to learn about different countries, cultures and histories, while forming new friendships, experiencing the ups and downs of traveling away from their loved ones, and ultimately returning to their old lives awaiting back home. The Gemini award-winning program is wonderfully documented with amazing cinematography, music, and visual storytelling. There have been rumors that season 3 will be available on Netflix sometime in the near future.

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Artist, Astronomer, Earth mover

Would you pay $6,500 to see inside Roden Crater, the land art that James Turrell has been working on for nearly four decades? Perhaps it is fitting to post this on the birthday of two individuals whose works I admire, artist James Turrell and John Pawson. The two share an affinity for the perception of light and space.

I have been intrigued by the Roden Crater Project for over a decade when I first learned about it in the New York Times. Writers have been comparing the 400,000 year old Roden Crater to the ancient Mayan pyramids or a modern-day version of Stonehenge. Turrell conceived his grand project as an exploration of astronomy, celestial events, and the study of light and perception of space in particular. During his seven month-long search in North America for a specific location, Turrell happened to fly over the crater in his single-engine plane. He managed to secure funding for the project in 1977 although major construction did not begin until 22 years later, moving about 1.3 million cubic yards of earth to shape the Crater Bowl and the network of underground tunnels and hidden viewing galleries beneath the crater.

Located 40 miles northeast of Flagstaff in Arizona, the Roden Crater project is currently closed to the public due to its incompletion. “I ask for your patience, realize that no one has been more patient than I have.” – James Turrell

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http://www.artnews.com/2015/02/19/james-turrell-allowing-limited-visitors-to-roden-crater-for-6500-a-person/

https://vimeo.com/92427529

2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal Winner Peter Zumthor in conversation with RIBA’s Tony Chapman

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, known for his exploration of tactile and sensory qualities of space and site-specific buildings, is arguably one of the most sought-after members of his profession. Unlike his peers, he is one of the few design practitioners who keeps a low profile, which is not surprising considering his wooden barn studio is tucked away in the little town of Haldenstein in the Swiss Alps.  His prominence has earned him the opportunity to pick and choose the commissions that come his way, and yet he remains quite soft-spoken while letting his ideas do the talking. The 72-year old son of a cabinet maker began his apprenticeship as a carpenter in 1958 and founded his own practice in 1979. It is widely known that he spends a considerable amount of time on each commission. His hard-edged, modernist buildings look as if they were built by hand, with a craftsmanship quality about them that grounds his buildings both figuratively and literally.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-radio-and-tv-21894859

A nod to the past and the future

I was first introduced the term ‘adaptive reuse’ during my third year in the architecture program at Woodbury University. There was an exhibit in one of the studio galleries which showed some of the students’ work during their summer travel abroad in Paris and Barcelona. Their beautiful drawings, rendered in pencil, ink and water color, captured the traditional architectural details and interior axonometric perspectives of church and other monastic spaces. The students were instructed to meet at a particular location in the city and come up with a design for a contemporary space within the existing shell of a historic building. The idea was to learn, observe and appreciate the importance of historic preservation while experimenting with contemporary intervention; how can an existing space, whether sacred or iconic, be reused for adaptability to various functions?

Around that same time, a few of us became interested in deconstructivism, an avant-garde movement in contemporary architecture which included the works of Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Thom Mayne, Daniel Libeskind, Eric Owen Moss, Coop Himmelb(l)au, to name a few. It is characterized by buildings that were often times fragmented and chaotic, revealing exposed structural elements inside and out. Some examples of their work involved the conversion, or transformation, of abandoned buildings that were carved out to make room for these “collided” insertions and additions.

Pyramid-Louvre-staircase(above) Grand Louvre entrance by I.M. Pei

Most of the architects mentioned above may not be household names, but you would have no doubt recognizing I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid design for the Louvre in Paris. When you take the escalator down into the brightly-lit excavated space below, beneath all that towering glass and tensile steel, you are caught by the awe-inspiring view of the 17th-century palace looming in the background. Proposed in 1983 by French President Francois Mitterand, as one of his Grands Projets, the Grand Louvre was awarded to I.M. Pei, who proposed a glass pyramid to rise from the middle of the main court, the Cour Napoleon, as the new entrance into the world’s largest museum. A majority of the renovation took place beneath the urban scale courtyard, while the old structure remained untouched for the most part. This is a perfect example of an adaptive reuse project. What was once a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II, it was expanded many times to become the present Louvre Palace. 500 years later, Louis XIV decided that it would be a museum to display the royal collection, including artifacts from ancient Greek and Roman antiquities. After the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre would house the nation’s greatest art masterpieces.

churchbookstore03(above) This Dominican church in Maastricht, Netherlands was converted into a beautiful, modern multi-level bookstore.

Many other famous museums slowly followed suit, including Herzog & de Meuron’s Tate Modern in London, which was transformed from an old power station into a new building for modern art. As older buildings become obsolete and can no longer sustain their programmatic requirements, adaptive reuse becomes a viable option for the preservation of sites, even on residential-scale projects.

In 2010, an abandoned eight-story water tower in Kennington, London which was registered as a landmark building, made local headlines as two developers decided to turn it into a living space. However, they were met with not just legal and financial complications. Structural damages over time were exacerbated as it became a nesting ground for pigeons, and plants taking root within the crevices of the detailed brickwork. With architectural features like diagonal brick buttresses, stone lintels, and other Romanesque features, it resembled the Venice Campanile in St. Mark’s Square. The 150-foot tall tower was transformed into a three bedroom, four bathroom home, with a living room soaring eight stories high in what used to be a square cast-iron tank designed to hold 750,000 gallons of water. The space was retrofitted with large windows on all four sides to provide amazing panoramic views of the city skyline. An existing concrete staircase within the tower is now connected to all the bedrooms and baths via a new elevator shaft. A new modern 980 square foot, 3-story addition, known as the Cube, was added on to make room for an open-plan kitchen and a modern, spacious living area that were otherwise too large to fit within the tower. The 4,000 square foot renovation was no easy feat, costing the developers £2 million, or $3.2 million with a tight construction schedule of eight months.

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Living and Eating

This cookbook epitomizes my passion for both architecture and food. It is the collaboration between British architect John Pawson and food writer Annie Bell, which demonstrates how the philosophy of simplicity can be achieved in the rituals of cooking, eating and living. Minimalism is the idea of living simply by paring things down to their essential. With cooking, it means highlighting the individual ingredients themselves to appreciate their natural flavor and textures and pairing them with complimentary ingredients. The aim is not to eat tasteless food nor eat for the sake of eating but to learn that eating can simply be enjoyed without overpowering the actual flavor of the ingredient. Pawson and Bell also discusses the fundamentals of kitchen design, sauce pans and cutlery.

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Interview with Today Sotheby’s International September 2014

Today Sotheby’s International Realty WHO DESIGNED YOUR HOME?

Lawrence Cheung About five years ago, my parents gave me an opportunity to design my first ground-up house. I was very fortunate to take on this project, because it was a learning experience. All of my years of working in an architectural office in the east coast and as a project manager for my father’s construction company were put to the test. A former client and family friend was also interested in being a part of this project and played a major role in the design process. We exchanged many ideas with one another throughout construction. It was truly a collaborative effort.

todaySIR WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF YOUR HOME?

LC The house was built in 2013, just a little over a year ago. It is a Spanish Colonial-inspired house from the exterior; very traditional and modest. We wanted to stay true to the architectural style- low-pitched mission clay tile roof, exposed wood rafter tails, thick white-washed stucco walls with recessed-in French patio doors and casement windows. The interiors are more subdued with a simple and elegant material palette of white walls, timber beams, wide plank white oak floors and pale travertine. The house needed to blend in with its surrounding of native California live oaks. We even planted a stunning oak tree out by the cobblestone-paved courtyard to look as if the house was built around it. I always pictured it as an old country villa that was completely revamped with all the modern amenities and conveniences of a boutique hotel.

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todaySIR WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT?

LC Many people, who have visited the house, often said they love how everything is so open and spacious with an abundance of natural light. I spent months designing the floor plan, elevations and interior sections, simultaneously going back and forth and envisioning how might a family or a couple will want to live in this house. I wanted to create an open plan that provided people a way of orienting themselves throughout the house and yet feel cozy in the more intimate public areas, such as the pantry and laptop station in the kitchen and the space beneath the main staircase. One of my design methodologies is to prescribe a sense of order and proportion throughout the house; making sense of every line that is drawn and visualizing that in a three dimensional space. This is called a horizontal datum. For example, the drop ceiling in the family room lines up with the underside of the kitchen soffit; the edges of the master bath skylight meet up with the corners of the walls supporting the floating vanity; the top of the entertainment unit becomes the top of the floating stone bench in the family room. Your eyes become drawn to these visual connections as you walk from one space to the next and everything seems to make sense. Because it is a minimalist house, these visual connections are more apparent than in your average home. Designing and building a bespoke minimalist home (or building) is without a doubt very challenging, because everything has to be so precise, and there are no crown moldings, baseboards, and other architectural wood work to cover the joints between walls and ceilings and floors.

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todaySIR WHY DID YOU BUY IT OR BUILD IT?

LC During the schematic design phase, I remember my parents suggesting that perhaps the bathrooms could be a bit more contemporary. Naturally, I took that as an invitation to design a  traditional house that has both an Old World charm and a minimalist aesthetic. I was interested in tapping into the high-end real estate market. Many wealthy foreigners and young entrepreneurs with growing diversified stock portfolios are either building their own dream homes or in search of one that is unique with style. Around this time, I was reading about hotelier and real estate developer Ian Schrager, who gained fame as co-owner and and co-founder of Studio 54 in New York City. I admired his concept of introducing the boutique “hotel as lifestyle” in his residential and mixed use projects such as 40 Bond Street and 50 Gramercy Park North. This idea inspired me to treat this house as something that is one of a kind.

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todaySIR WHAT WILL YOU MISS ABOUT IT?

LC We spent almost a year and a half building this home so there were quite a few lasting memories. One of my favorites was observing how the morning sun light comes through the stairway window by the barrel vaulted staircase. It is very ethereal.

todaySIR WHAT WILL YOU REMEMBER?

LC This project was a labor of love. It taught me that if you really believe in something and work hard at it, no amount of reward will make you happier than seeing your creation come to fruition. “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” – John Keats

todaySIR WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING ABOUT YOUR HOME?

LC The exterior has a very timeless quality about it. Timelessness is very important to me, because an object or building should withstand time and not be labeled as something “trendy”. That is why most people can identify with traditional homes. Whether it is a Shingle Style or Georgian colonial, a beautiful house is well-proportioned and historically accurate. After I graduated from Woodbury University, I took a trip to Europe and marveled at the magnificent cathedrals and beautiful monasteries. I came back with a greater appreciation for the generations of master builders and craftsmen who spent their entire lifetime building these glorious monuments. I was fascinated by their traditional building methods and so I began borrowing their ideas to get a better understanding on why we are so drawn to vernacular architecture. As a minimalist, I have a deep found respect for tradition and a desire to create minimal spaces that compliment both clean, contemporary lines with old-world touches. I am spiritually drawn to the monastic aesthetic, celebrating solidity and mass while using a minimal palette of natural materials set against a backdrop of plastered white walls. I like the purity of white, because it is essentially a blank canvas to work off from. It brings clarity to a space and provides a nice juxtaposition to the colorful landscape vistas in the background. The views from the windows become the art itself. When one enters this home, one can see the Spanish Colonial influences- the timber beams, the thick walls, the wrought iron railing, etc. but that is the extent of it. Beyond that, Roman travertine wash basins and limestone floors, wide-plank oak hardwood flooring (with knots and blemishes), and pale rift white oak cabinetry reveal something that looks more revamped farmhouse/ monastery than hacienda. Even the beams and rafter tails were lightly stained to bring out the natural color of the wood as opposed to the typical dark brown wooden features that we see in many Spanish Colonials.

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todaySIR WHICH ROOM IS YOUR FAVORITE?

LC The kitchen and family room are my two favorite rooms. Technically, it is one large open space. It is the corner of the building where the two wings intersect. It is the place where guests come to hang out by the kitchen island while the hosts prepare them with cocktails and appetizers. Definitely the perfect spot for hosting a Super Bowl party or watching the Oscars. Many people have also commented how they love the LED uplighting behind the 21′ long cantilevered stone bench. It gives the dramatic appearance of weightlessness, as if the stone bench is floating.

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todaySIR WHAT LITTLE DETAILS DO YOU TREASURE?

LC Early on, we thought that this house would need to make a statement as soon as you walk up to the front door. The door is the first thing you touch so we thought it would be extraordinary to give this brand-new piece of walnut that aged, weathered look. My client instructed me on the multi-step process, which he learned from the artisans who had worked on his own front door. First, we had to bleach it three times; next, we gave it a subtle wire brushing to open up the grain and soften the corners and edges; I used a utility knife and chisel to score deep grooves and chamfer the edges to resemble cracks. I found an old chain on the job site and used it to beat the surface so that it was covered with little indentations. I drilled a couple of screws through the end of a wooden stick and bludgeoned the door to make it look like it was riddled with a thousand worm holes. Afterwards, I applied a very dark stain so that it seeped into the wood grain, and then I quickly wiped the surface so that only the stain remained in the grooves. Finally, I put on three different coats of a lighter stain so that the darker stain came through to give the wood depth and richness. Some people told me that they had thought it was a salvaged antique door that we picked up somewhere.

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I also want to mention about the integrated stone wash basins in the powder room and the master bath room. We were fortunate enough to find eight slabs of vein cut Roman travertine all the way down from Southern California. This natural material has beautiful veining (or streaks) across the surface and it is harder than limestone, but softer than marble or granite. I instructed our stone fabricator to miter the 9″ thick edges of the stone with all the veining in one direction and no seams so that it looks like one monolithic piece. The inside of the wash basin is comprised of 3/4″ thick slabs that are epoxied together to form a box. There is a narrow slit on one side of the basin for the water to drain in.

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We also decided to have flush baseboards (or recessed baseboards) throughout the house to bring the wall surface to its simplest form. If we applied baseboards over the wall surface, the vertical wall plane becomes staggered. It was very challenging to build, because the floors needed to be dead level and all the walls had to be plumb and straight. From a practical standpoint, you end up not having to clean the dust off the top of the baseboards.

todaySIR WHAT QUIRKS?

LC The bright turquoise windows shocked some people at first but the color eventually grew on them.

todaySIR WHY IS THIS A GOOD PLACE TO LIVE?

LC The property is located in one of the sought after neighborhoods in Hillsborough and only minutes away from South Hillsborough elementary school. It is less than a five minute drive to downtown San Mateo and about fifteen minutes to San Francisco International Airport. The hillside property is surrounded by native oak trees with a brand new home that is ideal for entertaining. This 5,800 square foot home boasts ten foot high ceilings with museum-like spaces and dramatic lighting for the art-savvy collector. A spacious kitchen with up-to-date Thermador appliances and a spa-like master bath with Hansgrohe Axor Starck fixtures are some of the unique features that this house has to offer.