Right at home
By Lilith Dorko

When chef Michael Farrell and his wife, Gina Ciolino, (pictured left) purchased their historic Bellaire home near Longue Vue House and Gardens, it didn’t need much sprucing up to be spectacular. One of the original structures of the Friedrich Plantation, the brick home boasts a long driveway, a big backyard and plenty of open space for their 4-year-old daughter, Edi, to run around. Their kitchen, situated in the middle of the first floor, looks out into the expansive yard, which Farrell says is one of its greatest assets.

“I love the access to outside,” he says. “We have the pool, the yard, and we do a lot of entertaining. We like to keep the windows open.”

The kitchen, though small in floor space, has gleaming porcelain tile floors, recessed lighting, sleek marble counters and GE Profile appliances. A Frigidaire Signature refrigerator in brushed steel adds to the modernity of the space, but a small dark wood breakfast table in the corner is reminiscent of the home’s past.

“Edi has breakfast there almost every morning,” Farrell says.

Recently appointed as the chef of Le Meritage in the beautiful Maison Dupuy, Farrell brings his vast experience and innovative cuisine to the storied hotel. Farrell says he met and fell in love with his wife in Nantucket, Mass., where she had a home and he was at the helm of Summer House Restaurant. She is a born and raised New Orleanian, coming from the same Ciolino family that founded Acme Oyster House. The two knew they wanted to move back to New Orleans from the beginning.

“We really wanted to be a part of the New Orleans renaissance,” explains Farrell. “And we also wanted to be closer to Gina’s family.”

Despite spending most his time in a restaurant kitchen, he still loves cooking at home; he says it gives him time to enjoy his family and friends. But there is a disadvantage: “It’s very peaceful cooking at home, but here I don’t have anyone to clean up after me,” he jokes. •

Seasoned with style

Kids in the kitchen
By Sarah Ravits

The word “extravagant” is often used to describe the world-famous Galatoire’s kitchen and restaurant, but the personal kitchen of executive chef Brian Landry gives off a convivial vibe of domestic bliss. It’s decidedly more casual than one might expect of a celebrity chef, but he and his wife, Keri, attest that it has everything they need.

The Landrys’ Lakeview home was bulldozed post-Katrina; the couple started from scratch on the same lot with the help of local architect Marc Schroeder. “We were starting our young family and wanted our house to have an easy flow to it that would make it fun for the kids and easy for us to entertain,” says Brian.

“It seems that at most gatherings, everyone ends up hanging out in the kitchen, so we wanted the kitchen to be a focal point of the house,” he continues. “I basically got to design the entire kitchen with Keri’s one demand that we include a bench seat under the windows in the dining room set off the kitchen.”

The kitchen is modest yet elegant in its simplicity: “It’s small but extremely functional, especially when entertaining small groups of friends and family,” says Brian. The floors are made of Soho Black Ceramic Tile, and the Viking appliances include a six-burner stove with a griddle, a commercial-style hood with exterior ventilation, a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer and a dishwasher. The cabinets came from Kitchen Studio, and Triton Stone created the countertops. “I wanted a clean, almost commercial feel to it,” says Brian. “I wanted the kitchen to be black, white and stainless steel.” He and Keri added a subway tile backsplash with blue glass tiles to give it some warmth. Another prominent feature of the kitchen is the island with a chopping block top that was built by Richard Smith, a longtime waiter at Galatoire’s.

With his busy restaurant schedule, Brian often doesn’t make it home for family dinners. Instead, he makes time for his family in the mornings over breakfast –– though he manages to cook dinners on Mondays, his day off.

The Landrys set up stools around the counters for their children, Cullen, 4, and Elise, 2. (Keri is pregnant with their third child.) “The kids are very involved in cooking with us,” Keri says. “They love to stir batters for cakes and pancakes and even insist on using their little kid-friendly knives to chop things. We have a great garden right outside the kitchen door –– the kids help us pick herbs and vegetables.”

The family loves to host smaller, intimate gatherings, and while Brian rakes in awards for his rich Creole cuisine, at home he prefers to cook lighter dishes.

 “I can cook at a much more relaxed pace with a nice glass of wine at home,” Brian says. “And cooking with the kids is also great. They are developing quite the discerning palates even at such a young age.” •

Seasoned with style

Third time lucky
By Lilith Dorko

When creating their ideal kitchen, it seems the third time was the charm for chef Donald Link and his wife, Amanda. Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina, they had completely remodeled the space, only to have to gut it and start fresh in June 2007. The man behind popular restaurants Cochon and Herbsaint –– and now Cochon Butcher –– says he and Amanda finally have the kitchen of their dreams.

“The kitchen really is the center of our house,” Donald says. “I feel right at home and very relaxed. Our 9-year old daughter likes to cook, too, so we really do spend almost all of our time here.”

To maintain the relaxing aspects, the Links and architect Brooks Graham decided to create an open space in which the kitchen would be visible from the living and dining rooms. Michael Haase, certified kitchen designer, of Nordic Kitchens and Baths did design work, and Carr Stone and Tile created limestone countertops in Jerusalem Gold. The countertops are long and deep, with space for sitting as well as cooking.

“We fell in love with it as soon as we saw it,” Amanda says.

“We broke in the kitchen with a party for my staff of about 50 people,” Donald adds. “The limestone has a great feel to it, and these counters are great for entertaining.”

The kitchen features Viking appliances, as well as soapstone light fixtures from Lighting Inc. In terms of the rest of the décor, Donald says he likes to keep things traditional.
“Nothing is original to the house; we tore the entire house down to the ground,” he says. “My wife and I chose the earthy tones because we wanted something warm and homey. It’s really nice having the kitchen exactly how we wanted it.”

Adds Amanda, “What’s most important is how great it feels to be home.” •