HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


The tiny NYC kitchens of some real NYC chefs

Article in the NYTimes this morning including the kitchens of Jahangir Mehta ("Next Iron Chef") and Anita Lo ("Top Chef Masters"). Apparently they don't have "chef's kitchens" or anything like it-

Even for Chefs, Home Kitchen Can Be Tight Fit

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, I mean, they live in NYC...and most chefs aren't exactly raking in the dough unless they have that "celebrity chef" status and can make money outside of the kitchen. And even then, they're not exactly raking in the money like other celebrities in other fields, or Wall Street bankers and top lawyers.

    And looking at the photos in the article, those kitchens are freakin' HUGE for 1.) anywhere in NYC and 2.) any reasonable person! I would do many, many illegal and morally objectionable things to have anything close to the two kitchens pictured! Mine is probably half the size of Jehangir Mehta's, and with far inferior equipment.

    This just further proves my belief that the NY Times is just totally ridiculous (and I'm as liberal as they come).

    4 Replies
    1. re: yfunk3

      Darling, I first realized the NY Times was ridiculous back around 1996 when I noticed they were declaring $250 hotel rooms in their travel section a "bargain."

      1. re: Roland Parker

        If you think the TImes is ridiculous, try the Wall Street Journal !

        1. re: Roland Parker

          .Before I opened the link, I had imagined that the chef's' kitchens resembled the one I had when I lived in Manhattan. Honestly, only one person could fit in the kitchen..no counter space--and the space I DID have, I had to share with roaches!

          I'm an extremely liberal person, but the NY Times just gets more and more elitist and pretentious with every issue.

        2. re: yfunk3

          I looked at the article before I started to read the replies to the OP and I was going to say more or less the same thing. Those kitchens sure didn't look that small to me.

        3. Jehangir has enough counter space to seat two toddlers and still cook! That is not small. I live in a reasonably large one bedroom apartment (800 sq ft), not in NYC. My kitchen has enough counter space for a microwave, a toaster, and a cutting board.

          My parents have a "chefs kitchen" and I hate cooking in it. It's just too big. I like being able to move quickly from fridge to counter to stove. I've long preferred galley kitchens, and if my current kitchen had just a few more feet of counter space (and upgraded appliances) it would be perfect.

          A while back, the Times ran a piece on Mark Bittman's kitchen. It did a much better job of depicting a serious cook who could easily make do without the bells and whistles.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mpjmph

            That article on Mark Bittman's kitchen was real to us New Yorkers. The article today was just silly. The whole Wednesday food section is getting smaller and smaller and less and less relevant. Used to be my favorite section of the paper and I barely scan it any more.

            1. re: JoanN

              yes, yes, yes, and yes...to everything you just said! (though this article actually appeared in the Metro/NY section, not Dining.)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I agree with Joan too. I know this article didn't appear in the Dining section, but I feel the same way. And here I thought it was just me.

          2. Need definition of a tiny kitchen. I wish I had one of them, these are way larger than my kitchen

            1. i think both of those look like kitchens i would enjoy having, even here in Ft Lauderdale where space isnt a huge issue!

              1. They look small to me...but I live out west...we like our space!

                1. 8x8 kitchen? Poor babies! LOL They would HATE my kitchen.

                  In my kitchen I'm basically spinning around in one spot when cooking.
                  Cutting board in front of me, stove behind me, sink to my right and fridge to my left...while straddling the trash bin. HAHAHAHA

                  1. As somebody who can reach the fridge, sink and dishwasher from her stove, I have to say that these are not tiny kitchens. Julia Child's kitchen in Paris? Now that's more like it.

                    1. That really is annoying, those are huge kitchens by NYC standards. Where is NYT published from these days? Texas?

                      1. I feel SO sorry for poor, pitiful Mr. Mehta. How DOES he manage?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Jay F

                          He's keeping his mind nimble remembering how to spell the names of his children. Both these kitchens are bigger than mine and I have a 1600 sq. ft. single family home, not an apartment.

                          Why do they need big kitchens in their apartments anyway? They can just go to their restaurant if they want to cook.

                          1. re: 512window

                            I e-mailed the writer and she responded in a snit, telling me I didn't understand the needs of Manhattan multi-millionaires.

                            She ended with this side of snide: "It saddens me that you would have so much anger about a small feature about kitchens." Notice that she said "a small feature about kitchens" and not "a feature about small kitchens."

                            I guess I'm no longer part of NYT's target audience. Let me eat gateau.

                            1. re: 512window

                              Maybe this is a new NY Times "fake trend": NY Times reporters who are so far removed from reality that they think their demographic will believe the crud they spew out in their lifestyle articles.

                              Oh, wait. That's a real trend, so it'd never appear in the NY Times. :o)

                          2. I don't even live in NYC and realize those kitchens are massive. Well, certainly bigger than mine in my studio where it's one wall long and I have one counter long enough to roll out dough and that's about it.


                            1. It's not necessarily the size of the kichen, it is the functionality of the space. My SIL who is an interior designer has dealt with some extremely tiny kitchens (too small for appliances for example) and has done miracles with them.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: chefathome

                                where does she work? :-) she can redesign mine, to FITa replacement for my 24 yr old fridge..the new ones are all so deep!

                                1. re: toodie jane

                                  If you're willing to fly up here to Canada I'm sure she'd be happy to help! :-D She did, however, re-design our Croatia kitchen from her house without ever having set foot out of this country! She's done huge commercial spaces, churches, stadiums, etc. but her favourite challenge is small spaces. She is very good!

                              2. Question: Having never been in a typical (is there such a thing?) apartment kitchen in New York what would the approximate dimensions be?

                                23 Replies
                                1. re: chefathome

                                  With or without the shower included?

                                  1. re: Cachetes

                                    LOL! seriously. i think my first NYC apartment - a teeny shoebox of a studio - was the same size as Mehta's kitchen :)

                                    @chefathome, it depends somewhat on the size of the entire apartment. but when i escaped from my horrid infinitesimal studio and moved into a large 1BR by NYC standards (~800 SF, maybe more), even that had a small, really narrow galley kitchen - there was barely enough clearance to open the oven door all the way without whacking the cabinet across from it (no chance of opening it while standing in front of it), and it wasn't more than 5 feet long...and all things considered, that was actually a decent-sized kitchen.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Wow your apt. is large (I think ours is only about 600 sqft.). I remember loving an apartment on Mulberry Street but the shower in the kitchen was the deal breaker for my then-roommate (who was not from NY). <<sigh>>

                                      I think in Manhattan especially the kitchens tend to be rather small and are often galley-style as ghg describes. We consider ourselves tremendously lucky (and friends always comment) that even though our apartment is tiny, we have a fairly generous kitchen (we could fit a twotop table if we chose). But even with that space, I only have one countertop to work on that basically is the size of my large cutting board

                                      So I was so totally jealous of those faux-tiny spaces depicted in the article. I think Anito Lo's kitchen is my entire living room!

                                      1. re: LNG212

                                        i was really lucky - a family friend was connected to the management company that owned the building. large space with a newly updated kitchen & bath, elevator building, full-time doorman...though it was in Murray Hill - not exactly the most exciting location for a single girl in her 20's. yawn.

                                        it's funny, out here in SoCal you do get more for your $, but every time i've had to look for a new place in LA or SD i've still had a hell of a time finding something with a decent kitchen! my current place has the best one so far in terms of counter space and the quality of the appliances. but even though the apartment is over 1050 SF, the kitchen is 'only' 6 x 8.

                                        1. re: LNG212

                                          Thanks for your descriptions. That gives me a clear picture on NY apartments! Having seen some small kitchens (and reading about these) the calibre of food that can be produced in them (I'm sure yours!) is staggering. I guess space is something we tend to take for granted here in Alberta. If I had a tiny kitchen I would be forced to keep it neater than I keep mine - I tend to spread out like crazy. You could not call me the tidiest of cooks, that is for sure!

                                          1. re: chefathome

                                            That's a really good point -- the small space certainly does force one to be neater. It also forces one to clean as one goes. I'm always amazed at how many pots/pans/everything gets dirty when I with my sister in the suburbs in her large kitchen!

                                            1. re: LNG212

                                              My friend's kitchen has a 20 x 5 foot island which looks wonderful in her massive kitchen. You could practically curl (as in the sport) on it. She has four kids and they like to bake together. Her room is almost too large to be practical. By the time you walk from one end of the island to the other you are practically out of breath! :-D

                                              1. re: chefathome

                                                we have close family friends in NJ who have a *ridiculous* kitchen. the room itself is easily 600+ SF, and they've got 2 islands, a Viking 8-burner range PLUS a double wall oven, 2 dishwashers, and 2 Sub-Zeros. it's partly because they do a ton of serious entertaining, and partly because they're somewhat ostentatious :) regardless of the reasons for its existence, i COVET that kitchen.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Six hundred square feet is the size of the largest apartment I lived in in NYC. That one had a 30-inch gas stove and a dishwasher in a galley kitchen, as opposed to the one with an 18-inch electric stove and sink not that wide that was a corner of the main room (of course, that one was less than 400 square feet; and yes, I cooked Thanksgiving dinners and had people over; one makes do).

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                    Re: ghg - I think I just got drool on my computer.

                                                    1. re: thursday

                                                      yeah, i never really enjoyed the parties at their house because a lot of their friends & relatives are a bit snooty, but i loved hanging out in that kitchen and just fantasizing about the possibilities...

                                                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                      sounds very much like my cousin's kitchen. She's married to a CEO of a very large company. They do entertain a lot, and I think the kitchen is well used. It is HUGE.

                                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              Exactly! I remember stopping by a sublet that my friend had taken, and his shower was literally this contraption that he would hook to his kitchen sink, and it even had a shower curtain that he could draw around him.

                                          2. re: chefathome

                                            Not typical, but my fourth Manhattan residence (I was still in college) had a kitchen that was a closet. That's not a metaphor - it was an actual closet, with a hot plate and a toaster oven and a half-fridge and a free-standing cupboard. It was about 16 square feet. Anything involving running water had to be done in the bathroom sink.

                                            Fast forward a quarter-century: I lovelovelove my kitchen, which meets all my kitchen needs but is still small enough that I cannot open both the dishwasher and the cabinet it faces simultaneously. Well, I could, but there would be damage.

                                            1. re: chefathome

                                              Assuming there is more than a stove in a corner somewhere...

                                              1. re: chefathome

                                                My kitchen is 8 X 12 and it's the largest, by far, of the three kitchens I've had in Manhattan. In fact, I heard one real estate agent call it an eat-in kitchen because you could fit a 30"square table in there. Of course, you could only sit on two sides of that table and one chair would block the door, but quibble, quibble. My first apartment had a half-sized refrigerator and a stove that you couldn't stand in front of while opening the oven. I could only give dinner parties in the cold weather because I needed the window sill for food storage. Dishes were done in the bathtub--unless it was being used to store the liquid refreshment. I used to have sit-down dinner parties for 8 in that place.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Technically all kitchens that you can place your body into are "eat in kitchens", right? Because you can just take your sandwich in there, and stand and eat it.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    A friend of mine's 2BR Park Ave apartment is in a ritzy pre-war building. The work area of the galley kitchen is about the size of the bathrooms, but there's an archway next to the stove/sink area, and on the other side of that the fridge and more cabinets. It's barely wide enough for one person to work at the sink and another at the stove....if they did, somebody might wind up pregnant! ;-D It's from an era where people who could afford to live there had "help", and hosted dinner parties regularly. The gas stove has 4 burners but is probably only 2 ft wide, and the sink is the size of a dishpan. People shopped for food (or had it delivered) more often than today's average suburban homeowners. Today, way more people want a big kitchen than actually cook every day in it.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Gotta remember, too, that a lot of those ritzy Park Avenue pre-wars were long ago broken up and the kitchens were just squeezed in wherever they could make one fit.

                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        That's true, but I think hers is probably in the original spot, because the back door to the service elevator is there, and there's a narrow window at the end between the sink and stove sides.

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          Do you think it may once have been a butler's pantry? I had a friend with a Park Avenue duplex who had one of those and that was right near the service elevator as well.

                                                      2. re: greygarious

                                                        <<and hosted dinner parties regularly>>

                                                        Where have I heard the saying "size doesn't matter"? :)

                                                        1. re: LNG212

                                                          But we women know the truth, don't we.

                                                          ETA: Speaking strictly of kitchens. Of course.

                                                  2. As a NYer, I found the article to be ridiculous. It would be more fitting for the Onion. My smallest kitchen in NYC was 3' x 2' (including the sink and counter) -- not even enough room for a stove.

                                                    1. those are both larger than my kitchen. It's not just a New York City issue - I live in DC, 500 square feet, and have an 8x6 kitchen. I still manage to cook wonderful food and even entertain a few times a year with homemade stuff. I can't bake, though, because there really isn't enough space for it....oh, and I suck at it.