After winning MasterChef: The Professionals in 2018 and receiving incredible plaudits from Michelin-starred chefs and judges alike, we invited Laurence Henry to Kesseler HQ to explore our range of luxury kitchens and tell us what he looks for when it comes to his favourite room in the house.
Born and raised in Nottingham, Laurence trained at Ashburton Chefs Academy before working in the kitchens of some of the world’s greatest chefs, including one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants as chef de partie and as sous chef at Nottingham’s critically acclaimed, two Michelin Star Restaurant Sat Bains.
With a passion for Asian food and for creating simple-looking dishes that surprise the diner by being packed with flavour, Laurence entered and won Masterchef: The Professionals 2018.
During the competition he prepared a lamb dish that was so impressive, outspoken food critic for the Observer (and Masterchef regular) Jay Rayner, said: “I have nothing critical to say!”
Fellow judge, Michelin-starred chef Marcus Wareing added: “He is inventive, creative and he leaves nothing behind in the kitchen. In my opinion he is the next generation.”
We invited Laurence to come along to the Kesseler factory in Nottingham, in order to share his absolute essentials for the perfect luxury kitchen and – lucky for us – rustle up some fresh gnocchi using his trusty bespoke knife, made by our brand parter, Blok knives of Derbyshire.
In order to create a little bit of confidence, start cooking with pasta. Pasta is phenomenal. Once you’ve cooked pasta properly for the first time it becomes second nature.
THE CLICHÉ IS THAT THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART OF THE HOME. IT’S SO TRUE, ISN’T IT?
“Absolutely. It’s a really social place, too. So I always want an island that people can sit at, or a breakfast bar of some sort. I just love that. It means people can sit and chat to you while you’re working, and you can share a glass of wine and conversation.”
HOW SHOULD A KITCHEN MAKE YOU FEEL?
“For me, I just want to be happy and relaxed. The kitchen is, obviously, my favourite room in the house.”
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A LUXURY KITCHEN?
“It’s the touch and feel of everything. It should just feel like quality right away. Amazing appliances that make it easier to produce amazing quality food, really clever storage so you can keep things organised and tidy, and a great worktop too.
“Since I’ve been exploring the Kesseler range, you can see why it’s premium. Everything you touch feels amazing. It’s solid and nothing’s flexing or moving about. Even the way the drawers slide closed, or the way the lighting comes on. It’s just so nice!
“That is exactly what you want when you’re spending good money on a space that’s probably the most important room in the house.”
WHICH COLOURS DO YOU PREFER?
“I really like a kitchen that just feels warm and inviting, so bolder, deeper colours really stand out for me. Dark blues and greens I think look really nice and can work in a more traditional kitchen or something modern.”
WHICH APPLIANCES WOULD YOU WANT IN YOUR DREAM KITCHEN?
“This is one of those things that’s always going to be different for everybody, I guess. For me, I like having two ovens and larger ones, ideally. It’s great if you’re doing a roast, a Christmas dinner, anything where you’re cooking for a large family. It just makes life easier.
“Personally, I prefer a pyro cleaning oven as I really hate cleaning! I spend a lot of time cleaning down the kitchen but cleaning out an oven takes ages. So having one that self-cleans is such a timesaver, especially if you’ve got two!
“There are loads of ways to have your appliances laid out (see our Appliance Configuration Guide) but I prefer horizontal and at medium height. You can move about the kitchen and put things in or take things out of your oven without having to bend over all the time. It’s just easier.
I’m also a big fan of a proper burner, a gas hob. I think the induction stuff looks amazing and is really cool in a modern kitchen, but for me, in a professional environment, you can’t beat good old flames.”
LAURENCE’S THREE GOLDEN RULES FOR THE PERFECT LUXURY KITCHEN
“Take your time to find the right appliances. Think about what you’re regularly cooking in your kitchen and get what best suits. Spend a bit of money on good quality appliances. Cheaper ones won’t cook food as well and won’t have the more advanced features. Thank me later!”
“Intelligent storage is really important. I love being able to just slide open a small pull-out larder and have access to all my spices and other bits and pieces. The corner cupboards I love too. You can hide all your pans away. Kesseler’s super deep drawers are fantastic for pots and pans storage.”
3. SOCIAL LAYOUT
“If you spend time in the kitchen with your partner or family, think about the social aspect when planning the layout.
Go for a peninsular that doubles as a breakfast bar or an island with bar stools, for a really nice social feeling. It means you can eat, drink and chat in the kitchen while you’re cooking away.”
EXPLORING THE KESSELER FACTORY
After the interview, we finished with a quick tour of the factory, and showed Laurence some of the state-of-the-art engineering that goes into producing award-winning luxury kitchens in just 2-3 weeks.