A kitchen is born

Last week, Jon and George got my kitchen working at last. George finished up the undercabinet light valances, most of the other misc. bits of trim, outlets, and switches, and Jon hooked up my faucets, disposal, drains, dishwasher, and refrigerator. On Friday, the two last big things remained: the range and the hood. These were big in more ways than one.

First, the range presented a surprise. Oakland code requires that gas hookups be made in an adjacent cabinet, so that you can switch off the gas without pulling out the range. Wolf design requires that gas hookups be made behind the range. So Jon had to replumb the gas line–argh!

Next, the range is huge and heavy. It has legs in front but giant casters in the back, so that somewhat normal humans can move the thing, but it’s 36″ wide (just under a meter) and therefore had to enter the kitchen sideways. That meant that Jon and George had to roll it as close as possible on a dolly, then ease it onto cardboard sheets, then sort of slide it over the cardboard sheets until it was far enough in that they could finish the job on the rear casters. It’s a good thing it didn’t have to go very far.

The hood presented some challenges of its own. I’ll spare you the details of how complicated it was to install the inner duct into the ceiling duct inside the chimney while attached to the fan-and-damper mechanism and while attached to the underside of the hood (the part you see when gazing up into it while cooking), because I’m only vaguely aware of all the little gotchas, but it involved lots of things that all had to be done first, so that what they ended up with was a large, clumsy, intricate contraption that one person had to raise up into the ceiling ductwork while the other tried to find access to the screws that would secure them.

I stayed in my office most of the time.

The hood is supposed to extend to 30-36″ (just under a meter) from the cooking surface, and it was right at 30″. The problem is that 30″ off the stovetop (even given my higher-than-usual 37″ counter and stove height) is about 6″ below the top of my head. We all agreed that it was way too low–it looked monstrous, dominated the line of sight, and was perfectly positioned to do skull damage to anyone of Vangian height.

Jon and George suggested taking out the 12″ chimney section and hang it directly from the ceiling, at 42″.

I called Vent-A-Hood and explained my predicament to their rep. He said that, especially over a grill, it really did need to be in that 30-36″ range for a 100% capture of all the smoke, vapor, and grease. He suggested that I could order a custom-fabricated shorter chimney extension, but he didn’t know how much that would cost (presumably a lot more than the $280 standard 12″er) and did know it would be at least 6-8 weeks to get it. I asked how bad he really thought it would be to move it up to 42″. He said that, off the record, he thought it would be fine, so I gave Jon and George the go-ahead to take out the chimney section.

An hour or so later, it was done. I wish I had pictures of George holding the whole thing from below, both arms overhead, looking a lot like Atlas, while Jon maneuvered around him to screw the thing into the ceiling, but I’m pretty sure they both would have killed me if I’d gotten out my camera at that moment. Instead I took a turn at holding one side of the hood so George could shake some circulation back into one arm. About the time I should have moved to the other side, Jon had finished up overhead, and George dropped his arms in relief.

At this point, Jon had to rush off–he was already late getting home to leave on a week’s vacation hiking in the Sierras–and while George did some clean-up, I made my first meal in the kitchen. I was rushing off to an emergency opera gig–my friend Alicia had gotten flu, so I was sight-reading Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet in Walnut Creek–so I didn’t have time for much, but I did get out a skillet, some butter, and some eggs, and I made me and George the best darned plates of scrambled eggs I’ve had in a long time.

I spent most of last weekend moving into the kitchen. Only one size of drawer/door handles had arrived in time to be installed last week, so most of my doors and drawers have blue masking tape handles for now, but the kitchen was fully functional at last.

In a later post, I’ll wax ecstatic about how nice it is to cook in this gorgeous kitchen. For now, I leave it to your imagination. Place yourself in these pictures:

Moved in!