Q&A: capable kitchens

Q&A: capable kitchens

Housing speaks to a cook, a chef and an architects on kitchen essentials, what makes a good kitchen and their very own spaces.


Cass Proudfoot


Joe Snell is an architect with additional experience in interior design, lighting design and large-scale urban event installation including Vivid in Sydney. Joe was a judge on the Seven Network’s House Rules over four seasons. Last year he released his debut book Your Best Home.

Q: Do you have a kitchen design essential?

My personal favourite is to always put a window behind the sink, there is something about sunshine sparkling through water that just makes your day better.

Q: What do you cook in your kitchen?

We have three growing boys so the family dinner is the primary focus of the kitchen. Getting that on the table every night is no mean feat, so an efficient practical kitchen is mandatory. On weekends Laura does sometimes bake bread which always feels like a treat.

Q: What is essential in your kitchen?

The dishwasher. For years we lived in a non-dishwasher house, so having one now still seems like a dream come true, especially with so many meals to cater for. A dishwasher gives you more time with your family after dinner which, for us, is a crucial time to relax together.

Q: What is the ideal kitchen bench?

The ideal benchtop is non-porous and easy to clean. Look for products that are able to have large surface areas to reduce joins. If you must have a join then design it into your bench as if you put it there on purpose. Also look for products that are strong enough to allow for an overhang for the breakfast stools. A big bench as a centrepiece that can cater for all the action and where the kids can sit up to and be part of it is great fun.

Q: Do you like to have the kitchen open to the rest of the house?

The act of preparing a meal should be shared, it is a time that allows people to come together and have a common task that everyone can benefit from. Even if it is just sitting nearby and having a chat with the cook. In fact some of the most intimate chats happen at these times as there is a sense of camaraderie yet informality that is uncommon elsewhere. And of course a glass of wine never hurts.

Joe Snell
Joe Snell: ‘A big bench as a centrepiece that can cater for all the action’
Julie Goodwin
Julie Goodwin: ‘It’s all about having everything in easy reach, so the cooking can just flow’


Julie Goodwin was the very first winner of TV blockbuster MasterChef. Her family-style cooking and friendly personality spawned a career, with recipe books, morning TV, magazine columns and now a Central Coast breakfast radio program. She also runs a cooking school, Julie’s Place, in Gosford, NSW.

Q: What is your kitchen like?

My home kitchen was built prior to MasterChef, so it is fairly standard, but my cooking school was custom-designed as a domestic kitchen. The people who come to learn there are not going home to commercial kitchens.

Q: What is your ideal kitchen design?

For me it is all about having everything in easy reach, so the cooking can just flow. I want drawers for pans, so you can see straight away what is there, without reaching to the back.

I need everything handy and accessible to the stovetop, so I can reach all the utensils on one side, the spice drawer on the other, all streamlined so the cooking flow is easy, and I only move to get ingredients – usually I have those all prepared already so I can just get in the zone and cook.

Q: What are your kitchen essentials?

Two ovens or at least a double oven. Especially if you’re cooking for a crowd – well my family certainly eats like a crowd! Multiple ovens are really helpful for things like pavlova or pork belly that need to cook low and slow, and you can still be roasting potatoes and other bits and pieces in the other oven on nice and high.

A walk-in pantry with modular shelving so you don’t find those things in the back corners that have been there for a year. Stone for the benchtop – I love the feel of it. I love the weight of it. I feel like I’m serious about cooking when I have a stone bench.

Q: What don’t you like in a kitchen?

The kitchen I don’t like is one that has no home or heart to it. It needs to be open to the house. When we were buying a house many years ago we walked into lots of houses and just walked straight out, because the kitchens were shut away. I don’t like a kitchen that looks like it’s never used.

Dominique Rizzo
Dominique Rizzo: ‘At home I love the generosity of my large rectangle kitchen bench’
Q&A: capable kitchens
Dominique Rizzo: ‘I love natural light and views of my outdoor garden’


Dominique Rizzo is a Queensland chef of 20 years. She creates pure, delicious, healthy food to inspire people to choose good options and still love their food. She draws on her Sicilian heritage to lead cooking tours to Italy, and has her own cookbook My Taste of Sicily.

Q: What is essential in your kitchen?

My induction cooktop. I have been in love with induction for a few years now and can’t think of having a kitchen without it. The speed, efficiency, easy cleaning and extra workable space it provides is amazing. It has given me so much more room and makes it a joy to cook anything.

Q: What is your ideal kitchen design?

As I am used to working in restaurant kitchens, convenience and great use of space and timing has always been optimum, so my ideal kitchen design has me being able to access my stove, dishwasher, oven, sink, main island bench and all of my storage drawers in a matter of one or two footsteps. I love windows, natural light and views of my outdoor garden. Two smaller sized ovens are a must as opposed to one large oven and big drawers and cupboards are sensational for easy access to all my pots, pans, equipment, plates, bowls and glasses.

Q: What is the ideal kitchen bench?

The bigger the better. I am a creative chef and at home I love the generosity of my large rectangle kitchen bench to spread out on and be able to have a few dishes being prepped at one time. Stone is my favourite surface and as I am tall I like to have my benches a little higher than normal so they sit just under my elbows when I am chopping and I don’t have to be bending over the bench.

Q: What don’t you like in a kitchen?

What I don’t like about some kitchens is the enormous space you have to travel to get anywhere, from the stove to the benchtop, from the fridge to the pantry, from the dishwasher to cupboards. I like a tight efficient space. Also carpet in kitchens – this I will never understand. Deep cupboards that you lose items in and have to keep rearranging to get anything and pantries or dry food storage areas that are impossible to keep organised again because they are in deep, dark cupboards.

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