Chef-Designer Serves Up Unique Blend of Services

Chef-Designer Serves Up Unique Blend of Services

By Denise Vermeulen

Eager to bust these "myths" wide open, Silvers has built his business on a client base that is very much focused on cooking. His expertise as a professional chef and his design experience work hand in hand to meet his clients' needs.

Whether designing a small kitchen for a 35-ft. boat or a 4,000 sq.-ft. kitchen for a well-known television producer, Silvers says he is serving a client who has explored many possibilities. "My clients have been to various showrooms, they've been told about the kitchen triangle, and they've been turned off by people who don't understand cooking," he says. Silvers maintains that the kitchen triangle often creates an inefficient workspace.

A cook's philosophy
"Kitchen Design with Cooking in Mind" is not only a successful book written by Silvers, but also the name of his business.

Silvers draws on his background as a commercial kitchen designer to create the serious cook's kitchen. He asks customers to consider the restaurant kitchen and its design. He asks them about their menu, as well as how much storage space is needed for raw, frozen and canned food.

Although the client's kitchen will be scaled differently from that of a restaurant, Silver says he looks at the space in the same way. He reminds his clients that the busboy never crosses the cook's path in a restaurant, and that same philosophy should apply to a residential kitchen.

Silvers' design philosophy results in a workspace that is 
custom-tailored to meet a cook's needs. Based on a thorough analysis, Silvers makes recommendations that might include building cabinetry a few extra inches wide, identifying the best cooktops for a specific style of cooking, or installing separate sinks for food preparation and clean-up. 

Silvers' California clientele has included Hollywood stars and executives who often have a professional cook on staff.

"California offers the cutting edge of design," notes Silvers, who works out of 
his home in Los Angeles. He adds that these kitchens tend to be more spacious than in other parts of the country, and there is an opportunity to utilize nature themes and natural light.

Occasionally, Silvers is called upon to create a kitchen design for a cook who has very specific cooking needs. For instance, he has worked with families who maintain kosher kitchens where meat and milk products must never touch. This requires that all equipment, utensils and cabinets be duplicated. 

Get the word out

The art of self-promotion, however, is not lost on Silvers. He set up an extensive Web site (donsilvers.com), which he notes gets between 20 and 60 visits hourly. 

His success has led to numerous television and print interviews. He has published articles in national trade and special interest magazines, as well as regional newspapers. Silvers also contracts with a public relations agency that primarily focuses on booking him on talk radio shows all over the U.S.

As a well-sought-after speaker, teacher and media spokesperson in his field, Silvers plugs the importance of cooking in kitchen design. "I'm a cook," he says, "and I design from that point of view." He adds, "I don't want to hear about the kitchen triangle from someone who doesn't know cooking."

Silvers serves 15 to 20 local clients annually, and he notes that he takes those clients completely through the project. He even offers to cook a meal with the client at the end of the project, providing tips on use of the space and appliances.

Silvers' business, however, stretches clear across the country. In addition to his regional work, he also completes 30 to 40 sets of design plans annually for clients in other states.

So, what advice does Silvers offer CKDs who lack professional chef experience? "Take cooking lessons and learn to cook for at least eight people," Silvers says emphatically. He adds, "Don't become a CKD unless you can cook. You don't have to be a professional chef just be able to cook!"

Kitchen Design With Cooking In Mind

LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRINCIPALS: Don Silvers, CKD and Chef Consultant
SHOWROOMS: None
HOURS OF OPERATION: "24-hours each day"
EMPLOYEES: Three
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: None
DESIGN SOFTWARE: None
SPECIALTIES: Designing kitchens for the client who wants his/her kitchen to "cook well" and look good. 
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY: 
"I am what I purport to be: I'm a cook and I design from that point of view."

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