Moe Smith will be the first to say it's not his kitchen --- his domain is outside where, year round, he established his reputation as king of the grill, grilling everything from hot dogs to fish and corn to peppers. "He used to barbeque every day," his wife Bernice says. "He'd put anything on the grill."
Despite what Moe says, the custom-built kitchen in his bright, airy home in Egypt was designed for two. He and Bernice, owners of Unkl Moe's Barbeque (439 West Avenue, 464-8240), spent years cooking together here for family reunions of 50 to 60 people before opening their restaurant one-and-a-half years ago.
"Every summer we would have family gatherings; that's how it all started," Bernice says.
The expansive room has a wide vista across a broad, 10-foot-long island. Windows and sliders on two sides let sunlight pour over the soft beige and pastel walls and counters. These soothing colors are hard to keep clean, but Bernice is a stickler for cleanliness, sometimes staying three hours at the restaurant until it's spotless. "You can't leave it dirty for the next day," she says.
When the Smiths designed their house, they pushed out the end wall of the kitchen so there'd be even more room for cooks and guests. "I wanted it to look not large, but open," Bernice says.
In addition, the Smiths opted for a wider-than-usual aisle between the island and the appliances. At four feet wide, it allows plenty of room for the couple to maneuver. The major appliances and sink flank the island on two sides and stools line the third. "I can cook and serve right here," Bernice says.
The 40-inch GE range has two pairs of burners - one set for each cook - with a warming area in between. Two ovens below accommodate both cooks and their various dishes. "He has his oven and I have my oven," Bernice says. She makes baked chicken, rib roast, and corn bread. Moe makes delicious spicy baked beans, from an old family recipe, that are now served at the restaurant. Don't forget to ask for them; they're not on the menu.
The pantry is a convenient shallow closet that runs parallel to the island, next to the refrigerator. And the refrigerator has a special feature that puts food-safety mavens' minds at ease. Instead of sitting on the counter during summer cook-outs, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise reside inside the "handi-door," a little flap that opens into the condiment section without letting the cold air out of the rest of the refrigerator.
Today, compared to the bustle and chatter of Unkl Moe's Barbeque, their home kitchen seems a little lonely. "We haven't entertained since we opened the restaurant," Bernice says. On Sundays, however, when their 29-year-old son comes home for dinner, Bernice makes a big meal. "I send him home with some food for the next day."
The couple has embarked on many adventures together --- raising a son, building a beautiful house, and running a popular restaurant. And through it all they've shown a healthy respect for each other that reflects their love.
"She doesn't let me in the kitchen," Moe says.
"He's too messy," Bernice says.