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Professional Paradise 

Gerry Vorrasi's kitchen, although still under construction, is a thing to behold. Located in the back of his 1860s home off East Avenue, it's a series of connected rooms that are both beautiful and highly functional. But you might expect this from the co-owner of Restaurant 2 Vine (24 Winthrop Street, 454-6020). He's combined restaurant-industry elements --- a 60-inch Wolf Range on an island underneath a massive stainless hood, for example --- with homey touches, like an armoire that will hold china and linens.

            What does he need with a jumbo range, two sinks, and miles of counter space? Vorrasi may live alone, but he doesn't cook alone.

            "All my friends are chefs, or are in the restaurant business," Vorrasi says. "When I have a party, everyone wants to cook. Someone is making dough; someone else is using the stove. I need a lot of space to let everyone in."

            Vorrasi also gives those in his inner circle cooking lessons. "My friend was in Tuscany and he wanted to learn how to make wild boar ragu. You know, with porcini, cioppolini onions," Vorrasi says. "My guests can pull their stools right up to the island and watch me cook." Sure beats the Food Network.

Vorrasi started the renovation with only vague plans. "My philosophy is: gut it, then you know what you have," he says. Once vents, electrical wiring, and other infrastructure elements are uncovered, he says, you know what needs to be moved and what must be worked around.

            After his kitchen was gutted, Vorrasi bypassed the traditional blueprint step of remodeling and instead designed the room by drawing on the floor with a piece of chalk. "You get a feel for the room that way," he says. "It's the best way to know where you want to put the stove, the counters."

            To open up the space, he removed a wall between the kitchen and an unused bedroom, adding a curved arch between them. This will be the sitting room. He moved the stove away from the walk-in pantry and removed part of the wall, adding a sight-line into the pantry and dining room beyond.

            Instead of adding a lot of new cabinets, Vorrasi will rely on furniture for storage. "People overcabinet," he says. "I believe in furniture. That way, you can add pieces --- an armoire, a secretary --- to put your cookbooks, your china in. I'm not going to spend $60,000 on cabinets. I'm not even going to spend $20,000."

            He'll store his pots and pans on hooks attached to a narrow panel of seasoned copper that runs from floor to ceiling near the stove. "It's roof copper," he explains. "They left it outside for a few days, threw some leaves on it to get a good patina." The result will be both warm and convenient. "I can just reach over here and grab any pot or kettle I need," he says.

            Vorrasi's top-of-the-line appliances lend a professional feel to the room. The Wolf range has an infrared grill that gets hot in a matter of seconds. The flat metal surface next to the grill resembles a griddle, but it's not. It's called a French top and the concentric rings of metal in the center radiate heat --- intense heat in center, cooler towards the edges. "I can have four sauté pans going at once; each one at a different temperature," he says. Two SubZero refrigerator drawers sit under a counter facing the range.

            The muted paint colors pull all the elements together. Pale yellow walls meet light green walls. "These are the colors of food," Vorrasi says. He likens the green to the seasoning chervil and the yellow to the color of fresh dough. "The colors have to be pleasing," he says, "because doesn't the eye eat first?"

In This Guide...

    Home Design 2003

    Chefs at play We see these chefs at work in our favorite restaurants --- their kitchens full of steaming pots emanating wonderful smells.

    Family Matters

    Gayle and Nick Mourgides' kitchen is both big and cozy, the kind of place that makes you think of family. Done in yellow and white with a long farm table at one end, the room has lots of counter space for little helpers to work.

    A Kitchen Built for Two

    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.

    Rochester: Art for Living

    If you were in the grips of cabin fever this past winter, you might have wished your crib was more of a castle. There are several local alternatives to moving to Europe and actually buying one.

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