Slideshow: Behind the Scenes In Kenji's Home Kitchen (A.K.A. Home of The Food Lab)

My Kitchen
My Kitchen

It's not bad for a New York apartment, but it's not big by any means. The pass-through to the hallway masquerading as a dining room is especially nice, as it gives the kitchen some decent light (which I block by hanging pans in front of it).

My Work Station
My Work Station

This is my main work station, where I spend at least a couple hours a day prepping and photographing food. The cutting board is a big ol' solid wood number that my old chef Barbara Lynch of No.9 Park gifted to me after the health department naively forced all restaurants to shift to plastic cutting boards. In front of my face hang my smaller skillets and saucepans, along with a couple of larger utensils that don't fit in my utensil holders.

My Wife's Tea Station
My Wife's Tea Station

Normally I like to keep the entire countertop free of clutter. But my wife is working on her thesis right now, and requires a steady diet of tea. She's also short, so can't reach the tea cabinet without a step-ladder (or help). Woe befall anyone who keeps a caffeine-starved PhD candidate from her tea.

Gadgets!
Gadgets!

These two drawers contain my most-used gadgets. That'd be my Thermapen, my scale, my bench scraper, and my Japanese mandoline to start, along with some probe thermometers, an infrared thermometer, some round pastry cutters, a few more knives, a pizza wheel, a citrus reamer or two, and... er... some moose-shaped salad tossers. I use those all the time.

Photo Gadgets!
Photo Gadgets!

This is the little drawer where I keep miscellaneous odds and ends, mostly photo-related. Extra batteries for my cameras, wireless triggers for flashes, extra fuses, really really tiny cheese graters, plastic forks I was too lazy to take the two extra steps to discard properly, backup tape I'm hiding from my wife, etc. Because my kitchen was seemingly assembled by someone who works for IKEA's slightly lopsided cousin, you can't open this drawer without first opening the dish washer. That helps to keep the extra tape safe.

Spices and Miscellanea
Spices and Miscellanea

These are all of my general-use spices. I have a supply of backup spices squirreled away somewhere as well, which I use to refill these guys when they run out. Some of them literally never get used. I oughta sort through here more carefully next time I move (which is in a couple months!). Others get used so much that I forget to refill them. Still others get used less than I think I use them, which means that I end up buying extras only to realize I still have four more containers of whole cumin seed on my self at home. Oops.

On the upper shelf is a blow torch, another IR thermometer, random coffee and tea brewing devices, and what appears to be a medieval surgical device for propping open chest cavities, but may well be some sort of trivet we received as a wedding gift.

My Stove
My Stove

My stove setup. Near the stove to the right I keep a wine bottle of canola oil with a pour-top, along with a can of extra-virgin olive oil, and a container of deep-frying peanut oil. These are my every-day use oils and get replaced frequently (otherwise they wouldn't stay so close to a hot stove). There's also a salt cellar and a pepper mill. I store most of my cast iron inside my oven, along with a pizza stone and a baking steel. This oven is not quite the world's s*&tiest, but it comes in a close second. Almost every recipe I develop gets tested on this bad boy.

Utensils!
Utensils!

I love wooden spoons. A lot. I also love spatulas, (particularly this one). I keep them all in easy reach of my stove. Wood in one container, metal in the other. That sorting is rather arbitrary and does not reflect use.

The Microwave and More Storage
The Microwave and More Storage

I have a pretty extensive collection of serving bowls and plates, as I like to serve things on thematically appropriate dishes. It also makes for more variety in photographs. This is a small portion of them, mostly the "international" selection, including dishes from Colombia, Vietnam, Japan, Turkey, and, er, Target. And holy cow, I just realized that's the portable canister-powered burner I've been looking for up there on the top shelf. Joy! My microwave is mostly used to warm up the dogs' food.

Oils, Vinegars, Teas, Plates, and Cups
Oils, Vinegars, Teas, Plates, and Cups

Have you noticed something? The bottom row of pretty much every overhead cabinet is stocked with the normal plates and cups we use every day. Why not put them all in the same cabinet? It's because my wife can't reach above the bottom shelf, so we organize things around her restriction. Fun-sized is what they call it, I think.

In the middle shelf here I keep all of my vinegars (on the left), and my fancier oils on the right. I love a good olive oil and I try and pick up a few bottles whenever I travel through a good oil-producing region of the world. My current favorite? The ridiculously grassy stuff from Seka Hills.

Dry Goods and Baking Dishes
Dry Goods and Baking Dishes

Did I tell you I collect knives, wooden spoons, and cutting boards? I also really love ceramic baking dishes. Don't know what to get me for my birthday? I'll take some nice Le Creuset stoneware, please.

One of the large containers on the left contains my Japanese dried goods. Shaved bonito, various seaweeds, rice, togarashi, and the like. The other contains non-standard flours and grains. I also store my sous-vide circulators in that cabinet.

Mixing Bowls and Large Pots
Mixing Bowls and Large Pots

Do you have enough plain metal bowls in your kitchen? The correct answer is no, because even if you do, it's not enough. You can never have enough. At least, I can never have enough. I'd be happy if glass mixing bowls just went away entirely, with their stupid chip-prone edges and, bulky nesting, and heaviness. Stupid sexy glass mixing bowls.

The Fridge
The Fridge

Yes, we're one of those couples who likes to put cute pictures up on their fridge. At least, I'm one of those couples. I also keep timers, a Chefalarm prob thermometer, and a magnetic pen holder on there, and would recommend you do the same. That cute pink card? That's from Hambone's three-year-old dog-sitter. She draws pictures of him. He has eight legs.

Above the Fridge
Above the Fridge

Here we have my various pizza peels, all hanging from a wall-mounted guitar rack, which is perfect for the job. On top of my fridge are more serving plates, random things I threw up there, a pasta machine, four onion soup bowls that I've used twice, some baking supplies, a Le Creuset tagine I've used oh, let's call it zero times, and a fondue pot I break out only for romantic weekend getaways with my wife because nothing says romance like accidentally dropping chunks of bread coated in congealed Emmenthaler into a heart-shaped jacuzzi in the Poconos, am I right?

Fridge Door
Fridge Door

Ok, now we're getting a bit personal. Here is my fridge door. It has lots of mustard, soy sauce, hot sauces, capers, salad dressing and home made sauces in squeeze bottles (you did read me post about squeeze bottles, didn't you?), way more fake wasabi than any man should own, some clam juice that is old enough that I'm afraid to throw it away for fear of destroying the start of a fully-evolved, semi-civilized society, and some Frank's hot sauce. Death and ruin to any who finish off my Frank's without replacing it.

In the Freezer Door
In the Freezer Door

I practice what I preach! Yeast, bay leaves, nuts, and the coffee that my wife has suddenly gotten into live here. Oh, and that's a deer's heart on the right. I cryo-vacked it after a hunting trip two years ago. I promise I will cook it for my family for Christmas this year.

In the Freezer
In the Freezer

At one point this freezer was perfectly organized. That was before fish-pocalypse, when some good folks in Alaska sent me a treasure trove of frozen salmon, halibut, scallops, black cod, and king crab. We've been working our way through it, but there's only so much we can consume.

Aside from the massive amounts of fish, I keep all of my backup homemade dog food in here, along with some puff pastry, dried chilies, and various soup, stews, and prepared foods, all cryovacked and stored flat so that they stack easily and defrost quickly.

Good Dogs!
Good Dogs!

90% of the time when I'm cooking, this is where the pups are. They know they aren't allowed past the line on the floor, so they sit there, waiting for scraps to fall their way.

My Gear Rack
My Gear Rack

Er... I also collect gear. Though I also try and give away the stuff I don't use. Here I've got a Thermomix (which I don't really use... anyone want it?), a Vitamix (which I use all the time!), an 11-cup Kitchenaid stand mixer which gets used a bit less than it used to, some dry pantry ingredients, a toaster oven, some large stock pots, a wok, a juicer, a waffle iron, a panini press, and a few other odds and ends.

The Outdoor Kitchen
The Outdoor Kitchen

My deck is not that large, but it's big enough to put a grill out there. I'm not really supposed to be doing it, but I live directly across the street from the fire department, so it's a short ride if things do go south. The best part of the deck is that the kitchen window opens up directly out to it, which means that in the summer, I can pass dirty dishes and utensils straight through into the sink, and in the winter, I can pass stuff out the window to the table outside for extra freezer space.

The View
The View

Ok, I lied. this is the best part of the deck. Harlem has its charm.