TRUE TO FOOD
Last week I spent 4 days for a Napa food and wine experience, with Signature Kitchen Suite, a start-up luxury appliance brand whose parent company is LG Electronics. Even though their parent company is a large conglomerate, Signature Kitchen Suite is anything but large and corporate. The company was formed 3 years ago with Zach Elkin at the helm – a well respected name in the industry who has a reputation for fostering relationships with those around him and building successful companies around that.
My 4 days in Napa was spent getting down to the core of what Signature Kitchen Suite stands for and to experience their mantra first hand – it was a real Napa food and wine experience. Luckily, much of that involved being “true to food” and anyone who knows me, knows that good food (and wine) is the way to my heart!
NAPA FOOD AND WINE EXPERIENCE
The first question is why would a luxury kitchen appliance company establish roots in a place like Napa? The answer is, for the same reason a company like Microsoft would position themselves in Silicon Valley. If your business is luxury food and wine, you are going to situate yourself where you can be surrounded with greatness, and that is exactly what SKS has done. Napa Valley is world-renown and a destination for wine and food connoisseurs alike, so there is not a better place to be.
One of our first stops in Napa was at CIA at Copia. By the way, CIA is the acronym for the Culinary Institute of America and not the Central Intelligence Agency! It is a real Napa food and wine experience. It is know as a “foodie wonderland” and also houses the Chuck Williams (of Williams Sonoma fame) Culinary Arts Museum…and guess whose appliances are featured in the kitchen? You got it – Signature Kitchen Suite.
How does Signature Kitchen Suite differentiate themselves from other luxury appliances brands?
The mantra of Signature Kitchen Suite comes from respect and to remain “True To Food”. Great, but what does that mean? It is the responsibility of those who brought the food to the table, starting from:
- Where the food came from: the land and the sea and the farmers and fishermen
- Those who prepare the food: the chef, baker, vintner
…with the final destination being to the table, where the fruits of the land, sea and artisans’ labor is savored.
Signature Kitchen Suite took us on a journey to experience this process first hand. Even though a significant amount of my time in Napa was spent learning about SKS products, an equal amount of time was devoted to learning about the food and wine – where it came from, the people behind its production, and those preparing the food. It is an awareness of where the food comes from, and preparing it in the best ways possible. We went behind the scenes and experienced the food and wine at all three of these stages.
At the Artesa Vineyard, we learned about the type of wine, the soil intricacies and why harvesting at night is preferred to doing so during the day. Prior to visiting, I really enjoyed drinking wine, but didn’t really know what went into its production. After visiting the vineyard and seeing what goes on behind the scenes, I have a better understanding of how the weather, elevation, and soil conditions can affect the grapes and each harvest. Now because I know the process, every time I take a sip of wine, I appreciate and savor every last drop.
THE SIGNATURE KITCHEN SUITE EDUCATION AND DESIGN CENTER
Signature Kitchen Suite believes that better food is created through better thinking and they set out to challenge the status quo. SKS recognized that technology has become a vital part of the luxury experience, and even more so in the kitchen, and their mission is to cater to the “Technicurean” – one who values and respects the process of where their food came from.
It was at the SKS Experience and Design Center that Chef AJ demonstrated how to prepare the food using the latest technology while still respecting those who came before in the food process. The meal was prepared before our eyes on Signature Kitchen Suite’s latest key product, the 48″ Dual Fuel Range with Built-In Sous Vide and Induction. This range also happens to be my favorite appliance because so much is packed into one appliance: Sous vide, Induction with Smart Pan Sensing, Combi-Steam TrueSteam Oven, and a true Convection full-size oven. There is nothing you can’t make on this range!
My friend, Christy Davis was the first Sous Chef of the day. First leeks were put into the steam convection oven.
While the leeks were being cooked in the steam convection, Christy prepared croutons, and eggs were put into the sous vide to cook. The nice thing about sous vide cooking is that you set the temperature and the water bath heats to that exact temperature, so the food does not overcook. However, if left for a prolonged period of time, certain foods can change texture, and eggs is one of those foods, so you have to keep an eye out for them. When using the sous vide, food is normally vacuum sealed in a plastic pouch and submerged into water. Eggs however, can be placed directly into the water bath, but must be done so very carefully so that the shells don’t crack.
Next up? Lamb. An interesting fact I learned is that sous vide cooking doesn’t require as much salt. Unlike other techniques where fat cooks off and takes the salt with it, inside the pouch, there is nowhere for the salt to go but into the meat, so often times salting the food ahead of time results in meat that is too salty. Here the lamb is being seared first before being placed into the pouch and into the sous vide. Afterwards, it is removed and seared yet again and finished with a glaze.
And finally… VOILÀ! Ok, I skipped some steps in between but the eggplant was cooked on the griddle and paired with a delicious yogurt. The lamb was cooked to perfection which was fortunate for me, as I cannot enjoy meat if it is anything beyond medium-rare – yes, I’m one of those picky birds. I’ll eat it, but I won’t enjoy it. And what’s the point of eating it if it isn’t cooked just the way I like it?
But wait, we’re not done yet. We’re missing the most important part of the meal – dessert! Cut strawberries were put into the sous vide with a little bit of sugar, which after cooking was used to garnish the crème brulée that was prepared by Rebecca Reynolds. Here she shows off her cooking skills. The carmelized crust is torched to perfection!
In addition to the meal that we prepared above, another stand out meal was our wine pairing with founder and owner Larry Tsai of Moone-Tsai Wines. Listening to him speak about how he started his business with his wife, MaryAnn while we nibbled on the most delicious, and perfectly prepared meal was a real treat – the quintessential Napa food and wine experience. If you have never tried Moone-Tsai Wines, I would definitely make the effort to try it, as it was that good!
After dinner, and a dessert of the most decadent panna cotta, and then more conversation and networking, we were treated to a surprise: cupcakes, and a LOT of them!
LEARNING WITH DESIGNHOUNDS
In addition to a lot of eating and drinking, there was a lot of learning. Afterall, this was a Designhounds and Signature Kitchen Suite sponsored trip, and wherever there is Designhounds, there is a lot of networking and learning, and that is exactly what we did. Friends Carla Aston, LuAnn Nigara, Leslie Carothers, and Claire Jefford gave inspirational and educational presentations for the Designhounds and Design Council.
- Carla Aston spoke about “Leveraging Site Traffic for Pinterest”
- LuAnn Nigara of A Well Designed Business Podcast presented “Wake Up Your Process”
- Leslie Carothers of Savour Partnership spoke about “Prospering in the Age of Amazon”
- Claire Jefford shared her secrets of vlogging “Vlog Your Way to Success”
Afterall, Designhounds are designers and influencers with a blog and/or social media presence, so everything that was presented was pertinent to us running our businesses to maximize efficiency and profitability.
The Display Kitchens at the Signature Kitchen Suite Experience and Design Center
Last but not least, the display kitchens at SKS. The overall design of the kitchen is where many homeowners and designers get inspiration for their kitchen projects. Inspiration can come from the overall design concept or even just the color palette, the materials, or the layout so I thought I would share a few of the kitchens I saw on display to perhaps jump start your creative juices for your next kitchen remodel.
The main demonstration kitchen was outfitted to demonstrate to a live audience, complete with cameras from above to capture every step of the cooking process. The large video monitors above ensured that those sitting in the rear would not miss a thing. You would not want to put this kitchen in your home, but being a demo kitchen on steroids, it was fun to experience.
This eclectic kitchen below was a hit, incorporating clean lines, open shelves, patterned tile, and COLOR, which is making a big comeback in the kitchen. Clean and modern, with a hint of midcentury to complete this look.
I especially loved the mix of painted white cabinetry with natural walnut AND the beautiful brass hardware.
In the transitional kitchen, two toned cabinets are used and the styling is more traditional with a farmhouse twist.
The most modern kitchen in the SKS Experience and Design Center has two tones of grey, slab cabinets paired with more traditional-style brass hardware. The exposed hinges definitely make a statement.
Once again, thank you, Signature Kitchen Suite and Modenus Designhounds for a spectacular Napa food and wine experience that included the best wining, dining, inspiration and learning. I left Napa with a much better understanding and appreciation for the food I eat and how it is prepared. Until the next Designhounds adventure, “bon appétit!”